Chinese Language Blog

How to do Your Grocery Shopping in China Posted by on Jul 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

Buying groceries is one of those aspects of life that you don’t realize how important it is until you’re in a place where you can’t understand any of the labels or communicate with the workers. For my first few weeks living in China, going to the grocery store was an adventure to say the very least. The incredibly friendly and curious ladies working there would follow us around and bombard us with questions, which we could only answer with nods and smiles at the time. We would pick something up off the shelves, turn it around and around, and do our best to attempt to identify it. Sometimes we ended up with what we were looking for, while other times we ended up with… well, actually I’m still not quite sure what we ended up with some of the time.

Mmmm... sausage.

Mmmm… sausage.


In many cities, it’s possible to do your grocery shopping in foreign-friendly markets with imported goods and English labels, but doing all of your shopping there is a surefire way to blow through your paycheck in a week. It was then and there that I realized I had to get going on my Chinese studies, pronto. One of the first things you’ll want to learn when living in China – after basic greetings and the like – is all of the necessary vocabulary for doing your grocery shopping. Never fear, because we here at Transparent Language have got you covered! Get yourself ready to do all of your shopping yourself in the local markets by studying these posts:

Inside a Chinese Food Market

Dig in!

Dig in!

Ever wondered what it looks like inside of a real deal Chinese food market? I took my camera grocery shopping with me one day and spent much longer than usual in the store in order to snap some photos and write up a description. Get yourself prepared for what you may encounter – anybody want a full pig’s head? – by checking this post out.

At the Market Series:




Meat & Seafood

Everyday Items

Not sure of the Chinese names for the vegetables and fruit you need to pick up? Do you need to make sure you get the right cut of meat? Don’t know¬†how to say toothpaste in Chinese? These posts will help you out. Each one has a chart with English, pinyin, and Chinese characters that you can easily print or save to your phone. There are also questions and short YouTube videos to practice with.

Gimme some meat!

Gimme some meat!

Bookmark those posts, save the charts, and you’ll be shopping just like a local in no time! Take it from me – local vendors absolutely love it when you come in and shop there, and love it even more when you do so in Chinese. It’s a great way to get some easy conversation practice and it will save you tons of money compared to shopping in the Western supermarkets!



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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.

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