I’ve been absent from the blogosphere for a good 3 weeks now. I know, it seems like since I’ve been back this is a common occurrence. Rest assured, having now fully adjusted to life back here and my less than demanding job, I will be posting on a much more frequent and consistent basis. That being said, here we go.
Before I left for my year across the pond, I had about 73 questions on what I should and shouldn’t bring. Don’t worry, this isn’t a post about what to pack, that will come later. When I asked Brian (my neighbor who had gone to St. Andrews 2 years earlier) how I should cram my entire life into 2 suitcases, he said other than clothing, I can find anything else I need at Tesco’s so don’t waste space on anything stupid.
Without him telling me, I could infer that Tesco was some sort of Wal-Mart/ grocery store, etc., but in reality I didn’t know anything about said Tesco. So here it is, your crash course on grocery shopping at Tesco, one of Britain’s biggest and most popular grocery chains. (There are a few others – Asda, Morrisons, LIDL – but I frequented Tesco more than anywhere else so we’ll stick with that.)
So to start, yes, Tesco is a grocery type store. I would actually consider it a hybrid Wal-Mart/ Stop and Shop (or Publix if you’re in the South). They are in large part a grocery store, but they also work in wireless phones, gas, insurance, and a bunch of other stuff. It works just like any other grocery store – you go in, put stuff in a basket, and check out – except unlike most places in the U.S., you bag your own groceries.
What’s good at Tesco?
My biggest expenditure was something called Kx, the Tesco version of Redbull. It had the exact same flavor, same colored can, same effects, and instead of the normal 1 pound 50 or whatever real Redbull cost, it’ll only set you back 40p (pence).
Tesco pasta. They sell roughly 1 ½ lb. bags for exactly a pound. I eat a lot and one of those bad boys would usually last me four meals. I would buy Tesco tomato sauce to go along with that. They sell it in jars for 35p or 83p. The 83p jar tastes a lot better, but I always went with the 35p jar because I’m cheap.
I knew a good amount of people who drank Tesco value wine. I mean cheap wine is cheap wine; it’s not going to taste great no matter what brand it is, and Tesco of course, is cheaper. I would however, stay away from Tesco lager and Tesco versions of hard alcohol. That’s just me, some others may disagree.
As far as name brand alcohol, look out for the deals. One time I got a 24 pack of Tennents for ten pounds, and the next week, a 15 pack was the same price. Deals or no deals, they usually have the cheapest booze but just keep your eyes open for the sweet discounts.
They usually have a pretty legit bakery too. Stuff that doesn’t sell on the day it was baked gets discounted so it’s common to get 4 quality croissants for under a pound. They’re a day old, but who cares, they’re cheap.
Other than food, Tesco has pots and pans, soaps and detergents, cosmetics and deodorants, DVD’s and CD’s, paper plates, plastic utensils, notebooks, pens and pencils, and plenty of other stuff you use on a day to day basis.
And don’t forget to sign up for their rewards program. You’d be surprised how quick those points add up and how much money you get in vouchers.
Unfortunately, most of my experience was from a Tesco Metro, or basically a Tesco that is really small due to the fact that St. Andy’s is minuscule. So anyone who regularly shops at a larger Tesco or who has some good advice about shopping at Tesco in general, feel free to comment.
And a quick thank you to Gabor who made me think about writing about Tesco after reading his post on How to Save Money While Studying in the UK.