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Things I’ve Learned While Grocery Shopping in Israel…

..because it’s more of an adventure than you might think it is!

  1. Don’t expect to find the same things in Israel

    Milk, for example, is cheaper in bags than it is in cartons. It’s better to buy the milk in the bag and then decant it into bottles. (Lesson 1a: save glass bottles in order to store milk after opening the bag!)   Additionally, if something often comes in a box – ie. trash bags – look for other packaging. Sometimes this also means looking in different aisles than in the US.  If you have a vivid imagination, this might be easy – create all sorts of crazy associations and then look in various aisles in accordance with those associations.  If not, well… good luck.

    On the other hand, some things are the same. There are American brand cereals, shampoos and soaps, yogurts, and more! (I’ve spent lots of time trying to sound out brand names while simultaneously avoiding getting elbowed by other shoppers.)

  2. Pictures are your new best friend

    Despite 15+ years of trying to learn Hebrew, I don’t know how to say “garbage bags.” For some reason it’s not considered standard vocab in Hebrew class (can’t imagine why… I’m kidding here). Most items have pictures on the packaging – thus, pictures are my new best friend until I can nail “garbage bags” and other seemingly obscure words (ie. the ingredients in cheese).

  3. Try something new

    I intentionally didn’t bring soap or shampoo in my luggage in order to make the 50lb weight limit. On my first trip to Mister Zol (the supermarket down the street) I made sure to buy some! There were American brands, but they were almost twice the price of the Israeli brands. I’m still not sure what I ended up purchasing, but I’m fairly certain it was the house brand of soap and shampoo. I, however, am over the moon about it! I think it’s fantastic. I even want to bring some home to the States. (And I’m also sure that being this excited over house brand shampoo makes me a Grade A Tourist.)

  4. If all else fails…

    whip out the standard Hebrew phrase “At/ah medaber/et anglit?” – “Do you speak English?” To be used in dire situations only to avoid identifying self as the English-speaker that I am!

    And finally, the lesson we’ve all repeatedly learned…

  5. If it’s Friday afternoon or a holiday, prepare to nearly be trampled by other shoppers.


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