For members


Seven ways to save money on food and drink in Sweden

A weak krona, soaring inflation and the impacts of war in Ukraine - things are getting more expensive in Sweden, but there are ways to save money on your food shop. Here are our top tips.

Seven ways to save money on food and drink in Sweden
The discount section of a Lidl supermarket. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman/SvD/TT

1. Shop around

Where do you usually do your food shopping? See if you can save money by switching to a cheaper supermarket.

According to a 2022 Matpriskollen comparison of over 2,500 products on sale at Swedish supermarkets, Sweden’s joint cheapest supermarkets are Willys and Lidl.

In second place came ICA Maxi, which – depending on the branch – came in zero to six percent more expensive than Willys, with a few ICA Maxi stores in western Sweden matching the price of Willys supermarkets.

In third place came Stora Coop stores, six to eleven percent more expensive than Willys. On top of this, they have a good membership programme with bonuses.

Finally, City Gross came in fourth place. Although their prices worked out ten percent higher than Willys, they often offer members ten percent off their purchase, which makes them equally as cheap as Lidl and Willys once this discount is applied.

It’s also worth noting that Lidl, Ica and Coop in late March all pledged to lower their prices on selected items.

2. Check for discounts

Have a look for weekly discounts or erbjudanden – you might get these posted through your letterbox or find them in the back pages of newspapers, but you can also check them online or on your supermarket’s app.

Here are Lidl’s discounts, here are Willys’, here are Ica’s and Hemköp’s are here. You’ll usually have to type in the name of your local store as discounts vary depending on location.

3. Buy in bulk

If you really want to commit to buying in bulk, see if you have a City Gross close by. Usually outside of the city, these larger supermarkets are great for stocking up on bulk items at a lower price. Even larger Ica supermarkets like Ica Maxi can also be a better option than small neighbourhood Ica Nära stores.

4. Shop online

If you’re mainly buying groceries online, you’ll be charged for delivery, but may be able to save considerably by planning your meals carefully and doing fewer shops. You might even find this cuts down your spending because you’re less tempted by impulse buys.

Some supermarkets offer the option to do your shopping online and collect it from the supermarket rather than have it delivered, paying a smaller fee. This could be a smart option if you have access to a car.

5. Check for deals when eating out

Cutting down on takeaway coffees is a cliched money-saving tip, but if you prefer not to give up your caffeine hit, make sure you’re using any available loyalty cards or apps, and taking advantage of frequently-offered discounts for bringing your own reusable mug.

Many restaurants and cafes offer generous daily lunch deals (dagens lunch), where you can often get the exact same food and portion size on offer in the evening for around half the price. Coffee is usually included too!

Download money-saving apps for foodies, such as The Fork, which offers restaurant reviews as well as exclusive discounts; Karma, which advertises hefty discounts on food which would otherwise go unsold by shops or restaurants; and Too Good To Go, which also allows you to buy surplus food from your favourite cafes and restaurants.

6. Order food and drink at home – or skip the booze more often

Alcohol is undeniably pricey in Sweden, so if you go to a bar or a restaurant, look out for afterwork deals, the usual term for “happy hour”, when your order may be cheaper than usual.

Drinking at home? The state-run alcohol monopoly Systembolaget doesn’t offer any discounts or special offers on booze, since its stated purpose is to reduce Swedish consumption of alcohol. But it’s still much cheaper to drink at home than in a bar, so why not invite a few friends over instead? You can return unopened bottles of alcohol to Systembolaget, even if you’ve lost your receipt, which is worth knowing if you find you’ve bought six bottles of a wine that no one likes.

You can also get takeaway and eat it at home (which is sometimes cheaper anyway), avoiding paying for expensive drinks at a mark-up.

Try going alcohol-free more often. Non-alcoholic beer is widely available in Sweden thanks to laws against advertising alcohol, which have contributed to many craft breweries creating a non-alcoholic range. Sweden’s strict laws on alcohol also mean most breweries do a “light” version of their beers at less than 3.5 percent ABV, as this is the maximum alcohol content that can be sold in supermarkets. Lower-alcohol or alcohol-free drinks are almost always cheaper.

7. Eat seasonally

Sweden’s northern latitudes mean that the growing season is quite short compared to other countries, so out-of-season vegetables can be expensive as they are often grown in greenhouses which need a lot of electric heating and lighting.

This is especially true at the moment, as most of Sweden’s produce is grown in the southern county of Skåne, where electricity prices are highest in Sweden.

This means that you may be better off buying seasonal veggies like kale, cabbage and root vegetables, rather than expensive tomatoes, peppers and courgettes.

A completely free way of eating seasonally is foraging. Try embracing your inner Swede and see if you can find any ramslökkirskål or nässlor this spring, or keep your eye out for berries and elderflowers when we get closer to the summer.

In autumn, look out for mushrooms in the Swedish forests. Chanterelles often sell in supermarkets for over 100kr per kilo, so you can save a fortune if you find a good spot to pick your own. 

Under Sweden’s right to roam (allemansrätten) you can forage wild herbs, flowers, berries and mushrooms, although some plants (such as rare flowers) are protected, meaning you aren’t allowed to pick them.

You can only forage the flowers and berries which grow back each year – no digging up plants or roots in a way which will damage the plant.

Here’s The Local’s guide on how to pick mushrooms in Sweden like you’ve been doing it all your life, here’s our spring foraging guide and here are some summer finds you can keep an eye out for.

Member comments

  1. Re: the weekly ‘erbjudanden’ – many immigrants to Sweden will move into 2nd-hand apartments or homes which might already have the familiar “ingen reklam tack” (no flyers please) sticker on the mailbox. My tip is to peel it off!

    The big supermarkets usually distribute flyers over the weekend with new offers that start on Monday. I didn’t know what I’d been missing until I started receiving them. If you take 5 minutes to plan your shopping, you will usually find something in the flyers that makes it worth diverting to the other shops.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Swedish mortgage holders ‘under most financial strain in 12 years’

People with mortgages are seeing more strain on their finances than at any time in the last 12 years, Sweden's financial stability watchdog has said in a new report, although it says that the majority of people taking out new mortgages still have some wiggle room in their personal finances.

Swedish mortgage holders 'under most financial strain in 12 years'

The new report from Sweden’s Financial Supervisory Authority (FI) found that the proportion of income mortgage holders were paying out in interest payment had almost tripled between 2021 and 2022, reaching 12 percent of disposable income. 

“In twelve years, we haven’t seen households under so much pressure as we do now,” FI’s General Director Daniel Barr said at a press conference announcing the report. “Pressure has increased on households and will continue to do so throughout the year.”

In the report, the authority notes that Swedish households’ loans had been increasing faster than their disposable income for some time, due in part to historically low interest rates and rising house prices.

However, during 2022 and the beginning of 2023, inflation rose substantially, interest rates more than doubled and house prices dropped.

In addition to this, many banks and other financial actors were now predicting a sustained period of low growth or even a recession, which would have a knock-on effect for households, not least those who bought properties in this time period.

The authority now believes that interest payments could increase to nearly 16 percent of disposable income by the end of 2023.


Number of first-time buyers increased in 2022

The analysis, based on a sample of people taking out new mortgages in early autumn 2022, showed that activity on the property market declined overall in 2022, but the number of first-time buyers increased to close to the levels seen before the pandemic in 2019.

Most of the people in the sample finalised their property purchases in the summer of 2022, or earlier. 


Otherwise, the report states, the sample was similar to results seen in 2021. People taking out new mortgages bought, in general, properties of a similar price in 2022 as in 2021, with mortgages of a similar size.

The average size of the loan compared with the overall price of the property - the belåningsgrad or loan-to-value ratio - was also roughly the same in 2021 as in 2022.

The skuldkvot or debt-to-income ratio, the size of the mortgage compared to household income, was slightly lower in 2022, with a somewhat smaller number of borrowers with a debt-to-income ratio over 450 percent and a loan-to-value ratio of over 70 percent. 


This may be in part due to the fact that a debt-to-income ratio over 450 percent and a loan-to value ratio over 70 percent both require borrowers to amortise an extra 1 percent of their mortgage each year, with borrowers falling into both categories having to amortise an extra 2 percent.

Average interest rate more than double previous year

The average interest rate on the mortgages taken out in the sample group was 3.1 percent, more than double the average 1.4 percent rate on mortgages in the previous year's sample. This means new mortgage holders are using a much larger proportion of their income (10 percent) to pay interest than in previous years.

This is the highest average interest rate reported since 2012.


At the same time, a much larger proportion of new mortgage holders chose variable rate mortgages than in 2021 - the largest number reported since 2016.

Those taking out new mortgages in 2022 were in general worse off already at the point they took out their mortgage compared with the same group in 2021, due chiefly to increased interest rates and prices rising in general.

This means, the report states, that many mortgage holders will need to reduce their savings or adapt their consumption to the changing economic situation.

Those who have taken out mortgages more recently will be affected to a greater extent, it adds, as they often borrow larger amounts and have less room in their personal finances to accommodate even higher inflation, higher interest rates and a loss in property value.


Individuals in financial trouble are, in some cases, able to pause the requirement to amortise their mortgages at the discretion of their bank, in what is referred to as a ventil, similar to a pressure valve. 

FI is still investigating to what extent the banks are allowing customers to use this pressure valve, with a final report on this due in June 2023. It states, however, that the general picture is that the pressure valve is being used much more often than in previous years.