With Thanksgiving tomorrow, I felt this was an appropriate entry with all the grocery shopping everyone has been encountering this week.
I loved Saturday mornings in Texas. My body would wake up way too early so I would spend time at the kitchen table creating my weekly menu, going over the grocery list, and reviewing my coupon selection. Then in jeans and a fleece, with hair in a ponytail, I would head to my local Kroger. This became one of my favorite parts of the week. The roads were bare, the day fresh, and the store not yet overcrowded.
At Kroger I would get my shopping cart, carefully buckle my purse into the baby seat, and place my coupon file on top. Then I would stop at the Starbucks coffee stand for a warm treat. With my white chocolate mocha in hand, I would leisurely stroll the aisles crossing off my listed items using my bold felt tip pen. This was time for me to relax and practice my mad math teacher skills. It was like a game. "How much can I save on this item?"
My favorite part at the end of the transaction was when I would hand over my stack, hopefully, of coupons. If I saved at least $20, I considered the grocery trip a success. I think my mom received a few bragging calls in such occasions! Afterwards, I would make small talk as the bag boy helped me load my car. I enjoyed the friendly service and my visits were usually quite pleasant.
Here in Germany, grocery shopping is a bit different of an experience. It is more like a marathon or a fight between life and death.
I get anxiety when I am due for a shopping trip. Having only one car I shop several times a week instead of once. It is about a 10 minute walk to the store so I take only one reusable bag. This prevents me from buying too many items to drag home.
There are two grocery stores that I usually shop at depending on what items are on my list. Aldi is great for affordable produce, meats, and basic pantry items. AEZ is where I purchase name brands and milk. Before going to Aldi sometimes I feel like I should stretch my muscles. It is always an intense experience.
Inside Aldi the aisles are over crowded with hurried people. You better move it or lose it. There is not a fancy coffee stand just loud noises of the rush. Much like a french fry grease clogged artery, the floor is packed with staff stocking shelves and carts whizzing around pushed by mad housewives. You can hardly get through the place.
The check out lanes always contain people backed up into the produce section. If you aren't watching, an aggressive retiree will try to sneak their way in line after not so indiscreetly picking up an avocado. On the conveyor belt I always organize my items heaviest to lightest. Meats first, then cheeses, followed by produce, and finally breads last. While standing next to the conveyor belt, I get my money ready. Pulling out your wallet and counting money takes too much time. I always slip my ready cash into my jacket pocket for quick access.
When it is my turn to check out, I better be ready. At lightening fast speed the checker girl will fling my items across the scanner. There is no time to follow the rings ups to check for errors because you better be bagging. The girl is always done ringing my food before I can shove it all into my bag. Then she stares at me impatiently until I hand over my money.
Hoping the change is correct, I stuff it into my pocket and quickly move out of the way. At the door I reorganize my bag of groceries, throw it over my shoulder, and head on the walk home. In and out as quick as a flash.
Despite the differences in customer service, we are saving a lot more money on groceries here in Germany.
Estimated Weekly Grocery Costs:
Kroger: 80 dollars
Aldi: 30 euros which is about 40 dollars
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!