A question that comes back frequently with my readers and people, in general, is how they can save money on groceries. Food and water are essential to survive, so it’s hard to imagine saving money on this. But it’s possible! I will go over two big grocery stores, Colruyt and Lidl, and compare a selection of their products.
My selection is an exhaustive list of my bi-weekly shopping. I take Colruyt and Lidl as both are known for being cheap yet still offer a range of generic and name brands. But which is cheaper?
I plan to add at least Aldi and maybe Delhaize at a later date.
My bi-weekly grocery list
|Brand||Price (€)||Brand||Price (€)|
|Yogurt (skimmed)||1l||Everyday||0.65||Milbona||0.66||Lidl puts it per 500 grams; I put 500g == 0.5l|
|Gouda cheese||500g||Everyday||1.99||Milbona||1.99||Lidl is 400g, so I converted the price to 500g|
|Goat cheese||150g||Boni||1.5||Petit Chebra||1.24||roll of 180g at Lidl|
|Chicken filet||200g||Everyday||1.19||Milbona||1.26||Lidl is 150g; Converted to 200g price|
|Shoulder ham||300g||Everyday||1.70||Milbona||1.72||Lidl is 200g; Converted to 300g price|
|Eggs||12 (720g)||Everyday||1.37||Ferme Flement||1.35|
|Freshmade soup||1l||Boni||1.99||Chef Select||2.09|
|Cucumber||1||N/A||0.58||N/A||0.59||Promo at Lidl otherwise 0.85|
|Frozen veggie mix||1kg||Boni||2.49||Freshona||1.99|
|Frozen cauliflower||1kg||Boni||1.15||Freshona||1.15||Lidl is 750g|
|Onions||1 (160g)||Boni||0.14||N/A||0.20||Onion at Lidl was per 1kg|
|Breaded chicken patty||1kg||Everyday||7.78||N/A||4.99|
|Burger||300g||N/A||2.04||N/A||3.09||Lidl is 500g at 10.30/kg|
|Minced meat (pork+beef)||1kg||N/A||4.66||N/A||6.99||Promo at Lidl of 500g + 500g = 4.19|
|Prague Schnitzel||600g||N/A||4.18||N/A||5.98||Lidl is 500g|
|Lime||1||N/A||0.39||N/A||0.32||Fair-trade at Lidl per 3 0,95|
|Bananas||1kg||Papillon||1.49||N/A||1.1||Price per kilogram|
|Fanta zero||1||Fanta||1.89||Fant||1.28||Colruyt was only one bottle, Lidl was a pack of 4|
|Chocolate spread||1 jar||Nutella||4.69||Nutella||4.49||1 jar of 900g|
|fish sticks||15 pcs||everyday||1.69||Iglo||3.59||Iglo at colruyt 3,65 but promo for XXL at 5,85 for 28|
|Lasagna||400g||Come a Casa||3.59||Come a Casa||3.59||Per 2 at Colruyt but in Promo for 3|
|Basmati rice||1kg||Boni||1.65||Golden sun||1.49|
|Pizza Hawaii||1 pizza||Ristorante||1.79||Ristorante||1.69|
|Pizza Speciale||1 pizza||Ristorante||1.93||Ristorante||1.98|
|Fries||1 kg||Everyday||0.64||Harvest Basket||0.60||In promo at Lidl at the time of writing normally 0.64|
Key takeaways for your groceries
The first big caveat is that these prices can fluctuate at any time due to local or national promotions. For example, the minced pork meat was on promotion at Lidl for 1kg while it wasn’t at Colruyt. Another example, Iglo fish stocks were on promotion at Colruyt for the XXL pack, but Lidl didn’t have it.
Since these prices change weekly, it’s impossible to have it up to align correctly; nevertheless, it should give a good indication.
So what else can we get out of this list? Several general points:
- Colruyt is almost always the same price as Lidl if you stick to their ‘Everyday’ and ‘Boni’ brands
Take a pack of 6 wraps, for example; 0.99 at Lidl and 0.99 at Colruyt, but in the latter, it becomes cheaper if you get three packs.
Yogurt is 0.01 cheaper per L at Colruyt.
Hummus: 1.09@Lidl <> 1.09@Colruyt, but if you buy 3, it becomes 1.04.
- Colruyt doesn’t have cottage cheese and uses Danone, while Lidl does, which makes the price difference quite large. This applies to some other products as well. Fish sticks are cheap at Colruyt if you get Everyday, but become more expensive if you get Iglo.
- Premade soup is the same price at €2.09/L
The list goes on, but it is a toss-up between Lidl and Colruyt. However, I have noticed 2 key takeaways:
Stick to Everyday as much as possible and look at the red prices in Colruyt to make your list cheaper than Lidl. Realize that it’s harder to do at Colruyt as they have a lot of brands as well. You can rapidly fill your shopping cart with other stuff, and then the bill easily doubles -I kid you not-.
Meat and frozen veggies in general it’s cheaper at Lidl. However, I have noticed that especially the slightly more special things such as breaded chicken breast or Schnitzel are of poor quality at Lidl. Also, meat is only cheaper if you get it on promotion, which, to be frank, some type of meat is at any moment at Lidl.
What about other stores?
Colruyt and Lidl aren’t the only grocery stores out there, of course. Delhaize and Carrefour are the other two big players. I didn’t mention them because they are categorically more expensive. Now, that is not to say you should never do groceries there; these two chains are sometimes the only ones with more specific products.
Specific stuff such as Dulce de leche, which my wife and I like to have on pancakes, can only be found at Carrefour and Delhaize. We don’t get this every month, but I think you can see how this inflates your grocery bill fast! Yes, it’s expensive; 2.49.
One of the most extreme examples I can think of is fruit. Grenadillo at my local Proxy Delhaize costs €2.99 a piece!
No Bio products, for now
A big hole this comparison has is Bio products. To be honest, I looked around, but there just weren’t as many products, especially at Lidl. Don’t get me wrong, they were there, just not a whole lot. Colruyt had more also not soo much.
Colruyt does have its bio stores called bio planet, where you only have bio. So I will tackle this caveat through that store. I will compare bio to non-bio.
Overall, what is important to remember is that Colruyt has a larger range of products than Lidl, so you can more easily be tempted to get A-brands, and if you don’t buy in bulk, then your shopping cart can get expensive fast. If you stick to the basic ‘Belgian’ classics, Colruyt is good and sometimes even cheaper than Lidl.
Lidl is suitable for frozen products and meats on promotion but of subpar quality. Other generic products such as pre-made wraps and poultry are decent.
Would I recommend one specific store? I shop most of the time at Colruyt. Thanks to the mix of a-brands and the generic Colruyt ones, I can choose what I want to cheap out on and what is worth my money.
But unfortunately, there isn’t a real shortcut to the cheapest grocery bill. To get the best deal, you have to shop at both Colruyt and Lidl( or Aldi).