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Buy food in London

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London is a city that offers a lot of choices, which can make food shopping a bit overwhelming. The quest for the right supermarket for your budget, taste, and schedule can be long and expensive. However with the right knowledge and good planning, food shopping in London can be relatively stress free and can even save you money and time.

Supermarkets in London 

London, like England, is a very competitive market which means that there are a wide range of large and express supermarkets in the city.

The supermarket chain ALDI has gone through a re-branding over the past few years. It was previously considered (along with Lidl) a low quality, bargain supermarket. But in 2016 Aldi was named the UK’s best supermarket (a total of 3 times in 4 years), and now perfectly balances quality food with low prices, which has made it a consistent favourite among consumers. Aldi is not in central London so plan some time into your schedule to venture out of zone 1.

 Good to know: Be prepared to shop in two separate supermarkets as Aldi still lacks variety in herbs, spices and world food.

Lidl has a very similar brand identity to Aldi, but it is a cheaper option. If you are a smart shopper, buying your basics (such as fruit, vegetables and dairy) here will save you money and still provide you with good quality. Like Aldi, the chain has started to rebrand its image and is offering more range and higher quality goods, but are slightly falling behind Aldi’s popularity. When you are in Lidl, look out for the ‘Deluxe’ range and the fresh bakery section. Be aware that some of its lesser known brands are lower quality. Thus trial and error is sometimes needed.

 Good to know: The closest Lidl to central London is in Canary Wharf.

The supermarket chain Asda is owned by Walmart, and its image is based on affordable, quality food. Asda is viewed as cheaper than Tesco’s and Sainbury’s but is more expensive than Aldi and Lidl. Asda is in very tight competition with other chains, so often has very attractive deals. Asda has a good bakery, fish counter, and butchers.

 Good to know: Asda claim to be consistently 10% cheaper than their competitors, and if you purchase anything that is not, they will give you back the difference. But Asda stores aren’t located in central London.

Tesco is the biggest supermarket chain in the UK. The supermarket is usually embroiled in price wars with its closest competitors Asda and Sainsbury’s, and so carries out price matching on the majority of its products to keep them as low as possible. Tesco Express stores are all over the city and are easily accessible if in a hurry or for last minute purchases. Tesco Express has a good lunch meal deal offer.

 Good to know: 

  • Avoid the express supermarkets for big weekly shopping as they are more expensive and suited to convenience shopping.

  • If you are trying to save money, check that their price matching service is up to date. Tesco will often lower product prices if they are higher than their competitors.

Sainsbury's is the 2nd largest supermarket chain in England. It has much more variety, especially so for specific diets (e.g. gluten free, halal, organic, healthy food, etc.). Sainsbury’s is more expensive than the above supermarkets but less expensive than M&S and Waitrose. It also has express supermarkets across the city centre. Sainsbury's has a good deli section, fish counter, butchers, and bakery.

 Good to know: Don’t succumb to expensive brands in Sainsbury’s. Their own ‘taste the difference’ range is of high quality and cheaper. If money is tight, they also have a much cheaper ‘Sainsburys basics’ range.

Waitrose has a wide choice of deli and healthy food, and it's well known for its ethical business practices (sustainable fish, fairtrade and organic produce, etc.). Waitrose is more expensive than Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's, and Marks & Spencer. Waitrose also has many ‘Little Waitrose’ dotted around London if you are in a rush and need something convenient.

 Good to know: Buy luxury or ethically conscious items you can’t do without here.

Marks & Spencer is a supermarket connected with clothes shops and homeware. Traditionally a clothing shop with a food section, M&S food is becoming a brand in its own right. Many express M&S food supermarkets are now dotted around London. The brand is known for its wide selection of party food and world food. The brand is becoming so popular that it now also has several express supermarkets in Paris, the Eurostar neighbour.

 Good to know: 

  • M&S is best for a treat, rather than your weekly shopping.

  • M&S has a great monthly dine-in-for-2 deal, where you pay £10 for 3 courses and a bottle of wine. The deal is very popular all across England.

Supermarket deliveries in London

Supermarket deliveries are becoming a lifeline especially for busy Londoners who fall into the trap of expensive convenience shopping.

Waitrose has free home delivery, while Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda do home delivery at a charge and M&S offer a click and collect service. A new contender Ocado has also entered the market. It is an online supermarket with no physical shops that specialises in home delivery.

Bargain hunting in London

English people, Londoners being no exception, are notorious bargain hunters. Thus, supermarkets try to attract customers by offering various deals throughout the year.

If you are either a savvy shopper or looking to save some pennies, subscribing to supermarket newsletters, email notifications, and picking up their magazines in store will help you successfully plan your shopping.

Loyalty cards are also very popular in England and most locals have numerous cards for various shops. Points are added every time you buy something, which eventually convert into money that you can spend in that supermarket.

Other food stores in London

Organic

Planet Organic has various shops in central London, and like most organic shops it is more expensive than the average supermarket.

Whole Foods/Fresh & Wild organic chain is scattered around the city and is a bit pricy but guarantees quality food. The shop in Kensington High Street has an impressive food court on the top floor.

Luxury

If you feel like splashing the cash or looking for high quality produce for a special occasion, London has plenty of options.

Sainsbury's food hall has an American section.

Fortum & Mason specialises in tea and coffee but sells a variety of other high-end produce. They have restaurants in a variety of locations and are also especially popular for their hampers, perfect for gastronomic gifts.

Harrods' food hall is a treasure trove of luxury goods where you can buy gourmet food produce to take home or eat in. The carvery section does exceptionally delicious hot sandwiches, and the wine rooms are not to be missed. Their patisserie section is also a delight for the eyes and ultimately the taste buds.

Selfridges' food hall is similar to Harrods'. It delivers in luxury, price and high quality produce. It has a large American food section and a very popular champagne, oyster, and caviar bar.

Harvey Nichols specialises in every day luxury food gifts and gourmet trends such as bubble tea and cold-pressed juices. Their food hall is smaller in comparison to other luxury food halls but has a great atmosphere and quality food variety.

Whole Foods/Fresh & Wild are scattered around the city. The store in Kensington High Street with its food court on the top floor can be addictive.

Farmers street food and markets in London

London has numerous markets where you can find fresh, good quality and affordable produce, which can often be cheaper than in supermarkets. New markets have been popping up throughout the city thanks to the fresh and healthy food movement.

Street food has also taken the city by storm and is a perfect solution for the time-starved Londoner in need of quick, healthy, and affordable food.

Cheaper ways to eat in London

For a list of the latest street food events and locations, check the best street food options in London.

Go to the London Farmers' Market for more information on finding a farmers market where you'll be moving to. The Markets in London are divine, local and a great day out. Definitely go to Borough Market, one of the best and oldest. Borough Market is a great place to learn more about food, as they have every vegetable that you can imagine.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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