Anyone who’s been to the Netherlands for more than a month knows that buying your groceries all the time at an Albert Heijn supermarket is expensive, even with all the nice bonuses you get from time to time. So then, if you’re a poor student eating leftovers or simply have a strict budget to keep in mind, what alternatives are there for you to not spend half of your money buying groceries? What, in short, are the cheapest supermarkets in the Netherlands?
What are the least expensive supermarkets in the Netherlands?
Dirk: the classic Dutch supermarket
Dirk is one of the more classical supermarkets, on the cheaper end of the scale. It is definitely not as widespread as Albert Heijn or Jumbo, but with 120 stores around the country, you can probably find one relatively close to your area. 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 one euro. The bread there is also great (we confirm this from our own daiy lunch experiences there).
Jumbo: an alternative to Albert Heijn
Jumbo is the main competitor to Albert Heijn in the Netherlands. To gain a competitive edge, it sells the regular products you can find in AH but slightly cheaper. It also has its own brand of products, and similarly to Dirk, you can find a wide range of products for your daily needs. Some of their stores are smaller, so we recommend going to the bigger ones if you plan on doing your grocery shopping exclusively there.
Aldi: the cheap and cheerful supermarket in the Netherlands
Aldi is a classic when it comes to cheap supermarkets. A family-owned brand, it’s not the most visually appealing supermarket, as you can find most things in cardboard boxes instead of shelves. It’s great for getting more basic stuff, like bread, pasta, cheese and general household items. They also have weekly promotions, so you can get cheap products even cheaper. While it might not be fancy, it will get the job done.
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 more expensive than Aldi, but the upside is that you can find a bigger range of products, and in general the quality is better. Unfortunately, they are usually not located close to city centres, so you will probably need to go to the suburbs or the outskirts to find one. Still, it’s worth the journey if you’re on a budget.
What are the alternatives to big-chain supermarkets in the Netherlands?
Family-run or small grocery stores in the Netherlands
Let’s say that you might have some socialist leanings and you wish not to give your money to big-chains which pollute the environment and give questionable pay to their employees. Well then, small family-owned businesses are a fair and great choice. Depending on their location, they can be much cheaper than regular supermarkets, with some local stores being in the same price range as Aldi.
Because the Netherlands is such a multicultural country, the advantage of going to local stores is that you can also get a flavour and taste of other cultures. For example, you can go to Morrocan or Surinamese stores and get arguably better-tasting food than your regular Dutch cuisine. Heck, if you are looking for cheap alcohol, then a Polish store will most definitely do the job.
Farmers markets in the Netherlands
Another great alternative to supermarkets is going to a farmers market. The produce is fresh, and the prices are great. You can get a kilo of veggies for just one euro, which is a great deal, up to the point where you may not get around to eating them in three days and they get spoiled. So when you’re at a farmers’ market, don’t get over-excited about the cheap prices, because odds are you might commit some food waste if you over-buy. There’s good variety in the farmer markets, with some of them targeted towards more organic and eco branding, and others just having your regular butchers and vegetables.
A farmers’ market we strongly recommend is the Haagse Markt in The Hague, which is one of the largest outdoor markets in Europe. It sells not only food but pretty much anything you can imagine. Clothes, electronics, household items, you name it. It’s open Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. If you go right before the closing time at 5:00 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? Let us know in the comments.
Feature Image: pxfuel.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in February 2020 and was fully updated in September 2020 for your viewing pleasure.