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A Guide to Grocery Shopping in Germany for Expats

There is nothing more usual and casual than to go grocery shopping. For some people, it is their way of feeling at home. For others, it can be just another task that we have to do. But imagine coming to a new country, going to the supermarket should be the one thing you want to do quite fast, so you can regain your confidence in a new environment. What is similar and what is different in the experience of going grocery shopping in Germany? This is the topic of this blog.



Supermarket Types in Germany: A Variety to Suit Every Need


1. Discount Supermarkets: Aldi and Lidl
Aldi and Lidl are the undisputed kings of discount supermarkets in Germany. They're known for their low prices, limited product selection, and house brands. These stores are popular among budget-conscious shoppers and those who prioritize affordability.


2. Mid-Range Supermarkets: Kaufland, Netto Marken-Discount, Penny
These supermarkets offer a broader range of products, including national and international brands, at slightly higher prices than discount stores. They often have a wider selection of fresh produce, meat, and baked goods.

3. Premium Supermarkets: Rewe and Edeka
These supermarkets offer a broader range of products, including national and international brands, at higher prices. They often have ready-to-eat offers, salad bars, and hot meals that you can buy at the premises.

Rewe
Rewe - Unsplash

4. Bio Supermarkets: Alnatura, Bio Company, Denns Biomark

These supermarkets focus on organic and natural products, catering to health-conscious shoppers and those seeking ethically sourced produce. They often have a premium selection of organic meats, dairy products, meats and dairy substitutes, and prepared foods.


Local Markets and Farmers' Markets: Local farmers, local produce


This is a great opportunity to find produce that is fresh, and seasonal and you even get to see who took care of it. Here are 10 recommended markets in Germany:


  1. Marheineke Markthalle: This historic market hall in Berlin is a must-visit for any foodie. It is home to a wide variety of stalls selling fresh produce, meats, cheeses, bread, and other local delicacies.

  2. Kleinmarkthalle: Another popular market hall in Frankfurt, Kleinmarkthalle is known for its lively atmosphere and abundance of fresh produce. It is also a great place to find international food and specialty items. 

  3. Wochenmarkt am Winterfeldtplatz: This market in Berlin is a popular spot for both locals and tourists. It is held every Wednesday and Saturday and offers a wide variety of fresh produce, meats, cheeses, bread, and other delicacies. 

  4. Kollwitzplatz Farmers' Market: This organic market in Berlin is held every Saturday and features farm-fresh produce, meats, cheeses, bread, and other locally sourced goods.

  5. Nürnberg Wochenmarkt: This large and vibrant market is held every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday in the heart of Nuremberg. It offers a wide variety of fresh produce, meats, cheeses, bread, and other local delicacies.

  6. Viktualienmarkt: This iconic market in Munich is one of the largest and most famous in Germany. It is a must-visit for any foodie, offering a vast array of fresh produce, meats, cheeses, bread, flowers, and other goods.

  7. Käsemarkt: This cheese market in Rothenburg ob der Tauber is held every Wednesday and Sunday in the city's main square. It is a popular spot for cheese lovers, offering a variety of local and international cheeses.

  8. Marktplatz: This historic market in Freiburg im Breisgau is held every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday in the city's main square. It is a lively and atmospheric market, offering a mix of fresh produce, meats, cheeses, bread, and other local goods.

  9. Markthalle Acht: This modern market hall in Düsseldorf is a great place to find fresh, locally sourced produce, meats, cheeses, bread, and other delicacies. It also has a variety of restaurants and cafes.

  10. Hauptmarkt: This historic market in Regensburg is held every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday in the city's main square. It is a lively and atmospheric market, offering a mix of fresh produce, meats, cheeses, bread, and other local goods.


Now that you know where to find your groceries, let's talk about what kind of groceries you can find at the Supermarkets and the markets:

There are many fruits and veggies that you can find all year round in Germany, and some are only seasonal, but many would tell you that there are items you don't want to buy all year round. This table shows you some of the examples of what to expect and how to prepare for each season,


Table of fruits according to season in Germany
Table of fruits according to season in Germany

Table of vegetables according to season in Germany
Table of vegetables according to season in Germany

Aside from that, German supermarkets offer a unique mix of traditional products and international influences, reflecting the country's rich culinary heritage and diverse population. Here are some interesting things you might stumble upon:

  • Haushaltsmarken: House brands are widely popular in German supermarkets, offering quality products at competitive prices. These brands are often just as good as, if not better than, their national counterparts.

  • A wide variety of bread and pastries: Germany is renowned for its bread and pastries, and supermarkets showcase a diverse range of options, from dark rye bread to sweet croissants.

  • Regional specialties: Each region in Germany has its own culinary specialties, and supermarkets often carry a variety of these local delicacies, such as regional sausages, cheeses, and preserves.

  • International aisles: Germany's multicultural society is reflected in the aisles of supermarkets, with products from various European countries and beyond. This is a great opportunity to discover new flavors and cuisines.



Bakery in Germany - Unsplash
Bakery - Unsplash


Tips for your first time at the German supermarket:


  • Prepare to be there at least 2 hours: Depending on how big the supermarket you go to, plan on being there at least 2 hours at the first 2-3 times. You only start to get familiarized with the layout of the store and see many new packages of items you might not know what they are, and on top of that - it is mostly in German. You might not find everything you are looking for the first time but adding the stress of time to it will make sure you miss out on a lot.

  • Translate important items: Many items will be called completely different in German and you will not know how to find them. If cottage cheese is an important item in your fridge, make sure you translate it in advance and write in your list - Körnigerkäse. Do so for all of the items you feel are basic needs for your household.

  • Make a list of the translated items and bring it with you

  • Bring your bag: In Germany, there is a law that requires you to buy bags rather than get them for free. That doesn't apply to Fruits and Veggie bags but they are not enough to carry everything. There are big plastic bags that you can buy and bring with you to each shopping trip (including other stores btw).

  • Do not pack your items on the conveyor belt: The cashiers in Germany are the fastest animals in nature! No, we are just joking, but they are very fast. It can become very stressful to keep up with, and the rest of the line will probably not be happy. Of course, you can try to pack it simultaneously but the fuller your shopping cart is, the better for you to put it all in the cart back and follow the rest to the nearby shelf to pack it at your own pace.

  • Bring a coin / Keychain with a coin for the cart

  • Check for membership card: Many stores have their membership card which will allow you to get reduced prices and coupons.


In conclusion:

It can be a bit overwhelming at the start to go through everything the Supermarket has to offer, I remember spending 3 hours every time at the Supermarket during the first month. This is totally normal until you find the brands that you like. Over the Ofek offers supermarket tours to newcomers. For more info, get in touch with us through the chat or at info@overtheofek.com




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