If there is anything we cannot avoid, no matter how much we want to save, it is grocery shopping. In Sweden or better still, I should say, Stockholm (my personal experience is within Stockholm), optimal grocery shopping is a skill. I am not exaggerating – two students can write the same item list for shopping and in the end, one spends way more than the other just because of missed opportunities or choice of grocery store. Also, as a new student, who might miss the local food from home and you want options of places that you might find these items, read till the end 😉
This post will be based on personal knowledge as I feel it is the best approach knowing that a simple google search would let you know the closest grocery store once you arrive at Sweden. To make it interesting, most of the different stores are not exactly far from each other. This is where the question of choice really comes in. Also, as students, we are trying to save money in different ways, so you might find this helpful 🙂
On my first day in Sweden, I had no idea of which grocery stores existed or which I should even go to. I was living in a corridor room and thankfully, met someone I could ask and he directed me to the closest Lidl. There are five main supermarkets in Sweden. These are:
Living in Stockholm, all these stores appeal to me at different times. I live very close to a Coop and an ICA – two and four minutes walk from home respectively. With this convenience, I still find out that my grocery shopping still takes me to all five stores mentioned above.
I would give my short description of the observed differences and this can help make your choice or if you’re like me, end up going to all stores depending on your needs.
In my opinion, Lidl sources for their items with the mindset of ensuring you have the lowest price possible. With this, you’ll find items that you like but in unfamiliar brands, with the aim to achieve the lowest cost. Does this ruin the quality? No! (I would like to point out that for selected items, you might find them cheaper at other stores, therefore, the aim is not fool proof). Also, Lidl supermarkets do not offer services such as self-service or any extra convenience. I guess this is also one of the ways they try to maintain the overall price of goods. From my personal observation, most students shop at Lidl as it is very accessible and students love a good deal always!
ONLINE STORE OPTION: You can check for available week deals through the Lidl website
You’ll find ICA almost at every corner in Stockholm. It is a chain that consists of ICA Kvantum, ICA Nära and ICA Maxi. ICA MAxi is the cheapest alternative of all three. However, you’re most likely not to find a Maxi in the middle of the city. In ICA, I always find brands that I am a bit more familiar with and they do stock a wide range of options. You’ll find a good mix of foreign and premium brands at ICA. Also, ICA has the option of owning an ICA card which can be used to obtain bonuses from time to time. Students who use the ICA bank, have their cards as also ICA cards for bonuses (quite convenient in this way, I must say:)
ONLINE STORE OPTION: you can shop online directly at ICA’s website and have it delivered to you or you come pick it up at the store.
Coop is popularly known as the ecological supermarket. If you’re looking to buy more eco foods, Coop might be your easy pick. Also, they seem to have a specialty in the fruits and vegetables sections. Coop is a bit more expensive than the other alternatives.
ONLINE STORE OPTION: you can shop online directly at Coop’s website and have it delivered to you or you come pick it up at the store. Also, they have this service in which you can shop a certain recipe and have the items for that meal, delivered to you.
Hemkop is very similar to ICA in my opinion in the range of products and brands that they both stock. One thing I love about Hemkop is their buffet selection. You can always get a good lunch from Hemkop without breaking the bank 😉
ONLINE STORE OPTION: You can shop online here as well with the option of home delivery or store pick-up. Also, if you they deliver to you very early in the morning, you get a reduced delivery price.
Everything I mentioned about Lidl, being a store with low prices, this goes for Willy:s. Willy:s offers a good range of products and brands at the lowest prices possible in Sweden. In my first year, there was no Willy:s close to me,so I did most of my shopping at Lidl. Now, I have Lidl and Willy:s close by and I tend to do the bulk of my shopping between these two. Plus, the convenience of self -service is available at Willy:s. Furthermore, they offer the point service in which you gain points as you buy stuff and there are certain items that are are on discounts for their members.
ONLINE STORE OPTION: you can shop online directly at Willy:s website and have it delivered to you or you come pick it up at the store.
All the five offer the option of online shopping except Lidl and you can decide to pickup from the store or available delivery options. Pick up from the store is the cheaper alternative 🙂
I would like to use this heading to mention another interesting point about Sweden. Online pharmacies. Sweden has this great option of ordering stuff from the online pharmacy and getting it delivered to your doorstep with no extra charge. To make this deal very good, these online pharmacies have a good range of skin and hair products at very good prices :).
Where do you go when you miss home?
I remember my shock when I found out I could not just walk into any supermarket and buy plantain!! Haha! Yes, there are supermarkets that cater to the African and Asian continents. So, do not worry, you can still have a taste of home, far away from home. Asian and Indian supermarkets are scattered well around now.
For African supermarkets. You would find at Hötorget train station, Skärholmen Centrum , Kista. Close to KTH, there exists Taj Mahal and I think they cater to pretty much to all the countries in the two continents mentioned (same with Kista Grössen at Kista).
- For first time shoppers, “google translate” will be your best friend. Do not worry after a while you’ll get used to the Swedish names. Plus, take it as a good way to learn Swedish 😉
- Always take your shopping bag with you. In Sweden, you’ll pay for both paper and plastic bags (good way to promote reusable bags 🙂 ).
- I am not very good at this last point but I know some students who plan their week menu by downloading the apps of these stores to always know the deals for the week and save money by meal planning around these deals.
That’s all about the “shopping that we cannot avoid” . Feel free to ask any questions or let Fernando and I know the things you would like to know more about as you plan to move to Stockholm:)
Till the next post,