Germany is one of the most developed countries in the world, with one of the highest standards of living. In fact, compared to the rest of the EU, you will find that the living cost in Germany is actually quite reasonable. Whether you are working in Germany, settling permanently, or studying as a student, it’s a reasonable estimate to say that you will need between 850 and 1000 euros a month to cover your living expenses. You should always estimate your cost of groceries in Germany to establish your comfortable living experience.
Of course, before we move on to talk about Germany in detail, we would like to point out that the amount of money you’ll need naturally depends on your living standards and how luxurious or frugally you might prefer to live. In this article, we will provide you with a detailed account on how much you can expect to spend in monthly groceries and entertainment.
Cost of groceries in Germany
In this section we’re going to cover the general list for the cost of groceries in Germany. Do note, that this list is an overall, general price list for grocery products. You may find that in some places, like wholesale stores or farmers’ markets, certain products are available at a cheaper price. Depending on how health conscious you are or if you have particular allergies or dietary preferences, you will find that you will need somewhere between 50 and 60 euros for the cost of groceries each week.
Here’s what we included when calculating this figure.
Milk (1 litre)- 0.7 euros
Loaf of white bread- 1.2 euros
White Rice (1 kg)- 2 euros
Eggs (1 dozen)- 2 euros
Boneless Chicken (1kg)- 8 euros
Beef (1 kg)- 12 euros
Apples (1kg)- 2 euros
Banana (1kg)- 1.5 euros
Oranges (1kg)- 2 euros
Tomatoes (1kg)- 2.5 euros
Potatoes (1kg)- 1 euros
Onions (1kg)- 1 euros
Lettuce (1 head)- 1 euros
Water (1.5 liter)- 0.5 euros
Wine bottle (mid-range)- 6 euros
We took an average of four bottles for a week and 2 kg of boneless chicken to come up with an estimated cost of 52.9 euros each week. Of course, this estimate will depend on your taste as well, but this is the general cost of groceries in Germany.
Additionally, we’d like to add that a can of beer can cost around 0.5 to 2 euros depending on your preference, whether you drink imported or domestic beer and your consumption as well. In Germany, a pack of cigarettes can cost between 6 and 10 euros, depending on the brand and the place you buy it from as well. Soft drinks like Coca Cola and Pepsi cost around 2 euros per bottle and a regular cappuccino is around 2 euros.
There are plenty of options to buy your groceries from in Germany. From farmers’ markets to multinational, major grocery stores, each offer you exactly what you’ll need. Below, we’ve compiled a list of the different types of grocery stores you will find in Germany and what you can expect from them.
Where to get them
Companies such as Lidl, Netto and Aldi offer groceries at the lowest prices possible. Most of the population buys from these places. This is especially because of the weekly and weekend promotions they offer. You can save a lot of money buying from these stores. However, if you’re particularly health conscious, then we would advise that you stay away from the fruits and vegetables aisles. Since most people can simply pick out their choice fruits into bags for measurement, most of the time, the worst looking ones are left.
Avoid missing out on the daily product (that comes once in the morning only). Instead, go to a farmers’ market and pick out farm fresh fruits and vegetables for yourself.
Major grocery chains
Grocery chains such as Real and Kaufland are very much like Walmart and any other major grocery store chain. The best thing about these chain stores is that you’ll be able to find everything under one roof. From household supplies, to groceries to even cheap clothing. These stores aren’t as cheap as the wholesalers. However, they offer a larger variety and depending on your diet, you might like these better. If you care more about the cost of groceries, go to a wholesaler.
These are found in every German town and city and are usually held once a week. You can learn about the farmers’ market in your area by following them on social media. Many people prefer to buy their produce from farmers’ markets, as the fresh produce in the markets tends to run out very fast.
If you’re looking to experience the diversity offered in Germany, then look no further than these markets. There are ethnic communities all over Germany, so you will find these markets in almost every city. Here you can find staple items from these cultures which you can use in cooking delicious meals. If you’re an immigrant from these countries or even an expat who enjoys these cuisines, then visiting these markets is a good idea. They provide with groceries not available in German grocery stores and will make your move to Germany feel more like home.
Metropolitan cities in Germany are amazingly multicultural. It’s not uncommon to find Turkish, Italian, African, Asian, and much more ethnic food stores all over the country. IT’s not uncommon for ethnic grocers to sell food from their home country right next to German foods in their markets.
The word Bio is in reference to organic goods in Germany. You can find a Bio market is just about every town. In major food stores, you can usually find some bio goods as well. Bio has become so mainstream in Germany that you can buy some organic products at Aldi or any other grocer. It costs a little bit more, but those who buy Bio swear that it’s worth it to not put chemicals into your body.
Just like the United States has community-assisted agriculture programs, Germany has them too. You can become part of a CSA, and have fresh, organic, local produce delivered to you ever week for a fee. One such company providing this service is Dirk’s Biokiste.
If you’re looking for a more specific and less mainstream organic food, you’ll need to visit one of the organic supermarkets. It’s also easy in Germany to find ready-made vegetarian and vegan products. As with the organic products, the organic supermarkets will have more choice of vegan and vegetarian food.
Cost of groceries if you buy online
Now, a lot of problems that expats often face when they move to Germany is finding things they use back in their home country. These are things like a specialty sauce or a brand of jam which you may like using. While most products are available in Germany, unfortunately, you won’t find everything in the local departmental stores near your house.
In such an event, you might want to turn to specialty retailers like KaDeWe, short for Kaufhaus des Westens. It is a Berlin-based departmental store where you can find almost every brand available back in America or the United Kingdom. They also offer delivery so that’s an added bonus for you if you are very busy.
You might also want to check Real and Aldi as they also offer online grocery shopping services in some German cities. This can save you loads of time and allow you to spend more time with friends and family.
Bottle return (pfand)
While exploring the streets of Berlin, you may notice a conspicuous absence of bottles. Germany has in place a very effect bottle deposit program, like the one in certain US states. The majority of glass and plastic bottles in Germany come with a small deposit that you can get when you return the bottle.
Simply store the bottles in a bag, and when you fill up a bag you return to the store and put them in a machine. The machine will spit out a receipt of how much money you get for returning the bottles. You take the receipt to the cashier and get the money. Returning bottles can help bring your cost of groceries down as you bring back bottles and get a little in return for them which you can put towards your new groceries.
This highly effective system helps keep city streets cleaner. It helps instill a sense of social responsibility and civic pride. If you leave a glass bottle out on the sidewalk, chances are it will be gone when you come back. This can surely help reduce your cost of groceries in Germany.
The German shopping cart secret
If you’ve ever been to an Aldi in the United States, you may have noticed their peculiar system of shopping carts. It’s this way in most stores in Germany. Most carts in Germany operate on a coin deposit system.
You put in a 50 cent or 1 euro coin into the handle of the cart, and then you can unbuckle the cart and take it around the store. When you’re done shopping, you bring back the cart and get your deposit back.
This system helps cut down on cart scattering in the parking lot. In the US, people like to rudely scatter their carts all around the parking lot – it is not so in Germany. People want their deposit back, so they bring the cart right back to where they found it.
Another small but important detail is bags. You must bring your own reusable bags to the store in Germany. If you don’t, you’ll have to buy your own bags when you check out. This is part of an effort by the German government to cut down on plastic bag use. If you don’t bring your own bags, the overall cost of groceries can be quite high, so bring some bags with you.
There are many great food options in Germany, even if you’re from a foreign country, but it is always better to estimate your cost of groceries in Germany. You can find the foods in Germany to make you feel right at home. They have a wide range of specialty ethnic markets, including American ones. It may also be a great idea to break out of your culinary comfort zone and sample what foods Germany has to offer. You may discover your new favourite snack is a German one. Armed with this knowledge, your next German market trip is sure to be a bountiful one.
Your accommodation can also determine your cost of groceries. Read here more about accommodation in Germany.