What to stock up on at German supermarkets

What to stock up on at German supermarkets

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

Wondering what to feed the family and your fine self in these uncertain times? When the commissary’s a long drive away or not an option for you, it’s reassuring to know your local German supermarkets have adequate stocks of plenty of long-life items to patch you through in a pinch. Although they too have been experiencing temporary shortages of some items, flour and toilet paper, in particular, an imminent breakdown in food supply chains has not been anticipated.

On March 14, Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Julia Klöckner warned German consumers to refrain from Hamsterkäufe, the colorful German term for panic buying and stockpiling vast quantities of products. That being said, several of the products you might want to have on hand if you foresee yourself not being able to venture out of doors for a while can readily be sourced from your local German supermarket.

During Germany’s shutdown, supermarkets are exempt. The country even lifted the Sunday shopping ban to help thin out grocery store crowds.

Rice: pasta’s been flying off the shelves, but it’s far from the only carb available. Different types of rice lend themselves to Asian-inspired recipes, an Indian biryani or a tasty Italian risotto. You’ll also find a huge range of pre-seasoned pasta and rice side dishes.

Cheese: harder, aged cheeses such as parmesan and cheddar have long shelf lives, and can last for weeks when stored correctly.

Long-life dairy products: UHT milk and cream (Sahne) sold in Tetra Pak cartons remain good for months on end.

Canned tomato products: chopped tomatoes (stückige Tomaten) and tomato paste (Tomatenmark) give a base to countless homemade soups and pasta dishes, and sauces to be heated up and served atop pasta are always good to have on hand.

Bouillon cubes: instant beef, chicken or vegetable broth can be found in cube form, as a powder, or in little plastic containers sold as four-packs.

Canned stews: there’s not much quicker than opening and heating up a can of hearty soup or stew, and there’s plenty of yummy types to choose from, amongst them pea stew (Erbseneintopf), lentil stew (Linseneintopf) or potato soup (Kartoffelsuppe). Meat-lovers might appreciate canned Gulasch. Old familiar favorites such as ravioli, chile con carne and chicken noodle soup are widely available as well.

Canned chickpeas: this excellent and inexpensive source of protein adds texture and flavor to a pasta salad, works well as an ingredient in a home-made soup and are delicious when doused in olive oil and roasted in the oven. Keep hold of the viscous liquid in the can, as it can work as a binder in a number of baked goods.

Mayonnaise: out of eggs? Mayonnaise can step in as their substitute in pancakes and many other baked goods, cookies and cakes in particular.

Meat in jars and cans: these include frankfurters, ham and the Spam-like Frühstücksfleisch.

Dried sausages: Salami, Cabanossi or Kaminwurzen are sold vacuum packed and as such have a long shelf life. In a pinch, they’ll add a bit of flavor and spice to a variety of dishes.

Applesauce: Apfelmus isn’t just for babies; when baking, it can stand in for part or all of the oil called for in bread and cake recipes.

Frozen breads: you’ll find a variety of goods in the freezer section that need no more than popping in the oven for a quick and easy taste of home-baked goodness, from garlic breads to white rolls. Frozen pretzels cook up a yummy treat as well.

Frozen foods: in addition to frozen meat, fish and veg, you’ll find endless varieties of pizza, along with Flammküchen, breaded fish products including the delicious Backfisch, and stir-fry vegetable creations (Wok Gemüse).

English muffins: here, the product we know as such is called Toasterbrötchen and sold in the bread aisle. These are sold in special packaging that keeps them fresh for weeks on end.

Instant mashed potato mix: this stuff you might remember as a gooey mess on your school lunch plate has much improved over the years, and with the proper spices added (rosemary and nutmeg really perk it up) Kartoffelpüree makes for a decent side dish or an ingredient for potato pancakes.

If circumstances don’t allow you to get out the door yourself, you could always try ordering your purchases online and having them delivered to your doorstep. REWE and Netto are just a couple of the large chains to offer such a service, depending on your zip code.

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