Thursday, October 04, 2007

Swedish Grocery Store Adventures

I am still without a full-time job. That means I’m cheap. Groceries tend to be a place where I think I can save a lot of money. Usually, this is no problem. In the US I had figured out what kind of cheap foods still tasted good. Not here in Sweden though. Not even close.

Having spent a decent amount of time here before the move I had a pretty good base as to what kind of food I liked. Herrgårds ost (a delicious cheese), Kalles Kaviar (basically caviar in a toothpaste tube… classy), filmjölk (sour thick milk, you can’t wait to try it huh?), and of course Swedish meatballs (they need no explanation). These are staples of any Swede’s fridge, and they are delicious. I love Swedish food; it is just a little expensive. A lot of that has to do with the fact that I’m in Stockholm but still.

Anyway, I need to expand my horizons, and get a little variety in my meals. I also need to save money. That is where it gets tricky. While Stockholm is the most livable city in the world, it is also one of the most expensive. And groceries are no different. I’ve been trying to cook more, trying to get as many food groups into meals as I can, just try to be halfway of an adult, an adu if you will, about my eating habits. But come on, I came to Sweden partly because I needed to get away from the US where I was afraid I’d end up being an adult too quickly.

I love breakfast cereal. With milk, with filmjölk, with yogurt, it doesn’t matter, give me cereal and some sort of relatively runny dairy product and I’m a happy man. And considering that I’m only halfway trying to be an adult I eat a lot of cereal. For two days I had been without cereal so I finally made my way to the grocery store today. I know what kinds of cereal I like but I wanted something cheap. So I got some Choco-crisps. The idea was that they would be delicious chocolaty rice crispies. I was sorely mistaken. They were foul. Not chocolaty at all. In fact, they tasted kind of bitter and coffeey. A horrible mistake on my part. As a wise hotel owner in Australia once told me and DCP, “You get what you pay for love!” She was right. And it is a lesson I will carry with me forever. Whether I take that lesson into account is another thing.

This wasn’t the first time I had been bitten trying to save some money on food. You would think I would learn. Especially since I love delicious food. I just have a hard time bringing myself to pay so much for food. Plus I’m still stuck in the mindset of converting everything to dollars. And even though the dollar is near record lows in comparison to the SEK, food is still cheaper in America. I need to get out of that conversion mentality. Hopefully it will pass soon because it is a killer.

Being an adu, I also struggle in planning my grocery trips ahead. Way too often I find myself hungry without enough food to make something worth eating. So it’s off to the grocery store. This is never a good situation. Suddenly I find myself surrounded by glorious food and I’m damn hungry. Now, as I mentioned, I’m trying to save money. A grocery store on an empty stomach is not a good place to save money. Especially because almost every grocery store has their wall of candy right before checkout. So now, not only did I start out hungry, I’ve now walked through an entire building of temptation only to be faced with enough candy to feed a small army, or at least a group of third graders. It’s just not easy. And so, money gets spent.

But so it goes, and I’m learning every time. Next time I cereal shop maybe I’ll just get the second cheapest brand. It’s always an adventure in the grocery store. Just a series of Welcome to Sweden moments I suppose.

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  1. Please don't misunderstand and I really think you are doing fine and the right thing, but coming from Norway you know we find your grocery prices quite low.
    You might remember we have our vacation home in Mariestad in Sweden and its much more pleasent for us to visit both the grocery store and of course Systembolaget :-)

  2. Dude, you forgot ketchup as one of the most ubiquitous food items in a swede's fridge! LOL. RennyBA is right. In fact beer trade route in the north goes like this: the norwegians buy beer in sweden, the swedes buy beer in denmark and the danes buy beer in germany. As for the Finns, I don't know. We should perhaps ask Smek This!

  3. These are good points. I suppose proces are all relative depending on where you are coming from and what you are comparing them to. It just happens that I'm stuck with the American prices in my head.

  4. Ok, here's the Finnish way:
    We are carrying ridiculously big amounts of beer from Estonia! It's much cheaper there although not as cheap as it used to be. You can count me out of beer drinkers, but I have carried my share of alcohol still. Also tax-free beer in boats to Stockholm are popular.

  5. Try this one out HairySwede--
    1 kg Euroshopper Penne Rigate
    1 jar Euroshopper Pasta Sauce
    10 Vi Small French Breads

    27,8 Kr

    Add some meat (or vegetables, but I prefer meat) if you're feeling rich.

    You can feed several people for days, i.e. You, me, DCP, and ATM.

  6. So the key to eating and drinking cheap in Sweden, Norway, or Finland is to smuggle in food and drink from different countries?

    The recipe looks glorious. And I love the fact that I can eat for days with it. That's what I'm looking for. The good doctor came through for us!

  7. If you want to save a bit more, skip the sauce and buy euro shopper krossade tomatoes in a box..Add a pinch of sugar and some pepper and you are in there! I am from NJ and still cannot stop comparing prices for items...(ICA honnung puffers are the best)

  8. Oh another glorious money saving tip. I like it. And the cereal tip is even better. These are the things I need to know. Learn from everyone else that has been thrugh this. Thanks Gina!

  9. I fyou wanna try a Swedish classic which tastes awesome you should try gravad lax with hovmästarsås. I can't explain it in english but you'll see when you try it! I also recommend skagen sanwhich and meatball sandwhich (cold meatballs and "root beet salad", you can buy any of them in almost any cafe or sandwhich place in Sweden. Hope you'll try it because it's awesome!

  10. I've actually tried gravad lax and you're right it is good. I'm skeptical about the meatball sandwich with root beat salad. Root beat sounds like something that shouldn't be mixed with delicious meatballs. But I might give it a go anyway. Thanks for the tips!

  11. Well, pasta, yes - that's always cheap!

    PrisExtra used to be quite reasonable. I'd take a big ol' backpack and load up there, versus my local ICA or my indulgences at the HemKöp at T-Centralen. Then again, the last time I was there, the exchange rate was like 9 SEK to the US dollar. Whoo-hoo!

  12. hmmm... I've been rocking Willys, but I'll have to check ut PrisExtra.

  13. Lidl (german chain) is the cheapest food shop in stockholm afaik. also try fiskbullar (hummersås). open the tin, put it in the microwave and eat. otherwise go for pasta and various sauces. the frozen stuff is good too.

  14. Ill be honest, I walked into a Lidl here in Stockholm when I first moved here and walked out immediately and have yet to be back. It was disgusting. Just an absolute mess. Floors were cluttered and dirty, products were just everywhere.

    That being said, I was in Germany just a while ago and walked in to a Lidl there and was absolutely amazed at how nice it seemed. So maybe Ill give it another chance.

  15. What is the cost of two types of fruits, two kinds of vegetables, and two types of drinks in sweden?

  16. Milk: 16.98 SEK for 2 liters
    Apple Juice: 18.98 SEK for 1 liter

    Bananas: 16.90 SEK for 1 kilo
    Clementines: 17.90 SEK for 1 kilo

    Red Bell Pepper: 27.90 SEK for 1 kilo
    Red Onion: 9.90 SEK for 1 kilo

    on December 12, 2009.