Adapting,  Food

Easy Spanish for Shopping at a Supermarket

Dear Katy,

Learning another language is hard. And one of the hardest things, in our opinion, can be finding the right vocabulary and phrases for when you are doing different things. That is why we are slowly putting together mini-guides for “easy Spanish” targeted at specific situations. So far you can find Easy Spanish for Traveling and Easy Spanish for Restaurants. We have also shared our favorite places to shop for different types of food and budgets in this article. And, as we think that food is an important way to integrate yourself into the community and culture around you, today we would like to talk about some words and phrases that might come in handy while shopping at a supermarket.

This article is based on the main sections you will find at a Mercadona, one of the most common supermarkets that you will find across Spain. However, the words and phrases you learn here can help with whatever food shopping you are doing, regardless of the shop. So, let’s look at some sections you will find at your local supermarket:


Veggies at the Mercadona.

La frutería:

This section of the grocery store is dedicated to selling fruits and vegetables. Oftentimes, we will buy our fruits and vegetables at a local (small) shop, but the same terms apply. You will often pay for things by kilo (2.2 pounds) unless otherwise specified—either by piece or in prepackaged amounts.

Pro-Tip: In many larger supermarkets, you will have to weigh your veggies with a scale provided and use the barcode that is printed at checkout!

las frutas

manzanas

plátanos

cerezas

uvas

limón

melón

naranjas

melocotón

peras

piñas

frambuesas

fresas

sandias

tomates

the fruits

apples

bananas

cherries

grapes

lemon

melon

oranges

peach

pear

pineapple

raspberries

strawberries

watermelons

tomatoes

las verduras

aguacates

brócolis

col

zanahorias

coliflor

pepinos

berenjenas

lechuga

champiñones/setas

guisantes

pimientos

patatas

espinacas

calabacín

the vegetables

avocados

broccoli

cabbage

carrots

cauliflower

cucumber

eggplants

lettuce

mushrooms

peas

peppers (different from the spice—below)

potatoes

spinach

zucchini


Bread at the panadería at the Mercadona

La panadería:

This section of your grocery store, which may also be known as horno or oven, is where you will find bakery goods. Again, although it is common to buy these items at a larger supermarket, it would not be unusual in Spain to buy your bread or other baked goods at a specialty shop. While we have shared a short list here, you will probably find many other types of bread as well depending on where you are shopping and what the clientele base is! Some things you will find in this section include:

pan

panecillo

pan de molde

pan integral

pan de semillas

bollería/pasteles

croissants

magdalenas

napolitana

tartas

tarta de manzana

bread

little bread

sandwich bread

whole wheat bread

bread with seeds

pastries

croissants

muffins

any flakey pastry filled with something (either sweet or savory)

cakes

apple tart


The meat section of the Mercadona.

La carnicería y charcutería:

The carnicería and charcutería are the sections where you will be able to find fresh and cured meats at your local grocery store. However, you will also be able to find small stores that only sell meat and accompaniments around town as well. Either way, the vocabulary below will be useful for you. Again, depending on the store you are at, you will be able to find many other types of meats. These are the basics:

aves

pollo

pavo

cerdo

ternera (y buey)

conejo

cordero

birds

chicken

turkey

pork

beef (and ox)

rabbit

lamb

carne picada


chorizo

jamón curado

jamón cocido

lonchas de pavo

ground meat (usually whatever type of animal(s) indicated on the package)

Spanish chorizo

Spanish ham (see our introduction here)

lunch meat ham

lunch meat turkey


The+fish+section+of+the+supermarket.jpg

La pescaderías:

This section of the supermarket is where you will find fish and other seafood. You will also be able to find individual stores around you city called pescaderías. Either way, you will probably find that you will purchase your seafood products by the kilo and, although they appear otherwise, you can always ask to have it cleaned. You will probably find lots of other types of fish at your local store. The in-depth specifications, however, are enough for another day!

pescado

mariscos

calamares

meijones

gambas

fish

shellfish

squid

mussels

shrimp


Milk stuff at the supermarket. Photo by Squirrel_photos on Pixabay

Lácteos and Quesería:

In the section of lácteos you will find all your milk products—except for the cheeses which you will find in the quesaría.

Pro-Tip: In many places you will not find fresh milk but milk that is outside of refrigerators. This is because in Spain they use Ultra High-Temperature Pasteurization (or UHT) which allows them to keep their milk at room temperature until opened.

leche

leche entera

leche semidesnatada

leche desnatada

nata

milk

whole milk

semi-skimmed milk

skim milk

cream

yogur

queso

mantequilla

margarinas

sin lactosa

yogurt

cheese (check out our beginner’s guide to Spanish cheese for more)

butter

margarine

without lactose

Other foodstuffs:

Other things you might be looking for include:

arroz

arroz integral

espagueti

macarrones/fideos
huevos

aceite

aceite de oliva


cebolla

ajo

copos de avena

cereales

cafe molido

cafe soluble

rice

brown rice

spaghetti

pasta

eggs

oil

olive oil (read our introductory post here)

onion

garlic

oatmeal

cereal

ground coffee

instant coffee

aceituna

patatas fritas

vinagre

sal

pimienta

albahaca

canela

cominos (molido)

oregano

perejil

pimentón rojo dulce

pimentón rojo picante

olives

potato chips

vinegar

salt

pepper

basil

cinnamon

(ground) cumin

oregano

parsley

paprika

‘spicy paprika’ (for when you’re craving something spicy)


Cosmetics at the Mercadona

Perfumería:

This section of the grocery store means perfume shop but this is the place where you will find all your toiletries. We have a whole post on what you should bring to Spain and what you should buy here, but just in case, here is some basic vocabulary to know:

protector solar

toallitas de maquillaje

base de maquillaje

hidratante

exfoliante

lavado de cara

champú

acondicionador

sunscreen

make-up wipes

foundation

moisturizer

exfoliator

face wash

shampoo

conditioner

máscara/rímel

delineador de ojos

pasta dental/pasta de dientes

enjuague bucal

maquinilla de afeitar/cuchilla

gel de baño

jabón

mascara

eyeliner

toothpaste

mouth wash

razor

body wash

soap

You should also know that most Mercadonas, like many other supermarkets in Spain, offer “servicio a domicilio” or house service. This means that they will be willing to pack up your groceries and deliver them to your home (for a price, of course). This is a great service if you want to do your shopping online from the comfort of your couch or you are looking to do a really big shop and don’t have any way to get it home.

Additionally, a new thing that Mercadona is trying out is “listo para comer” or a section where people can buy food that it (literally) “ready to eat.” We have never tried this service, but have heard good things—if you try it, let us know!

And there you have it, our basics for supermarket shopping! Let us know what you usually buy and if we are missing any vocabulary you think is key!

Sincerely,
Spain


Easy Spanish for grocery stores

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