I love going grocery shopping. There are so many different kinds of food in the grocery store (supermarket). I really enjoy seeing all the different fruits, vegetables, and snacks that are available. There is so much variety in the aisles (rows of shelves that hold the groceries). Going grocery shopping in English is easy for me, but when I want to go grocery shopping in a foreign country, it can be difficult.

If you don’t know the names of certain (specific, special, exact) foods, they can be hard to find (or ask for them!) in a store. It can be exciting (nice, fun) to go grocery shopping in foreign countries, too, because there is often a lot of different foods that you’ve never seen before!

If you want to know some phrases for grocery shopping in English, we’ve got you covered (will help you)! Keep reading to learn more about grocery shopping in English.

Aisles / Sections

Grocery stores are usually divided up (split, put into categories) into aisles and sections. Aisles are rows of shelves in the middle of the store. Think of a library of food!

Sections, like the produce section, dairy section, and frozen food section are generally (normally) placed up against the walls of the grocery store. There are usually not aisles in sections.

For example:

  • “Where can I find the apples?” “In the produce section. It’s at the front of the store.”
  • “Can you please go grab (get) some cereal? It should be in aisle two.”

Weighing Produce

In many grocery stores, fruit and vegetables are sold by the pound or kilogram. There are scales (machines/devices to tell the weight of something) in the produce (fruits and vegetables) section to weigh your fruits and vegetables.

Typically (normally), you put your produce in a plastic bag, place the bag on the scale, select (choose, pick) what type of produce you want to weigh, and the scale will print out a label with the price of your produce. This label can then be scanned at the cash register/check out by the cashier (person who scans all the food and whom you pay).

For example:

  • Could you please weigh the potatoes for me and check that we have a pound?
  • Cherries are three dollars per pound today. Let’s buy half a pound. Can you find a scale where we can weigh them?

The Deli

If you eat cheese or meat, you’ll love the deli. The deli counter is where you can buy cheese and sandwich meats at the grocery store.

At the deli, there will be an employee (worker) standing behind the deli counter (refrigerated/cooled glass box where the cheese and meat is kept/stored). You tell the employee what kind of sandwich meat or cheese you would like, and how much (also sold by the pound/kilo). They will cut the meat or cheese for you, weigh it, wrap it up (package it with paper), and hand it to you. You can pay for this later at the check out.

For example:

  • Do we need any bologna or roast beef? If so, we should go to the deli counter.
  • Can you run to the deli and get a quarter pound of swiss cheese, please?

The Bakery

Much like the deli, there is usually a bakery in a grocery store, too. The bakery is one of my favorite places in the grocery store because I love the smell of freshly baked bread!

At the bakery, you can find all kinds of (many different) baked goods: bread, bagels, croissants, cookies, rolls, pretzels, and even cake. The bakery is the place to go when you need any kind of bread!

For example:

  • I’d love to have some bagels for breakfast. Let’s swing (stop) by the bakery and pick some up.
  • She went to the bakery to buy a cake for the birthday party.

Shopping Cart / Basket

When you’re going grocery shopping in English, what do you put all of your food items in? You can use either a shopping cart or a shopping basket when you’re shopping. A shopping cart is a large trolley or wagon with wheels that you push around and can fit a lot of groceries in. A basket (small plastic container with a handle to carry it) is much smaller and can be carried on your arm around the store. I use a shopping cart when I make a large shopping trip. When I only need a few things, I use a basket.

For example:

  • Do we need a lot of groceries? Should we get a shopping cart or a basket?
  • I only need some milk, bread, and apples, so I’ll use a basket in the grocery store.

Check Out

When you’re finished shopping, you go check out. This is where you pay for your groceries. You put your groceries on a band/belt (where you put your groceries, it moves closer to the cashier), the cashier (worker whom you pay) scans the grocery items, and in the U.S., another employee- the bagger- bags your groceries for you. Then you pay the cashier for everything and your grocery shopping trip is done!

For example:

  • Do we need anything else, or can we go check out?
  • There was only one employee at the check out, so she bagged the groceries herself.

Do you enjoy going grocery shopping or not? Could you go grocery shopping in English? What’s your favorite section of the grocery store? Share your experiences with us in the comment below!

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Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and would be more than happy to give you a tour of her local grocery store to show you what her family likes to eat.

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