Feb232015

My best friend in Amsterdam is Albert Heijn

My best friend in Amsterdam is Albert Heijn. When I want a beer, Albert Heijn has a selection of beer. When I want bread, Albert Heijn has shelves of fresh loaves. This trip to Amsterdam was probably one of the best meal plans we have ever had with Albert Heijn.

Albert Heijn Schiphol

Amsterdam is an expensive city to visit. Food prices are relatively high compared to much of Europe. Amsterdam is not Scandinavia-like shock syndrome for sky high food prices at the supermarket, yet higher than the typical U.S. grocery store for many items. Although, during this trip I found if you select the right foods, prices in Amsterdam can be less than USA grocery stores. The fact that the dollar is 20% stronger against the Euro than five years ago helps.

I like to familiarize myself with food prices when I travel to a new place. I saw more than a dozen, probably close to two dozen Albert Heijn markets around Amsterdam during the past week. Wherever in town we wandered, an Albert Heijn was nearby. There were also two other large supermarkets in downtown Amsterdam in a different brand that looked like good competition to AH. Heijn is pronounced ‘Hine’ with long ‘i’ vowel sound. You will see many Dutch words with ‘ij’ and the letter combination are pronounced like ‘eye’. Rijks Museum is pronounced ‘rikes’.

Albert Heijn has a loyalty rewards and discount program that is free to join. I picked up a new loyalty card this trip. I saved 40 cents on tomatoes.

albert heijn food

Albert Heijn sample prices.

There are many words in Dutch similar to English with both languages having some shared history.

  • Bread baguette, stokbrood 0.99 EUR ($1.13, normally $2.00-$3.00 in USA)
  • 200 g smoked salmon fillet, zalmfilet 3.29 EUR ($3.75)
  • mussels, mosselvlees 1.99 EUR ($2.27)
  • red pepper, paprika rood 0.79 EUR  ($0.90)
  • strawberries, Hollandse aardbeien 3.49 EUR ($3.98)
  • blueberries, blauwe bessen 4.49 EUR ($5.12)
  • six tomatoes, trostomaten 1.49 EUR ($1.70)
  • hummus, hummus 2.00 EUR ($2.28)
  • can of tuna, tonijn 1.80 EUR ($2.05)
  • Amstel Pils 330 ml, 5% beer 0.55 EUR ($0.63 or $3.78 per 6-pack).
  • Beer bottle deposit 0.10 EUR ($0.12 glass bottle, redeemable by recycling at automatic machine at the store).
  • Sparkling water 1.5 L, Albert Heijn brand 0.40 EUR or 0.90 EUR Spa brand.
  • Plastic water bottle deposit 0.25 EUR

Exchange rate 1 EUR = $1.14

Albert Heijn offers a variety of packaged salads. The staple component of our diet for the week was a daily shrimp salad with vegetables and noodles from Albert Heijn for about 5.20 EUR. Fresh vegetables and fruit really helps the diet when traveling. Packaged fish was affordable and convenient at Albert Heijn for meals in our hotel rooms. The availability of Albert Heijn markets meant we could walk to the store and buy fresh food daily.

smoked salmon

1/2 lb. of peppered salmon for 4.75 EUR ($5.43) from Albert Heijn as a dinner main course. This was a good buy for a main course at 20 EUR per kg.

At the Andaz hotel, just when I was wondering what kind of fruit will suffice for dessert, there was a knock on our hotel room door. We were greeted by a young woman presenting me a tray of treats and a card.

Andaz treat

Packaged shrimp salads, fresh peppered salmon, cheeses and brie, daily fresh bread loaves, tomatoes, hummus, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, pastries and beer and lots and lots of sparkling water kept us well fed and hydrated for the week at a cost of about 30 EUR per day ($35 USD).

Groceries food

We packed a couple of food containers and pinched some heavy duty plastic cutlery from our KLM flight for tools to get through a week in Amsterdam, primarily living on store bought food at the price of about $35 per day. Or about the average price for one cheap restaurant dinner for two without wine or beer.

We ate out a couple of times at Wok to Walk where a large noodle dish sufficient for two can be purchased for under 10 EUR. We were regular visitors of Wok to Walk when they first opened in Amsterdam ten years ago and the chain now has over 50 stores in 15 countries.

Dutch Brew

There is a large selection of beers at Albert Heijn Museumplein in Amsterdam. Belgian ales like Chimay 1.49 EUR per bottle or Duvel 1.19 EUR per bottle are bargain prices for Americans. La Trappe Dubbel 6-pack of Belgian Ale 7% ABV for 5.39 EUR are another sample of one of the deals on beer.

My two week trip to Norway in September 2014 tested my resolve to say no to outrageously priced alcohol when the price of beer averaged about $5 per bottle at a store and $10 at a bar. Amsterdam has bargain beer prices in stores compared to the US.

Regular Dutch lager is a true bargain price with the current USD-EUR exchange rate.

My great disappointment was finding all Heineken in green bottles. Heineken used to come in brown bottles when we visited Amsterdam in the past. What does it matter if the bottle is green or brown? If you don’t know, then it does not matter.

Albert Heijn beer cases

I enrolled in Albert Heijn Bonus Kaart loyalty program on my first visit to Albert Heijn Museumplein last week. Free to join and the customer service staffer did not even make me fill out the card form.

24 count case of beer bonus card discount price is 5 EUR off from 15.89 EUR to 10.89 EUR or $0.52 per beer.

My best friend in Amsterdam is Albert Heijn.

Museumplein

Albert Heijn Museumplein is located beneath one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, the green grass slope of Museumplein between the Concert Gebouw and Stedelijk Museum.

Albert Heijn Supermarkt at Museumplein is the major grocery store within 20 minutes walking distance or two tram stops from Park Plaza Vondelpark or Hilton Amsterdam. This store is a good place to shop after visiting the Van Gogh Museum and Rijks Museum before heading back to your hotel.

Albert Heijn Mueseumplein

Another major Albert Heijn market in the city that we frequented is Albert Heijn Dam Square. Starwood’s W Amsterdam hotel is scheduled to open later this year above the Albert Heijn Dam Square.

W Amsterdam

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

Comments

  1. Yup, when I lived in Amsterdam, I always shopped at Albert Heijn.

    I was so surprised when I was in Prague a few weeks ago, that there was an Albert Heijn there as well. It was downstairs near a subway entrance – if someone hadn’t directed me to it, I would never have found it. I bought a bottle of wine and some snacks there.

  2. I visit the Albert Heijn stores when I’m in Amsterdam, too. Having a meal out of a grocery store/bakery is a great idea to save money and time in Europe. My favorite is baguettes and cheese for breakfast in Paris.

    An even better idea in Amsterdam is Groupon. I had 5 mouths to feed in Amsterdam last year (when the exchange rate was still bad) and was surprised by how good the Groupon deals were for that city. Very well regarded restaurants at half off. We routinely had gourmet meals for less than $15 a person. Groupon and LivingSocial can be good elsewhere in Europe, but we found it best in Amsterdam. In Paris, I tend to use La Fourchette (the fork) to save on restaurant meals (more flexibility).

  3. Yeah, Heineken changed their bottles to green not to long ago. The content is still the same, though! Funny enough, for us Dutch, Heineken is the most standard beer you can you think of, while internationally it’s marketed as a premium beer. That’s why the price is lower over here.

    Regarding the Albert Heijn: you don’t need to get the loyalty card: I don’t have one, but they always have one available at the cash register. Or ask your neighbor in line 😉 ‘bonuskaart?’ (pronounced bonus cart with a loooong a) will do the trick.

    The other supermarkets in general are cheaper than AH. On the other hand, AH normally has a wider selection of fresh food.

    Please don’t confuse AH with ‘AH to go’: the latter are way more expensive, way smaller and normally at high traffic areas.

    Note that the deposit on bottles only applied to plastic/glass (so, no cans) and only above 0.5L. For some weird reason, the smaller bottles aren’t charged this deposit. Also, wine bottles aren’t included and some foreign (for the Dutch) beers. In case of doubt, check the label for ‘statiegeld’ (statie=deposit, geld=money) and if it doesn’t say a price, you can throw them away.

    Well done with your explanation on how to pronounce Dutch! You’re spot-on.

    The Groupon-idea is great! Other option, as in every main city: ask a local and go out of the center. In general, the area south of Vondelpark is quite affordable, as is Amstelveen (a city just south of Amsterdam, trams 5 and 51).

    Or, do the smart thing. Get away from that tourist-infected city of Amsterdam :). Go to Utrecht (25 minutes by train)! As cute as Amsterdam, but more relaxed and cheaper. Yes, you can also smoke famous Dutch substances over there ;). It has a really nice, even older center than Amsterdam. Not as many museums, but then again the whole center seems like a museum.

  4. I used to live in the Netherlands. Albert Heijn has really good selection, but it is probably one of the more expensive supermarket chains in the Netherlands. I always shopped at Dirk and Jumbo when I lived there.

  5. We love to do this type of thing for lunch when in a new town. Then I feel I can splurge more on dinner and keep my costs in line.

  6. How did you know if the mussels were cooked or raw?

    Do they have free wifi in the stores so we can translate with our smartphones?

  7. @7 & 8: Normally they’re cooked, never seen them served raw. But then again: I reallllly dislike mussles ;). At Albert Heijn, many have free wifi. But most Dutch speak English, albeit with an accent (myself included 😉 ). In general, free wifi is easy to be found. If you’re staying longer, buy a local sim card. That’ll make your life much easier.

    You pay cash. Apart from restaurants (and it seems like the railways saw the light), hardly anything is paid by CC here. The Dutch are used to debit cards and they see very frequent usage. Credit cards not so much. And even in restaurants: ask before you start eating. Any fast food restaurant: forget it.

Comments are closed.