I’ve learned there are a few common places to shop for groceries in Aarhus. The best stores are at least a half hour walk away in the city, but there are a few options not too far from the university.
First, Emma and I checked out an Aldi. Aldi is originally a German company, so the chain is pretty popular here. I’ve also been to a few in the U.S. and have always really liked them. The one closest to our dorm was about a ten-minute walk away. There was also another store located inside of a mall called Netto that we discovered a few days later, also about ten minutes away.
Grocery stores in Denmark are pretty different compared to what we have in the U.S. A lot of people here don’t have access to cars, which means either carrying their groceries home, biking with them, or paying for public transportation. So usually, people will shop for food once or twice a week.
I’ve only been to Aldi and Netto so far, but both have been much smaller than any of the stores I’ve seen at home. There also seems to be only one brand for many of the items there. For example, one brand of salsa at Aldi, one brand of rice at Netto, or one brand of pasta. Whereas in the U.S. it can sometimes be overwhelming how many brands there are to choose from. It seems to be useful for some things and not for others. I don’t really need another pasta brand, but I had to choose between hot salsa or no salsa, there’s no medium or mild. There’s no fancy pineapple salsa or anything like that either. For the Danes, simple seems to be better, which I think I could maybe get behind once I get more comfortable here.
I also bought turkey, but here’s the thing: I don’t actually know if it’s turkey… because obviously everything is in Danish. So, I guessed. I mean it looks like turkey so that’s a good sign.
Also, the cheese. Soooo many types, but again it’s all in Danish. And they don’t really have a lot of sliced cheese. All of the good stuff is sold in blocks. They do have a type that resembles Kraft singles, which is unfortunately what I decided to get until I could make sense of all the different kinds I was looking at.
The milk. So confusing. There’s different shades of blue that correspond with how much fat each kind contains. I know that the darkest blue has the most fat, and the gray means skim. I also know that there is one kind that is basically cottage cheese in a milk carton, except I don’t know which one it is, and I have no idea what you would use it for. I don’t drink a lot of milk, so I decided to stay away from that for bit.
Everything comes in smaller sizes usually too, which could also be good or bad depending on how you look at it.
Packaging is not as colorful, so brands don’t really jump out at you as much, which also makes sense because usually there’s only one so there’s not really any other brands to compete with, except for the wine section.
The wine section is fun. So many different bottles, brands, flavors and price ranges. So far, the bottles I’ve bought were around $5 each and all tasted great. I’ve even gotten in the habit of sticking them outside on my little balcony in my dorm to keep them chilled, 40 degrees is great weather for that by the way.
Oh! None of the stores here carry plastic bags. So, bringing your own reusable bags is not an option here, it’s a must. There’s always some bags in the check out line that you can purchase if you need to but I definitely don’t want to be buying a million reusable bags when I have limited storage and a small budget. I usually keep a smaller reusable bag in my backpack and purse just in case I need to buy anything on the walk home, and I have a larger bag in my dorm specifically for trips to the store where I know I’ll be buying a lot.
I think the prices are also pretty comparable for most food items in the U.S., but that might also depend on your diet. I got mostly the basics and thought the prices were pretty reasonable.
I’ve been on the hunt for something comparable to ranch dressing since I’ve been here. So far, I haven’t seen anything like it which is really a tragedy. I mean what do they eat carrots with? I put ranch on pretty much everything at home so it’s safe to say I’ll probably start going through withdrawals soon if I don’t find a decent alternative or a way to make my own. At Netto, I did find something that looked like ranch called Pommes Frites dressing. It’s meant to be eaten with fries, so I have high hopes for that but haven’t tried it out yet. I couldn’t read the ingredients because of course everything was in Danish but I thought I would try something new and test it out anyway.
The checkout at grocery stores here is a little intimidating too because you always have to bag everything yourself, and if you have a lot of stuff it can be kind of stressful. I’ve also noticed that anytime I use my American credit card I have to sign the receipt no matter where I go, which usually surprises the cashiers because I’m assuming they don’t often have to deal with a lot of American credit cards, so that also takes some time. I try to be as prepared as possible while in line to check out to make sure people aren’t waiting for me longer than they have to.
So far, I’ve only gone grocery shopping twice, but I think I’ll get the hang of it after a few more times. I have some research to do and words to translate before I go back, but I’m getting a little more comfortable each time I go.
I know I’ve mentioned it before, but something as simple as a successful grocery shopping trip is worth celebrating. Every time I leave my dorm room it’s a new adventure. I’m always a little bit confused and usually have a lot of questions, so doing anything successfully, no matter how long it takes, is a win in my book.
Now to tackle cooking in a foreign country… that’s a whole different challenge.