Food Shopping in Gütersloh

When I go food shopping in Gütersloh, I am always trying to compare it with shopping from my past. Is this a good price? Is this cheaper or more expensive? What is the converted price?

Numbeo is not only the world’s largest cost of living indicator, it is also a crowd-sourced global database indicator of quality-of-life rankings. They rated the North Rhine-Westphalia district in which Gütersloh exists as one of the best places to live in Germany. This might be a guess as to the prices of food shopping in Gütersloh.

Some Recent Shopping

Following is a list of some miscellaneous items I have purchased in the last two months. The prices have been converted to the US Dollar and the Imperial Measurement System (pounds, ounces).

Milk                                1.01 (quart) (2.11 lbs.)
Chips *                            2.11 (5.3 oz.)
Colgate toothpaste        1.26 (2.25 oz.)
Coffee beans*                10.10 (8.8 oz.)
Spaghetti sauce             2.65-4.46 (12 oz.)
Cheese                            3.64-4.81 (1 lb.)
Oranges                          2.96-3.42 (bag of 8)
12 Eggs                           3.73 (farm stand)
          Way up from early 2023 when $1.74
Mayonnaise                   2.33 (15 oz)
Peanut butter                 2.24 (12.3 oz) 

Zucchini                         2.43 (2 med. size)
Oats*                              1.26-5.31 (1.65 lbs.)
Mushrooms                    1.79 (carton of large)
Frozen pizza                   2.33 (medium size)
Blueberries                     4.24 (small tray)
Tuna fish                        1.79 (1.89 oz)
Ice cream                        2.32 (1.2 lbs.)
Salt                                   .84 (1.25 lbs.)
Pepper                            2.54 (1.6 oz)
Soap                                  .79 (bar) (3.5 oz.)
Bread                              1.69 (loaf 2.5 lbs.)

I have been confined to shopping in a medium-sized market a few blocks from where I’m living, plus some vegetable and fruit shopping at the local Farmers’ Market. My shop primarily has small sizes of items and a somewhat limited variety. There must be larger supermarkets in Gütersloh, but there are none I can reach by foot. Expatica (an online platform serving expats and the international community) suggests that staple foods in Germany are not too expensive in these larger stores, such as Aldi and Lidl.

Shopping in Germany

One procedure in Germany, and some other countries, is that you must weigh your own individual fruits and vegetables. Mostly you do this on scales in those departments. Here plastic bags are available for these items. Glass and plastic bottles have a refund price and most stores have machines to receive these returns. Each is processed and a total receipt spits out for your use in the store (or to request cash).

Further research indicates that a single person in Germany should be paying about $160.00 – $213.00 a month for the cost of food shopping in Gütersloh. These figures strike me as low, at least compared with the United States. I don’t know if inflation has anything to do with it, but in Germany the August inflation was 9.08 versus the March rate of 21.2.

I have not eaten out in restaurants much, but my perusal of their posted menus strikes me that their prices are high. I generally prefer to cook for myself. However, a cup of coffee and a pastry is about $4.25 and up. Ethnic foods are generally scarce and many expats visit various shops for supplies to cook their own meals. Another alternative readily available to expats is to order online.

Shopping carts are usually plentiful at all grocery stores. They use the system of unlocking them with a coin and then after shopping re-inserting the metal plug to get your coin refunded. Shopping bags can be purchased, but people take their own bags with them. Even at my smaller store, checking out is a bit of a pain. I feel that I am rushed when trying to pack my bag and deal with paying for my goods. It’s especially hard when I’m still learning one coin from another.

Sunday Shopping

There is one guarantee with food shopping in Gütersloh and Germany in general. You cannot shop on Sundays as stores, with a few exceptions, are closed. This was a federal law until 2006 when the individual states were allowed to set their own hours, Monday through Saturday (24/6- a new phrase for many of us). Only two states are still following the federal directive with more limited hours.

Cash is still king, though some of the larger stores do accept credit cards. The sales tax in Germany is 19%, though for food it is 7%. These taxes will show on your receipt, but the price you see when shopping or reading a menu is the final amount you will pay. The VAT tax on large items for non-EU residents can be waived. However, it is not easy to make this happen. Forms must be filled out at the time of purchase, and proof must be given that the item will be leaving the EU within three months.

Food shopping in Gütersloh is primarily like food shopping in most Western grocery stores. Prices are another matter. How do you compare the prices listed above with your own experiences where you live? I welcome your comments.

Fact: Online purchasing is shaping shopping in Germany like elsewhere
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