Anyone who’s been to the Netherlands for more than a month knows that buying groceries here can be expensive.
If you’re on a budget, getting things from your local AH (Albert Heijn) can feel like a splurge, even with all the nice deals you can get from time to time with a trusty bonus card.
If you’re a frugal student or simply held back by the soaring inflation, what alternatives are there for you not to spend half of your money on groceries? And, what are the cheapest supermarkets in the Netherlands?
What are the cheapest supermarkets in the Netherlands?
There are many alternatives to the inviting blue Albert Heijn sign that’ll save you quite some bucks on your next grocery trip.
Dirk: the classic Dutch supermarket
Dirk is a Dutch supermarket on the cheaper end of the spectrum. It may not be as widespread as AH or Jumbo, but with 120 stores around the country, you can probably find one close to you. 🛒
You can find almost everything you need, from food to household items. It also has some great promotions, and it’s not uncommon to find food products for as low as €1. The bread there is also great (we confirm this from DutchReview’s daily lunch experiences there). 🥪
Jumbo: a cheaper alternative to Albert Heijn
Jumbo is AH’s main competitor in the Netherlands. You can find the same regular products in both stores, but what gives Jumbo the competitive edge is that it’s slightly cheaper. It also has in-store brand products, which provide a wide range of items for your daily needs. 💳
Some of their stores are smaller, so we recommend going to the bigger ones if you plan on exclusively doing your grocery shopping there.
Aldi: the cheap and cheerful supermarket in the Netherlands
Aldi is a classic when it comes to cheap supermarkets. The popular German brand isn’t the prettiest supermarket around, as many products are displayed in cardboard boxes instead of shelves. But with these prices, who cares? 💰
It’s great for getting your basics, like bread, pasta, cheese, and general household items. They also have weekly promotions, so you can get products even cheaper. While it might not be fancy, it puts food on the table. 🥖
Lidl: another cheap supermarket in the Netherlands
Lidl is essentially the twin of Aldi. It has a very similar layout, a similar price range, and the same no-nonsense approach to shopping. It is slightly pricier than Aldi, but the upside is that you can find a wider range of products, and the quality is generally better.
Unfortunately, they’re usually not located close to city centres, so you will probably need to travel a bit to find your closest store. Still, it’s worth the journey if you’re on a budget.
What are the alternatives to big-chain supermarkets in the Netherlands?
Okay, so we’ve covered the most popular supermarket chains here in the Netherlands, but what about off-brand, smaller shops and stores?
Family-run or small grocery stores in the Netherlands
Your socialist leanings might lead you to avoid big chains which pollute the environment and give questionable pay to their employees. Or you just want a cheaper alternative.
Well then, small family-owned businesses are a fair and great choice. They can be much cheaper than regular supermarkets, with some local stores being in the same price range as budget supermarkets like Aldi.
Because the Netherlands is such a multicultural country, the advantage of going to local stores is that you can find a wide range of food from other cultures.
For example, you can go to Indian, Asian or Surinamese stores to get more flavour than you’ll find in all Dutch stamppot combined. Heck, if you are looking for cheap alcohol, then a Polish store will definitely do the job.
Farmers’ markets in the Netherlands
Another great alternative to supermarkets is going to a farmers’ market. You can get a kilo of veggies for as little as one euro — the only problem is using them all up before they go bad. Fresh produce at a great price, what’s not to love?
So when you’re at a farmers’ market, don’t go overboard because odds are you might commit some food waste if you over-buy.
There’s a good variety of farmers’ markets in the Netherlands. Some of them lean towards more organic and eco branding, others just resemble butchers and greengrocers.
We strongly recommend the Haagse Markt in The Hague, which is one of the largest outdoor markets in Europe. It not only sells food, but you can also find clothes, electronics, and a range of household items.
It’s open on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. If you get there just before 5 PM, you have the chance to get even better discounts on vegetables, as the sellers will give away their remaining produce for an even lower price.
Do you have any other recommendations for those who want to get groceries for cheap? Tell us in the comments below!
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in February 2020 and was fully updated in September 2022 for your reading pleasure.