Author: Colleen

No, I’m not setting you up for a Biology lesson.  I am simply going to inform you of the local grocery chains where you can shop to fill the fridge and cabinets of your new London flat!

My personal favourites are Marks & Spencer and Tesco.  The first store is often spotted in its ‘Simply Food’ incarnation, offering groceries only, but Marks & Spencer itself is also known primarily as a department store–the one-stop shoppin’ kind that offers clothing, housewares, and food.  I became hooked on M&S Simply Food because it’s geographically the closest store within walking distance of my flat, yet it also offers relatively higher end products that promise good quality and freshness in classic, aesthetically-pleasing packaging.  Its prepared dinners are also marvelous for working singles or couples that don’t have the time to cook–the important distinction between these and the Healthy Choice or Lean Cuisine TV dinners I used to buy at home is that they are not preservative-packed, plasticky frozen meals; they are refrigerated and fresh and made for consumption within only a few days, thus, a ‘healthy choice’ in the truer sense.   If you want more for your pound, however, try Tesco.  They have Tesco Express stores on most high streets, and there’s a huge superstore version located at the intersection of Cromwell and Warwick Road.  Because it is more affordable, I like to do my bulk-shopping there; because I don’t have a car, their online-ordering service is fantastic–you can schedule your delivery for a time convenient for you, and only for £3-5 extra.  They’ll even climb the stairs to place your food on your kitchen counter.  It’s marvelous.

Other options reasonable in price?  Somerfield and Sainsbury’s. And Waitrose is a quality alternative to Marks & Spencer at about the same price-point.

One thing you’ll notice when you start grocery shopping in London is the absence of large shopping carts (called “trolleys,” which I find beyond cute) piled high with a quantity of groceries only a minivan or SUV could haul home.  Rather, most locals carry the small basket, filling it simply with the fresh meat and veg they need for that evening’s meal…it’s more of a ‘shop light, shop often’ mentality that is preferable when you need to walk your groceries home.  It’s easy enough to pick up on your way back from the Tube station, after all.  If you do need to tote a bit more and don’t have a car nor wish to wait for delivery, another option is to purchase a handy personal trolley that you can cart along the sidewalk–click here for an online article from Guardian.co.uk that can help this be as fashionable as it is practical.  Speaking of grocery carriers, you’ll also note how many shoppers opt to  go Green and bring their own environmentally-friendly, reusable grocery tote in lieu of disposable plastic bags (click here for what the Daily Mail has to say about these bags).

Hope this is of use to you as you transition to London living–enjoy your shopping, and why not grab an armful of fresh flowers while you’re there?