Overview of main supermarkets in Germany
For many Americans, the German food scene offers a welcome change. In Germany, offerings range from fresh milk and fresh eggs straight from the farm, to offers in modern and large grocery store chains.
Those who prefer fresh produce can buy fresh fruit or meat and fish at the weekly market, while those who prefer to shop online from home without pushing the shopping carts, can use the delivery service of some chain stores or delivery apps, like Gorillas, and get the food they selected online delivered right to their doorstep.
However, most Germans shop quite normally in supermarkets like Aldi oder Lidl. While the quantities and products often differ from American ones, the principle is similar.
Below is an overview of some of the typical grocery stores in Germany and what you can expect from each of them.
Discount grocery stores
Discounters like Lidl, Netto, Aldi and others cover the basic everyday needs of customers. This is where most Germans shop on average.
In the discounter you can often find offers at the lowest prices, which reduce the costs of living in Germany.
There is a basic selection of fruit and veggies, a self-service store for bread and baked goods, and a decent range of cold cuts, dairy products, baked goods, canned goods and more.
Often, customer service leaves much to be desired. At peak times, discount stores are frequently very crowded and have long lines formed in front of the cash registers.
Shopping at a discount store may be easy on your wallet, but it often a little more time consuming. If you have special products or brand needs, you should shop at a large grocery store.
Large grocery stores
Large grocery stores like Real, Rewe, Edeka and Kaufland offer a wide variety of products. Everyone can actually find what they want there.
These grocery chains are most similar to stores in the US or UK. They are usually large and have almost everything you need. The products are also of really good standard. Some chains, like Real, sell different categories like groceries, housewares, electronics, toys, clothes and even bicycles. If you can't find something on the shelf, ask for help. You can expect that larger stores in the country usually have everything in stock.
The selection in such stores is very extensive, but the products are often more expensive than at discount stores. You are likely to find everything you need in the big grocery stores - although the search may take some time. On the other hand, because of their size, these stores are less likely to be crowded. Unless it's the day before a holiday, because then every grocery store in Germany will be full.
Suppliers such as DM and Rossmann mainly offer hygiene products, detergents and everything for body care. But you can also find baby food, diapers and organic products here. The selection is larger than in normal supermarkets. In every town in Germany, you can find a DM or Rossmann.
Speciality stores in Germany
Turkish, Asian and African markets
There are a lot of small supermarkets in Germany where you can buy international foods. They offer a large variety of products and brands from different nations.
There are Turkish, Asian, Russian or African supermarkets where you can immerse yourself in the eating habits of different nationalities as you please.
Whether it is good meat, tortilla, different types of cheese, pirogi or mie noodles, all taste buds will be challenged in these stores. Fresh fruits, organic produce and vegetables can also be bought there.
Online & Specialties
Even though you can find most things in Germany, you can't find everything. Far from home, there are always products that are especially missed.
Hot dogs, popular in the U.S., become Bratwurst in Germany, and Mexican food is not as widely represented in the country as it is in America. Nevertheless, there are exceptional stores that sell Latin American products and brands.
If you are in Berlin, you should definitely visit the KaDeWe. The “Kaufhaus des Westens” is located in the middle of Berlin and offers extraordinary goods with very good quality - which often comes at a cost. However, the gourmet department on the 6th floor leaves nothing to be desired. Often, you can get hold of a sample before you grab the new brand you like to eat.
Don't worry, if you don't want to spend that much money but still expect full flavor, you can simply shop in the gourmet section that is available in many large grocery stores.
For many expats and students coming to Germany, the dream of grocery shopping doesn't revolve around the supermarket aisles, but rather the stalls at the local food market. All cities have a weekly fair where you can get fresh fruit, baked goods, honey, milk, eggs, fish and meat. At many weekly markets you can drink coffee and chat at a stall or enjoy a hot meal at a food truck. Almost everywhere there are free samples. Do not miss to try your way through!
Beverage stores in Germany
In Germany, there are extra beverage retailers where you can find any kind of drink you want. From several types of water, juices, soft drinks to alcohol, everything is there. You should also try the famous German beer. Conveniently, you can hand in your empties/deposit immediately and have the total amount charged at the end of your purchase. If the beverage markets are already closed, but you still want to have an after-work beer in the park, there is also a selection of drinks in the Späti.