Supermarket Souvenirs – Scotland

Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - Cheap Treats from ScotlandWondering what to buy from Scottish supermarkets either for yourself or the folks back home? Shortbread is the obvious place to start. But don’t buy these butter-laden treats from the expensive tourist shops in town. Stock up at the supermarket!

Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - Cheap Treats from ScotlandScottish stores have no shortage of shortbread (ha). Walkers is the most famous, but step out and try other brands. We even found gluten-free shortbread at Sainsbury’s.

To be clear, shortbread is not actually bread, but a cookie (er, biscuit, sorry). And to eat it properly, you need tea. Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - Cheap Treats from ScotlandPerhaps you’ve heard of English Breakfast Tea. But, did you know there’s such a thing as Scottish Breakfast Tea? The Kitchn explains the difference, but you can read it for yourself right on the package. It’s especially made to be brewed with soft Scottish water. So do make a pot while you’re in country.Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - Cheap Treats from ScotlandIf you’re going to go to all the trouble to make tea while on holiday, you may as well pick up some tea cakes from Tunnock’s. These little calorie bombs are a puff of marshmallow placed on a biscuit and coated in chocolate. While you’re at it, pick up a package of Tunnock’s caramel wafer biscuits. Apparently, they’re the national treat!Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - Cheap Treats from ScotlandIf you’d like something that more resembles actual cake to go along with that tea, unwrap the famed Kirriemuir Gingerbread. Again not bread, this treat hails from the same town as the author and playwright J.M. Barrie of Peter Pan fame. Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - Cheap Treats from ScotlandAnother sugary snack is what’s known as tablet. It looks like fudge, but it’s not soft. Our pal wikipedia clarifies.. “Tablet is a medium-hard, sugary confection from Scotland. Tablet is usually made from sugar, condensed milk, and butter, boiled to a soft-ball stage and allowed to crystallize. It is often flavoured with vanilla, and sometimes has nut pieces in it.” YUM!Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - Cheap Treats from ScotlandIf you’re a texture eater and can’t get over the crumbly consistency of tablet, you may as well go ahead and try the fudge instead. You’ll have plenty of brands to choose from, but Mrs Tilly’s is quite famous.. and apparently gluten-free, too!Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - Cheap Treats from ScotlandAre you in a sugar coma yet? Let’s take a break from the sweets and go with another traditional Scottish food, the oatcake. I saw a zillion and one brands, flavor, and texture varieties at the grocery store. These little rounds are quite the versatile meal ingredient, and they can be served at breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - Cheap Treats from ScotlandI’d be remiss not to mention haggis, but given my absolute abhorrence when it comes to organ-based dishes, I can’t offer any personal recommendations without wretching. (I am not an adventurous eater..)

I found these haggis chips (crisps) flavored with sheep parts for those who only want a taste without the liver-full commitment.Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - Cheap Treats from ScotlandAre you sick to your stomach? No, just me? Well, a little carbonation should help. Irn-Bru is the Scottish soda to try (unless, of course, you’d rather have a Scotch & soda..). It’s bright orange with a very unique taste. I’m not sure how to describe it, but if you like Mountain Dew and all it’s variations such as Code Red, you’ll probably like Irn-Bru.

Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - Cheap Treats from ScotlandAnd last, but not least, this Saltire rock candy is a fun way to bring home the Scottish flag. Bonus: it tastes like Irn-Bru!

What are your favorite supermarket souvenirs from Scotland?  Anything I missed?

Headed to Edinburgh?  Check out my posts about visiting Scotland with kids!Signature-Marigold

GIVEAWAY (Closed): Win an Italian Not-Exactly-Coffee Break!

Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - ItalyUpdate: Giveaway is now closed.

Can’t make it to Italy any time soon, but want to try some Italian supermarket souvenirs I’m giving away an Italian not-exactly-coffee break! 

Here’s what’s inside:

  • Orzo Bimbo – A caffeine-free coffee alternative packaged in a container sure to make you chuckle every time you open your cabinet. (more on orzo here)
  • Ghiottini Cantucci – Authentic Tuscan biscotti, made in Firenze.
  • Ritter Sport Espresso Chocolate – From Germany, but Italian-inspired!

And here’s how to enterone entry per email address (required):

  1. Click over to Our Tuscan Family Adventure post, and pick which item on our Italian bucket list you enjoyed the most.
  2. Then come back here, and leave a comment telling me which post was your favorite and why.
  3. You must leave a comment on THIS post; comments on the Tuscan Family Adventure post will NOT count!!

Extra entries – may be earned once per day:

  • Facebook – Share the giveaway on your timeline, and then come back here and leave a comment letting me know you did so.  (If you haven’t liked TTM on Facebook yet, now would be a good time to do that!)
  • Twitter – Tweet about the giveaway, and then come back here, and leave a comment letting me know you did so.
  • Pinterest – Pin your favorite image from the post you chose from Our Tuscan Adventure.  Then come back here, and leave a comment letting me know you did so.
  • Tag – Make sure to use @T_Travel_Mama and #tuscancoffeebreak where applicable!

Other fine print:

Contest ends on Friday, October 11, at 6pm EST.  A winner will be chosen at random and notified via email within 48 hours.  Winners must claim their prize within five days, or a new winner will be chosen.  Contest open to readers worldwide. Giveaway sponsored by Thrifty Travel Mama.

Good luck!!

Congratulations to Manda – look for an email from me soon 🙂

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Italian Supermarket Souvenirs… and a GIVEAWAY!

Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - ItalyHowdy there, and happy Monday!  Today I’m sharing some fun souvenir ideas that can be found in Italian supermarkets.  If you’re headed to Italy any time soon, you’ll want to make some notes.

But, even if you won’t be able to wander the aisles of the local supermercado in person, I’ve done a little shopping for you, and I’m giving a supermarket souvenir prize pack away to one lucky reader!  A link to the giveaway is located at the end of this post.

Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - ItalyLet’s start with the obvious – pasta.  An Italian grocery store is full of all kinds of great noodle shapes in various sizes.  I wouldn’t suggest wasting luggage weight on plain ol’ penne, so look for something that’s made regionally, such as pici.  If you peek in the kiddie aisle, you’ll notice several types of pasta made just for babies and toddlers!

Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - ItalyThrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - ItalyYou’ll need to dress up those carbs somehow, and you’ll find an assortment of gourmet pasta sauces in the next aisle.  But remember, most Italians make their own (and you can too!), so you may be better off carting home a few tins of San Marzano tomatoes.

Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - ItalyAnd, while we’re on the subject of making your own, find the flour aisle and look for Farina Tipo 00.  This is one of the two kinds of flour that Italians use to make pasta and pizza (the other is semolina, but I wouldn’t bother making room for it in your luggage since it’s more readily available outside of Italy).  For a fun gift idea, pick up a pizza dough mix like the one above and an Italian-style rolling pin.

Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - ItalyMmmmmm, cheese!  Okay, this isn’t going to make it home in your suitcase, but I highly recommend trying some Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese.  I must warn you, however, that it’s not cheap.  Doc Sci found this big block with major sticker shock – 82 euros!

Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - ItalyLet’s talk liquids.  Realistically, you won’t be lugging any five-liter bottles of olive oil home in your checked luggage.  But, if you’re driving or are able to wrap up a smaller bottle carefully, I’d highly recommend purchasing a bit of true Italian extra virgin olive oil.  Olives in tins are a bit more manageable for air travel.

Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - ItalyI’m sure I don’t even have to mention that it’s imperative to give the local wines a try.  If you can’t cart any home, just share a bottle in your hotel room.  If you’re clueless about wine like I am, look for a bottle that bears the name of a hill town you’ve explored.

Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - ItalyGood quality balsamic vinegar comes with a hefty price tag.  But the bottles are small, pretty, and make excellent gifts.

Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - ItalyMoving on to sweets… These Pan di Stelle cookies were a big hit with our family.  If chocolate star cookies with sprinkles aren’t your thing, you’ll still find something tasty to try.  The cookie aisle is as big as the pasta aisle!

Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - ItalyPizelles are a type of Italian cookie – crispy, paper thin, and flavored with anise.  These snappy suckers are addicting.  Check the bakery for a fresh batch!

Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - ItalyNever heard of pizelles?  Don’t worry, you’re probably more familiar with biscotti (or cantucci as they’re known in Tuscany).  The most traditional type is made with almonds, but the chocolate chunk variety is delicious as well.

Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - ItalyNeed some coffee to go with all those cookies?  Pick up some espresso powder, or try orzo.  Wait, whaaaaat is that?  It’s a hot drink made from toasted barley that Italians often serve to their children since it contains no caffeine.  Some orzo can be made like coffee or espresso (in a machine or with a filter).  Other types are instant (look for solubile).  Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - ItalyIf you’re staying in a villa or vacation rental, grab a few pints of the local gelato and throw a tasting party.  Fancy schmancy toppings can be found near the ice cream in the freezer section and should make it all the way home without melting.

Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - ItalyIf five liters of olive oil just isn’t a realistic souvenir for you, check out the many olive oil products available.  Italians literally bathe in the stuff.  I’ve seen bar soap, hand soap, dish soap, body wash, lotion, etc. made with olive oil.  Just check to make sure you like the fragrance first!

And now for that giveaway I mentioned…

Can’t make it to Italy any time soon, but want to try some Italian supermarket souvenirs?  I’m giving away an Italian not-exactly-coffee break!  Click here for details. 

But first, let me know in the comments, what Italian supermarket souvenirs would you like to take home?

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Supermarket Souvenirs – Belgium

Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - BelgiumWondering what to buy from Belgium for the folks back home?  Chocolate and specaloos are great places to start.  But don’t buy them from the expensive tourist shops in town.  Stock up at the supermarket!

Thrifty Travel Mama - Supermarket Souvenirs, BelgiumGrab some Galler chocolate at the nearest grocery store.  This company sells solid bricks as well as delicious filled types.  Pick up a few bars or even a variety pack from the local Carrefour.

Thrifty Travel Mama - Supermarket Souvenirs, BelgiumWhen we arrived in Brugge, I couldn’t wait to skip on down to the store and pick up some specaloos.  What is this crazy stuff?  It can be described as a cookie-flavored spread, similar in consistency to Nutella.  If you’ve ever tried Biscoff cookies, you’ll be familiar with the taste.  It’s uh-MAZING!

The smooth variety is delicious enough, but Doc Sci and I are currently into the crunchy kind.  Think crunchy peanut butter but with cookies.  Yum!  There’s even a chocolate variety – whoa, buddy!Thrifty Travel Mama - Supermarket Souvenirs, Belgium

So, what do you do with specaloos?  The smooth kind is great for smearing on waffles, toast, and bagels.  I’ve even used it as a dip for apple slices and plopped a spoonful in my coffee.  The crunchy kind is also spectacular on morning carbs, but I also like it melted and smeared on top of a bowl of oatmeal.  You can even find numerous recipes for baked goods using specaloos.

But really, just keep it simple and enjoy with a spoon straight from the jar.

Thrifty Travel Mama - Supermarket Souvenirs, BelgiumSpeculaas cookies are in the same flavor family as specaloos.  Specialty shops sell these for big bucks in tourist areas, but you can save some euros by stocking up where the locals do.

Thrifty Travel Mama - Supermarket Souvenirs, BelgiumWant to try that specaloos now?  Pick up a package of Belgian waffles to go with your jar of cookie spread.  My boys were thrilled to have this fun vacation treat in the morning, but you could also take a few boxes home.  Note: the sturdier the waffle, the better chance of making it back in your suitcase.

Thrifty Travel Mama - Supermarket Souvenirs, BelgiumNot really a waffle person?  Try some thin, crepe-style pancakes.  Smeared with specaloos of course…

Thrifty Travel Mama - Supermarket Souvenirs, BelgiumWorried about all these baked goods staying fresh while you travel?  Perhaps a pancake or waffle mix is right for you.  Use Google translate to help with the instructions.

Thrifty Travel Mama - Supermarket Souvenirs, BelgiumThis last one is only for enjoying in-country (or squirreling away in the car cooler).  Belgium also boasts some tasty cheeses.  Try the Brugge brand, sold in slices, chunks, or hunks.

You may be wondering, “Where’s the beer?”  I’ll admit, I’m totally clueless about the stuff.  I couldn’t write a decent (or reliable) guide to save my life.  I did, however, buy a few bottles for friends in Germany.  I made a small list based on recommendations here and here.

What are your favorite supermarket souvenirs from Belgium?  Anything I missed?

Headed to Brugge?  Check out my post about visiting Brugge with kids!Signature-Marigold

Supermarket Souvenirs – The Netherlands

Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - The NetherlandsWondering what to buy from the Netherlands for the folks back home?  You could get one of those kitschy wooden shoe magnets (no judgement if that’s your thing).  Or, you could wow them with one of these supermarket souvenirs!

Thrifty Travel Mama - Supermarket Souvenirs, The NetherlandsFirst up, Dutch cheese!  Okay, in reality, you probably can’t stuff this into your suitcase and expect it to be edible when you get home.  But, it’s worth sampling some of the varieties while in country.

If you like a strong flavor and firm texture, aged Gouda is the way to go!  You could buy name brands like Old Amsterdam or just look for a store brand with the words Oud Gouda.  They’re just as tasty but at a fraction of the price.

Budget traveler tip: Instead of buying the cheese at touristy places like the Zaanse Schans, sample the more affordable varieties at the local grocery store.

Thrifty Travel Mama - Supermarket Souvenirs, The NetherlandsIf you only have space for one supermarket souvenir, make it stroopwaffels.  I first discovered these bad boys in 2003, and I’ve been in love ever since.  Stroopwaffels are yummy straight out of the bag, but they’re downright unforgettable when warm.

Make a cup of tea or coffee and set the stroopwaffel on top of the rim to catch the steam.  After a few minutes, flip to warm the other side.  Don’t wait too long though!  Sometimes the stroopwaffel will become so soft that it can plop down into your hot and tasty beverage.  Devour while hot and gooey.

Thrifty Travel Mama - Supermarket Souvenirs, The NetherlandsThis isn’t for your suitcase – it’s for enjoying in your hotel room or vacation rental while in country.  Stroopwaffel ice cream can be found a most grocery stores.  I’ve even seen comments online suggesting that this flavor can be found in ice cream shops across Holland.  (And, uh, yeah, that container is totally empty!)

Thrifty Travel Mama - Supermarket Souvenirs, The NetherlandsGrocery stores are the budget traveler’s place to buy souvenirs that locals would give to each other or send to relatives.  For adorable Dutch tins filled with stroopwaffels, stroopkoeken, chocolate, etc., check the nearest Albert Heijn.

Thrifty Travel Mama - Supermarket Souvenirs, The NetherlandsSpeaking of chocolate, Tony’s Chocolonely is a GIGANTIC chocolate bar with a cause: “on the way to 100% slavery-free chocolate.”  You can read more about their mission here.

Thrifty Travel Mama - Supermarket Souvenirs, The NetherlandsBlack licorice is big-time in the Netherlands.  You can find all kinds of crazy varieties from salted to sweet to sugared.

Thrifty Travel Mama - Supermarket Souvenirs, The NetherlandsYou might think black licorice is weird, but that’s just because you haven’t heard of Hagelslag yet!  Basically, it’s chocolate sprinkles that Dutch people sprinkle on their toast.  And by Dutch people I mean adults.  And by toast I mean a sandwich at lunch time.  Don’t believe me?  Read more here.

Thrifty Travel Mama - Supermarket Souvenirs, The NetherlandsThis last one’s just for the expats or the peanut butter-obsessed or the expats obsessed with peanut butter.  Peanut butter is not only cheap in the Netherlands (well, compared to Germany anyway), it also tastes a whole lot better.  It’s not 100% natural, but it doesn’t have hydrogenated oils in it (at least from what my pal Google Translate says).  Look for a high peanut content (aim for 90%), and chow down!

What are your favorite supermarket souvenirs from the Netherlands?  Anything I missed?

Headed to Amsterdam?  Check out our Snapshot of Amsterdam with Kids, and don’t miss a visit to the Kinderkookkafe!Signature-Marigold

Supermarket Souvenirs – Germany

Thrifty Travel Mama | Supermarket Souvenirs - GermanyI’m so excited to bring you a new series here on Thrifty Travel Mama called Supermarket Souvenirs!  My favorite finds in a new location are usually edible.  It’s always an adventure to try new snack foods, sweets, specialty items.

You can save loads of money by buying where and what the locals do instead of dropping your precious travel dollars into tourist traps.  Plus, isn’t it more exciting to give and receive a little piece of the travel experience rather than a cheesy shot glass or t-shirt?

The first post in this Supermarket Souvenir series will be a little peek into Germany’s snacks and sweets found in most grocery stores.  If you’re looking for beer or sausage, leave a comment below and use your best pretty please.  I may cover those items in a future post!  For now, chocolate fans, charge on…

Thrifty Travel Mama Supermarket Souvenirs GermanyEveryone has heard of Nutella, right?  But, did you know that Nutella tastes different depending on the country where it was made?  I’ve learned from a very reliable source that the Nutella in England is distinctively more hazelnut-y and the Nutella in Germany is heavier on the chocolate.  Want to know how the German version stacks up to the American version?  Find out here.

Don’t like the hazelnut tones in Nutella?  Try a different spread.  The chocolate cream above is practically frosting in a jar.  Some stores carry a chocolate and caramel swirly spread.

Thrifty Travel Mama Supermarket Souvenirs GermanyNot into chocolate for breakfast?  Taste test this caramel spread.  I bet the kids back home aren’t slathering this on their morning toast!

Thrifty Travel Mama Supermarket Souvenirs GermanyGermany has some excellent neighbors, the Dutch in particular.  You can pick up boxes of amazing cocoa powder in German grocery stores.

Thrifty Travel Mama Supermarket Souvenirs GermanyAnd many food shops here also carry stroopwaffels (also known as siroopwaffels), another delight from Holland.  Contrary to the “brand” these caramel treats have nothing to do with Florence, or Italy for that matter!

Thrifty Travel Mama Supermarket Souvenirs GermanyStracciatella, on the other hand, is totally Italian.  And the Germans love stracciatella (chocolate chip-ish) yogurt.  You won’t be able to stash this in your suitcase, but you can enjoy a cup on the way to catch your train.

Thrifty Travel Mama Supermarket Souvenirs GermanySomething else you most likely (and sadly) cannot take home is a one-and-a-half liter of Dr Pepper made with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.  If you’re a Dr Pepper lover from Texas, you probably know and love Dublin Dr Pepper.  This is very similar – and really, really good.

Thrifty Travel Mama Supermarket Souvenirs GermanyThe Coca Cola (including Vanilla Coke and Cherry Coke) here in Germany is also made with sugar.  Once you go sugar, you never go back!  These little half-liters are more likely to hitch a ride in your dirty laundry and hop the pond back home.

Thrifty Travel Mama Supermarket Souvenirs GermanySpeaking of sugar, the ketchup in Germany is not made with high fructose corn syrup.  It’s a subtle flavor difference, and ketchup connoisseurs usually side with sugar.  Want to take that currywurst sausage taste home with you?  Pick up a bottle of Heinz Curry Ketchup.

Thrifty Travel Mama Supermarket Souvenirs GermanyWhile you’re at it, chug a German soda with that sausage.  Pick up a bottle of Schwip Schwap (or Mezzo Mix) at any grocery store.  It’s a mix of cola and orange soda – weird, but worth a try.

Thrifty Travel Mama Supermarket Souvenirs GermanyNeed some snacks to round out your taste testing?  These flips are funky enough to schlep home and pass around.  The experience is hard to describe, but let’s go with savory peanut butter Cheeto puff (no cheese).

Thrifty Travel Mama Supermarket Souvenirs GermanyNo discussion of Supermarket Souvenirs in Germany would be complete without a handy dandy guide to chocolate.  Milka is well-known (and sometimes even available in the US).  My favorites are the varieties containing Oreos or Daim.  However, the absolute best Milka bar is the Triolade.  It’s only available in a big brick, but it’s worth the space in your carry-on.  The combination of milk, white, and dark chocolate is a sure-fire crowd pleaser.

Thrifty Travel Mama Supermarket Souvenirs GermanyLess well-known is Ritter Sport chocolate.  It’s a nerd’s delight.  The tag line for this chocolate can be translated as, “square, practical, good.”  The square design was an attempt to make sure this chocolate could fit into anyone’s sport jacket pocket.  I have a soft spot in my heart (and my stomach) for the yogurt (Joghurt) variety.

Thrifty Travel Mama Supermarket Souvenirs GermanyIf you’re visiting Germany around Easter, pick up these Milka eggs for the folks at home.  Or, crack one open during a flight delay for an instant pick-me-up.  They come in an adorable little purple egg carton with teensy purple spoons.  The idea is to crack open the chocolate egg and spoon the creamy filling out.  Delish.

Thrifty Travel Mama Supermarket Souvenirs GermanyEven if you don’t visit Germany around Easter, you still can grab some Kinder eggs for the kiddos.  Just package them carefully because these eggs are not as exciting when crushed.  Inside the chocolate egg is a little toy surprise!

Thrifty Travel Mama Supermarket Souvenirs GermanyNeed something more hearty to withstand your horrendous packing job?  Kinder also makes chocolate bars for kids.  They are apparently “high in calcium.”  Right… Marketing genius.

Thrifty Travel Mama Supermarket Souvenirs GermanyLike chocolate but want something more unique?  Most grocery stores in Germany carry Swiss cookies.  They’re fancy and full of scrumptious Swiss chocolate.

Thrifty Travel Mama Supermarket Souvenirs GermanyChocolate not your thing?  Go nuts in the Haribo aisle instead.  Germans love gummy candy, so take your time picking out the craziest ones for the co-workers.  I highly recommend the Sweet Mice.

That’ll do it for today’s edition of Supermarket Souvenirs – Germany.  Stay tuned for Supermarket Souvenirs – Belgium and The Netherlands!

What have you bought at grocery stores in Germany to take home as a souvenir?