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"so, why again is there 17 kiwi in the fridge?" he asks

The grocery shopping.. it's been eating my lunch. Let me tell you a little about it.

Few differences to share:
1. you must have change to get a cart. If I'm in a larger store, that's great and I can push the cart with no problem. Well that's not entirely true. The carts all have 360' wheels here. So you can actually get quite the ab workout as you push those dang carts I've noticed (and I HAVE noticed, since Ive joined boot camp!). If it's the smaller Delhaize or Carrefour down the street that I can walk to, they do have smaller carts, but they're a pain bc the space is so tight. You're better off with bags. I've been carrying my bags, but I've got my eyes on these:
Envirosax recommended by a couple of friends. They would be much lighter to lug around. A lot of people have these, and when I walk, I can definiltey see the advantage!

2. Did you know that English isn't the official language here? ;) So everything is in French or Dutch. Makes it a little more tricky. Ok, a lot more tricky at times to read labels. Of course, many things I can see clearly are peas or canned tomatoes, but even reading isle signs is impossible.. for now.

3. Fruit: you actually weigh your own and print out a sticker at the produce section. I forget something about every other time and either hold up the line (that's when I say, " je suis désolé!" - I'm sorry!) or just give up because I'm already running late (that is the case more often than not)... They do have pre-packaged and weighed fruit that I buy from time to time just bc it's easier. So the day I really wanted kiwi, and I actually did remember to put it on the scale but I couldn't find it anywhere in the computer so I had to give up and buy the package.. hence the 17 kiwi that ended up in our fridge ;)

4. I buy bread in a loaf.. either rectangle or round and put in a machine that cuts it. Then they have bags that you put them in. This bread doesn't last too long and is better fresh. Yay for fresh, but more trips to the grocery/market. Which I'm learning is how most Europeans shop. There's a lot less space to store dry goods and my fridge (just 1! haha) is about 2/3 the size of the one I had in the states. Some expats have 2 fridges and I have room in my laundry room for one, but I'm trying just 1 for now. We'll see how long that lasts!

5. I buy milk from the shelf.. a liter at a time. So this is one product that will last for a while on the shelf and the one you least expect.. milk!! I'm thankful that since it doesn't come in gallon sizes, that at least you can keep it in the pantry so I'm not really going to the store for milk every other day. Kind of weird, huh?

6. You can scan your own groceries as you go. There's a little scanning gun that you can sign up for and you can scan as you go. Much like those bridal or baby registry ones at Target in the US. I have a date on Monday with a fellow expat and Texan and she's taking me to the big Dehaize near her to do the scanner thingie and just show me the ropes. How's that for a new friend! I think she's a keeper!

7. No shopping on Sundays, after 6 or 7pm, oh and Fridays before noon, and....
 I've not quite figured out these store hours. All I know is that MOST groceries are only open from about 9 - 6pm. Give or take an hour. Most are closed on Sundays, which I now know. This past Sunday we'd been moving in all weekend and I was saving the shopping for Sunday when I felt like we were finally at a pausing point. Get my list all ready and hit the local Delhaize around 1:45pm. A store clerk comes up to me at 2pm and said something, blank stare.... to which I responded, "Anglais, sil vous plaize?" and she said they closed at 2pm! Yikes! So lesson learned. Of course I'll mostly try to shop when the kids are in school, and hope to be in a routine sooner than later. But I have found myself on more than one occasion either wanting to laugh or cry at some point in the grocery. Thankfully, it's mostly been the former!

8. I think some people would be surpised that there are grocery stores in Europe! I know I thought there were just shops: one for the butcher, the pasties, the bread, etc.. and there are those for sure. But there are certainly grocery stores like we know it in the States (even large ones like Sam's!), but as you've just read, they too will take some getting used to. NOW, there are markets in each township once a week at least (ours is on Sunday) and I hope to report back to you on that this weekend.. so stay tuned!

merci et au revior!

Reader Comments (5)

Oh what fun to hear about your grocery store adventures! I've learned about the "long life milk" and I have to say I was quite skeptical about it, still kind of am. Also, I found it very hard to believe that I could find no version of macaroni and cheese there. I mean, that's kind of like milk, bread, water...and macaroni and cheese right? Wrong! I giggled at how strange it was to grocery shop with the paying for carts, and for parking in the grocery store parking lot! It's funny that we're all the same, but it was a little like being an alien. I did manage however to find and make a fine batch of enchiladas and I'd never seen people so happy to have my cooking! I mean, I don't get that kind of response at home. Sounds like you don't need bootcamp as hauling groceries will keep you in great shape.
ps - I hope your whole family loves kiwis...

01.21.2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie Whiten

Wow! That was fun to read. Very interesting to read how it's done in other cultures. I like the scan as you go thing. Might make those lines at Wal-mart go a little faster?! Hope you get it all memorized soon so you won't have any crying at the grocery! :)

01.21.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

thanks, Melissa and Carrie for the comments! Ooh.. Carrie, I haven't whipped up enchilades yet.. hopefully that is in my future! Yes, hopefully no tears at the grocery from here on out ;) And Carrie, believe it or not, Klein doesn't like mac and cheese so we rarely had it in the U.S! The ingredients I was missing last week was black beans and bread crumbs. Go figure!

01.22.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMackenzie

This sounds very similar to the way its done in China. Although I'm thinking China is a little crazier...at least Im hoping so!! What an adventure but I know there are times when you just want to run in and get a gallon of milk like the old days!!

01.26.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjennifer doughty

I highly recommend Envirosax. I have been using them for a couple of years and LOVE them! They are sturdy and roll up mall, so you can carry several in your purse. Plus, they are washable. Thanks for sharing your experiences. It is a joy to read all about the adventures.

01.27.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTonya

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