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Moving to the UK? Get to know your supermarket options!

Trolley with milk, orange juice and veg in

Moving to a new country often leads to problems you never thought you’d have to face, including (but not limited to) where to buy food. If you’ve never been to the UK long enough to do a weekly food shop, you might be unsure where to go. So, to help you navigate the supermarket scene of London, here’s our quick run-down of the different options.

Cheap and cheerful

Lidl

Prices: £

Delivery service: no

Cheap and cheerful supermarket chain selling quality own-brand products at low prices. While their weekly offers often include branded products and themed “world food” (e.g. American week, Spanish week, Eastern European week), Lidl has a smaller range of products than Tesco or Sainsbury’s. You can find stores in zone 2, but most are not in very central locations. Keep an eye out for their weekly middle of Lidl non-food offers for bedding and cookware.

 

Aldi

Prices: £

Delivery service: yes, but excludes groceries

Very similar to Lidl, Aldi offers good quality at low prices, with mostly own-brand products. The range is not as extensive as you would find at Tesco or Sainsbury’s, though. Their weekly special buys often includes “uni essentials” around September, so worth a trip to find cheap bedding or cookware. You can find the stores in less central parts of London, so if you live near campus, you might need to travel for shopping.

 

Iceland

Prices: £

Delivery service: yes

The frozen food supermarket. There is a limited range of household goods, fruit and veg, and store cupboard food as Iceland focuses on selling frozen food. Low prices, but the quality varies, and it’s not really your go to shop for healthy food. You can find the stores all around London, including in zone 1.

 

Asda

Prices: £

Delivery service: no, only click and collect

Similar to Aldi and Lidl, Asda is known for its low prices, but unlike its German counterparts, it is not often praised for quality. Asda has less stores in London than Tesco or Sainsbury’s, with mostly suburban locations, so it is likely you won’t bump into one on your way to campus.

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Average prices

Tesco

Prices: ££

Delivery service: yes

There are not one, but three different kinds of Tesco stores. You have Tesco Extra (big Tesco) which is the largest of the three types, selling food, household products, beauty and health products, home essentials (including cookware, bedding, cleaning tools) and clothing (own-brand called F&F). These stores are usually in the suburban parts of the city, designed with large weekly shopping in mind. The middle-size shops are called Tesco Metro, you can find these in more central locations. The third, and smallest is Tesco Express (little Tesco) which pretty much only sell food, with a focus on grab-and-go type of products rather than home-cooking ingredients. You can find them all over central London. Beware of the prices, though, they can be higher than the ones in the larger Tescos.

 

Sainsbury’s

Prices: ££

Delivery service: yes

There are two different Sainsbury’s shops you can go to: Sainsbury’s Superstore (often only called Sainsbury’s) and Sainsbury’s Local. The Superstore is the Sainsbury’s equivalent of Tesco Extra, and with a few exceptions (e.g. Whitechapel store), these cannot be found in more central parts of London. Sainsbury’s Local is smaller, selling mostly food with limited household and home goods and no clothing. These can be found all over London, including central London. Sainsbury’s Locals might be more convenient in terms of location but they sell the same products at higher prices than the Superstores.

 

Morrisons

Prices: ££

Delivery service: yes

Morrison’s, the UK 4th largest supermarket chain, is known for reasonable priced quality fruit and veg, baked goods and fresh meat, with great weekly deals. Most of its prices are lower than those at Tesco or Sainsbury’s but higher than at Lidl or Aldi. The chain only has a handful of stores in London and those are not centrally located – you can order online though.

 

Co-op

Prices: ££

Delivery service: yes

London Co-op stores are usually on the smaller end in terms of size and focus more on own-branded food products. The quality is okay, but prices are rather high for non-branded products – good deals can be found, though.

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Treat yourself 

 

 

M&S Food

Prices: ££-£££

Delivery service: yes, but only party food (think sandwich platters, whole cakes, party nibble spreads)

A classic British brand of supermarket. Most of its offerings are own-branded but quality products at relatively high prices – their meal deal is a bit pricey at £5. Some of its most-loved products are Percy Pigs vegan gummies, sandwich sharing platters and the Colin the Caterpillar cake. Locations are all around London, central ones are usually smaller with a focus on food, while at their department store locations you can find fresh food counters and a greater range to choose from.

 

Ocado

Prices: ££-£££

Delivery service: yes

Ocado is “the online supermarket” to quote their website. As you can expect, it sells the same type of products and produce any other supermarket would, Ocado just doesn’t have a physical store. Customers rate it good for quality-price ratio, but prices are more in the middle/upper end of the range. Due to increased demand at the moment, you will need to book a delivery slot (if you can get one) before you can start perusing what’s on offer.

 

Waitrose & Partners

Prices: £££

Delivery service: yes

Waitrose is the place for you if you are looking for a more upscale and high-end supermarket experience. Waitrose stocks all the food and household essentials you need, along with a range of organic and free-from products. While the quality is good, many consider the chain overpriced. There are various locations around London, but you are more likely to find one in the fancier parts of the city.

 

Wholefoods:

Prices: £££

Delivery service: yes, via Amazon Fresh

The ultimate “green” supermarket, selling all the organic produce and healthy food products you can imagine. Prices are what you would expect for organic food. The chain has seven shops in London (no other UK locations) and you can order online via Amazon Fresh.