M&S, high quality food and clothing

Being an American studying abroad in London this year, I’ve decided to talk to you all a bit about the major differences I’ve been finding in supermarkets between the US and the UK.

To begin with, they are much smaller. We don’t see many huge supercentres like WalMart here, even the larger stores tend to be quite small. To get larger shops, the suburbs must be reached.

Shops shut quite early here, and the shopkeepers remove the fruits and veg from their posts. Granted, I’ve never seen what is done with the produce in the US, but I’ve seen them stack and unstack these boxes in the mornings/evenings here.

*please note that this is all based on my experiences living in Upstate New York and in London this year. It is by no means representative of the whole of the US or UK!

All your green leaft veg at Sainsburys!

Shops come in many varieties, such as Express, Metro, Super, and Local. I love the local shops because they source many of their products from inside the UK- nothing like Carrots from Scotland!

The frozen food section is much smaller. This could be because Brits prepare more of their own food? I know many people in the US eat prepackaged frozen meals and I think we could all take a page out of this book- prepare from scratch! In a pinch, though, frozen does save time.

Get your frozen veg!

One of my favourite differences is the idea of Reduced foods. I don’t know where these foods go in the US, but here they are usually shuffled off to an end cap where they are marked with a sticker saying “Reduced” and their new price. The food products have most likely simply fallen off the truck and been marred in some way.

Slim pickings that day

I love the reduced section, and have found some great deals, including tinned beans for £0.35 and Porridge oats for £0.60! I’ve also gotten bread on reduced for £0.16, which is a major steal, considering it runs for around £1.00 here.

My favourite section

Another change here is the bread. The US has miles upon miles of bread in the bread aisle, and still more in the bakery section. The bakery section is IN the bread section and the selection of breads is far less overwhelming.

Get your bagel on

Many loaves are sold uncut and my shop offers a bread-slicer to make your job easier. I’ve been thinking of making my own bread but taking it here to slice. Do you think they’d mind 😉

Slice and Dice

Similar to the US, the section of biscuits and sweets is massive. I think this must be a global thing 🙂

Cakes, Biscuits and Sweets

One of the things that really stumped me when I first arrived, is why on earth the eggs were not next to the milk and cheese in the refrigerated section!? I never knew eggs were shelf stable. 

Happy Eggs are shelf stable eggs?

The UK supermarkets do not use many manufactured coupons, much to my dismay, but I’ve got many a rewards card, such as Nectar from Sainsburys and a Tesco clubcard. Coupons will be printed off often at the end of checkout which can give you extra points, as well. As far as I can tell, Waitrose does not have one, although I’m on the lookout. These cards enable you to get points as you buy, to be redeemed as cash value off subsequent shops!

No matter which store you choose, it’s always fun to compare grocery shopping around the world. I love finding new places to do my weekly shop and even frequent the London markets!

Love, Hannah

3 thoughts on “

  1. I love grocery shopping in foreign country. In fact I rarely eat in a restaurant while travelling, preferring to graze at the local markets and stores. All those different brands and items to ponder and sample! Thanks for the vicarious and informative post!

  2. So what else have you been up to while you are being a student in London? Any interesting side trips out of the city into the countryside? want to see it here with photos as well as musings on what side trips you will be considering for the remainder of your time there. Unload your photo file and your thoughts on the UK, living as an American in a foreign country, good and bad things about being an US Citizen, living as a world citizen anywhere; responsibilities thereof, tips to make travel easier in general (air, trains, publoic transportation, etc.). Just to name a few…

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