My first trip to the Portuguese Supermarket

I have a thing with grocery stores – big ones, little ones, and most of all, European ones. They all seem to have a different, I don’t know, vibe to them? Hmm, it’s probably just less advertising, but every trip to a European supermarket for an American is an opportunity to both learn and be completely mind-boggled. Your cart? You put a €2 coin in to unlock it from the other carts, and then when you lock your cart back up, you get your coin back. Your bag? You always have to pay a few cents to get a plastic bag and you always have to bag your own groceries, often times resulting in post-cash register stress trying to cram all your groceries in your bag. Basically, what I’m saying is that if you’re looking for something interesting to do in Europe, just go to any supermarket; it’s bound to be interesting.

Anyway, after my year abroad in Paris, I can tell you that above all, I had learned my Carrefours from my Dias, my Monoprix from my Franprix, and my Leader Prices from my G-20s. This time in Portugal, I’m on a mission to know and understand the grocery stores of this fine land, and I’m honestly only partly kidding right now. Here in Lisbon, I’ve done had the great pleasure of doing my grocery shopping at Pingo Doce, MiniPreço, Continente, and Celeiro and now, I will break down a few of my observations from the Portuguese supermarket.
FullSizeRender (1)For anyone reading, sesame seed butter is not anything close to peanut butter, and I assure you, it is not worth the €4 I talked myself into buying it for.

FullSizeRender (2)What’s more European than non-refrigerated milk? What I do love about this non-refrigerated milk is that it comes in the perfect 1L cartons which I have never seen in the States.FullSizeRender (3)Yogurt mayonese? Ok now that sounds good.FullSizeRender (4)My childhood…in Portuguese
FullSizeRenderWhen translations are not exactly spot on, but still cute anyway

Soy hamburgers on the shelf? See, now this is why people think vegetarian food is disgusting. On another positive note, seitan, a fake soy meat, can be found a whole lot easier here in Portugal than in the States.

Europeans love to do this: put the most random English words on their products.

Sorry, but jello will be disgusting no matter what language it’s in

IMG_7203 copy

Ok, so for my first ever Portuguese grocery store, I managed to find 85% of what I eat on a daily basis, for what I would typically pay back at my Trader Joes off 72nd Street in the Upper West Side, NYC. Impressive! France, take a hint, cuz I feel like I’m starving every time I’m in your country, which is a shame since I am obsessed with all your bread and cheese. As for my acute observations, I noticed that 8 cheese slices only cost €1, Danio yogurt is the creamiest yogurt I have ever tasted, the protein bar I bought tasted like chalk, prokorn bread reminded me of Germany and I’m not even sure if you can buy bread that dark and grainy in the States, and I totally forgot how much I miss muesli.

Now tell me, what do you love/hate about European supermarkets?

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  • Thomas Wamsteker

    As soon as I arrived in Melbourne, Australia for my exchange:

    – Cheap refrigerated juice (NOT $6 a litre)
    – €1 ham and cheese croissants
    – Beer in the supermarket, instead of a bottle shop (which still sets you back $40 for a case)
    – Avocados that don’t cost $3 each

    But what I’ll never miss from the supermarkets in The Netherlands is the tasteless bread: no crust at all and with the consistency of memory foam.

    Edit: Oh, and I miss free range eggs! Australians still think it’s okay to sell cage eggs…

    • OMG that crust-less bread DOES look like memory foam! That is the perfect way to explain it. But see, don’t you agree that going to a supermarket in another country is always, always, always, interesting!

  • Vini Vlog

    Here in Brazil we only have non-refrigerated milk lol but that soy hamburgers on the shelf tho hahaha

  • Oh I bought those soy hamburgers once and ended up throwing them away because they looked so gross when I took them out of the packaging (they were MOIST!) I ended up giving up on vegetarianism for the 5 months I was living there, I found it too hard to keep it up while staying healthy.

    • Yeah, after three weeks, I think I was all quiche’d out. I found Celeiro to be pretty good, but with the lack of veggie-friendly places it definitely makes you question…or reaffirm your vegetarianism!

  • zetasub

    1 thing, you need to pay for the bags due to the new ecological law (10 cents each plastic bag) if you’d notice everyone would have these big eco bags that are 60 cents and can be used for ever. They just got that new law since February also they have a new digital space for computers, pens, phones…

    • See, I think that’s a great law! I’ve seen it all around Europe and I’m pretty sure the USA will adopt something like it soon!

  • SunshineSunshineSunshine

    In the Azores islands (Portugal) groceries have US stuff and European and you don+t have to pay for regular or even strong plastic bags and the prices are much lower than in France etc. and the views are greater etc. the weather is milder than anywhere in Europe and even better than tropical.

  • SunshineSunshineSunshine

    Azores – milk both non-refrigerated and refrigerated. Soy satan, devbil etc. in the US is on the shelf as well! And yes, there is peanut butter, but a bit more expensive than in the US, about up to 2x more expensive.

  • Erika

    I love to visit supermarkets (big or small) in Europe too! About the random words in English we see in a lot of products, this happens here in Brazil too (and we speak Portuguese too, a little bit different from portuguese from Portugal). It´s so annoying sometimes, what´s the difficult to write in the language we are living in? lol…I love to look for different soft drinks (I miss San Pellegrino Aranciatta!) or different chocolates at the stores.

  • Gm Br

    I find it amusing how in Spain there are like 7 aisles for wine. I also love how far the money goes when it comes to certain things. For example LOVE La Casera the wine with lemon in a can for like 50 cents and LOVE how the fancy aperitifs and digestifs are so reasonable. Anisette for 3 Euros a 750 ml bottle! Not to mention a box of white or red for like 79 cents. Don’t HATE the supermarkets they are paradise compared to when as a kid in the 70’s in Italy the selection was so thin and what they had was expensive! Prices relatively are better now on a lot of items. I personally miss the produce they used to get from Tunisia and Egypt. Don’t see much of that. But the produce from Morocco is nice to see and EAT.