How to survive in a city with a $12 Big Mac

As I finished up making some really delicious and vibrantly colored mango salsa, I got to wondering what another exchange student, such as yourself, would want to know regarding food and grocery shopping when they arrived to Norway. I want to provide you with a few helpful tips that will show you how to save money on groceries so you can travel through Europe to survive.

Grocery stores owned by minorities or immigrants

Oslo is one of the more ethnically diverse cities in Norway and with that said, there are more opportunities to benefit from this diversity, such as the grocery stores. These stores are found in the more ethnically diverse neighborhoods of any city and are sometimes referred to as ethnic grocery stores. Some people debate the use of the term ‘ethnic grocery store,’ so to focus on the topic, I’ll define these as grocery stores owned and operated by minorities, immigrants, or those with ties or within the social network of minorities. The items they offer may be influenced by the ethnicity of the people who own the shop. For example, a Chinese-owned shop may offer more products related to that country than another store would.

So, these ‘very long definition’ grocery stores are great because they offer diversified products that are often not found in an average store, support minorities, and are super cheap. You now have the chance to possibly find foods that you’d find at home, reducing your homesickness or sharing your culture.

Grønlandstorg Frukt Grønt

** My preferred place although I have not see all stores mentioned here

Smalgangen 1, 0188 Oslo
Tel: 22 17 04 92
Open: M–F 10.00–18.00, Sa 09.00–16.00

Grønerløkka

Helgesens Gate 18, 0553 Oslo
Tel: 22 35 60 26
Open: M–Sa 08.30–20.30, Su 10.30–20.30tf

More Options: Asian owned; Various; Many not strictly under this category of store (look to comment section as well)

At the moment, I’m living in Oslo therefore, some of the places I suggest are easier to find here than other places in Norway.

Dumpster diving

231, 000 tons of food are thrown away each year  according to Østfold Research Co, however, the number is decreasing through active participation by consumers and grocery stores. I hadn’t considered this as an option while in Norway even though I have heard of it in the U.S. Many of us have this misconception of Norway that they are the ideal country and are progressive in nearly every way. I assumed there wouldn’t be a need or access to dumpster diving as a food choice option, but I argue this may be one of the best countries to do it in.

Norway is a country of abundance and in that state of mind, people may be more wasteful, expecting higher quality of food. The closest I’ve come to dumpster diving is is my own kitchen, which I share with Norwegians. I have found avocados, grapes, and apples – imagine my surprise. I have eaten numerous meals from products found by a friend.

Go after closing and check it out. You can also do more research and figure out how exactly people do it, especially if you haven’t tried it before. You’ll want to check the local laws regarding it as well.

Apps

Rema1000 and Kiwipris both have apps that seem to work as our club cards at Trader Joe’s, for example.

Rema1000 app, called Æ, gives you 10% off the top 10 items your most often purchase.

KiwiPris app – seems to give you 15% off of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Time to purchase

The last thing to consider to find cheap food in Oslo is considering the time in which you purchase food, especially at the ‘very long definition’ stores.

The food tends to be discounted the days before they receive new shipments. As I was walking though Grønland with a friend recently, I noticed how crowded it was was new shipment boxes filling each aisle, leaving a narrow space to walk. I suggested that I would note the date they get their shipment and come afterwards. She told me that the owners decrease the price at the end of the week, which I can only assume is to get rid of old food and make space for the new.

With all of that said, I hope this post has provided you suggestions and resources to find inexpensive food in Norway. I use these options myself and have saved a considerable amount of money. I hope you do too.

** The Big Mac’s don’t cost twelve dollars, but it’s more expensive than the U.S. Check out the Big Mac Index and determine how many hours one must work to buy a Big Mac.

Olivia’s with Cal Reps

Thursday was such a relaxing and rejuvenating day. I went to the migration course and heard such an informative and clear lecture about citizenship. I stayed around the university, working at my own speed. I rewrote notes and finished a solid draft for a semester assignment. It was so relaxing for my soul honestly.

I say all of this to say that a dinner with Kristi and another Cal rep added to this day. She invited me a bit last minute, but I’m so glad I had an open schedule this day. She was in Norway for meetings encouraging Norwegian students to go on exchange at the beautiful and unique, UC Berkeley.

Tbane took me into the city where I met up with Kristi and the other students. Most of these Norwegian ambassadors went to Berkeley Fall ’16 so they were there during the election. Goodness, it was interesting to hear about their perspectives on America. One student, Nadine, appreciated that American were so direct. The other student loved the energy of the campus.

As we talked I wondered what I could do to make my experience in Norway more rich and memorable. Each of the students wished they had broken out of their bubble of Norwegian friends and met other students. One student knew she wanted to join a soccer team and as time went by faster and faster, she didn’t get around to doing it.

I discussed my experiences and when they asked about making friends, I shared that it was difficult, especially coming to Oslo mid-year. The offered to hang out together so by the end of the night, I made sure to get their contact information.

The lesson for me: figure out what you want to do, how you’re going to do it, and DO IT! Don’t let your time fly by.

I am full of gratitude today. Speaking with the Norwegian students put my experience into perspective. It’s easy to take these experiences for granted, especially when I’m thinking about what I will do career wise when I get back to Berkeley. There is a lot on my mind, but today, I’m grateful for the Ravioli av Fungi I had at Olivia’s. I’m grateful for the beautiful sunset, the clean air, the tasty water from the tap, and I’m grateful for friends who are excited to go new places in Norway and friends at home who hold me accountable.

Olivia