Grocery shopping can be a little bit different in Germany, but if you are like me, you might get a kick out of shopping here. Why? Because grocery shopping in other countries can be fun and interesting.
What might be different in Germany from your country? You need to put either a 1 € or .50 € coin (or a special chip that many people carry with them) into the cart, which you will then get back when you are done using it, you will pay for your bags if you do not have one with you (9-40 cents depending on the type of bag you choose) and you will need to bag your own groceries. Most stores have a choice of freezer bags, plastic bags, paper bags with handles, cloth bags and Aldis has “bio” bags which are biodegradable. Many stores will be very narrow, with barely enough room for 2 carts passing each other, though the trend to make larger stores with more space is growing in popularity.
Frankfurt, like any other large city in Germany has a wide assortment of chain stores to choose from. They also have a lot of small, privately run stores, including may ethnic markets. Every neighborhood will have several bakeries, one or two butchers, and often a Turkish store selling produce, cheeses, halal meat and other products. I like to get my feta cheese, olives, spices, fresh ground meat, lamb and a delicious bread called fladen brot, in these stores.
The most popular discount stores are Lidl, Aldi & Penny Markt. Their products are really a bargain, but usually of decent quality. You do have to move quickly at the check-out, so put your items immediately in your cart after they get scanned. No lollygagging at the check-out in Germany! Toom Market has huge, American style shopping and they are often located at shopping malls, like Hessen Center. Rewe and Penny Markt are everywhere. Tegut and AllNatura are very popular and most of their products are organic. Organic products make up over half of Aldis selections now. “Bio” is the common term used to denote Organic foods.
If you want strictly health food items, meat substitute products or a large selection of Gluten Free items, then you may want to go to a Reform Haus. There is usually one in every neighborhood. Most stores do carry gluten free items. Many drugstores like DM or Rossman will also have gluten free food products.
The 2 large department stores downtown on the Zeil, “Galleria Kaufhof” and “Karstadt”, have fairly large grocery stores in the lower level. Prices here will be higher than in your neighborhood chain store, but they carry a wide selection of gourmet items as well as an assortment of American products. Both stores have huge chocolate and candy sections.
For late night shopping downtown, visit the large Rewe located on the lower level in “My Zeil”. They are open until midnight, 6 days a week. Sorry, still no Sunday shopping here.
It is Sunday (or a holiday) and you forgot to get a needed ingredient for your dinner or picnic? Head over to either the main train station or the airport. The store in the Hauptbahnhof is Rossmans and is located on the lower level. They offer a surprisingly good selection of items and without a high mark-up. Upstairs, the Food Market offers bread products and fruits. On the Kaiserstrasse there is a small Rewe and an Asian store that are open on Sundays. At the airport, there is a Tegut in terminal 1, on the lower level and a large Rewe located over in the Squaire above the long distance train station. If you spend 30€ at Rewe, you get your parking for free.
It is easy to get items to make a great picnic lunch, and most stores sell individual brotchen, small packs of cheeses, meats, as well as packaged salads, cous-cous, fruit cups, joghurt and puddings. Prices are reasonable and I think quite comparable to American prices. Many bakeries and butchers sell ready made sandwiches. Then of course, there are the many Farmers’ Markets held on almost a daily basis in the city center and neighborhoods, and the fabulous Klein Markt Halle where you can buy products to create a truly delicous meal or picnic.
I hope you enjoy grocery shopping as much as I do when I go traveling!