Grocery Shopping in the Netherlands

There are many things I love about grocery shopping in the Netherlands. For instance, everything is much, much cheaper than in the US. In the US, I can buy a tomato for 89 cents. Here, I can buy a pack of eight tomatoes for the same price. And these are your run-of-the-mill normal tomatoes, not some classy grape vine shit I’m comparing to regular romas, no sir. Normal tomatoes. Tub of Greek yogurt in the US? Four dollars. Here? Less than two euros. I could go on like this with an infinite number of items…

But enough sexy talk, I’m here to tell you the ten different things that can go wrong when you go grocery shopping in a foreign country. The first one’s fairly obvious– every single fucking item is in Dutch. Now, I’ve moved around and travelled a lot, but geez, I just had no idea how many words there are that I DO NOT KNOW. Melk = ‘milk’. Easy! But do I want magere melkvolle melk, or halfvolle melk? My intermediate Dutch is tested at every level. More often than not, I come home with an unsweetened, unroasted, almond milk product that I definitely did not intend to buy (I just wanted the normal kind!!). The other thing I’ve noticed with Dutch supermarkets, and by that I mean the Albert Heijn because the Dutch people I know tell me it’s the BEST, is that they like to have things automated. So when I go to the self-check out station, I just know that something will go wrong. Like today, I bought some old cheese (delicious) that was on sale (“in the bonus”, score!). Except that the scanner failed to recognize it as such. And then of course, they have these fancy debit cards that are “contactless”, and I still haven’t figured out how to use them. In broken Dutch, I had to explain to the sixteen year old employee that I couldn’t make sense of basic technology. She probably thought I was a very young looking 90 year old (I’m 27). Finally, good luck figuring out which items need to be scanned, entered separately, or weighed.

In spite of the little bumps doing something so simple as buying groceries, I do find it pretty great when I walk out of the store with my grocery bags and a handful of stamps. 20 stamps and you can buy fancy kitchenware for just a few euros. We collected 40 stamps in the past month and bought four wine glasses already! It’s the little things like these that make me happy, even though I went from feeling like an idiot sometimes to basically doing things wrong like it’s my full time job.

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