Grocery Shopping in America

“I walked to the store and bought bananas, bread, and chicken chest!” my international student friend proudly shared with me. I giggled, and asked her “do you mean chicken breast?”

Being in a foreign place you are learning a new language, as well as how to do basic, everyday life activities, like grocery shopping. One of the things that will surprise you and maybe even paralyze you as you walk into a store, is the number of choices that are available. Plan ahead of time. Knowing what you’re looking for or having a grocery check list before you walk in will help you limit your options. Look up the words in English before you go to make sure you can find it. Some of the items you are looking for might be in the aisle labeled “international food”, like soy sauce. Ask an employee for help if needed.

The majority of grocery stores will have almost everything you need. For country-specific ingredients you can search online for a specialty store. Most cities will have a place called Walmart where you can get your groceries. They also sell other items such as movies, toiletries, and things you may need for your home or dorm room. This is what Americans call a “one-stop shop”. Walmart also offers a variety of other services such as optical and pharmaceutical services. If you need to buy medicine or have a prescription that needs to be filled you can do it while you shop. A similar store is Target, though their grocery section will not be as large as Walmart.

Grocery store chains vary by region so ask others what the best grocery store in your city is. Along the perimeter of the store is where you will find your refrigerated items; such as eggs, meat, poultry, fish, dairy, juices and fresh produce. When picking your fruit and vegetables put them inside the provided plastic bag. When you check out, they are weighed. The U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world that does not use the metric system. Therefore, your meat, poultry, fruits, and vegetables are priced by the pound.

Unlike many other countries and people in the world, most Americans go to the store once a week. Often stores have discount cards that you can sign up for to become a member at no cost. Stores will often have a sale that offers an item cheaper for its members. At some stores, you can rack up points to help decrease the cost of your gas.

Coupons are another way to save money. There are two major coupon categories: manufacturer and store. Manufacturer coupons are for items that are not specific to the store. You can use it at any store that carries that particular item. Store coupons are only specific to that store, so they can only be used in that one place.

This can all be a very overwhelming process, but we as Bridges want to help you navigate it! Please don’t hesitate to ask us questions or ask us to come with you so we can help you while you do it. Good luck and happy shopping!


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