Now that we're mortgage holders (aka, Painfully in Debt,) I am becoming a little more, shall we say, frugal, or better yet, Swabian.
Some of our expenses are unavoidable, I get that. Even travel to the US, while some would say is a luxury, to me is really a necessity. But there must be ways that we can cut costs a bit. My new experiment is with food.
I guess I should explain grocery stores in Germany, because it is a very complex topic here. German grocery stores fall into levels. Here is my view on the breakdown:
Gourmet- stores like Finekost Böhm and the Market Hall in Stuttgart. The Böhm reminds me of Balducci's in Westport, so I enjoy wandering through this store often.
High end- (most similar to Stop and Shop,) like Edeka and Rewe. My favorite grocery store is an Edeka, it is an E-Center, meaning that it is quite similar to the Stop and Shop in Fairfield, with very high end items. I trust in this store, especially the quality of their meats, and this is where I exclusively buy my fish.
Medium price / Big stores- these stores are more like larger Stop & Shops (in CT, ) or Giant in Maryland. These stores here would be like the Real. They have normally good quality products and are very tidy.
Lower price / Big stores- I have no experience with stores like these in the States. But that might be just my experience. These stores, like Kaufland and Handelshof, are very big, but boast low prices. Their stores tend to be lacking in presentation, items are often still on palettes, and it is more messy in general. Their fruits and veggies are okay, but you have to search to find good stuff. Of course, they have a very large selection, and occassionally, I find that these stores fit my purposes, but it is only occassionally.
Discounters- discounters, like Aldi, are opening up at home too. Discounters offer low prices, because items are mostly all on palettes or in boxes (you have to open up a plastic bag to get a package of paper towels sometimes.) They focus primarily on generic products.
Today, we went to the Market Hall in Stuttgart. This is definately a gourmet shopping experience. It has been rated as one of the best indoor markets in Europe, and I do believe it has earned this title. I especially enjoy the many stands featuring food from Asia, Italy, Spain, Greece, and France. They offer so many otherwise hard to find items, and the food there is of exceptional quality.
We purchased our produce for the first half of the upcoming week from the Market Hall today. And this leads me to my experiment: can we save money with produce?
We purchased the following:
.12 kilos Lamb's lettuce at 12 Euro / kilo. Total- 1.44 Euro
.756 kilos bell peppers at 8 Euro/ kilo. Total- 6.05 Euro
.666 kilos of eggplant at 4.9 Euro/ killo. Total- 3.20 Euro
.504 kilos of zucchini at 4..9 Euro/ kilo. Total- 2.47 Euro
We also purchased a package of snap peas for (I think,) 2.20 Euro, and 2 portobello mushrooms for 4.00 Euro.
The total for today:
I don't think I can include the portobellos in the experiment, and I need to figure out if the mushrooms or the snap peas were so expensive. I tend towards the portobellos as they are definately a rare find here. But, everything else on the list is available most everywhere else.
My plan for next Saturday is to include these items in our purchase. I will do one week at the Edeka, which is a high end store, and one week at the Real, which is a big/ medium store. Since Joern and I don't really have a set place to buy our produce, bouncing between high end, big/ medium stores, and discounters, I am very interested in the results of the experiment. I guess I can also include a discounter in my experiment, but for me, it isn't realistic that we will ever be shopping for all of our produce from discount grocery stores.
I am only focusing on produce because, right now, we are on the South Beach diet. So, our meals consist mostly of meat and veggies. We have decided, that we will stick mostly with meat from our local butcher. By local, I mean about 9 house fronts away from ours, and all the employees are Neckartailfingers. This is definately not a way to save money, but we know the meat there is very high quality and enjoy supporting local farmers and the local butcher.
Tonight, we enjoyed a delicous salad with the Lamb's lettuce, and some homemade burgers. I'm looking forward to next week's results!