This article about student-friendly supermarkets in the UK was published by the Great British Mag content team on 12 March, 2020
One of the hardest adjustments you can make after moving to a new country will be the food. Sure, you could just live off takeaway food, but that can get expensive and is often unhealthy. So, fear not – if you’re willing to put in the effort to walk down an aisle or two to save yourself a tonne of money, we’ve put together a list of supermarkets (also known as grocery stores) that cater to all budgets and tastes.
Time and time again, Lidl tops the list for one of the cheapest supermarkets in the UK. Boasting almost 600 stores across the UK, this German brand stocks many popular brands in the UK like Walkers and Heinz, as well as its own range and some German brands. Lidl has a daily promotion in each store where they reduce the price of items that are due to expire soon. You could save up to 50% on perfectly edible fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs and ready-made meals.
Lidl also offers a £1.50 ‘Too Good to Waste’ box, which is a box of mixed vegetables that are a bit damaged but are perfectly good to eat. If you’re looking for cheap recipes, Lidl’s website offers healthy meal ideas under £1 per portion.
Aldi has 800 stores across the UK. Like Lidl, it offers a special daily promotion on items that are due to expire soon, often placing them in one section of the store – usually in an open-door fridge.
Aldi does a fruit and vegetable box called a ‘Super 6’, which is an amazing value. For example, you can get a packet of baby potatoes for 69p. They also have ‘Super Weekly Offers’, such as buying Sirloin steak for £4.99.
You should also look out for the regular special buys in the store on household items like bedding or electrical pieces at a smaller price.
Iceland is known for, well, as the name suggests – frozen food. One of the best ways to save money is to buy frozen food (like frozen vegetables or meat) in bulk and then defrost it as and when you need it. They also offer frozen ready-made meals like Chinese egg fried rice, lasagne and chicken tikka masala.
On the website, it has a £1 and under section, as well as a ‘7 Day Deal’, which is essential items on offer for one week. You can also get a discount for doing your weekly shop at Iceland. For example, they offer a £5 discount on your first £40 or more shop.
There are two types of Tesco stores: Tesco and Tesco Express. Express stores are smaller, which means they can take advantage of trading laws and are open from 6am to midnight throughout the week. They are the place to grab a cheap ready-made meal and meal deals. Tesco’s £3 meal deal gets you a sandwich or salad, a drink and a snack (usually a small bag of crisps, a chocolate bar or some fruit).
Tesco also has a Clubcard, which earns you points the more you shop. After you collect a certain amount of points, you can earn discounts.
Morrisons is one of the biggest supermarkets in the UK and has huge appeal to international students. This is because they have a world food aisle which features food from different parts of the world. For example, Pakistani students may be familiar with the food company Lazzat.
Morrisons also offers a ‘More for Students’ discount, which gives you extra discounts and student-only offers. The website also offers hints and tips to help you get through each term, as well as points whenever you shop.
Asda’s motto is ‘Save Money. Live Better’ and it’s something they absolutely stick to. Their promotions are called ‘Roll Backs’, which essentially means reduced prices. On their website, they have a Rollback page where they have thousands of deals from big brands down to their own branded items.
Sainsbury’s is another one of the supermarkets in the UK that offers a membership card rewarding customers for their purchases. The supermarket’s ‘Nectar Card’ is a great way to save money on seasonal offers and selected groceries. When you spend £1 in store or online, you’re rewarded with 1 Nectar point. You can spend these points straight from your card by swiping it at Sainsbury’s, Vue Cinemas and Argos or you can spend them online. It works in spending blocks, so when you get 500 points, you can save £2.50 on your shop.
Sainsbury’s also offers meal deals, just like Tesco and The Co-Op. It comes in a similar format, with a sandwich, drink and snack for £3.
The Cooperative (also known as the Co-Op) has a variety of great seasonal deals available. For example, the supermarket offers a £5 freezer filler deal, where you can get several frozen items or the Super Saver deal, which offers a large pizza and four-pack of drinks. They also have their fruit and vegetable deal called the ‘Fresh 3’ where they pick three fruit and veg items at a discounted price.
The Co-Op also offers a meal deal option, with some increased variety than Tesco and Sainsbury’s.
Waitrose is often seen as one of the more expensive supermarkets in the UK but that doesn’t mean they don’t have some good deals. On their website, they have a section advertising items that are currently half price – ranging from drinks, meat, fruit, vegetables and toiletries. They also specialise in meal deals or combination offers. For example, Waitrose currently has a £10 Indian or Italian meal deal (which gives you two mains and two sides) or a selection of three types of meat for £10.
Marks & Spencer (M&S)
Marks & Spencer is acknowledged as a premium supermarket, but with expense comes higher quality. While the price of the M&S meal deal is a lot more expensive than Tesco and Sainsbury’s, they offer a greater range of products. In some branches they also have restaurants serving hot food which is good value for the money.
M&S also offers various seasonal deals, such as discounts on selected sandwich platters or the M&S dine-in meal deal for two for £12, which offers a main, side, dessert and bottle of wine.
Online shopping is such a hugely beneficial process for students because it combines accessibility with time management and often offers fantastic discounts too.
Websites like Ocado and Amazon do not have any actual stores but can deliver groceries from their warehouses to your front door. As for special deals, Ocado offers a ‘Low Price Promise’, which is a deal that compares their prices with Tesco’s. If their items are not already cheaper, they will automatically send you a voucher for the difference in price.
Similarly, Amazon offers a ‘Pantry’ option that stocks fresh food items, as well as everyday household items. They also have a vouchers section that offers seasonal discounts like laundry detergent, pet food and electronic gadgets. Shop around to find what works best for you.