Grocery shopping probably doesn’t sound like a very exciting enterprise. There’s not much I can do to change that. But for a mom of three living in a new country, it becomes a weekly (if not daily) adventure in finding the place that suits your needs and budget … and provides that quality of experience that feels most comfortable. I’m seeking a certain je ne sais quois to go along with my produce and cheese.
I started the British grocery shopping adventure way back when we first arrived. Almost six months in, I may not know too much more — aside from always bring your own bags — but I do know my way to several major groceries in town.
ASDA is the British wing of Walmart. ASDA is not as vast and depressing as Walmart, or at least the local ASDA is not, and prices are low. Brands may seem more familiar to the American shopper. If you need toilet paper in bulk: ASDA.
The Co-op somehow seems hip to me. They put some effort into their persona. The one closest to us doesn’t have good parking nearby, so I only pop in if I’m out walking and need something small. I’m still a little worried about their half price prawn salad specials. Honestly, if I’m going to eat prawn salad, I’m totally okay with it being full price.
I discovered the joy of Costa coffee at Tesco. The prices at Tesco are pretty good, but the quality is famously uneven. However: they have Krispy Kreme donuts. Every now and then, that alone that merits a Tesco run.
It took me a while to discover Morrisons. The local store is out of the way, the parking lot is a bit narrow and you must deposit a pound to borrow a cart (or use a token). However, when I finally made it inside, I found a good variety of food and the best fish counter of all the groceries I’ve seen. It was easy to find things like tortillas and pitas, which I don’t always find other places: they even carry ‘american style’ cheese like Jack. Right now, this is my favorite place to shop.
It’s hard to beat a place with a Starbucks that will wash your car while you shop. They have an interesting variety of very British-sounding prepared foods, and it’s been fun trying those out. And yet … for straightforward fresh whole foods it somehow leaves me unsatisfied.
The upscale place to shop. I generally find myself wandering the aisles next to posh retirees. The quality can’t be beat, and the prices reflect that: Waitrose values itself. I prefer their fresh and frozen prepared foods to those from any other store, and the variety of dry goods, produce, and meats on offer is the best. But the budget won’t let me shop there all the time.
Groceries are personal. They’re about food, and getting what you need to take care of the people you love. Respect the grocery store. When I say my favorite place for groceries– at least for now — is Morrisons, this doesn’t mean I think your favorite place to shop is less worthy. I’m talking about my sweet spot. I’d love to hear yours.