WembleyWonderful #29: A Guide to English Supermarkets

If you’ve recently arrived in the UK, you will have noticed that the concept of supermarkets is very different from what we have in France; and you may be a bit lost as to where you should go for your weekly grocery shopping. So I thought a classification of supermarkets would be useful to newcomers.

  • Waitrose, Marks & Spencer Food and online-only Ocado are at the poshest end. They tend to have a wider selection of the type of products we French people like (cheese, meat, vegetables and fruits), which also tend to be better quality than in the more basic chains. For instance, the meat selection at Ocado will include veal, venison, duck, with are harder to find elsewhere. Ocado also stocks some “Reflets de France” products if you’re desperately missing your local Carrefour. Marks & Spencer is definitely more oriented towards British taste. Having tried both, my Ocado weekly shopping would be on average 20% higher than my Tesco one.
  • In the middle of the range sit Tesco and Sainsbury’s. Having shopped at both for the past 16 years I must admit they feel exactly the same to me. Their range of products and their prices are very similar; and so is their delivery service (random on friendliness, while the Ocado people are most of the time very nice). If you want to go for slightly better quality, they both have their “luxury” range, called respectively “Tesco Finest” and “Taste the Difference” – in my opinion really worth the higher price for fruits, vegetable and cheese.
  • Positioned slightly below, you have Asda and Morrisson’s – having never shopped there I can’t really tell unfortunately.

Then you have the hard discounters like Aldi and Lidl, which work in a similar in the UK and in France.

Of course you have other options than supermarkets for shopping – check the many recommendations on the forum for meat, fish and fruit&veg shopping. Suggestions on the best bread in London are alsovery welcome – mine is to buy a bread machine (that said, I make my bread in France too, so maybe I’m just too fussy).