Ask a Brazilian: groceries in Germany can be tense!

This is one of the main subjects we Brazilians speak concerning differences of Brazil x Germany! We always end up laughing about it. But at the moment we are doing might not be that funny.

Leia aqui a versão em português.

Doing groceries in Germany can be a bit tense. With the time I learned to appreciate their efficiency. But it can be a bit difficult for those who don’t know the rules.

Here are some tricks that will help you to make that time of the day easier for you:

1. Grocery Cart

Before you leave your house, make sure to have at least a coin with you, either of 50 cents, 1 or 2€. Grocery carts are all attached to each other. To release one, you need to insert a coin. After you finish your groceries, just bring your cart back and take your coin.

2. Grocery Bag

In Germany you need to pay if you want to take a grocery bag. Different from Brazil, where they give tons of plastic bags for free if you need. Not very environmentally friendly. Anyway, if you have an ecobag at home, take it with you. It will save you some cents and nature will be thankful.

3. Returnable bottles

Some of the bottles you buy are returnable. “Pfand” is the name given to the money you get when you return it. The money is included in the price of the bottle. So if you don’t return it, you’re throwing this money away.

Take your bottles with you and insert them in one of the machines available at the supermarket. Then press the bottom. You will get a voucher to use at the grocery store. For each bottle you get around 25 cents. But don’t forget to use the voucher! Sometimes we forget inside the grocery cart or lose it somewhere. At least someone else can use it.

4. Veggies and fruits

This has changed. But there are still some supermarkets where you need to weight your own veggies and fruits! There is a small scale around for this purpose. What happen if you forget?

Some of the cashiers are very understanding and will show you the closest scale where you can do it. Some will even offer to do it for you. Some will be very serious and, as we say in Brazil, “Curse up to your third generation”, as well as the others waiting on the line. Good luck with that!

5. THE Moment at the Supermarket cash

That’s THE crucial moment. Why? Well, let me try to explain. Once you put the products on the conveyor belt, BE READY!

The cashier will pass the products very quickly as if there is no tomorrow. At the same time you need to put everything on the plastic bag without smashing any of your fruits and veggies. And remember to let the eggs at last. She/he will finish passing the products and tell you the final price, while you still packing your stuffs. At some point you will give up and just start throwing everything inside. Meanwhile, the others behind you will start looking at you impatiently. You’re taking too long! And don’t you dare forget where’s your wallet!

My secrets to make it easier:

  1. First organize the products on the conveyor belt the way you will put on your bag (veggies, fruits and eggs at last).
  2. Second, while I’m waiting on the line, I already have my wallet in one hand and the ecobag (or backpack OPENED) on the other.
  3. Third, as soon as the cashier starts passing my products, I’m already at the other side with my ecobag opened packing everything as fast as possible. I’m normally still packing while she/he finished passing everything. Then I handle my credit card and keep packing.


I’m getting pretty good at that. Don’t worry if you fail the first times. But keep trying! Practice makes perfect!

As suggested by some of our readers, another option would be to put everything on the cart and pack later in your time. But for me it’s a matter of honor to finish packing at time, hahahaha!

And if anything goes wrong, you can always end up laughing at it. After all, you’re not alone!

In Brazil is everything veeery slow. That’s why sometimes we spend hours on the line! You don’t realize until you live in another country. Nowadays I get very impatient when I do groceries there. Sometimes the cashier even chat and tell the story of her life, while slowly passing the products.

What about you? What are your experiences doing groceries in Germany? What about your experiences in other countries? Is it the same or totally different?

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One thought on “Ask a Brazilian: groceries in Germany can be tense!

  1. Frank

    All true, especially the last about the cash. In most cases, you can put your stuff back in your shopping cart and go to one of the tables situated behind the cash where you can pack your things at your own speed. Seems to be the case in much of Europe.
    Unfortunately there’s no service anymore, anywhere. Pretty much the same in Canada. The cashier’s job now just passing your stuff through the scanner and collecting your money – you do the rest! Can be stressful.

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