Posted by: expaticainhelvetica | June 21, 2010

Let’s Go Shopping!

Grocery shopping in Switzerland is expensive – really, really expensive.  A few things are reasonably priced, mainly dairy products and local produce.  Other than that, all bets are off.  Example – the cost of a kilo of chicken (2.2 pounds/kilo) is anywhere from 23-26 CHF (approx 20-25 USD).  That’s nearly 10 – 13 USD/pound!  Yikes!

Anyway,  it’s been nearly a year, and the sticker shock is starting to wear off.  We still laugh whenever we go to the grocery store at the absurdity of the cost of some things (we don’t buy steak – EVER), but we’ve found out some “secrets”.  Here are some lessons learned:

– Get thee a Migros Cumulus or Coop Supercard, stat!

Migros and Coop are the two largest grocery stores.  Get a loyalty card for each and you accumulate points with each store.  Migros sends you coupons every month or so based on the amount of points you accumulate.  Coop lets you bank your points for goods (Migros may even do the same, but they send all their mail to us in German, so I’m not sure).  With Coop, though, I’m saving our points for frequent flier miles!

– German lesson – Aktion!

From what I can gather, Aktion (pronounced action) means something’s on sale.  The store’s advertisements tell you if something is 40% off from the standard price.  It’s a different type of consumer psychology, but it works on me (maybe that’s cause I’m always scrounging for a bargain).  We comb the aisles looking for anything with a big orange Aktion sticker.  Sometimes, we don’t know what it is, though our German is basic enough to figure it out.  More often than not we have success.  We even know people who say “We’re having Aktion meat for dinner!”  It sounds so much more interesting than “Ummm…we’re eating the stuff we bought on sale.”

– If all else fails, there’s always Denner

It’s a bit sketchy, and I wouldn’t buy meat here to save my life, but, packaged goods and booze are cheap, cheap, cheap at your local Denner.  A week ago, a CASE of Argento Malbec was on sale costing 30 CHF.  In some pubs, that’s about the same price of three beers.

Also, the packaged goods can be very reasonable – pasta, sweets, coffee, big-brand dairy products, even household goods.  You can get laundry powder for HALF of what you get it for in Coop or Migros.  Same brands, cheaper price tag =  sold to the bargain hunter with the curly hair and big hips!

Globus and Jelmoli – so chic, so expensive, so tempting!

Expatico and I find joy in occasionally roaming the aisles of Globus and Jelmoli.  They’re department stores with gourmet grocery stores in their basements that stock all sorts of yummy goods.  We rarely buy anything there, but oh, it’s tempting.  Both stores also stock some American and Irish stuffs, which is always a welcome find.

– Woche markt! Sehr gut!

Here in our little suburb, we have a weekly market where local purveyors come and sell their goods.  Homemade yogurt, fresh-made sausage, organic produce, even Greek delicacies.  The price is a bit more than the grocery store, but the food is always damn good.  I’ve even seen the occasional Pferde purveyor – a merchant who sells all types of food made from horse.  Sorry, but I’m not there yet.

– Try going veg just once a week

Since moving here, I’ve learned that I could pretty easily be a vegetarian, mainly to benefit my wallet, but also because with enough kitchen savvy and the right spices, the food is really, really satisfying.  I *try* to do a weekly vegetarian meal, but Expatico isn’t a big fan of this approach.  Usually, I’ll make a vegetarian delight – chana masala or vegetarian red Thai curry are favorites.  In the middle of a meal, I’ll ask “Whaddya think?  What’s missing?”  Expatico usually says “Meat.”


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