As someone who has been living in the Netherlands for several years, I figured that it was time to discuss the Dutch supermarkets as they’ve been a source of confusion for some of my guests from abroad. Whether you’re visiting Amsterdam on a budget or you’re hoping to pick up some nice food souvenirs from the Netherlands, I recommend stopping by the grocery store in Amsterdam (or elsewhere in the Netherlands). These are my tips with some useful translations.
Your cards might not work in all supermarkets
A word of warning: the Netherlands loves the Maestro banking system. If you’re from North America, your cards might have the logo on the back, but they might not work here. Most of my friends and family members have struggled to pay for their groceries using credit and debit cards.
Luckily, more stores are finally realizing that people want to use other cards, but it’s good to carry some cash on you just in case. Jumbo, Albert Heijn To Go (often in train stations), Marqt, and Dirk van den Broek all take credit cards.
Some Dutch grocery store chains are far better (and expensive) than others
You have quite a bit of choice when it comes to Dutch supermarket chains in Amsterdam and other major Dutch cities. I’ve not included every chain, but the main ones that you’re likely to encounter in Amsterdam that provide a better selection. Generally, Albert Heijn and Jumbo are the more “standard” supermarkets that offer more variety in terms of brands. These are often the easiest supermarkets to find within a residential area.
Albert Heijn (XL, To-Go)
Albert Heijn is the #1 supermarket in the Netherlands. This mainstay has slightly higher prices, but they also offer the best selection of familiar brands and variety. The lines can also be fairly long around dinner time…
I prefer Albert Heijn’s selection at lunchtime as they often serve affordable wraps and salads at their to-go locations, including in the main stations and Schiphol Airport. Some locations are less-tourist friendly and may not accept credit cards. I also prefer their fruit/vegetable selection.
Jumbo is my supermarket of choice at the moment. This slightly more affordable supermarket is often found in residential neighbourhoods has slightly less selection than Albert Heijn at the price of savings. They pride themselves on having good customer service as well as short lines, even during busy times. You should find most of what you need! They accept credit cards.
Dirk van den Broek
Dirk is a budget supermarket that offers primarily house brands and a limited selection of goods. It’s one of the best places to go grocery shopping in the Netherlands on a budget. They accept debit/credit cards only.
Marqt is a
Organic products are generally mixed in by the category
At some supermarkets, organic and vegan products are often kept separate in their own aisle. In the Netherlands, organic and vegan products are generally within the same area as their non-vegan and non-organic counterparts.
Don’t be afraid to ask employees if you don’t speak Dutch!
Although I generally recommend downloading Google Translate, people speak English very well in the Netherlands. Most of the employees at supermarkets are generally fairly young (under 21), so they’ve most likely taken English in school.
Sometimes, they don’t know the exact item if it’s unusual in the Netherlands and/or just something that they have never heard of, but they usually can bring you to the correct aisle and help you to the best of their ability. Allergens are required to be stated on products in the Netherlands, so you should be able to easily check for applicable ingredients.
Portions can be significantly smaller than some places
Compared to some countries, the Dutch have done a great job of thinking about portion sizes that make sense. You can easily buy a portion for one or two people, which is great if you’re not that hungry. Food waste is still a huge problem here, but it is a good step in the right direction.
Bags cost extra / BYO Bag
You typically need to pay .25 cents per bag. (The Jumbo and Albert Heijn bags last quite well.) I generally recommend bringing a backpack or your own bag to save money. That said, do not shop with this bag! Use the baskets provided at the front.
Good luck getting bread towards the end of the day
Dutch people are quite passionate about bread. Most people like to buy fresh bread that same day, especially rolls. The bakeries within grocery stores in the Netherlands are pretty nice for this reason, however it means that the supermarket often runs out of bread in the late afternoon.
pakketje” is a steal
One of my
These portioned dinners usually cost between 2-6 euros at Jumbo or Albert Heijn. You might need to buy meat and grains, but it’s often a steal considering that you get the sauces and vegetables. You’ll find these in the vegetable section.
Check the “folder” for sale items at some supermarkets (not all do sales)
Most Dutch supermarkets (not all!) offer weekly specials. You’ll find these in the “folder” aka the weekly pamphlet near the front. It might be worthwhile to get a bonus card first to ensure that you get the discounts although sometimes, the employee will scan theirs if you don’t have one.
If you see “op = op“, it means that the deal runs as long as the product is in stock. Similarly, 2e gratis means that when you buy one item, you will receive the second of the same for free. Korting is a discount (e.g. 20% off).
The dairy selection is obscene and those who are lactose-intolerant may need to look elsewhere…
One of the things that always strikes me about Dutch grocery stores is how LARGE the dairy selection is. If you love milk, yogurt, or cheese, you’ll be in heaven. (For cheese, people often go to a specialty store for more selection.)
In the past, it was much harder to find items without dairy, but it’s getting easier as veganism becomes cooler. Those of us with lactose issues will find some great non-dairy options thanks to the Alpro brand found commonly in Albert Heijn and Jumbo.
You’ll typically pay a refundable bottle deposit (statiegeld) for large plastic containers and glass. Similarly, sturdy beer crates (e.g. for 24 beers) are returnable for a fee.
The International section is a great place to shop for delicious sauces
Dutch food in itself is not always the most interesting, but luckily the Netherlands has readily embraced international foods. The international sections at Albert Heijn and Jumbo are always great. The selection often includes Indonesian food, Surinamese food, and Turkish food.
Rounding up is a thing
The one cent coin was phased out here, so currency amounts are generally rounded up or down by 5 cents, typically in the favor of the store. Tax (now 9% BTW) is already included in the price.
You can buy wine, but not strong spirits
Wine is an incredibly good value at most Dutch supermarkets although the selection varies depending on the supermarket. I generally buy my wine at Jumbo or Albert Heijn,
Opening hours (in general) of Dutch grocery stores
It depends where you are as supermarkets in smaller towns often have weirder hours and might be closed on Sundays. However, Dutch grocery stores in supermarkets in major cities are generally open seven days a week until 9-10pm.
It’s getting better, but some supermarkets have limited hours on Sundays and public holidays (e.g. mornings at minimum). I recommend ensuring that you do your grocery shopping prior to
Where to buy groceries after 10pm
After 10pm, you’ll want to look for a avondwinkel. These late night shops are generally open in the evening until midnight (or later). If you forget to get dinner, the selection might be limited, but you should find something. Otherwise, order food on Deliveroo!
favorite products at the Dutch supermarket
- Stroopwafels: These must-try Dutch desserts are often sold by the bag and tin within the supermarket. I always buy a tin to bring with me as a gift for friends.
- Muhammara: This savoury middle eastern dip made with eggplant is vegan-friendly. I love snacking on it me when I buy some fresh bread. Perfect for a picnic!
- Tony’s Chocolonely chocolate bars: These delicious chocolates are slavery-free and delicious. I love the Caramel Seasalt flavor.
- Cheese: We had to include the cheeses, but you can get great value here. Instead of spending a lot more on cheese, you can buy a sealed cheese ball for ~3-6 euros typically, which makes for a great hearty souvenir.