Visit To a Supermarket in Norway

March 17, 2013

Planning a move or visit to Norway? We lived there. Check out our Norway stories and resources.

I know I’m not alone in my enjoyment of visiting foreign grocery stores and markets when I travel. Today I thought I’d take you on a little tour of a typical supermarket in Norway, which I visit once a week to buy our groceries. We have several major chains in Norway and they pretty much dominate the food shopping scene for better or worse. In Stavanger I’m familiar with ICA, Co-op, Rimi, Kiwi, Rema 1000 and, my personal favourite, Helgo Meny. Meny has the best selection of international brands and food though the prices can sometimes be a bit higher than the others. Rema 1000 is the bargain store for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. These photos are from there and Co-op.

The first thing to remember on a visit to a Norwegian supermarket is to bring along a 10 kr coin because you’ll usually need it to provide a deposit for the shopping trolley if you wish to use one. Otherwise just grab a plastic basket at the front of the store when you enter.

cold seafood section supermarket in norwayI’ve only photographed the things that I find to be unique to supermarkets in Norway for this post. The rest of the items can usually be found elsewhere in the world. I find the selections in some of the stores to be quite limited, both in the range of brands and also in the availability of sizes. As I mentioned in my last post you don’t find a lot of bulk items in Norway. In some shopping categories, however, the selection is tremendous. Look at the range of fish cakes, fish balls, shrimp, caviar in a tube and other fish products available here, for example.

fish cakes fish balls supermarket norway

caviar supermarket norway

In this section you’ll also find that mayonnaise in a tube, which is popular in Europe, a variety of prepared cold salads and quite a few varieties of jarred fish. I really need to be more adventurous in my eating habits here in Norway and try some of this stuff. I assume these are Norwegian dietary staples because this section exists in every supermarket. I rarely eat processed foods so this is the main reason I haven’t explored the cold seafood section.

sausage section norwegian supermarket

Norwegians love their sausages so there is also always a large sausage and cold meats section of the supermarket. The bacon here is delicious, though I do prefer to buy my sausages and bacon at the butcher in Stavanger town centre.

bread at supermarket in Norway

I am in love with the bread section of the store. We’ve been stupidly buying packaged sliced bread until I recently started exploring the fresh bread loaves and the slicing machine. Just select your loaves from the huge variety, remove from the paper wrapping, place the entire loaf into the automatic slicer and close the lid. The bread is cut automatically and then you simply place it onto the metal rack (see it sitting at an angle there?) and slide the paper wrapper back on. Most shops have plastic bags that you can put the bread in before placing the paper back on (the cashier will need the barcode on the outside so don’t forget) – handy if you want to freeze the bread.

kavli baconost and other ost tubes

Another must-try for me…sandwich spread in a tube. These are flavoured cheese spreads that come in varieties like ham and bacon. I’m wary of products like this in any country, but should probably give it a go…

fresh fish supermarket in Norway

If you’re after fresh fish, some of the grocery stores will have a counter where you can ask to have fillets sliced from the large pieces. I serve ørrefillet once a week – it’s trout and it’s delicious, especially when the skin is crisp. Salmon is also available. We’ve only tried another white fish once – because I don’t really know what they are, I just stick to the ones I know are good. Norwegians also eat lutefisk, which you can sometimes find in this section of the supermarket. Sometimes this is translated as ‘rotten fish.’ It’s made using air-dried or salted whitefish and lye, giving it a gelatinous texture. John tried this in a restaurant with his co-workers once but I have not been so adventurous. I also see things like fish organs at the counter. As you would expect, Norwegians enjoy their fish. I recommend Helgo Meny if you want to explore this section of the supermarket – their counters usually have the widest variety and, I think, some of the freshest offerings.

fish_counter1_norge

grotris norway

I tried making this the other day – it translates to paella rice but is actually more of a porridge that requires a ton of milk to make. It’s tasty enough but I find it to be more of a meal than a side dish. Perhaps for breakfast on a cold morning?

asian section norway supermarket

Most Norwegian supermarkets have large Asian sections, which is wonderful for some variety. If you want to make sushi, Thai or Indian food, you won’t have trouble finding ingredients. Though I prefer the smaller Asian grocery stores for these items. Mexican food is also popular and several brands of Tex-Mex staples may be found.

brown cheese norway

Apologies for the blur but it wouldn’t be a Norwegian supermarket post if I didn’t show you the famous Norwegian brown cheese. Brunost is a caramelised whey cheese that tastes a little like hardened peanut butter to me. It’s slightly sweet and usually served in thin slices, perhaps on a piece of toast. The Fløtemysost is a variation made from cow’s milk that is more mild, though as you can see from this photo, there are several varieties of Brunost to choose from.

coca cola expensive norway

It can be easy to avoid products that are bad for your health in Norway for a couple of reasons. The first is price. Here you can see that a six-pack of Coca-Cola costs around $10. So we don’t drink soda here. Ever. The prices help me avoid the candy aisle as well (John is not so good about this). Another reason I feel I’m eating healthier in Norway is the requirement for labelling of GMO food.

yarn in a supermarket in Norway

Sometimes you’ll find random things in a supermarket, like this almost entire aisle side devoted to yarn at my local Rema 1000.

Once you’ve finished shopping it’s time to head to the checkout counters. This is my least favourite part of the shopping experience because there is usually a line. Cost-cutting is a must for businesses here so I’ve never seen more than two cashiers working at the same time. Once it’s your turn, prepare for the mad scramble if you buy a lot of stuff at once. Norwegian cashiers must be some of the highest paid in the world but I’m pretty sure they also have the easiest job. They don’t bag anything so you have to hurry to pack all of your things. It’s a race because you only have the one person behind you as a buffer. If they are slow in packing, you have to move faster so the purchases of the person after him don’t start crowding yours on the conveyor belt. Some of the cashiers don’t even have to count change. They simply insert each bill into the correct slot on a large machine and the correct amount of change is spit back out. How’s that for progress?

Do you enjoy exploring foreign supermarkets?

Planning a move or visit to Norway? We lived there. Check out our Norway stories and resources.

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59 Comments on "Visit To a Supermarket in Norway"


Juan Fernandez
1 year 10 months ago

Hey,
Thanks I live in Norway for school and have been out here for almost three years now, from my home town of Albuqueruqe New Mexico. I have weaved my way through the same pitfalls and came to a lot of the same conclusions as you did. I found your article for my report on Rimi. I hope you don’t mind if I reference your article (citations included of course). Supermarkets and extreme costs have been the bane of my existance here but my paper is going to some of the execs here for some of the chains. Thanks for the info.

1 year 10 months ago

Of course I don’t mind – good luck!

Berk
2 years 4 days ago

Great work! Especially valuable for someone who is trying to make a living budget during studies. Can you offer some websites of these chains, in which I can find ordinary prices?
Thanks!

2 years 4 days ago

Hi Berk – just do a search on Helgo Meny, Kiwi and ICA “i Norge” you’ll find them. Good luck!

2 years 3 months ago

I’m glad to see coke is so expensive – it discourages people from drinking such large amounts.
When I used to live in Dubai I found it amazing that a can of soda cost something around $0.20, when things in general were not that cheap. Now I’m traveling in the US and chocked to see that a large soda tends to be cheaper than water .. at least you can drink straight from the tap, but the truth is that I rarely see people having water in regular places, mostly sodas.

2 years 3 months ago

I agree – as a mostly water drinker, it saddens me that so many people (including children) steadily consume soda. But Norway prices are a bit crazy for me

Carl Youngblood
2 years 4 months ago

I hate how rushed I feel at the check stand in Norway! And how they don’t have separate conveyer belts for alternating customers so your stuff gets crunched while the next customers’ things are coming down. Like you said, it’s especially hard when you buy a lot at once. :)

2 years 3 months ago

So frustrating isn’t it?

2 years 4 months ago

I love checking out the grocery stores in every new country I visit as well. It’s a cultural lesson to itself, isn’t it? I noticed many similar products when I was shopping in Danish and Swedish grocery stores. For some reason I’m drawing a blank on Norway but that’s probably because it was so expensive that I wasn’t eating LOL!

2 years 4 months ago

Hahaha – I know that feeling. My junk food consumption is virtually nil since moving here. I wouldn’t think of buying a soda or any candy in Norway.

 

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