EIGHT ESSENTIAL TRICKS TO MASTER ANY GROCERY CHECKOUT PROCESS IN GERMANY LIKE A NATIVE

featured image german checkout process

When I was checking out at a US grocery store for the first time, I snatched everything from underneath the bagger’s nose and hurled it back into my cart as if my life depended on it.

I like to think the looks I was getting were due to people being in awe of my nimbleness. Grasping on to that belief helps me overcome the delayed feeling of utter humiliation, I suffered about a day later when I realized my mistake.

I hope your first grocery haul in Germany was less cringey – however, don’t fret if it wasn’t: I’ve got you covered. From now on, you’ll seem like a true German!

Just make sure to look crabby the entire time and not say a word. No one will even know the difference.

Read on to discover my eight essential tricks to master any grocery checkout process in Germany like a native.

Oh, and by the way, since we’re talking about spending money, make sure to check out my post on tipping in Germany.

1 USE A CART

This makes things so much easier – especially in the beginning when you’re still getting used to the speed at which the cashier will fling your items at you.

2 POSITION YOUR TROLLEY

At many stores, Aldi or Lidl for example, the end of the checkout counter is shaped in a way that lets you push your cart’s front right up to it, so you can theoretically swipe all your groceries straight into it.

Not that you should – but if things get completely out of hand, you could.

3 PUT THINGS IN THE RIGHT ORDER

When you plump your items onto the conveyor belt, sort them from most to least sturdy. That way, if you end up randomly chucking things into your cart to keep up, nothing gets smashed, with more fragile items landing on top of sturdier ones.

Revive your Tetris skills for some extra fun!

Pro tip: eggs always come last! Don’t ask.

4 PREPARE YOUR BAGS

If you buy a bag, open it and place it on top of the first few items. This way you can start using it right away. Many cashiers will even make it a point to scan any bags first if they’re in the front.

master checkout process

5 PRO TIP: SORT YOUR ITEMS

If you’re not bagging anything yet, still sort your items when plopping them back into the cart – this way they are less likely to get damaged and it’ll be easier for you to pack them later.

I usually stack things needing to be cooled on one side and groceries that can go in a non-insulated bag for the drive home on the other. But you do you – group them by color, size, or last letter – whatever floats your boat, dear!  

This is not a must-do, it just makes putting stuff away a little easier.

6 KEEP UP

Move swiftly – straight from the beginning!

If you start to lose ground, just randomly pitch everything in your cart to catch up. Otherwise, things will pile up and possibly even get shoved over the edge.

Then you’ll have to crouch-runningly chase 12 of your oranges throughout the entire checkout area at Kaufland while your groceries are heaping up more and more to the point where the entire tower will topple over, burying you alive just as you’re coming back with the only two oranges you were able to salvage. Was that worth it?

7 HAVE YOUR WALLET READY

After you’re done Tetris-ing everything onto the conveyor belt, but before hurling your items back into the cart, dig up your wallet. Don’t wait to start scrabbling around in your purse for it until the cashier tells you your total.

If you’re with someone, it’s always best to have one person put things in the cart while the other one focuses on paying.

It avoids long delays and thus stink-eyes from the people behind you.

8 MOVE IT

This is essential to avoid getting yelled at:

As soon as the cashier hands you the receipt, you’re expected to bug off.

Don’t even put your wallet away while still standing there. Have everything in the cart before you get the receipt and be ready to skedaddle!

If you don’t have a cart, just grab everything and move to the bagging surface some stores have across from their registers.

Breathe.

You made it.

Now take your time to pack up.

CONGRATULATIONS

If the person behind you doesn’t try to plow into your ankles with their cart, you’ve completed level one of your German grocery shopping experience and are ready to level up: adding a hungry toddler.

See if you can make it to the final round of cartlessly buying more than you can carry while watching a tantrumy toddler to the sound of your phone ringing in the middle of figuring out why your card got declined.

Comment, to let me know how it went!  

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6 Responses

  1. Jana says:

    I am German, I grew up in Germany and should be used to the checkout in a grocery store. But I am definitely not. All mentioned tricks are very hard for me each time I am going to a supermarket and I am always impressed how fast the cashiers are that I am almost forgetting to keep on pitting my stuff into the cart. To sum it up: I hate this situation every single time I’m in it and I am super sorry for everyone who is coming into a German supermarket for the first time. Good luck!!

  2. Mike says:

    Some more tips. Consider shopping more often. I know it seems counterintuitive, but the experience has been easy since I stopped “stocking up.” Try getting only what you need for the next 5 days. And there are Getränke Stores for a reason. Taking the recycling and beverages out of the grocery trip makes it so much more enjoyable.

  3. Carolyn says:

    Love your blog. I can’t stop reading them and finish my HW. HA!

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