Shopping starts with a shopping cart

Finally I’ll write something about grocery shopping in Canada. It’s funny; it’s not exactly our first time around in a supermarket but since we live in Canada we’re having a hard time shopping because we can’t unlock the shopping carts. The coin just doesn’t fit in the slot to unlock the mechanism. But every adventurer needs a bit of luck and finally we managed to unlock the cart. It lasted two weeks until we solved this secret of Canada’s shopping cart.

Save on food

We are at the supermarket chain Save-On-Foods. Actually, this is not our motto because we are willing to pay a little extra for quality food. Somehow, the prices seem to be quite high. $6.59 (4.75 €) for 1kg nectarines, $3.51 (2,53 €) for a kilo of apples. 200 grams of Swiss cheese (from Canada, not imported) cost $5.61 (4,04 €). A Lindt Excellence chocolate bar for $3.46 (2.49 €), the cheapest margerine of 500 grams $4.49 (3,24 €). Usually we don’t convert Dollars to Euros and read the Dollar sign as a Euro sign. That’s not quite right, but we have been told that you could see it that way because the wages are low compared to Germany. There are also foods that are reasonably priced; we bought wild salmon for only $17.61 (12.70 €) per kilo.

Shopping – but not in a hurry

Grocery shopping still takes us very long, because the brands and their packaging are completely new to us and the range is huge. So we always browse carefully through all the aisles to discover new products – and that takes time. We marvel at the large selection, including Asian, Indian and Kosher foods; ready to eat fruit and bulk dried foods which are typically available for self-service with spices, all kinds of nuts, dried fruits, rice, pasta, legumes, oatmeal, couscous, chocolate and candy. In the bakery we have already discovered Black Forest cake and at the deli the Landjaeger can be found next to the Italian prosciutto and Spanish chorizo, bacon and Black Forest ham. The latter may be a ham, but it tastes good.

Large packaging

We’re getting used to bulk packaging. Milk is offered in two-and four-liter jugs, available in tetra pack or plastic container. Later we discovered one-liter packs as well, but since we had gotten used to the two-liter packs which is cheaper and never turns bad, we decided to keep it this way. Sour cream, which is packed in Germany in 150 or 200 gram containers, is availabe in 250 grams, which is a small portion. A 500 gram container is the regular size. A standard margerine container is 500 grams.

The reason why Canadians love the large packaging is that many people are still living at 50 or more miles from the nearest supermarket. Although today more people live near supermarkets, the habit of resorting to large packaging remained.

After several trips to the grocery store we have revealed the mystery of the shopping cart. We always tried to push the coin in the appropriate slot, but it didn’t fit. Finally we found out that one of the locks on the chain that is attached to your cart needs to be used to insert the coin into the mechanism. What you have never seen before is sometimes not easy to recognize – even if it dangles in front of your nose and even if it is explained in big letters.

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