Pretty much the first thing we had to in Denmark was go to a supermarket. With a toddler in tow take-away wasn’t an easy option, and there were only so many nappies we could fit in our hand luggage. After we waited longer for the bus than it would have taken for us to walk, we missed the bus stop (luckily the bus looped back). An inauspicious start.
Despite having read some briefs of what the shops are like, having to locate them, work out where in the aisles items are, and what the hell the packaging meant, was exhausting. I don’t think I’ve entirely come to grips with them yet. I could tie myself up in knots trying to work out where is the ‘best’ place to shop; milk is cheaper at Netto, but Føtex sells a better range, and the vegetables at Netto aren’t worth buying. But Kvickly is closer… The trouble is once you have settled in somewhere habit makes most of the decisions for you. It makes life a lot easier. I’m beginning to see why brand loyalty matters so much, and why supermarkets advertise so heavily in the hope of breaking a habit and attracting just a few more shoppers.
Budget does have to be a consideration living here, but I don’t like to just buy cheap. I like food. I like to cook. I like to eat. I like to know that I’m buying a fair product. Canberra had a fabulous Farmer’s Market which we loved. I miss our Saturday morning shop and coffee. It was lovely to wander through the market, pick up fresh, local product and plan a menu for the week. Arriving in a Northern European winter a similar approach to shopping would have meant eating potatoes, cabbage, potatoes, and apples. And pork. Lots of pork. All perfectly good ingredients, just not the diet that I’m used to.
We are making progress though. We’ve worked out where to buy fresh fish, and it was reasonably good. We’ve also discovered where we can go to buy obscure ingredients – like rice vinegar and mirin. I’ve always thought my cooking had a heavy Italian influence. Moving here made me realise how many Asian ingredients I take for granted, and I’ve been craving that fresh, salty, spicy taste hit.
I’m also beginning to realise that obsessing over a few kroner, trying to decide where ‘best’ to shop isn’t worth it in terms of the mental health cost. Perhaps it was an element of trying to control what I can control. We can still be mindful of our budget without splitting our weekly shop between three supermarkets. Dragging a toddler to one is enough! Time to just get the shopping done, and enjoy the cooking afterwards.