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COST OF LIVING

EXPLAINED: 8 ways to save money on your groceries in Switzerland

With the cost of living going up, many of us are thinking of ways to spend a little less. Here are some tips on how you can save money when grocery shopping in Switzerland.

Shop in season to save money when it comes to fruit and vegetables.
Shop in season to save money when it comes to fruit and vegetables. Photo by Sharon Pittaway on Unsplash

Think about the supermarket where you shop

A lot of the time, food items cost a similar amount in different shops. But there are many items that are available at much lower prices than the competition. Discounters like Denner, Aldi and Lidl offer some products at a much cheaper price than the two largest retailers Coop and Migros. You can check out the articles below to compare prices. 

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Buy products in season

Purchasing fruit and vegetables is less expensive when they are in season. That’s because the products don’t have to be kept in cold storage in the same way, which thanks to the current high energy prices incurs high costs that are then passed onto the customer. So going for produce that is naturally abundant at the time of year can really pay off. 

At the moment, vegetables such as kale, pumpkins, squashes, leaks and cabbages are in season, but you can refer to an online Saisonkalendar (season calendar), such as this one, to keep an eye on which fruits and veggies are in season at different times of the year.

Opt for cheaper products

Instead of entrecôte or fillet of beef, try a cervelat or minced meat. Vegetables are also cheaper than meat, so you could go for more ‘meat-free’ days.

You can also save by buying low-price or own-brand products (for example, Prix Garantie from Coop or M-Budget from Migros). For some items, the price differences between cheap products, own brands and brand-name products are small, but for others they are bigger.

READ MORE: Pasta up by 13 percent: How food and energy prices in Switzerland are rising

Many common products are now more expensive. Image by Alexa from Pixabay

Look out for discount stickers and special offers

Discount stickers are an easy way to save money when shopping for groceries in Switzerland. All the major retailers like Migros, Coop, Denner, Aldi Suisse and Lidl reduce the prices of many food products shortly before their expiry date. The discounts are marked on the products (usually with a red or orange sticker) and often range from 25 to 50 percent below the retail price.

When picking up discounts, you need to be flexible. You won’t know which items are discounted before you go on your shopping spree. Usually, the evening shortly before closing time, and weekends are the best time to go bargain hunting. And keep an eye out for special offers. Customers can find out about weekly promotions in the Migros magazine, in the Coop newspaper and in the brochures of Denner, Aldi and Lidl, as well as online. 

Collect loyalty points

Many large Swiss food retailers have customer loyalty programmes. The most popular are Cumulus (Migros, Voi, Migrolino) and Supercard (Coop).

The two programmes work similarly: show your customer card or the app at the checkout. As a rule, you get one point for every franc spent. With Migros, you receive vouchers every three months that you can use like cash in Migros shops. At Coop, the points are automatically credited to your points account. You can use these points to pay for certain products as part of promotions. You can also pay for your purchases with points at the Coop City department stores’ (without the food department).

100 points correspond to one franc with both Cumulus and Supercard. This means that you normally have to spend 100 francs to get the equivalent of one franc. Get collecting. 

READ MORE: Cost of living: How you can beat Switzerland’s inflation blues?

Pasta

Photo by Bozhin Karaivanov on Unsplash

Keep an eye on coupons

Collecting coupons is a bit like playing the lottery. Sometimes the coupons match the groceries on your shopping list, sometimes they don’t. With the right coupons, you can get discounts of up to 50 percent. Checking out customer magazines like the Coop paper and regional newspapers can be worthwhile. You can also find coupons in the apps of supermarkets like Migros, Coop and Lidl. And sometimes the coupons are even available in the shop itself. If you buy groceries online, you can often find coupons for online grocery shops and delivery services on numerous discount sites.

But don’t be blinded by the coupons: they are often branded products that are much more expensive than other items in the same shop, despite the discount.

Try shopping at farms

Wherever you live in Switzerland, chances are high that there is a farm fairly nearby (or it may make a nice day trip on the weekend). Some farmers sell their fresh produce directly from stalls, and the fruit and vegetables can be cheaper than in the supermarket.

Some farms in Switzerland are open around the clock. Money can usually be deposited in a cash box. Often payment via Twint is also possible. On schweizerbauer.ch you can find a list of Swiss farms by location. Although you can also buy regional products from farms on online platforms. However, the same savings are often not possible there as when you buy directly from a farm.

Fight food waste – and save money

Some organisations who want to reduce food waste sell almost expired food in Switzerland at a good price. Plus, retailers sometimes reject products simply because they are not in the desired shape, for example (such as crooked carrots).

The app Too Good To Go is well known. Customers use this smartphone app to buy a surprise package of leftover food. At the time specified in the app, you pick up the package. Various supermarkets, as well as restaurants, bakeries and takeaways are on board with the app. Food-waste shops like the Äss Bar shops, which sell baked goods from the day before, aim to reduce food waste rather than cost, but the prices are still far below the retail price.

If you are affected by poverty, you can also go shopping at Caritas grocery shops. Everyday products are usually available at much lower prices than in conventional supermarkets. The prerequisite is that you are on or below the poverty line, receiving economic social assistance or supplementary benefits to social security, or are in debt. There are also some local projects and food banks where people in poverty can buy cheap products – or even get them for free.

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PROPERTY

Swiss mortgage rates ‘climb drastically’ with more hikes on the way

Due to inflation and Switzerland’s new monetary policy, mortgages are now twice as expensive as they were a year ago.

Swiss mortgage rates 'climb drastically' with more hikes on the way

A bit of bad news for owners, or prospective buyers, of Swiss properties: they will have to pay more than double of 2022 prices for a 10-year fixed rate mortgage, Moneyland consumer platform reported on Wednesday. 

“Swiss mortgage index has climbed drastically over the past year,” Moneyland said.

Currently, the average interest rate is 2.54 percent for five-year fixed mortgages and 2.76 percent for 10-year terms. As a comparison, at the beginning of 2022, these rates were 1.01 percent and 1.26 percent, respectively. 

“On average, the cost of a ten-year fixed-rate mortgage is around double of what it was at the start of 2022,” according to Moneyland’s CEO Benjamin Manz.

Five-year mortgages are 2.5 times higher than they were in early 2022, he said.

This is not exactly a surprising development, as experts had predicted the hike when Switzerland’s central bank (SNB) raised its key rate sharply last year to fight inflation, which, in turn, caused mortgage rates to go up as well.
 
The upward trend could continue well into 2023, as the SNB’s chief Thomas Jordan recently said that another hike is likely, further increasing the current interest rate of 1 percent.

READ MORE: Switzerland set for another interest rate hike, central bank chief warns 

This means that mortgages will remain “very expensive, and could well climb further as 2023 progresses,” Moneyland said.

If you already have a fixed-rate mortgage, then you are safe from rate increases for the term of your mortgage.

However, for new home buyers, or those with variable-rate mortgages, things may be more problematic.

“It is not excluded that mortgage interest rates will reach 3 to 4 percent next year,” according to Donato Scognamiglio, director of real estate platform Iazi. 

READ MORE: What’s the outlook for the Swiss property and rental market in 2023?

Are there any cheaper mortgage options in Switzerland?

These articles could help you find alternatives to traditional models:

Reader question: What is a reverse mortgage in Switzerland, and will it benefit me?
 
EXPLAINED: What is Switzerland’s ‘SARON’ mortgage?

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