This may seem like a subject where a guide of this type isn't needed - yet some unarguably subjective experience says it very much is.
Unless you're wealthy enough to pay a personal assistant to do your shopping for you — and congratulations if that's the case — or particularly technology addicted, chances are you go to the supermarket at least once or twice a week.
It's not something most of us love, but we certainly feel pretty expert at it. After a visit or two you basically know where everything is, and what more is there really to it?
Quite a lot, actually. Supermarkets are social melting pot, not least in a country like Luxembourg with its small but highly international population. They are also a minefield when it comes to the ongoing fight against plastic waste - something we most definitely need to think about here in Luxembourg.
A quick caveat before we get to the meat of this article - this is not an integration guide for expats. You won't fit in better by following the rules below (not least the first one), but you will certainly be a better person.
Don't be the person at the back of the queue who rushes to a newly opened till like a bee-stung bull, knocking over old ladies and sending toddlers sprawling should they dare be in your way. The people ahead of you have queued longer than you, and there's no harm in asking (whether verbally or with a friendly glance) if they want to move over first. This should be so obvious as to be painful, but experience tells me it's quite clearly not.
Do let people ahead of you if they only have a couple of items while you've got enough food in your trolley to survive a nuclear winter. You will lose a maximum of 30 seconds while they will save up to 5 minutes, if not more, and you get to be a good person by making someone's day a bit less frustrating. It's a win-win situation.
Don't put your fingernails into fruit and veg to see if the flesh is to your liking. There are few things more disgusting than buying an apple only to realise when you're home that someone has stuck their grubby nails into the flesh, thus infecting it with god knows what. Fingers go into places and touch things we'd rather forget about when it comes to eating, more so if they're someone else's.
Do offer to help people if you see them struggling to reach something on a shelf. While seeing a short person jump to reach a pack of cereal may be humorous to some (and I'm not judging), it's pretty frustrating for them. Lend a hand.
Don't become obsessed with the best-before date. This is more of an after-purchase tip, but while you may not want to buy milk that will expire tomorrow, some (most) products will stay fresh way past the date listed. Eggs, for example, will keep for several months past their best-before if kept in the fridge. Don't waste food if you don't have to.
Do keep an eye on your fellow shoppers if you're aimlessly meandering through the aisles. While you may have all the time in the world, others may not — and there are few things more frustrating than finding every single aisle blocked by an indecisive slow-walker and/or seemingly abandoned trolleys when you're in a rush.
Don't pick up fresh bread and rolls with your bare hands. The tongs are there for a reason, and that reason is pretty similar to what I noted above. No one wants to buy bread that's been squeezed, fondled, stroked, or otherwise manipulated by dozens of hands before it reaches their mouth.
Do sneeze into your elbow if you feel the sudden and irresistible urge to expunge a fine mist of saliva and other bodily fluids through your oral and nasal orifices. Remember that your hands will be touching a multitude of (PACKAGED) products and surfaces while you're in the shop, and will bring your germs with them.
Don't spend an age chatting to the cashier if there are people behind you. Of course they are people too and a chat may make their working day more interesting, but don't hold up the queue by excessively slowing them down or taking an eon to put your change away just so you can prolong the chat. We've got places to go, and if looks could kill you'd be a goner.
Do bring reusable bags. This should include both the shopping bags you put everything in once hit the till and smaller bags for fresh fruit, vegetables, and fruit. You can buy both at most supermarkets, and it saves a lot of unnecessary plastic waste. Some supermarkets have also started offering biodegradable bags in the fruit and vegetables (but usually not bread) section - remember that you can reuse them as compost bags at home if you do use them!
Don't buy pre-packaged/sliced/diced/grated fruit, vegetables and cheeses unless you physically cannot do this yourself. These are great for people with mobility issues or other handicaps, but the rest of you should really just stop. The amount of packaging that goes into this nonsense is just unreal, and for most of us it really shouldn't be that hard to peel an orange. Pretty much anything sold pre-prepared will also not keep as long as the raw ingredient(s) within in their natural form. Lose-lose, ya know.
Do consider where the food you're buying is from. Try to buy local and seasonal produce when you can, and organic if you can afford it. Not only will you minimise your impact on the environment, chances are the food will also taste far better. It will also be cheaper, at least on a like-for-like basis.
Don't just leave food on the floor if you knock something down. It's just plain rude. If it's bruised/broken, pick it up and let a store employee know rather than putting it back on the shelf for some other unwitting customer to buy. If there's shards or liquids involved, make sure to bring it to staff's attention right away to avoid injury. Common sense, but you'd be surprised at how many people don't do this.
Do think about the cashier when you're putting things on the checkout conveyor. If there's not enough space for all of your purchases right away, just wait a moment - don't start building a postmodern pyramid of sausages and milk. Heaping stuff on top of each other will slow the cashier down. If you've got the time you should also place the bar code facing the scanner, or make it visible to the cashier.