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, you can’t get everything from Albert Heijn, even with all the nice bonuses you get from time to time.
So then, if you’re a poor student or on a strict budget, what alternatives are there for you to not spend half of your money on groceries? What are the cheapest supermarkets in the Netherlands?
What are the least expensive supermarkets in the Netherlands?
Dirk: the classic Dutch supermarket
Dirk is a Dutch supermarket that is on the cheaper end of the scale. It may not be as widespread as Albert Heijn 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 one euro. The bread there is also great (we confirm this from our own daily 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 is slightly cheaper. It also has own-brand products, and similarly to Dirk, which provides 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 a lot of products are displayed in cardboard boxes instead of shelves. But who cares, with these prices?
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 will get the job done.
Lidl: another cheap supermarket in the Netherlands
Lidl is essentially the twin of Aldi and is owned by the same company. 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 go 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?
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 Morrocan, Turkish or Surinamese stores to get more flavour than you’ll find in stamppot. 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. Fresh produce at a great price, what’s not to love? You can get a kilo of veggies for as little as one euro, the only problem is using them all before they go bad. So when you’re at a farmers’ market, don’t get 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 targeted towards more organic and eco branding, others just having your regular butchers and greengrocers.
We strongly recommend is 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 Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. If get there just before 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.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in February 2020 and was fully updated in August 2021 for your reading pleasure.
Feature Image: photosis/Depositphotos