Norway has a reputation for expensive food and drink, and to a great extent this is true. However, it is possible to manage on a budget, if you take the maximum permitted amount of food with you, plan carefully and are prepared to eat a lot of tinned meals!
Most everyday food items were substantially more expensive than in the UK, although the size of the price difference varied greatly. The consensus amongst UK motorhomers seems to be that Rema 1000 is the cheapest supermarket, but we did not find this to be true. There is not generally much difference between the supermarkets and each tended to be slightly better for some things and worse for others. For what it’s worth, our favourites were Kiwi Mini Pris and Coop.
Like most shops in Norway, supermarkets are normally closed on Sundays and have reduced opening hours on Saturday. Opening hours are often indicated on signs on the front of supermarkets – for example, 08-22 (10-18) indicates opening hours of 8am-10pm Mon-Fri and 10am-6pm on Saturdays (and closed on Sundays).
Example Food Prices
Here is a selection of food prices taken from our supermarket receipts in June 2011.
We found that the biggest variation was in seasonal fruit and vegetables, which varied greatly even within the month we were in Norway (June). Spanish nectarines, for example, were 4 for £5 when we arrived but had fallen to around £3 for a large punnet by the time we left.
(The exchange rate at the time of our visit was about 8.8Nkr = £1)
Hansa Pils (lager) 500ml cans: 21.90Nkr each plus 1Nkr deposit (pant)
Coca-Cola 1.5l: 19.90Nkr + Pant
Bread: Coop value bread – 6.10Nkr up to 30Nkr for the best unsliced, granary type loaves. We found that we got very nice bread for around 20Nkr per loaf. All supermarkets have self-service bread slicing machines.
Tomatoes (Norwegian are cheapest if in season): 29.90/kg (they cost more when we first arrived in early June)
Mineral water (1.5l): Cheapest is usually 10Nkr per bottle, including the pant (deposit)
Milk chocolate (200g): For an own-brand value pack (equivalent to Tesco Value): 15.90Nkr
Pork steaks (pack of 2): 27.50Nkr
Chicken breasts (pack of 2): 43.60Nkr
Beef burgers (2 x quarter pounders): 29.90NKR
Margarine/spread (500g): 21.80Nkr
Cheddar cheese: 83.80/kg
Wrigley chewing gum: 9Nkr-15Nkr per packet
We only really bought bread, fruit and the occasional treat when we were in Norway – we took the vast majority of our food with us. This did lead to a somewhat restricted diet but saved us a lot of money.
We took a lot of tinned and packet food with us, including a month’s supply of powdered milk. Regulations do apply to the food you can bring into Norway (click here for details) and at the time of writing you could have no more than 10kg per person of meat and dairy foodstuffs per person plus 10kg per person of fresh fruit and veg. Meat and dairy products are required to come from within the European Economic Area and no potatoes can be brought into Norway. We interpreted this as meaning fresh potatoes, not the cooked variety found in tins, but I don’t know if this is correct.
As regards alcohol, Norway is outside the EU so the normal customs rules apply (see here for current details).
Eating out is expensive in Norway. For example, a pizza in a Pizza Express type restaurant in a large town will cost you £15-£20 (yes, that’s in pounds). Choose a more upmarket restaurant and main courses often cost upwards of £30 each.
Drinks out are similarly expensive – expect a pint of beer (average lager) to set you back £6-£10.
Soft ice creams tend to be 25Nkr – 40Nkr (yes, £3-£5 each, but you do get great toppings).
Some of the best value food we saw was in National Park visitors centres and other such places.