Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Grocery Shopping

I think that most Czechs go to the grocery store every one or two days because you buy what you can carry. You go to the local bakery, butcher shop, drugstore, etc. There are also corner grocery stores that carry more products. And then there are hypermarkets - big stores that are also department stores (like a Wal-mart).

The closest grocery store to me right now is Lidl. It is similar to an Aldi. You can get the basics - bread, milk, eggs, juice, beer... But you can also pick up whatever else they offer that day...work gloves, bedding, slippers, ironing boards, etc. Lidl is convenient because it is close by and stays open until 9 PM. I haven't shopped yet at Albert, Interspar or Tesco, but I'm sure that the basics still apply. So here is how the grocery stores work.

In order to get a shopping cart you have to deposit a 5 Kč or a 10 Kč coin in to the cart. This will release the security device so you can take the cart. When you're done with the cart you put the security lock back in to the cart and you get your coin back. If you are just picking up one or two things then it appears to be OK not to take a cart. If you are picking up more than two things I recommend that you get a cart because if you don't then store security seems to watch you the whole time. It sucks when you don't have a 5 or 10 crown coin.

It can be a challenge shopping in a country where you can't understand the labels. I know the Czech word for milk is mléko. So I picked up a bottle of 1,5% kefírové mléko. The bottle said "milk", the liquid was white and it had a picture of a cow & a coffee cup on it so I figured I was safe. Apparently kefírové means sour. This stuff was like trying to drink pourable sour cream. Yuck!!! It went straight in to the trash.

I found it easier to drink Lidl's generic yogurt than to actually use a spoon. But I did find a great name brand peach & passion fruit yogurt that is really good.

The eggs are all brown; not white. Juice comes in these nifty little 1 liter boxes. Bottled tea and water come in dozens of flavors. Water is also either flat or sparkling.
Anyway, when you're ready to leave you go stand in line to check out. When you get to the counter you unload your cart on the conveyor belt. The stores do not give you grocery bags...you have to use your own bags or pay for bags. Regardless of the bag's origin, you have to bag your own groceries quickly because when they give you the total they want the money then. And please have the correct amount or, at least, something very close to it because the grocery clerks do not like to make change. Paying for your purchase with a large bill will get you lots of attitude. Once they give you the change, they start ringing up the next person's items so you had better be out of the way. It looks like the custom is to reload your basket as the items are scanned and then move your cart out of the way so you can then bag up your groceries after you've paid.

Update: Food here is not packed with preservatives like it is in the U.S. I think that this is another reason why Czechs have to go shopping more often since food spoils faster. Another reason is that because a lot of flats have tiny refrigerators so there's not a lot of room for groceries to begin with.

1 comment:

  1. Ok, wow! Culture shock! I am glad you took me on a trip through the grocery store!