Why I Love Grocery Shopping Abroad

It might be weird for most people, but I get excited every time I go grocery shopping during my travels abroad.

grocery shopping abroad

It seems like a very mundane thing to do, but the grocery store is among the best ways to understand a certain country, culture and people. Food is an important aspect of culture, which you can easily witness in their local grocery store.

A trip to the supermarket is always a potential language lesson. One trip to Auchan got me twenty words richer in French–pommes, framboise, fraise, oeuf, fromage, aubergines, pain, beurre… you’re learning without even trying! I know I like my lait de soja, and my pain sans gluten. Definitely more fun than learning from an audio book.

There are plenty of food items that are staple items in the Philippines that I will rarely find in Europe, and if I do, with ridiculous price tags–Asian instant noodles, coconuts, pineapples, mangoes, dried fish, fish paste and white rice in 20-kg sacks.

I am also amazed at the inexhaustible kinds of cheese, milk, cream and yogurt you could have in European grocery stores! Moreover, you will see fruits or vegetables thrice as huge as Asian counterparts, such as their squash and eggplant. And then, there are also food items that you will never pick up–I mean, I love durian, but I can never fathom on how other people will ever love licorice. Yick.

When abroad, I normally pick up the basics:

  • Fresh Milk – the fresh milk bottled in glass. In Philippines we never have these–only UHT milk or powdered milk!
  • Greek Yogurt – the yogurt selections we have in our country is not real yogurt, and the authentic ones are ridiculously expensive!
  • Chocolate – I need my sugars to survive the day and always pack chocolate or granola bar in my bag to avoid my ever-constant hypoglycemia.
  • Bread and butter – Because I’m always too lazy to cook up something in the morning.
  • Salad – I love my greens and snack on them when I can.
  • Dry shampoo and cocoa butter – these are hygiene products that I love but are rare and overpriced in the Philippines, so I hoard them when I can.

As you can see, I’m not a huge carnivore, but a big dairy lover. I never make it to the meat section, but occasionally do get eggs if I’m not lazy to whip up something!

So there you go. Treat your grocery shopping as a mini-educational tour. What are grocery items that you pick up when traveling?


13 thoughts on “Why I Love Grocery Shopping Abroad

  1. As I am living ‘abroad’ , I can so relate to your post . You could live away from your home country (and your common ‘home food’) for centuries , you will always miss some special kind of food items , you just can’t get in the country you are living currently . Or as you said , crazily overpriced and still not exactly the same , as these products are very often produced in the foreign country just under the license of origin place . I am now living for over 15 years in Spain and still missing badly my beloved dark german bread . Believe me , or not . When friends or family come over , I get them to bring me bread over from ‘home’

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  2. You know it is really odd, I was thinking the same thing when I was in Miami. We went to a supermarket and it was at least 8 times bigger than the ones I am used to in Vienna. There was so much to see, so many choices of food it was actually harder to shop because there was just too much to choose from.

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  3. I also love buying stuff abroad. When I went to Ho Chi Minh, I went to the grocery and bought Vietnamese goods as pasalubong to my folks at home. It’s a lot better than the usual non-edible souvenirs like keychains, shirt, or magnet, which may not really have that much value to the receiver.

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  4. I pick up snacks and things that I need for the trip but I don’t think about stocking up on items that I can’t get at home that often. I think it is a great idea to go grocery shopping though because you get a snapshot into a whole different world by understanding how they use food.

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  5. I have to agree with you. I either find a grocery near the hotel where I am staying whenever I am abroad, or find myself at convenience stores. Unlike you though, I only buy essentials for my stay, and have never brought back anything. Maybe because I am a man and shopping and bringing back things is … it is what it is. LOL!

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  6. I haven’t been abroad but if I will be out of the country, I will surely check out what they have in the groceries. You are right, it is the right place to know more about the country like what brands they use, food to eat etc. Aside from that, you can also observe different people in there too.

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  7. When I first moved to France, shopping in Auchan was a wonderful learning experience and helped me gain a richer vocabulary! It was also a good way to get an insight to the food culture! ^_^

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love to bring local stuff. I love dry shampoo too. In the netherlands its much more cheaper than in Sweden. As well as hairspray, or other hygienic products. I love to buy medicines too that they don’t have in sweden.

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