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Grocery Shopping in Germany


Recently Mainz got an Edeka "Scheck-In" grocery store, and it has changed my world. Ever since I started traveling, I've loved exploring local grocery stores. Ideally with someone who knows what's what, but on my own is just fine, too. Now that I know my way around the stores here, it's fun to show visitors some of the little detailed things I've learned about shopping here.

So, back to that new store. It's a lot like a Whole Foods, with way more international specialties, and reasonable prices. Sometimes they even have grocery baggers (!) (I know. Sometimes?!!). Obviously I no longer want to shop anywhere else, but if I have to, I distribute my grocery dollars in the following way...

Aldi -
Taking over the U.S. market, Aldi is a great source for inexpensive (organic) produce, delicious plain greek yogurt, the perfect milk for making cheese (paneer), filled pasta, fresh parmesan cheese, nuts, dark chocolate, frozen veggies, and fun things to look at in the weekly rotating central area. Also, their Mamia diaper brand has proven better than Pampers for us (I know, I know, every baby is different...).

Edeka (Aktiv) -
Another 'branch' of Edeka is the Aktiv market, which has everything I need including a very good fresh cheese & meat counter. I come here for everything I don't get at Aldi - though I've read too many product recalls about the Gut & Guenstig brand to buy anything from there anymore.
Also very kid-friendly - they have all sorts of grocery cart variations to keep kids entertained, and my kids score a ton of free samples when we shop there.

Rewe -
A lot of my friends love Rewe - mostly because they offer grocery delivery AND curbside pickup. I often find the stocks low on what I need, and fewer choices of things like chips, cereals, and yogurt, compared to Edeka. However, it's not at all bad (unless there's an Edeka nearby, clearly they've charmed me more than once).

Penny -
It's so cheap! The quality is similar to Aldi, with a bigger sweets, cheese, and pre-made food selection. Look & feel is similar to Aldi - it's not the kind of store where I want to lazily wander the aisles, but I can get what I need here, at the right price.

Lidl -
Similar to Aldi, but with more familiar brands and a bit higher prices. Also with the fun weekly rotating section of knicknacks in the middle.

Netto -
Great prices and similar to Aldi in produce quality (meaning, your stuff will last no more than a week, vs. Edeka - I can usually get 2 weeks out of my goods there). They usually have a small selection and no fresh meat / cheese counter but this place is great for buying baking supplies as well as bread, cookies, and chips / snacks.

Norma -
Now these are run-down shops. They have great deals, but I have yet to walk into a Norma where I wanted to linger. I usually only pick up stuff from the weekly rotation area, and anything else I'm low on - though I'd rather shop just about anywhere else. Produce is fine, prices are low, it's definitely more of a budget store.

And... last but not least, the Weekly Market -
The best for fresh produce - every city has a Saturday weekly market, and if you check your city website you can find out if there are other days or locations the market operates. Our neighborhood market comes right across the street every Friday (8a-2p) and it's huge! The one produce stand has everything I could imagine needing for the week, plus there are cheese, meat, and fish stands as well.

Apps / Price Comparisons:
There are a number of apps you can use to check prices at each store, as well as check the weekly flyer. Or you can check the Sparpionier app - 2.29 euros for all features, and it includes a barcode scanner. When you're in the shop, you can price-compare right there. The question then is whether you have the time to get the best deals!

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