Regular readers of Loyalty Traveler might know that I primarily buy my food and drink at grocery stores when I travel. Cost is a major reason, but also I prefer to prepare my own food so I can control my diet intake and know I am eating good quality food.
Albert Heijn is the major grocery store chain in Amsterdam. As of 2016 the store only accepts a Maestro credit card. As far as I know, Maestro is a MasterCard debit card widely used in Europe. None of my credit or debit cards worked to make an Albert Heijn purchase through a self-serve Maestro card only kiosk, which meant I had to use a register with a human cashier and wait in much longer lines every time I shopped. I also had to pay with cash at Albert Heijn.
AH Albert Heijn grocery store logo, Jodenbreestraat Amsterdam.
Marqt is another upscale, WholeFoods-style grocery store we shopped in a couple of times. Kelley liked their salad selection better. Marqt did accept my U.S. credit cards.
Since so many travelers and bloggers are focused on credit cards, I thought a reader could enlighten me on Maestro cards. How do I get one?
The Cost of Food in Amsterdam
Most noticeable change in Europe over the past two years is the U.S. Dollar is so much stronger. The exchange rate in February 2016 during our trip was around $1.12 = 1 EUR. As recently as two years ago the exchange rate was closer to $1.40 = 1 EUR. Since grocery store food prices have not risen much in the past two years, the real cost of store food and many traveler expenses in the Euro zone has dropped about 20% for U.S. travelers.
As I have done in travels to other places, I keep track of how much food costs in cities where I travel. In Amsterdam we made nearly all our meals from Albert Heijn grocery purchases, except for one falafel hot lunch at Maoz on Leidseplein.
One of the main differences we see when grocery shopping in Amsterdam is a large selection of small serving size foods like prepared, packaged salads designed for one or two persons. Our other food staple is smoked fish. Kelley only likes smoked salmon, but I’ll eat smoked mackerel too and it is about half the price of salmon. Hummus and raw vegetables provided plenty of fiber and a variety of fruits were available, even though this trip was in February winter. Apples and oranges were freely offered in hotel lobbies.
Raspberries have become my fruit of choice this winter.
Amsterdam Food Prices at Albert Heijn (all prices in € EUR. Add about 10% for US Dollar conversion)
Packaged Salads 4.99 EUR
One salad fed two of us one meal and there were often more than ten choices for chicken, shrimp, tuna, beans, noodles or none, and different vegetable selections.
Smoked salmon typical package about €5 daily (22 €/kg or about $11/lb.)
smoked mackerel typical package about €3.00
raspberries 200 g/7 oz = €2.79
strawberries 200 g/7oz = €2.00
Hummus 100 g. €2.00 (package 100 to 200 g?)
broccoli €1.39 (package 200 g?)
cauliflower €1.39 (package 200 g?)
cherry tomatoes €0.95
Heineken beer (0.5L /17 oz.) = €0.87 + €0.10 bottle deposit.
I purchased three other kinds of 330 ml bottled Dutch and Belgian beers:
- Amstel Pils (€0.59)
- Jupiler (€0.60)
- Hertog Jan (€0.65).
- Kelley picked Jan Hertog as best of class.
There are likely lower priced stores if you were shopping on a regular basis in Amsterdam. In my walks around the city, Albert Heijn is the market I see most frequently.
We were able to eat and drink for around €25 to €30 daily with Albert Heijn purchases. Controlling our diet with store bought food kept us eating balanced and healthy meals for our trip and we always had plenty of food and little food waste.
We went out for drinks a few times around town including the W Hotel Amsterdam. Loyalty Traveler – After drinking up at W Amsterdam rooftop bar, go downstairs for toilets.