7 Aisles to Love in the British Supermarket

9 aisles to love in the British supermarket

When I’m travelling overseas,  a trip to the supermarket is both a must and a highlight. Call me weird, but I find a trip to a supermarket that’s foreign fascinating.  But visiting the supermarket in the UK after so many years of living overseas is a combination of comfortingly familiar and strangely fascinating. I am always surprised by the plethora of choice and always feel warm and fuzzy with nostalgia.

My mum lives around the corner from a super-sized supermarket and  I never need an excuse to pop in and wander the aisles. In fact, I consider a trip to the supermarket part of my fitness regime because it’s so big and takes so many steps to navigate, I write it off as a calorie burning exercise!

If you want to know what sets the UK supermarkets apart, come with me on an armchair tour, and I’ll show you all my supermarket highlights.

Flowers

Supermarket flowers are the pick of the bunch. I love me some blooms and I love that the blooms from the British supermarkets are so affordable. Flowers are so reasonably priced that every week can be a good flower week with full on bouquets ranging from 6 to 10+ pounds. They’re just so beautiful, so affordable and so long lasting.

Things I love about the British supermarket

Fresh Produce

The range of fresh fruit and veg is not just vast, it’s affordable. I am in awe of the range of produce that can be purchased all year round, and you don’t have to break the bank to buy it. I can spend hours walking around gazing at the plethora of produce on offer and converting all the pounds to dollars. It’s so cheap, it makes me cheerful.

9 aisles to love in the British supermarket

The Bakery

I love the bakery section at the supermarket and can never resist the smell of freshly baked bread. Said bread looks as white and fluffy as I remember, and once you’ve chosen your loaf, you can slice your own, unless you’re a scaredy cat like me and then you can ask the supermarket baker to do it for you instead.

Things I love about the British supermarket

Confectionery

I have to say when it comes to sweets and chocolates, British is best. Walking up and down the aisle is like walking up and down Memory Lane, fantasising over the sweets of my childhood, with all the candy I know and love. I rarely leave the supermarket without some kind of candy in my bag and I spend most of my time in the UK planning what candy I’m going to bring back to Oz and how much case space I have to fit it in. FYI, Fruit Pastilles are my favourite and I never leave “home” without them.

Things I love about the British supermarket

Crisps (as in Chips)

British crisps are the business. No one makes a cheese and onion chip as good as the Brits and the other flavour possibilities are endless. I love salivating over my old favourites, like Monster Munch, Wotsits and Hula Hoops. But let’s not forget the super duper new fangled flavours, like Crispy Bacon and Maple Syrup, for example. I need more of these in my life.

Things I love about the British supermarket

Clothes

While I’m one of the rare breed that actually enjoys grocery shopping, for many it is doesn’t count as retail therapy. To buffer the boredom, the supermarket offers a vast range of on trend, affordable fashion for the whole family, with a range that covers everything from underwear to outerwear and every kind of clothing in between. So you can pop in for tonight’s dinner and/or tonight’s outfit. This is fashion that’s easy on the eye and easy on the wallet too. Win, win.

Things I love about the British supermarket

Homewares

This is pretty much the only aisle of the supermarket where I can look but not touch, or at least look, but not buy, but only because the things are either too fragile and/or too bulky for my globetrotting suitcase. That doesn’t stop me from roaming the homewares aisles coveting all the things.

Things I love about the British supermarket

I hope you enjoyed the virtual trip to the supermarket as much as I enjoyed the real life version. Tell me, do you love a tourist trip (or any trip) to the supermarket too? Do you have a favourite aisle? If you were living overseas, what’s the one treat from home you could not live without?

Linking up with Kylie for IBOT and  Van, Marcella, Lauren and Isabel  for Wanderful Wednesday.

  • Oh my god. I wish bloggers that travel did this in every country they went to. I am utterly fascinated by the small differences. And I want that fish plate haha! Thanks Sammie, this was super interesting to me. I love a good grocery store!

    • I don’t know why I haven’t done a supermarket post before! Will do a US one when I go later in the year, just for you! The kitchenware is just amaze and so reasonable. I wanted ALL the things!

  • Walkers cheese and onion crisps are the best in the world!!!
    It is amazing to hear of big supermarkets with variety in England now. When I first arrived with hubby back in 1995 the lack of variety was shocking to me compared to crazy US markets with a whole aisle of cereal choices. I remember England salad dressing section with 4 choices that included the scary (to me) salad cream. I am so jealous of the flower aisle- same in the states apparently as there are loads of people buying their “weekly flowers” that would cost $30+ here.

    • The Walkers crisp factory is in my mum’s town! I think the supermarkets in the UK have really evolved, even from when we left there 9 years ago. The blooms are the best. Not only are they cheap as chips but they last so long. I bought my mum some for Aussie Mother’s Day and they still looked fresh as a daisy (excuse the pun) when I left a week later!

  • Sarah Norman

    ha ha i spend so much time in the supermarkets when i go back too. Its not a chore but a trip out!! When we went back to the Uk last month on my husbands list of activities he wanted to do was a visit to the sainsburys cafe for a fry up, he did that whilst i browsed Argos, yes they are in the supermarkets too!

    • Sainsburys is my mum’s local and my favourite. I could spend hours in there! Feel a bit cheated now though, because there was no Argos!

  • merilyn

    all good sammie!
    sounds like you had a fun filled nostalgic time in them!
    mr m always loves super market shopping, especially overseas!
    hyper markets, I think they were called when we went to france!
    so gigantic! … we lost each other on the first day just outside of paris!!!
    one can certainly get a “cardio workout”! … Kirsten and co.
    have a good day hun!
    much love m:)X

    • Oh yes, hypermarkets are like supermarkets on speed! Yes getting around those hypermarkets is more like a marathon than a stroll around the store! My mum used to live in France and I used to love going to the supermarket there – so much delicious!

  • Kirsty @ My Home Truths

    I love looking at the shops in different countries, you are not alone there! It gives a fascinating and sometimes strange glimpse into the culture and shopping practices of different places. I’d love to know what o/s visitors think of Coles or Woolies here!

    • Apart from wandering the aisles, I love having a sneak peek into what everyone is buying too. It’s fascinating. I remember when I first came to Australia, I used to spend hours mesmerised in the aisles of Coles and Woolies. I thought they were so much smaller and so much more expensive than their UK counterparts!

  • Putting a supermarket tour on my London must do list, oh and those crispy bacon and maple syrup chips, you know I’m going to own them!! My quirky holiday habit is visiting pharmacies. They are so different in other countries. xx

    • Ah yes, you’re so right about the pharmacies. They’re totally different, aren’t they? You’re going to have such delicious fun in London, I just know it!

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    I love supermarkets too and I like your thinking (calorie burning) to offset the crispy bacon with maple potato chips! 😀

  • I absolutely love going to foreign supermarkets. Such a novelty. Especially when you can get booze inside the actual supermarket, right off the shelf, like a can of tomatoes or something. Fascinating! The chip / crisp packets in the Uk confused me though – as we have our designated flavour colours here, pink is salt and vinegar, orange is BBQ – I selected a blue packet from a vending machine assuming it to be original / salt but they were some godawful sour cream and onion flavour. Everyone knows they should be yellow!!!

    • Yes, the alcohol aisle is so convenient. I still can’t get used to the bottle shop being outside the supermarket, and after 9 years down under, I still haven’t got my head around the Aussie crisp colours!

  • When we were in the UK we only managed to find a couple of mini-Tesco’s or Sainsbury’s. I think the meat was the thing that most shocked us pricewise. The prices were the same – until we remembered that pounds are worth twice as much as our Aussie dollars!

    • One thing is for sure, that the UK isn’t as cheap as it was before. Some things are way cheaper than down under and some things are so much more expensive. The bigger stores are always slightly out of town but even the metro stores are a sight to behold!

  • I would give my left arm for that dish with the fish on it. It is gorgeous. How lucky are you getting to explore supermarkets overseas. I love the wondering up and down the isle at a supermarket but hate the unpacking once I get it home.

    • Yes, the wandering is so much more fun than the unpacking! The home wares section went on for miles. There was so much I wanted to bring home, if only I was sure it could survive the journey!

  • Ooh thank you for the tour!! I love looking through supermarkets in different countries too. When we lived in Colchester they had a massive Tesco there. I loved that you could get everything you need there from groceries, to a vaccum cleaner, to clothes, to alcohol. The UK does supermarkets well! #teamIBOT

    • Did I tell you I used to live in Colchester too? I love the alcohol aisle too, I was going to add it into the post but 7 is my lucky number 🙂

  • Ooh. The pretty plates! I must say that the Coles flowers do all right when I can’t get to the markets.

  • Yes! I love exploring supermarkets overseas too 🙂 Glad it’s not just me!
    There’s always something different and interesting to what we have at home.
    When I travelled to the Philippines for 3 weeks I had to take a jar of Vegemite with me! Classic Aussie.

    • Ah yes, we never travel without vegemite and when I go back to the mother country I fill my case with cherry ripes and caramello koalas because the crowds go wild for them! I’m pleased I’m not the only one who loves a foreign supermarket! 🙂

  • I love this post! I just found your blog from the Wanderful Wednesday link up, and I’m so glad I did. I’m really into visiting both grocery stores and markets when I travel, so it is cool to learn about a mega store variety in the UK. I’m from the US (also land of the mega stores), but currently live in Lithuania, which doesn’t have nearly as thrilling grocery store options, especially for produce.

    • I haven’t been to an enormostore in the states, just a trip to Walgreen’s can keep me out of mischief for an hour or two! I have always wanted to go to Lithuania (my granny on my dad’s side all came from there) and would love a sneak peak into their supermarkets. I love eastern european food and while the contents might not be thrilling, I bet they’d be delicious! Perhaps you could take us on a virtual tour of a Lithuanian supermarket, purlease?!

  • Such an interesting post. When I used to live in the UK I found confectionery isle rather disappointing. But I guess that’s not surprising, because I was used of variety of Swiss chocolate, cookies and other candies from Swiss supermarkets. 🙂 #WanderfulWednesday

    • Ah yes, compared to Swiss chocolate, the British chocolate might be a little disappointing but the candy never disappoints! British candy is in a league of it’s own – there are just so many old fashioned favourites 🙂

  • I loved the fruit and veg aisles and the Ready Meals as well. They were great when I was off to work and needed a quick dinner or too lazy to cook! #WanderfulWednesday

    • I can’t get my head around the British ready meal culture – there is convenience food for miles! That said, a Marks and Spencer ready meal is hard to beat!

  • Love this, and I think grocery stores are fascinating too! I just read When in French, and the author has a lot to say about what she can find (and can’t find) in Geneva.

  • Hahah clothes! This reminds me kind of Target in the US, a store that has everything from home stuff to clothes to groceries… and I LOVE their clothes section! It’s always a must for me to walk through the entire clothes section whenever I go there!

    • Yes, it’s like a small scale Target! Funny enough, I had a night away with my girlfriends while I was in the UK and one of them had a suitcase literally full of clothes from the supermarket and they were so gorgeous! You would never have guessed they were from the supermarket!

  • Rebecca

    I agree about enjoying visiting supermarkets when abroad! I think it’s something about how an ordinary daily task suddenly becomes a discovery of a new culture… And I’m all for the homeware aisle in British supermarkets, could spend hours (and lots of pennies) there.

  • I love love love Kettle Chips!! Wish I could get them in Norway!

    • Aren’t they amazing? I think it’s lucky we don’t get them here because otherwise I would probably look like a kettle chip!

  • Lorna ✶ The Painted Globe

    Amazing post, this really struck a chord with me! Visiting supermarkets around the world is seriously one of the coolest things. (I even like visiting the “international foods” section when I’m at home!) Exploring the aisles and seeing how things vary from place to place always feels like its own adventure to me!

    I’ve also been *completely* taken aback by how much I miss British supermarkets being over in NZ at the moment. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say I miss Sainsburys every single week! Never truly appreciated how important supermarkets were to my life until recently 😅

    • I hear ya! My mum lives in the UK and has a monster sized Sainsburys around the corner and I find an excuse to go there nearly every day because I love it so much and cruising the aisles is such a novelty!

  • Isn’t it so comforting to visit your home markets after being abroad!? It’s like everything you ever wanted is just so accessible! hahah I miss the markets at home SO much some time, mostly for the variety. Considering I eat mostly Paleo now though, it’s easier to get by with the fresh produce markets here. Still there are so many of my favorite staples missing 😛

    • Even if I don’t want to eat/buy the things, it’s just so comforting just looking at them and knowing they’re there. I know that sounds weird but it’s true!

  • Ummmmm, that is one killer supermarket! Clothes and homewares?! Take my money! 😛

  • So different to Australian supermarkets aren’t they? Although I think that’s changing slowly. I can never get over how cheap produce is in the UK. All those Buy 2 get one free deals – even for raspberries and blueberries.

    • They really are SO different. Australian supermarkets just aren’t doing it for me now I’m back! I kind of like that down under we can really only buy what’s in season and most of it is home grown but I can’t deny the price of the produce and the epic range they have in the UK makes me pea green with envy!