When it comes to grocery shopping on the Belgian economy, there are a few options. In the Mons area there are a few "supermarkets" - the chains are Carrefour (think French wal-mart), Colyrut and Champion.
These markets are about the size of a Trader Joe's. They have a bakery, cheese counter and a meat counter in addition to the standard produce section, canned goods, wine section, cleaning supplies, paper goods, etc.
Shopping in these places is fairly similar to what you would find in the US. Grab cart or basket, load up with what you want to purchase, put stuff on conveyor belt, stand in line and pay. There are a few slight differences.
If you want to use a shopping cart, you must have correct change. The shopping carts are all chained together. To release a cart, one must have a 50 euro cent coin. Not 50 cents in assorted change, but the actual 50 cent piece. When you are done shopping and link the cart back with its friends, out pops your 50 cent coin.
You are your own bagger. Most people bring their own shopping bags, but there are bags available for purchase.
In general there is a greater emphasis on fresh food versus prepared food, though prepared foods are available. Potatoes are plentiful and cheap. Pork and beef are also plentiful and reasonably priced. Chicken is quite expensive. Leeks seem to be a popular food item as well. Outside of the fresh food a good amount of floor space is given over to wine and chocolate.
We were pleased to discover that there is a soy brand that is well stocked in local markets. Alpro Soya makes several flavors of yogurts and puddings in addition to boxed soy milk and soy margarine. This helps us add some variety to Allen's diet, as this type of soy product is not available at the commissary.
In general, I enjoy shopping at these local markets, it is good for practicing my French skills and I can buy goodies - tiramisu, chocolate mousse, fresh bread, brie, etc that I can't get at the commissary.
Tomorrow- traditional food shopping