Grocery Shopping in Prague

This is a re-run of a post I shared in 2013 when Dave and I were in Prague to celebrate my birthday. Since we’re creeping up on my 48th (!) and our upcoming move to Prague (!!), I thought it would be fun to revisit.

Note to self: If you want to make deconstructed hamburger salad (p. 38 in Well Fed) with ground beef, it’s best to learn the Czech words for beef and pork before heading out to the Tesco to buy groceries, lest you learn, midway through cooking (thanks,, that the reason your “hamburger” looks so pale isn’t that Czech beef is light-colored but, rather, is because the package you thought was beef is actually pork.

To wit:
mleté maso hovězí = ground beef
mleté maso vepřové = ground pork

Duly noted.

You don’t even want to know the deliciously glutenous treats I’ve enjoyed over the past two days! (Ahem, beer.) But today we decided to hit the grocery store to see what it would maybe maybe maybe be like to be locals. It was a big adventure deciphering labels at the store, but we found most of what we needed, then settled in for an evening of one of Dave’s favorite dinner-at-home meals (the aforementioned hamburger salad) and a viewing of Bridesmaids on the laptop. It was just like at home, except through the open window we could hear tourists wending their way through the alley behind our apartment building and if I looked over my shoulder and out the window, I could see the Týn Church.


But let’s backtrack to the grocery store.

Once upon a time…


Our first challenge was understanding how to acquire a shopping cart. Turns out, to unlock it from its shopping cart brethren, you have to pop a 5-crown coin into a slot on the handle. First, we hit produce where I was happy to load up the cart with onions, garlic, zucchini, cabbage, lettuce, huge red bell peppers, a giant fennel, and cucumbers. They also had all the usual suspects: broccoli, kale, sweet potatoes… pretty much all of the stuff we buy on a regular basis.

Then we browsed the bakery — but didn’t buy anything… even though I was quite taken with pink-and-white-striped doughnuts and dark, crusty bread rolled in sesame, poppy, and caraway seeds. Moving on…

We entered the packaged food aisles and saw these:


No idea what those are… If anyone out there knows what’s in those little containers with the crazy illustrations, please share in comments!

Next up: frozen veggies. There were Mexican (Mexickà) and Chinese (Čínskà) blends, but I chose Mediterranean (zucchini, broccoli, green beans, carrots).



In the meat department, I bought a package of smoked salmon and lean ground beef pork since it’s not grass-fed. (Although I’m indulging in paleo-verboten foods, I’m trying to minimize damage where I can.) We traveled through the Valley of Yogurt (Seriously, there were aisles and aisles of yogurt varieties), to get to the mayo display. Who knew there were so many kinds? (I do miss my blender and homemade mayo!)


Our next detour was through the canned fish section. I almost bought some Norwegian sardines, but then I realized they weren’t filleted. I talk tough, but I just can’t choke down the sardines that include head, tails, and skin. Please don’t kick me out of Paleo Club!

Dave was kind of traumatized by these cans of smoked octopus.


And this lady did not approve. Of anything.


I was delighted when we found the spices and dried herbs. They had all the essentials except cumin. (Despite packages that say “cumin” which are actually filled with caraway seeds. It’s a trick!)



After hitting the candy and potato chip aisles (ssshhhhh…), we were ready to checkout (especially since I had my newly-purchased Reisenthel shopping bag).


I said “Dobry den!” to the checkout clerk, and she launched into a verbal paragraph of Czech, which made me feel welcome and like a dumb-dumb. “Learn Czech” is on my to-do list; better get on that! (Read this for a few reasons why learning Czech seems very daunting.)

Here’s our haul, including the non-paleo treats; avert your eyes if you’re sensitive.

Ground beef pork, smoked salmon, extra-virgin olive oil, cider vinegar, three kinds of mayo (to taste test. Verdict: none are as good as homemade; Czech brand was better than Hellman’s), dried herbs, and spices.


Onions, garlic, cabbage, fennel, zucchini, cucumbers, butter lettuce, iceberg lettuce, frozen Mediterranean veg, and red bell pepper.


Chocolate in 75% and 80%, a tiny packet of chocolate-hazelnut spread, plus Slovakian Miňonky bars, the most delicious, evil, not-dark chocolate ever, and my nemesis: flavored chips. I settled on ham & garlic and a bag with what looks like a meat-and-veg shish kebab on the front. They also had Roasted Chicken, Lemon Salt, and Cream and Onion flavors.


I stowed the groceries in our fridge, then rattled some pots and pans. First up, browning the ground beef pork…


… and eventually, after much somewhat frustrating chopping on a very small cutting board and tossing the salads in a soup pot in lieu of a salad bowl, we had hamburger (porkburger?!) salad…


We also had a side of not-very-photogenic sautéed zucchini and were feeling so virtuous, we might have shared a Miňonky bar. Maybe.

The end.

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  • amy says:

    did I somehow miss the big announcement? or is this it? Prague?!?! how exciting!

    • We’re moving to Prague next May. The countdown is on!

      • Mary says:

        Hi Mel. Why such a big move? If that is too personal, I understand. On a more selfish note, will you continue your blogging and weekly “Five Paleo Dinners To Cook Next Week” emails? Your website and communications have been very valuable to me. Many thanks and best of luck to you.

        • This move has been in the works for about 5-6 years. We’ve wanted to be geographically independent so we could travel more, and we’ve wanted to have more adventures and see more stuff. Prague is reasonably affordable, SO RIDICULOUSLY beautiful, and centrally located so we can travel all over Europe while we’re there. And yes, I’ll still be working on my blog and recipes, although there will definitely be content about adventures sneaking into the mix.

  • Jana says:

    Those colorful containers mostly contain various spreads. I am Czech, but I had to use Google here because I don’t know those products, and after checking the ingredients I am not really tempted to try. The illustrations depict Ruda Pivrnec, a rather popular cartoon character:
    You get too see plenty of simiarly stylish men in the Czech Republic. 🙂

  • Nina says:

    Yay, so excited!!! 🙂 Loved this post back then, loved it again 😀 😀 😀
    Can’t wait for you to be here, guys!!! 🙂 I suppose Smudge is coming too??? :)) (well Smudge is actually the one I am looking forward to see the most, you guys don’t even have to come, just send Smudge…) 😀
    Sending hugs and kisses from your future hometown 😀

    • You say that now! But Smudge is selfish with her love… she is, however, very soft and cute. Can’t wait to see you in Prague! ?

      • Karen Gress says:

        Nina, you are doing your blog in both English and Czech? Wow. Congrats!
        Mel? are you going to start doing yours in two languages?
        Smudge will have to learn a new language too.
        Enjoy. After living in Germany for so many years it sounds like a wonderful adventure.

        • HAHAHAHAHA! I wish I could do a blog in both Czech and English. I plan to take Czech classes, but I doubt I’ll ever be able to master it enough to write blog posts in Czech. It’s SO hard.

  • Mel says:

    WOW! Congrats on the impending move! I went to Prague last year for a conference; what a beautiful city, and reasonably priced for Europe.

    (One of my favorite hobbies when traveling is to explore the local grocery stores and see what’s around!) 🙂

    • Prague is INSANELY beautiful but still also has some urban edge. I just love it and can’t wait to see what it’s like to live there. Thanks for sharing our excitement!