Hang's groceries saving tips
‘Hang In There’ is a weekly series hosted by our Marketing & Communication intern: Hang Vu. After 2 years of studying in the Netherlands, Hang wants to share her most honest experiences with other internationals who are also living in the Netherlands generally and in Eindhoven specifically.
As an international, I find living in the Netherlands almost flawless, except for the cost of living here. If you have not known yet, the Netherlands was the 6th most expensive country in the EU in 2020. Since I love traveling, finding solutions to save my living expenses and everything that goes with it is a must. In this week's episode, I will give you some saving tips and tricks that I have conducted after taking grocery shopping in the Netherlands as a hobby.
#1 Be an early bird (or a night owl, depending on your timetable)
If you prefer going to the supermarket daily for cooking ingredients as I do, there is a useful tip that I often use, which is going right after the opening hour or right before the closing hour. Why? Because in the early morning or late evening, you will find some discounts on selected items that expire that day or a few days later. These discounts range from 30% to 50%. There were many times I found a box of salmon or chicken breast for only €1!
Who does not like shopping with discounted prices?
Normally, there is no problem with those products. They have discounted price because supermarkets want to reduce the amount of expired food, which lead to food waste. However, it is safer to give them a thorough check before purchasing. And remember to know your needs. Storing a high stack of cheap food then leaving them over the expiration date is definitely not a smart shopping tactic.
#2 Choose (super)markets wisely
There are more than 20 chains of supermarkets in the Netherlands. And of course, prices are not the same in each supermarket. From my observation at supermarkets that I often go to in Eindhoven, here is the order from the least to the most expensive supermarkets in general (friendly note: some cheap supermarkets are only available in certain regions in the Netherlands): Lidl/Aldi -> Plus -> Jumbo -> Albert Heijn (AH).
However, it does not mean that only Jumbo and Albert Heijn have high-quality products, or cheap items can only be found at Lidl and Aldi. In my opinion, Lidl has the best-imported products, while the award for the best-baked goods with fair prices goes to Albert Heijn.
Another tip that you should know is to buy fresh fruits and vegetables in the weekly and daily markets. Since sellers do not have to pay much attention to packaging and staff, most products there are much cheaper compared to supermarkets' prices. For fresh meat, I would highly recommend buying at the local butchery ('slagerij’ in Dutch). It might be more expensive than meat in the supermarkets, but the quality is better here.
Want to buy fresh veggie with cheap price? Then the weekly or daily market is the ideal destination for you.
#3 Promotion is love, promotion is life
Admittedly, when going on groceries shopping, nothing makes me happier than these words: korting, actie, aanbieding. They all have the same meaning: discount is coming to town! Pay attention to the brochures every week to make sure you do not miss any deals.
However, you might wonder: "I do not like reading leaflets, so how am I supposed to know all the promotions?". Lucky for us, Supermarktaanbiedingen was born to save our mailbox storage. This website complies with everything you need to know about the newest promotions in all supermarkets across the Netherlands.
#4 Download supermarket apps
Nearly all supermarkets have their own apps for the customer (digital) discount card. However, not everyone knows about them and their benefits. For example, when you scan your Lidl loyalty card on the Lidl Plus app, your spending will turn into points. If you reach 60 points in a month, you will get a €1 discount coupon. And the more points you have, the higher discounts you get. At Jumbo, once every two weeks, some products have extra bonus points, and you can check them on the Jumbo Extra's. And in return, you can buy assorted products with those points. Finally, with AH Bonuskaart, you get discounts on the products that are in the 'Bonus' that week. If you do not scan the card, well, too bad that discounts are not for you.
#5 Buy in bulk
For products that do not have expiration dates, such as toilet paper, shower gel, shampoo, etc., buying them in large (or XXL) size when they are on sale saves your pocket a lot than you could imagine. Therefore, do not forget to check weekly promotions at retail stores like Kruidvat and Etos. If you do not want to wait for special offers, visiting cheap stores like Action or Big Bazaar is an option that you can consider.
Bonus: Thanks to Margot - my reader on Facebook, I found out an application called 'TooGoodToGo'. This app is where you can find surprise bags of good quality food, which are leftover by the end of the day, for low prices. A lot of supermarkets and restaurants have joined 'TooGoodToGo', including AH to Go, Lidl, HEMA, Ekoplaza,... By using this app, you can save food from being wasted, as well as your wallet!