Norway can be pretty expensive, and a lot of tourists find that most things are more expensive than they are used to here in Norway. This includes groceries and other items at grocery stores and supermarkets, but there are some grocery store chains that are considered to be much cheaper than other.
So where should you be shopping groceries in Norway to save money?
The stores Rema 1000, Coop Extra, and Kiwi are considered to be “low price supermarkets” that are at least 10 – 15 % cheaper than regular grocery stores, and are therefore the cheapest grocery stores in Norway.
There is not much of a price different between these three, but Rema 1000 or Kiwi is usually winners whenever the national news papers do tests to see which is actually the cheapest.
So always shop at one of these three stores if you want to get groceries as cheap as possible. The downside to shopping at these places is that they will have a slight smaller range of items for sale compared to some of the other supermarket chains, but they do have enough for regular Norwegian families to get everything they need from them.
Most cities and even smaller town will have at least one of these close to the city center, and it is also pretty common to find that even smaller towns have at least two or even all three of these. There is a lot of competition for groceries in Norway, so the number of grocery stores per capita is usually a lot higher than what most people are used to.
The cheap grocery store chains carry both normal and cheap brand items
All the cheap grocery store chains like Rema 1000, Coop Extra and Kiwi carries pretty much the same brands as all the other, more expensive stores do. A big Kiwi store will have more items for sale than a smaller Joker store will, but it will still be much cheaper.
This is a contrast to many other countries where the cheapest supermarket chains tend to only carry cheap items. This is not the case for Norway, and you will find pretty much all the same items, but at a lower price.
All stores in Norway also carries cheap brand items like First Price, X-tra or Prima. This is usually products that are about 1/3rd or half the price of regular brands, but will often be just as good. These are found in all stores, not only the cheap ones, but will be a little bit cheaper in the cheap supermarket chains.
If you are on a budget while visiting Norway, look for these low-price brands. They are often very good, and will save you a lot of money compared to buying the branded products that are almost identical. I buy a lot of these cheap brands when I buy groceries myself.
Other supermarkets and their price point
There are many different supermarket chains in Norway, and the price point can differ quite a bit. You will find a short description of each of the most popular chains below, with some information about what to expect when going there.
Bunnpris: While it’s name can be translated to “bottom price”, but actual prices are far from being at the bottom of anything, and they are considered pretty expensive. They often have small and tight stores.
Meny: Meny is probably the most expensive supermarket chain in all of Norway, and is considered to be a premium grocery store. They have all the products you will find in other chains, as well as many exclusive ones. So if you want to have a lot of options, and are willing to pay for it, this is the place to go.
Coop Obs: Coop Obs is a pretty cheap chain, but it differs from the other supermarket chains in that it has a lot of different product groups, not only food and household items. Coop Obs also sell a lot of toys, clothing, electronics, sporing goods and things like that. So think of it more like a Walmart type of store than a strict grocery store.
Coop Prix: Coop Prix stores are somewhat rare these days, and most have been converted into Coop Extra. However, you might stumble upon a Coop Prix in smaller towns. Expect a rather small store with limited items, and a price that is a little bit more expensive than Coop Extra. It is not the most expensive store, but it is also not the cheapest one.
Spar: Spar is my personally least liked grocery chain, and the reason is pretty simple. Spar tend to combine a very small range of items with high prices, so there is really no upside to it really. The only good thing I like about Spar is that they have hot food for sale, so you can buy things like grilled chicken or entire meals that are hot and ready to be eaten at a bench outside. But I do not suggest to buy a lot of items from Spar if there are cheaper options nearby. But the hot dish part can be very nice for tourists and people who are travelling and want something quick to eat.
Joker: Joker are usually very small stores that tend to be located in small villages where there’s no demand for a big store. If you find a Joker, chances are that this will be the only store in proximity, so it has its uses. The price point is a little bit in the high side, but not as high as Meny or even Spar. Some Joker stores are open on Sundays.
Iceland: Iceland is a brand that is originally from the UK, but they are trying to make a name for themselves in Norway. They opened up 5 stores in the eastern and south-eastern region of Norway in 2019, but only 4 Iceland stores remains. Iceland carries both regular brands, as well as brands known from the UK. So it might be nice to visit if you are from the UK and are feeling homesick. I have never been to an Iceland store myself, but they claim to be pretty cheap.
Does Norway have Aldi or Lidl?
Norway does not have Aldi or Lidl, but we used to have Lidl in the years 2004 to 2008. They opened up about 50 stores all over Norway, but did not mange to get more than 1 – 2 % of the market share. Norwegians clearly didn’t want to shop at Lidl, and my personal experience is that shopping at Lidl was used if you wanted to try some different or exotic stuff, not if you wanted to do some actual shopping.
Rema 1000 bought all the stores from Lidl in 2008, and still operate Rema 1000 stores in the buildings that Lidl built when they wanted to expand to Norway.
We have never had Aldi in Norway, and it seems very unlikely that they will even want to try to establish themselves here after seeing how spectacularly Lidl failed.
Independent grocery stores in Norway
Most cities will have at least one independent store, and these are usually run by immigrants that sell products that are otherwise very difficult to find. These immigrant-run stores are often called Asaiamat, which can be translated to “Asia food”.
Some of these independent stores can have very cheap items for sale, especially when it comes to vegetables and groceries that are popular in Asian countries. If you want to buy premium rice at at cheap price, these are the stores to look out for.
I find that many vegetarians love these stores since they carry a lot of vegetables that are either very expensive or difficult to find in regular grocery stores.
Weekly offers can save you a lot of money
Pretty much all the grocery store chains in Norway has a weekly selection of items that are on sale, and these can often be significantly cheaper than their normal price point. Certain items might even be sold at a loss, so it’s a great opportunity to get your hands on some cheap food or household items. Some people use these offers to fill up their freezer with stuff they use, so you can save a lot of money if you keep a keen eye on these weekly offers.
The weekly offers will be available as posters that are dropped into all mailboxes in the area, or in the supermarket’s own mobile app. The best offers also tend to be highlighted on big signs outside the store to try to get people to come in and shop.