How to save on food in the UK: Guide for Newcomers and International Students

— Juliet Edjere

Moving to a new country can be an exciting adventure, but it also comes with its challenges, one of which is managing your expenses. In the UK, food is a significant part of your budget, and knowing how to spend wisely and where to find affordable groceries can make a big difference.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various strategies for newcomers to the UK on how to spend or save on food and provide a list of some of the cheapest supermarkets in the country.

bunch of vegetables
Photo by nrd on Unsplash

Budgeting for Food in the UK

Before we delve into where to shop for affordable groceries, it's essential to start with the basics: budgeting. When you're new to the UK, you might be uncertain about how much to allocate for food expenses. Top considerations for budget-conscious newcomers when it comes to food expenses in the UK.

Here are some key considerations:

1. Create a Food Budget:

Setting a monthly food budget is crucial. Take into account your household size, dietary preferences, and lifestyle. In the UK, a general guideline is to allocate around £40-£60 per person per week for groceries, but this can vary based on individual circumstances.

2. Meal Planning:

Plan your meals in advance. This can help you avoid impulsive purchases and food waste. Websites and apps like "MySupermarket" and "Love Food Hate Waste" can assist in meal planning and reducing waste.

3. Seasonal and Local Produce

One of the best ways to save on groceries while enjoying fresh, high-quality food is by buying seasonal and local produce. Exploring seasonal and local produce options to save money and support sustainability. Here's why this can be a money-saving strategy:

  • Freshness and Quality: Seasonal and local produce is often fresher and tastier, and it may have a longer shelf life.
  • Lower Prices: When fruits and vegetables are in season, there is often an abundance, leading to lower prices. You can find local produce at farmers' markets or through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.
  • Reduced Carbon Footprint: Buying local reduces the environmental impact of transporting food long distances.
  • Supporting Local Communities: Purchasing local produce supports local farmers and communities.

4. Shop Smart:

Identifying affordable supermarkets and taking advantage of loyalty programs and discounts.

Now, let's explore where to find the best deals in the UK.

Affordable Supermarkets in the UK

The UK is home to a wide variety of supermarkets, ranging from upscale to budget-friendly. For newcomers, focusing on the more affordable options can help you save significantly. Here are some of the cheapest supermarkets in the UK:

1. Aldi:

Aldi is renowned for its low prices and a no-frills shopping experience. They offer a range of own-brand products and have special offers every week. Shopping at Aldi can save you a substantial amount over time.

2. Lidl:

Lidl is another budget-friendly supermarket that offers a variety of products, from fresh produce to household items. They often have special promotions and a selection of international foods.

3. Asda:

Asda is one of the big supermarket chains in the UK, known for competitive prices. They have a price guarantee policy, so if your groceries are not 10% cheaper than their competitors, they will refund the difference.

4. Tesco:

Tesco is one of the largest supermarket chains in the UK, and while it's not always the cheapest, it often runs promotions and has a "Value" range for budget-conscious shoppers.

5. Morrisons:

Morrisons is known for its "Price Crunch" deals and offers a range of affordable, high-quality products. Look out for their special discounts and own-brand items.

6. Sainsbury's:

Sainsbury's may not always be the cheapest option, but they have regular sales and promotions. Their "Basics" range offers low-cost essentials.

Money-Saving Tips for Grocery Shopping

Regardless of where you shop, there are universal strategies to help you save money on groceries in the UK:

1. Use Loyalty Cards:

Utilize supermarket loyalty cards and cashback apps to earn discounts and rewards. Most supermarkets offer loyalty cards that accumulate points on your purchases. These points can be redeemed for discounts or free products.

2. Shop for Reduced Items:

Supermarkets often reduce prices on items close to their expiration dates. Look for yellow stickers, which indicate discounted products. This is a great way to save on fresh produce, dairy, and meat.

3. Buy in Bulk:

Consider buying non-perishable items in bulk, especially during sales. This can save you money in the long run.

4. Compare Prices:

Use price comparison websites and apps to ensure you're getting the best deal. MySupermarket, for instance, allows you to compare prices across different stores.

5. Take Advantage of Cashback Apps:

Apps like Topcashback, CheckoutSmart, and Shopmium offer cashback on selected items. Simply buy the product, take a photo of your receipt, and get your money back.


Navigating food expenses as a newcomer in the UK may seem daunting, but with proper planning and awareness of cost-effective options, you can enjoy your meals without breaking the bank. Budgeting, choosing the right supermarkets, and incorporating money-saving strategies into your shopping routine can go a long way. Additionally, embracing seasonal and local produce not only helps you save money but also promotes sustainability and supports local communities.

Remember, the key to success in managing your food budget is to stay informed, plan ahead, and be open to exploring different options. By following these guidelines, you can make your transition to the UK a bit smoother and more affordable.


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