Monday, January 23, 2012


Things have been going remarkably well here in Finland. I hesitate to write that (or say it out loud) because I'm afraid the little world we've built here for our family will come tumbling down!

If there is one thing I'm having a bit of an adjustment with, however, it would be grocery shopping.

At home, I'm super organized. I have weekly menus for 6 weeks out. Then, we start with Week 1 again (before you mock me, try it). When I know the meals we'll be having for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the week, I can make a shopping list and get ALL of my shopping done in one outing. I pretty much hate grocery shopping, so I am not one to shop around for deals at Costco, Aldi, etc. I go to Jewel once a week and that's it. I'm done for the week.

But that's not quite how things work here.

I don't know what is "normal" by Finnish standards, but for us, right now, we need to shop every single day. And let me tell you, besides Lily, none of us like it.

We shop at 3 main stores: K Supermarket (like Jewel or Dominicks), K Market (a smaller version of Jewel or Dominicks closer to home) and Lidel (a German market that has some great deals--maybe like an Aldi?).

This is our local K Market. Lily loves to shop at K Market because they have mini carts for children and she is in charge of our "load."

KMarket store

K Market

It's kind of small inside and difficult to maneuver with children in tow, but basically offers everything we need. (At least I think it has everything I need. Since I don't read Finnish or Swedish, sometimes I'm not quite sure what I'm buying. I just cross my fingers and throw it in the cart!)

Groceries in Finland (like everything else) are EXPENSIVE. We need to be super careful about how much we spend. Each daily outing to the grocery store runs about $20-$25 US in addition to a "big" outing that we will make once a week to the K Supermarket running around $150.

Fortunately the K Supermarket isn't too far away, but you can only buy as much as you can schlep home without a car. We purchased this little cart to help with that. But for a family of five, that little bag barely holds the milk we drink in a day!

hand cart

Milk. Or, as Lily likes to say, Maito. (It drives Sam CRAZY that Lily never says milk anymore.) I think it's cute.


Let's get a bit of perspective on the milk carton, shall we?

maito perspective

There. That's better. See how tiny that carton is? Seriously, this family of five can go through three of those in one day.

maito mustard

On the other hand, I doubt we will finish this bottle of mustard by the time we go home in July! I think the contrast here is hilarious!

I have spent a LOT of time in grocery stores the past two weeks trying to figure out what I'm buying. I'm using my English, Spanish and the little German I remember to figure out what items are. I spent about 45 minutes working on spices the other day using color, pictures of spices and various languages to piece together my spice needs. I came home and smelled them all and found all were exactly what I thought they were!

grocery haul

I'm hoping that container of Mork Sirap is molasses--can any of my Swedish friends weigh in?


  1. You're such a brave, good-natured soul ... just looking at your haul of groceries freaks me out. Nothing is in English!!! That plus grocery shopping every day plus the expense plus the fact that you have to walk would all equal one very sad Denise. Good thing it's you over there and not me : )
    So enjoy reading your updates every day ... keep 'em coming!

  2. Tumma is dark and siirappi is syrup, so yes, you are on right track there. You should be able to get a dictionary app to your phone. In British terms it is a lot darker than golden syrup and a lot lighter than treacle. I think you'll find the taste slightly different to US molasses. That is by the way, one thing I really miss from Finland.

    Why don't you ask people. Most Finns speak excellent English and I would hate to think you live there and never find out what is available in the shops and what Finns do with the ingredients.

    The better quality & taste mustard is sold in metal tubes like toothpaste. Mustard colour with green or red (?) and black stripes "Turun Sinappia".

    1. Thank you Skottimama!

      We have been asking people in the grocery store about lots of items. I just don't want to be too annoying! I think that particular day, we had already asked about 10 other items and I just couldn't bother someone else. Yes, Finns have EXCELLENT English. I will look for the mustard you mention as I am a bit fan of good mustard. I always joke that the only reason to eat sausage is so that you have something to put the mustard on!