February 29, 2012

The Grocery list - Die Einkaufsliste 1/2

Today it is time for grocery shopping in Munich. It might seem a simple and trivial topic, but it is not when you are used to a completely different grocery-shopping culture, like I am.

The main two things that I miss more are:
  • Online shopping and home delivery: this is one of the best inventions of the 21st century. In Munich you can shop online for almost everything but food: from toothpaste and a frying pan to designer´s shoes and a new TV. However, when it comes to food, there are no good options for online shopping. Or at least I do not know of them. If you do, please let me know I would be more than thankful. 
  • Lack of Sunday shopping options: Sunday is “Ruhetag” in Germany, which means that all the stores close. But as always there is an exception to this rule, in this case, three exceptions: 
    • Gas Stations open 24/7 and they usually have a small food section, 
    • the Minimarkt supermarket in Haupbahnhof and 
    • the Edeka in the Airport, both open on Sunday. 
Nevertheless the range of options for grocery shopping here in Munich is overwhelming. I have read many comments in expat forums with complains about the short range of food options in German supermarkets, but in my opinion, the range is wide enough, it is just that you do not find it in just one store but it is spread across many. 

Here it is a sample, classified by me:

Expensive but super fresh: Viktualienmarkt (in Altstadt), Elisabethmarkt (in Schwabing), Wienermarkt (in Haidhausen) and Pasinger Viktualienmarkt (in Pasing). These are traditional street markets.

The first one is probably the most expensive, due to its location five minutes from Marienplazt. The second one in the heart of Schwabing is more economical, as well as the market in Wienerplazt and the Pasinger Viktualienmarkt.

The subsidiary of Frischer Paradies in Munich also fits in this category, although it is not a street market itself but more like a large supermarket. Their specialty is seafood and fish. The fruits and vegetables taste like just harvested from the orchard or the vegetables garden and there is also a bistro area for snack or a proper lunch.

Expensive but there is nothing you cannot find: the supermarket in the Kaufhof, Perfetto in Karstadt, the delicatessen store Alois Dallmayr and the Schrannenhalle in the Viktualienmarkt.

In Kaufhof you can find all the usual and regular items in your shopping list plus others more unusual such as: Spanish gazpacho (even in wintertime!); exotic fruits; a wide range of delicious warm breads; a large wine shop with worldwide options; a section with specialties from US, Asia and Mexico and snack bars to enjoy, for example, oysters and champagne while you shop. The only disadvantage is the price. 

Perfetto is small market inside the Karstadt that also has sections of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and cheese.

Alois Dallmayr offers the best of the best in delicatessen food from around the world in Munich. Its origin goes back to the 18th century with a family grocer´s shop and became famous in the 1930´s thanks to its coffee brand “Prodomo”.

The Schranenhalle offers an interesting range of delicatessen food products from all over the world, as well as the Käfer products. Feinkost Käfer is the current name of a very well known chain of delicatessen and food premium products in Germany. It was originally established by the Käfer family in 1930 in Munich and it has grown to become one German leader in quality and premium products with subsidiaries in Berlin, Frankfurt and surprisingly in the Bahrain.

Cheap as hell: this category includes: Penny, Norma, Netto, Aldi, Lidl and Edeka.

Sometimes I shop for the basics (such as milk, yogurt, etc.) in the Penny that is located in Gärtnerplatz. It was renovated during the Christmas period and therefore the aisles are wider and they managed to fit more product ranges, so it is worth to try. 

Medium-price range: Tengelmann, Rewe and Hit. I do not find any difference between the first two. But Hit, in Rosenheimer Platz is one of my favorites.

For wholesale: Metro Cash and Carry. This is only for B2B, so you need to register your business to get the member card that will allow you to shop in it.

For Bio lovers: Basics Bio is one supermarket chain in Munich for organic and bio food products. I do not usually shop there but while checking their website for this post, I learnt that they actually have a online shop and offer home delivery!

Besides the above, I have to mention Mittelmeer, the one and only supermarket with subsidiaries in Berlin as well, that sells Mediterranean specialties.

The two supermarkets that I have not had the chance to assess yet are: Real and Mini Markt, which, I guess from their flyers, both will fall in to the “cheap as hell” category. Or what do you think?

And finally, my last tip: bring your own carry bag with you. The majority of supermarkets charge for their plastic bags, apart from the expensive ones and the street markets.

Up until now, this list is the best I can offer you in terms of options for grocery shopping in Munich. Do you know more? Do you have a different opinion about any of the above? Which one is your favorite?

*** NEW *** The Grocery List - Die Einkaufsliste Part 2 with tips on small shops in Munich where to buy local specialties from Russia, Asia, UK, Canada and even Vegemite from Australia. 

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Grocery List - Die Einkaufsliste 2/2
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