I grew in the Southern USA where shopping is a pleasure because you go to Publix for all your needs and wants. Forsaking Publix with its weekly BOGOs, amazing Sub counter, and fresh-baked cookies in favor of discovering the world and living abroad still leaves me with cravings on a weekly basis, but England’s grocery stores aren’t as bad as I thought they would be. Each store has its merits and drawbacks, but overall there isn’t much that I could get back home that I can’t get here(except Publix Subs and Cookies). Here is my review of the 4 main grocery stores in my area that I frequent.
Now of all the stores I go to, Tesco is easily my favorite. Whether I am doing a stock up trip for the week ahead at the big store in the center of town or just running up the street to pick up something at the Tesco Express, I rarely have trouble finding things I need at Tesco. They have one of the biggest selections of products, the freshest produce and the best selection of spices. Because of the great selection, Tesco is one of the more expensive stores, but its still generally affordable and you have the option of signing up for a Tesco Clubcard to earn points on purchases. Tesco may not be Publix but its the closest thing I have found here!
Lidl wins the prize for least expensive grocery store and they still have a good selection of products. I like to go to lidl if I am not looking for anything particular because then I can just pick up things that are priced well and make a meal out of them. Lidl also has one of the best cheese selections of any store so if you are really into fancy cheese Lidl is the place for you. My best advice for consistently shopping at Lidl is to know when they restock because those are the days you will get the best selection of items and you can save a lot of money, especially on non-perishables.
Aldi is my go-to store for baking supplies, frozen goods and vegetables because they have the biggest selection of all three and it rivals Lidl for being the least expensive grocery store. Aldi is also conveniently located right across from the big Tesco I usually shop at so when I need to stock up on baking supplies like flour I can pop into Aldi get what I need and then continue over to Tesco to get my other groceries.
Now I have a biased view of Sainsbury’s because the one closest to me isn’t a full sized store its only the local version. This means limited selection and higher prices, but its a very convenient place to just pick up something easy for dinner without having to go all the way to one of the larger stores. Sainsbury’s is where I go when I forget one ingredient for dinner or just need food for one night before I can make time for a big grocery shopping trip. The quality is good and they generally have a decent selection, but you will pay for the convenience in location.
Overall, your preference in grocery store is influenced by what types of groceries you buy regularly and what your budget is. If you are flexible with what you want but tight on budget then Aldi and Lidl are great options. If you want very specific items and don’t mind paying a little extra, then Tesco and Sainsbury’s might be your go-to. In the end, you will likely have to go to all of them at different times for different items and that’s totally acceptable.
From one misguided millennial to the world, this has been my view of British Grocery Stores.