In general, the cost of groceries in Germany is particularly cheap. Compared to what I’m used to spending in California, and even accounting for the conversion between dollars and euros, the overall cost of shopping at a supermarket is significantly less.
Something that’s an even better bargain than grocery stores is farmer’s markets. Farmer’s markets in Sonoma County brought together the organic growers of the local community, which was good, except they were often a bit bourgeoisie. In my experience, the items offered were fresher and even tasted better than those in stores, but they also cost a lot more. The only time it ever seemed possible to really get a bargain on quality produce was to hit up highway stands.
But here in Berlin, we have Turkish markets, such as the one that takes place every Tuesday and Friday on the border of Neukölln and Kreuzberg. These places have the selection, the quality and the low prices. Yesterday I went there with a good friend, and while there were plenty of things I wanted to buy, I only purchased what I needed for meals this week. That’s one thing I am learning about living here in Germany, and that is that it’s better to buy fresh produce and ingredients as they’re needed, instead of stocking up on things that might later on go bad.
Here’s what I got:
Kohlrabi – this is a turnip vegetable that is sold in produce sections everywhere. While many stores remove the leaves and sell only the bulb, I actually use the leaves in making a variation of kale salad. As a vegetable, kohlrabi is particularly sweet and is both low in calories and high in fiber. Normally one of them sells for about .79 at a grocery store. I paid 1 euro for 5 of them.
Pide Ekmeği – this is Turkish flat bread, which can be found at Turkish grocery stores and bakeries throughout the city. It’s large and round and typically sprinkled with sesame seeds on top. Unfortunately, while wondering how difficult it was to make, I looked up recipes and learned today that often it’s made with either a milk or yogurt spread put on top before it’s baked, making it not vegan. Who would have thought? That could easily be remedied by brushing soy milk or water on top instead, but I doubt anyone would take kindly to my suggestion. While these are typically sold for 1,20-1,50 euros in the store, I got this for 1 euro.
Almonds – like most nuts, almonds are not entirely cheap. Additionally, they always are on sale pre-packaged; I’ve yet to find a grocery store in Berlin with a nut bar like at the newer Safeways in California. But the advantage of the market is choosing exactly how much I want and still getting a good price. Although I later saw some stands with slightly lower prices, for 100 grams of almonds, I paid 1,40 euro, which is still good.
Oregano – I don’t use oregano on a regular basis, but it’s always an herb that’s good to have on hand, just in case. Typically, grocery stores and markets sell 100 gram packages of spices for anywhere from 1,50 to 2,50, and sometimes even more. This bag? 1 euro.
Tahini – because I love having freshly-made hummus on a regular basis, and because I love Mediterranean and Turkish cuisine in general, having tahini around the house is necessary. Although peanut butter can be used in some recipes as a replacement, there’s still nothing quite like the real thing. Unfortunately, it’s expensive. Tiny jars of about 125 grams sometimes go for 3 or more euros in conventional supermarkets here in Germany. Because they’re expensive and don’t last long, I hesitate to buy them. But at the Turkish market, I got this 600 gram jar for 4 euros! Definitely not regretting this purchase, which is certain to last a long time.