Continuing on with my grocery store theme this month (I’ve already covered who does it better and similarities), this week I’m sharing some grocery store surprises. Or, things that might shock an American, anyway.
- Eggs are not refrigerated. This is a difference I still shake my head at each time I pick up a container of room temperature eggs. Being the American I am, I quickly get them in the fridge as soon as I get home. I know it’s completely fine, I just can’t seem to get used to it. And you have no idea how long it took me to the find the eggs the first time I went shopping. I scoured every refrigerated area of the store until I was so frustrated I asked someone. Who knew they’d send me to the baked goods aisle?
- Speaking of refrigeration, there’s a sign by the bananas in most of the stores encouraging people not to refrigerate their bananas. Apparently some people must do that?
- If you get anything from the butcher or the fishmonger, they’ll send you off to finish your shopping while they wrap up your order. As I stood there waiting for my piece of halibut the first time I ordered some fish, the woman working there looked at me like I was crazy and quickly realized I had no idea what I was doing. Off she sent me to finish my shopping. Like most Brits, at least she was quite polite about it, although I’m sure she was chuckling at my ignorance.
- You may get handed a small token at the end of your shop. Or slip of paper. These are charity programs. For instance, if you spend a certain amount at Waitrose, the cashier will hand you a small green token. As you leave the store there are several bins, each representing a different charity. When you drop your token in a particular bin, Waitrose will make a donation to that charity. Don’t confuse the token as being a perk or loyalty thing and try to use it as a discount coin the next time you shop. Only silly Americans would do something like that. *cough*
- The cashier will not begin scanning your items until you completely unload your cart. I’m still not quite sure why this is, but the first few times I shopped, it was incredibly awkward. I assumed I was doing something wrong until I got the hang of it. And I still fumble around a bit when there’s not enough space on the conveyor belt for all my purchases to fit. I usually just ask them to start scanning anyway.
- Don’t let your kids stand on the end of the cart. Excuse me… trolley. I usually let me 4-year-old stand on the step at the end of the cart as we moved around the store in the U.S. (He was always careful and I kept a close eye on him.) I was quickly scolded at a store for allowing him to do that. Tsk, tsk. So no more of that!
Next week, I’ll write a bit about the various grocery store chains you find here, so stay tuned.