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Cost of living: How to save on groceries in Switzerland

Want to save more than a few francs when doing your weekly shop in Switzerland? Here’s how.

Fresh fruits and vegetables at an outdoor market
Saving money on groceries in Switzerland isn't easy, but it isn't impossible. Here are some tips. Photo by ja ma on Unsplash

While Switzerland’s grocery stores are a good bit cheaper than restaurants or bars, they will still often charge eye-watering amounts. 

That said, there are a few ways to save money when doing your regular shop. 

While some of these are Swiss-specific, others are valid everywhere (you might even remember them from your student days). 

If we’ve missed anything, let us know in the comments or get in touch at [email protected]. 

Tips for Switzerland (and probably everywhere else)

So as with almost everything on The Local Switzerland, the advice is tailored to life here in the Confoederatio Helvetica. 

There are some tips however which are universal and will help you save on groceries whether you are in Switzerland or abroad. 

Probably the first step in considering how to save money is to remember your student days. 

Cost of living in Switzerland: How to save money if you live in Zurich

Rice and pasta are relatively cheap in Switzerland, while meat and cheese are comparatively expensive. 

Making a large amount of food and freezing it is a possibility, particularly if you buy the meat from a discount retailer like Aldi and Lidl. 

Another tip is to keep an eye on food close to its expiration date. 

While buying expired meat and cheese is a sure fire way to upset your stomach (and perhaps anyone else in your vicinity), getting stuff close to its expiry date will pose few risks and save quite a bit. 

Also know the difference between ‘best before’ and ‘expiry/use by’ dates. 

While pasta and canned food may survive forever and well past the best before date, Bernese blood tongue sausage will not. 

Coupons and regular specials/deals – whether online or in print like supermarket magazines – are also very much a thing in Switzerland and are worth looking into. 

Discount supermarkets

After arriving in Switzerland, it won’t take you long before you work out the hierarchy of Swiss supermarkets. 

At one end are luxury supermarkets like Manor and Globus – and in the middle are Migros, Denner and Coop (although Coop tends slightly more expensive than Migros and Denner is the cheaper of the three). 

At the cheaper end are Germany’s Lidl and Aldi, which is known here as Aldi Suisse. 

These discounters offer some of the most reasonably priced groceries in Switzerland. 

Be aware that they lack the conveniences of other supermarkets in the UK, US or France. You won’t find many large brands, while you will often need to take your products out of boxes and bag your groceries yourself (although that is relatively common place in Switzerland). 

READ MORE: How the cost of living will change in Switzerland in 2022

Avoiding supermarkets entirely

Even discount supermarkets can be pricey in Switzerland, while the range tends to be relatively predictable. 

One option is to visit a farmer’s market, where Switzerland’s best and close-to-best produce can be bought at prices cheaper than supermarkets. 

Often the food will be fresher and while there may be a few spots on your apples, it’ll taste as good or better than supermarket fare. 

Be aware though that while farmers markets are cheap, not all outdoor markets are created equal. 

Fancy, inner city, designer markets will often have boutique and craft-style offerings where you can shake the hand of the cow that produced the cheese, but where prices will rival those seen in higher-end supermarkets. 

So when it comes to markets, be sure to shop around and compare the costs with those in your local supermarket. 

Farmers markets are a good way to save money on fresh produce. Photo by Jorge Franganillo on Unsplash

Farmers markets are a good way to save money on fresh produce. Photo by Jorge Franganillo on Unsplash

BYO bags

A relatively simple one which will become habit in no time, but bringing your own bags is a great way to save a little cash when doing your grocery shop.

EXPLAINED: How to find cheap train tickets in Switzerland

Swiss supermarkets, like many across Europe, have sought to phase out single-use bags for environmental reasons. 

If you’ve forgotten to bring your own bags there are always reusable or single use bags available, although you will have to pay. 

Readers from the US have previously told us that they didn’t realise they were being charged for single-use bags every time they did a grocery shop – which can add up to several francs at the end of the year. 

Loyalty schemes

Most major Swiss supermarkets have loyalty schemes where you can accrue points with every purchase. 

You’ll be offered rewards for your loyalty, while in other cases your points become purchase credits. 

EXPLAINED: The real reason Swiss supermarket Migros doesn’t sell alcohol

These loyalty schemes will usually be available at all retail outlets operated by the same company, i.e. Coop’s Supercard program is available at Coop Pronto (gas stations and convenience stores) and Coop City, while Migros’ Cumulus program is also available at Migrolino and Migrol (gas stations). 

As with all loyalty schemes, the idea is to get you to spend more at the one store, so be careful to ensure you don’t end up spending more than you otherwise would if you weren’t being loyal. 

Seasonal food

Switzerland remains a country of traditions and as such seasonal food is very much still a thing.

Foods in season will be more plentiful and likely cheaper, particularly as they will not need to be imported.

This especially applies to fresh foods like blueberries and white asparagus, but other staples will also see fluctuations.

White asparagus for sale at a farmers market. Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

White asparagus for sale at a farmers market. Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

Don’t go shopping in Switzerland

OK so this isn’t always possible depending on where you live, but for people in cross-border regions it is common place to go shopping in either Germany, Italy or France (and even Austria, although the mountain passes can make it difficult). 

Shopping across the border can lead to serious savings over time – particularly in Germany – although there are Covid rules and tax regulations to be aware of. 

You can find out more about these at the following links. 

READ MORE: What are the current rules for Swiss cross-border shopping in Germany?

READ MORE: The rules Swiss cross-border shoppers in France and Italy should know

Keep in mind however that while most standard groceries will be cheaper abroad, this is not always the case. 

As we discussed in this article, some things are actually cheaper in Switzerland. 

One major example is petrol, with Switzerland’s lower fuel taxes making non-diesel fuel cheaper in Switzerland – with the French and the Germans crossing the border to fill up here. 

READ MORE: Where in Switzerland can you find the cheapest fuel?

Order online from abroad

Good news for people who like to purchase goods on the Internet: from January 1st, Swiss customers will no longer be denied access to foreign online shopping platforms.

Currently, anyone in Switzerland who tries to access the “.de” or “.fr” version of a merchant site, is automatically redirected to a Swiss sales portal where the merchandise is more expensive.

But from January 1st, the law will ban geo-blocking on the internet in this area, a rule in force in the EU since 2018.

READ MORE: Everything that changes in Switzerland in 2022

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For members


Six no-gimmick websites that help you save money in Switzerland

Sure, there are many adverts on the internet that claim to offer cheaper this and that, but more often than not, clicking on the link could cost you even more money (and time). However, there are also credible sites in Switzerland that will actually help you spend less.

Six no-gimmick websites that help you save money in Switzerland

When you live in an expensive country like Switzerland, getting more bang for your buck (or franc) may seem like an impossible feat.

Some residents of border areas save money by shopping for groceries in France, Italy, or Germany, where most products are much cheaper.

But not everyone in Switzerland has access to these stores and some people may actually prefer to support their own economy, even if it costs more.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about the cost of living in Switzerland

These six sites will not help you save money on everything, but they will help you in that direction. is an independent comparison platform that provides well-researched and impartial information on best deals in a variety of areas.

They include lowest prices for insurance (health, life, travel, car, and others); properties (including loans and mortgages); vehicles; and mobile phone and internet plans.

You can also find price comparison for various electronics; toys; beauty and wellness services; car and motorcycle accessories, and other products and services. is another, though similar, cost comparison website, where lowest prices for banking, insurance and telecom services can be found.

Like Comparis, Moneyland will often produce reports ranking certain products and services, such as healthcare and insurance plans, which can give you a valuable insight on how to save in Switzerland. 

We can’t tell you which of the two resources is better; visit both and see which one fits your needs. Both have a English-language pages, as well as producing reports in Switzerland’s national languages. 

Cost of living: How to save on groceries in Switzerland

This comprehensive portal also lists prices for hundreds of products in a wide range of categories, including electronics; household items, and appliances; clothing and jewellery; and even wine.

You can get good deals on wine if you look around. Image by Holger Detje from Pixabay

This site compares prices of items ranging from foods to body care products at Coop, Migros, and Lidl.

The prices may not always be up to date (and may change as the war in Ukraine and inflation progress), but the site will nevertheless give you a good idea of which products are cheapest where.

READ MORE: 13 things that are actually ‘cheaper’ in Switzerland

Consumer sites

While these websites aim primarily at protecting and defending consumer rights, they also have some useful information on how to save money on various purchases.

For instance, the Swiss-German chapter, Stiftung für Konsumentenschutz has advice on how to save on customs taxes when purchasing goods online in foreign countries.

In the French speaking cantons, Féderation  Romande des Consommateurs has information on where in the region you can pick your own strawberries and save money while doing so, and in Ticino, Associazione consumatrici e consumatori della Svizzera italiana has similar information.

If you visit these consumer sites regularly, you will find helpful advice on how and where to spend less on certain products and services at that particular time.

Find out where picking your own strawberries will save you money. Photo: Anna Tarazevich / Pexels

And then there is this…
If you want to know how much the price of communal services such as water and waste management is in your commune and how it compares with other Swiss municipalities, you can check it out on this official government website.
It doesn’t tell you per se how to save money on these services but it is a useful resource nevertheless.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why is Switzerland so expensive?