London Study Abroad Survival Guide – The Supermarket, according to Zihan Fan from Shanghai University of Finance & Economics.

It’s not easy for a new Associate student to live a good life in London… London is an amazing city with the most convenient living environment, yet has a relatively high cost of living. So how can we balance the two, and enjoy the life of studying abroad in London within a reasonable budget? I’m going to provide you with price comparisons between some of the supermarket chains in London, and give a list of cost-effective products from each supermarket, hoping to give you a helping hand. The pennies you save on grocery shopping will go towards more fun experiences in and around London, after all!

1. Sainsbury

Sainsbury’s is, in my opinion, the most British of supermarket chains. The specialty baking area, where shelves are stocked with a wide variety of freshly baked breads and desserts, is always a pleasant surprise. Cinnamon and raisin bagels at 40p are a worthy lunch choice. Split in two and welcoming of various ingredients, the convenient bagel tastes best toasted. The specialty chocolate crepes, available in a bag of six for just £1.10, are ready-to-eat and microwavable. In addition to the usual white and whole-wheat breads, the bakery section also has a cinnamon bread that costs £1.65 and is well worth a try. Sainsbury’s meat prices are relatively high, with raw meat costing around £4-5 and cooked food £2-3, except for some discounted items, so beware.

2. Tesco

There is a big range in the size of Tesco stores available to you, but the product range is always good, even in the small ones. I’d recommend buying fruit from Tesco, which is usually sold in whole bags, often with big discounts. For example, 60p for a bag of apples; a total of six, crisp and sweet-tasting apples. Nuts are usually placed near the cash register, with a two-for-one deal; three bags totaling £1.10.

3. Iceland

This supermarket mainly focuses on meat and various frozen products, with great value for money – I highly recommend it. The deli meat deal sold in the store is my favorite, including sliced turkey, ham, chicken breast, etc. It only costs £1.89 for 400g. It is convenient and delicious, either as a snack alone or as an ingredient for sandwiches, rolls, wraps and other staples. Great for a cheap packed lunch! I’d also recommend Iceland’s frozen foods, like pizza. They usually cost less than a pound and only need to be heated in the oven for 10-15 minutes to eat. There is a wide variety of ice cream flavors, but I wouldn’t recommend you buying too much if the supermarket is far away from your home because it is difficult to carry back and to keep large portions if you have shared student fridges!

4. The Co-Op

The Co-Op’s range of berries is relatively cheap, often offering two discounts of £3 or £3.50. The store offers a wide variety of products, and you can buy many of the products sold in larger supermarkets. Spices and herbs for under £1; instant flavored rice, priced between £1-2 which you’re able to microwave in 2 minutes; milk substitutes, such as goat’s milk and soy milk, cost about £1.50. There are a variety of different olive oils, light soy sauce, vinegar and other products to choose from. The Co-Op also sells really reasonable ice creams, which can be bought in 1 litre boxes, and is often located close to residential areas, making it easy to carry and keep.


ASDA is a British hypermarket with low prices and stores that are often far from residential areas. It sells the cheapest fruit and meat when compared with other supermarkets. Grapes, blueberries and apples come to just a pound. Raw meat such as chicken is very cost-effective. ASDA sells a wide variety of freshly baked breads, as well as fresh pastas in a variety of flavors and styles. In addition, it has a full range of yogurt shelves, from Greek yogurt with zero fat and no added sugar to a wide variety of sweet flavors that cater to everyone’s needs and wants. In terms of milk substitutes, oatmeal , soy and almond milk prices are between £1-2, which is handy for people who do not drink milk or would like a dairy supplement.

6. Lidl

Lidl is a large supermarket from Germany, which features low prices and a wide range of products. Stores are more remote, often in the suburbs. Freshly baked bread and pastries in the baking section cost no more than a pound and come in a variety of flavors. Lidl has one of the largest categories of vegetables, meat, dairy products, fast food and other products sold in many UK supermarkets, and its great value for money makes its customers happy. Compared with the daily shopping supermarkets mentioned above, Lidl is more suitable for visiting during your free time mid-week as opposed to weekday evenings or weekends when they are at their busiest. It’s cheap, but not calm! in one visit to Lidl, you can buy enough food for a week. If you live alone, some products with a short shelf life are not recommended as fresh food can go bad relatively quickly.

The above is my introduction to some products available from several British small, medium and large supermarket chains, hoping to provide you with some practical information when you are studying abroad in London. Buying food at the supermarket and cooking for ourselves is a joy that allows us to live a healthy and comfortable life by saving a lot of money on eating out while enjoying the simple pleasures of an independent life.


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