grocery shopping sweden

Getting Accustomed to the Swedish Grocery Store

Feeling a little unsure about grocery shopping in Sweden? This week we are spotlighting grocery store vocabulary over on our Facebook and Instagram pages to help non-Swedes navigate better in their everyday life. Since there is a lot more to learn about getting the shopping done than we can cover in an Instagram post, let’s elaborate here. If you have more questions at the end, leave us a comment or send us an email

Your Choices

To begin with, you may have noticed there are quite a few grocery stores in Sweden, particularly if you’re living in Stockholm. As an expat, you may also feel like you’re having some trouble finding things you’re used to, or getting accustomed to a new system. 

Your first decision might be which store to go to. You probably have at least one in your neighborhood, but in the cities, you might have several nearby to pick from. A quick Google search will help you find the ones nearby, but how do you choose? We will talk about each store more in depth later in the article.

shopping carts

When You Arrive

So what do you need to look out for when you start your grocery shopping? Often, you will need to make a 5 or 10kr deposit, or “pant,” to take out a shopping cart (kundvagn). Although this is becoming slightly less common due to Sweden ditching the use of cash for most things, you should still be prepared with coins. No deposit is required to take a basket.

Have a look around at the front of the store or in your cart for a sales flyer. Most grocery stores provide a small booklet of their best prices to help you shop the deals.

A Few Differences

For many, one big difference they encounter is having to weigh your own produce. You’ve probably already seen this, mostly at the larger stores. If you’re buying a bag of produce, you must put them on one of the digital scales, select the right product from the screen, and print a label for your bag. At check out, the cashier will scan that label instead of weighing your selections.

candy bins

Also different from many other countries is the popularity of bins full of candy, or “pick n mix,” as they are called in some places. So what’s going on here? Well, candy is very popular among the Swedes. Popular, but unhealthy. For this reason, many Swedes reserve the eating of candy (lots of it) for Saturdays only. It’s called “lördagsgodis” or “Saturday sweets.” This is why you might notice the candy bins often look pretty empty on Saturday afternoons…

So What Store Should You Choose?

Let’s talk more about your options for stores. Knowing more about them will help you do your grocery shopping more easily. The main stores in Sweden are:

  • ICA 
  • Hemköp
  • Willy:s
  • Lidl
  • Coop

These are absolutely everywhere, and even come in different sizes- ICA Nära, ICA Kvantum, and ICA Maxi. Nära are small and provide convenience. The prices are a little higher but you’re more likely to find the tucked into neighborhoods. Kvantum is the medium size, but they are still quite large. Here you will find almost everything you need, but if you’re looking for more, you’ll have to go to the huge ICA Maxi stores. 

CAN I SHOP ONLINE?

You can shop easily on their website. Pick it up in the store or have it delivered to your home.

This store is very similar to the ICA. They have a popular buffet section where you can get a ready-made meal at a good price. Some people feel that Hemköp does not offer quite as many premium items as ICA. 

CAN I SHOP ONLINE?

Same as ICA, you can order online for pickup or delivery. If you select an early morning delivery, there is a discount on the delivery fee.

Willy:s offers a good range of products at typically lower prices than either ICA or Hemköp. They also have a membership program which allows you to earn points toward discounts. You can become a member without a Swedish personnummer, which is great for recent arrivals.

CAN I SHOP ONLINE?

Yes, as with the others, you can order online for pickup or delivery.

At Lidl you will sometimes find unfamiliar brands, as the store sources items to give you the lowest possible price. This approach doesn’t seem to ruin the overall quality, but you may find that there are fewer premium goods available. For the budget-conscious shopper, Lidl is a favorite.

CAN I SHOP ONLINE?

Check their website for weekly deals before you shop to make the most of their low prices. 

More expensive than the alternatives, Coop is the popular choice for shoppers looking for more eco-friendly foods. They stock specialty items and quality produce, and those pursuing a vegetarian or vegan diet should be able to find more options here. They have the advantage of having many locations in Stockholm. 

CAN I SHOP ONLINE?

Coop offers online ordering with in-store pickup or home delivery. They also feature popular recipes with the option of buying the exact ingredients needed to recreate them at home, making it easier to try new meals.

Missing Home?

Many expats find themselves searching their local store for favorite items from home, often without success. Fortunately, with a little extra searching, you may be able to find a specialty market stocking international specialty items. Stockholm has African, Asian, American, Italian, and South American markets for those of us feeling homesick for particular foods.

grocery shopping sweden

One Last Tip…

As you get accustomed to your local grocery store, don’t forget to use Google translate. It will make shopping easier as you learn what things are, and it’s a great opportunity to learn some new words that you can remember the next time you shop. This way, you can begin to learn some Swedish! You will be grocery shopping with total confidence in no time!

We here at Swedish for Professionals hope this article has been helpful to anyone learning how to navigate their new home. We continually publish articles and social media posts to help you thrive in your new home, so give us a like and a follow so you can stay up to date on our news, great vocabulary posts, and practical information about life in Sweden!

Tack så mycket! Hejdå!