Let’s Talk Grocery Shopping

Ahhhh…the grocery store.

Some people like the grocery store (though I have never met one of these people in real life).  The rest of us hate it.  Since moving to the Netherlands, navigating my way through the grocery store is an almost daily occurrence.  Why you might ask?  Because my refrigerator is about the size of an extra large ice chest.  So I can’t get a lot of food at once…hence multiple trips to the dreaded grocery store multiple times per week.  I’m not kidding when I say my old French door frig/freezer is about the same size as my current stand along refrigerator, stand alone freezer, AND pantry.  So I have to watch how much I buy at the store!

This space is my entire kitchen.  See the white cabinet with glass doors there on the left?  An IKEA purchase upon moving here so I had somewhere to store my dishes and glasses!


And here you see my frig on the right and my pantry space on the left.  The drawer below the pantry holds some larger pots and pans, and the drawer under the frig holds ziplock bags, aluminum foil, cling wrap and cat food.  We have an extra freezer in our laundry room, but it’s small as well.


I am used to the grocery store now.  It took a while and a lot of help from Google Translate – but I know most of the foods I buy and where they are located in the store.  I don’t deviate too much from it, which can make for some boring meals sometimes.

But it’s interesting looking at the Dutch choices for food.  After a while you begin to notice a trend.  The Dutch don’t seem to like to cook much.  They prefer to throw some random foods together and call it a meal.  So it can be difficult for me to come up with a delicious meal plan of my own.  But I try…sometimes.

The Dutch grocery stores seem to have a ton of variety in some areas of food, and very little variety in others.  And the things they have a large variety of…baffle me.

Like sprinkles.


Yes….sprinkles.  You know when you go to an ice cream shop, and your kid wants sprinkles (usually either chocolate or the multicolored kind) on their ice cream?  Yep, that’s what I’m referring to.  The Dutch LOVE their sprinkles, and eat it on bread.  For lunch or a snack.  Interesting.  Here is their variety of sprinkles in my local Albert Hein.


Yet here is their variety of cereals…


Now think about the last time you were in Target or Walmart and the mile long isle of breakfast cereals that covered BOTH sides of the isle!!  The Dutch are not big on breakfast.  Many eat breakfast on the way to work on the train and whatnot.  So breakfast for us usually means some toast and maybe a yogurt for the girls.  On weekends, I occasionally make eggs, toast and bacon.

Something else the Dutch love to spread on bread….Nutella!  Or some version of a Nutella type spread.  My kids HATE nuts, so they dislike Nutella, and peanut butter.  But they do have a chocolate spread that is delicious!!  And it tastes literally like melted chocolate.  This is something else they spread on bread, and top with sprinkles!!  I tend to put a little bit in containers for the girls to have in their lunch with some pita chips or pretzels.

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Here is another food the Dutch love.  It kind of tastes like gingerbread and pumpkin bread mixed together.  It’s pretty good.  They have lots of variety of this!


They do not have a large variety of canned vegetables.  Which is okay….until you need or want something specific!!  Most fruits and vegetables are fresh here.  But they do seem to prefer their peas and carrots in the jar!


Their eggs are not refrigerated.


The Dutch LOVE their potatoes and fries!  They have all types of potatoes.  I wasn’t really aware there were all different types in the beginning and bought the wrong ones to make mashed potatoes with.  They turned into a nasty paste like substance.  Blech.  Then I became aware of the labels on the potatoes that tell you what that potato is best for…mash, stove cooked, fries, etc.

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In the States we have tons of different kinds of juices.  Here they have tons of different kinds of fruit/yogurt drink stuff.  I have only tried one, and didn’t like it very much…so haven’t tried it again.  Though the girls and I do love some Chocomel!


They also have a huge candy isle.  It has your standard candy fare, but one thing it has loads of is…Licorice!!  Black Licorice.  I cannot STAND licorice, the way it looks, tastes or smells.  But in Europe, they love their black licorice.  Here are all types, shapes and sizes of black licorice.


They also have a large sweets isle.  But if you look closely – it’s a lot of the same stuff wrapped in different packaging that changed ever so slightly.  It basically boils down to these 3 different types of dessert items…

Everything is either Natural, Almond, or Apple something or other….muffins, cookies, dessert tart things, etc.  Waffles – the middle picture is a wafer type of waffle that is super thin and has some caramel in the middle.  The one on the right is my favorite – chocolate covered “Belgian” type waffles.  Here they don’t eat pancakes or waffles for breakfast.  They are considered a treat or dessert.

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While we are talking pancakes…their pancakes are like a crepe.  Large and very flat.  and they tend to roll them up and put various stuff inside – jams, jellies, Nutella, fruit, eggs, etc.  I thought it was cute they had “American Pancakes” – which if you look, are just slightly fluffier crepes.  Awwwww


Now, let’s talk sauces.  They have a sauce for EVERYTHING.  All types and varieties.  They also have a kind of mayonnaise for everything too.  And can’t forget the mayo for the fries (Frites)!!

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Also in Europe – you bring your own bags to take home your groceries.  I keep several in my car.  Also, if you want a basket, you insert a coin to unlock the basket, and when you return the basket, you get your coin back.  If you have ever experienced an Aldi – they are like this, because they are a European based store.  I have noticed that by providing my own bags helps prevent a ton of plastic and paper waste.  And by having to return your grocery basket – there are NEVER grocery carts all over the parking lot taking up spaces, or denting car doors.

So while I still don’t really care for grocery shopping still….it isn’t the bane of my existence either.  And perhaps I might even come to enjoy going to the grocery store one of these years.

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