Grocery Shopping in the UK

Mar 28, 2018 12:00:00 PM

Making the move to study in England is a big decision, you’re leaving your friends, family, bed, and the comforts of your own home. As exciting and life-changing this experience is, it can also be a big adjustment, one such adjustment is grocery shopping. Coming from Canada we are used to everything being big, maybe not as big compared to our southern neighbors, but for the most part things are quite over-sized. Everything from our coffees, to our highways, and especially our grocery stores. Not only are our grocery stores huge, each offering every possible thing you could imagine, they are also everywhere, located at every possible interval within a city. In England this is just not the case.

The size of the grocery stores here was the first thing to strike me. You’ll find that the stores in the UK are smaller, maybe 5 or 6 aisles holding the necessities such as bread, milk, some vegetables, and a selection of frozen foods. The bigger, better stocked grocery stores are often not centrally located but are easy enough to get to on public transport.

The main chains are Tesco, Morrisons, and Sainsbury’s. Morrisons stores tend to be the biggest centrally located and you can find a wide variety of local and international foods. You’ll find an abundance of small Tesco express stores scattered throughout cities, as well as Sainsbury’s local stores where you can pick up the essentials.


A major bonus for a vegetarian like me is the availability of farmers markets and produce stands. These shops offer a range of fresh and local fruits and vegetables at cheaper prices and with less waste than the chain stores. Also, as a bit of a health nut I was pleasantly surprised at the presence of health food stores where you can pick up bulk items such as nuts, seeds, and meat alternatives. International grocery stores can also be found scattered throughout cities, including Asian and African supermarkets. This comes in handy for students who are worried about missing comforts of home! 

Despite the ranging options of supermarkets there a few things that are missing from the British food selection. First of all, the selection of breakfast cereals is majorly lacking. Do not expect and entire aisle dedicated to your favorite breakfast staple. Secondly, for peanut butter lovers such as myself, the natural variety does not taste the same as in Canada, however almond butter has since become a staple in my diet.

Although, not everything is the same, it is always an adventure going food shopping and discovering new brands and products you have never heard of before. If you too want to explore a new culinary atmosphere than contact one of the Across the Pond Advisors to find out more about studying in England.