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Grocery Shopping for Students [London]

eurytheia Aug 19, 2008 09:01 PM

Hi, I'll be moving to London soon and I was wondering which places are great for bargains and grocery shopping for students on a budget. I love to cook and apart from the usual Tesco, Sainsburys I've heard of, which other places/ markets are best? I'll be living in Euston, near Camden.

  1. j
    JFores Aug 30, 2008 09:06 PM


    I wouldn't recommend Berwick for anything but produce (and even that is a lot more expensive than in Brixton.) I personally would recommend you take the Victoria line down to Brixton once a week for a massive shopping trip. You can easily get everything and anything for about 15-20 quid a week in groceries (and I was cooking for more than one person.) I will be living near Green St Market so Brixton will be too far for me to do weekly, but it really is an amazing market. There's really no reason not to go to Brixton because the savings are unbelievable compared to central. Also, you won't find a Lidl in central anyway so you're going to have to trek for that and the other budget super markets. You might as well just go to Brixton which even has a Lidl and an Iceland. Also, you could reach Green St market next to Upton Park tube in a similar amount of time.

    Tesco and Sainsbury's are pretty grim, especially in central London. They don't even stock proper produce and finding an actual deli section is very unlikely.

    Are you going to UCL?

    15 Replies
    1. re: JFores
      Nii Aug 31, 2008 03:19 AM

      You could also make your way over to Sheperds Bush market in West London which I would recommend, you also have Ridley Road market in Dalston/Hackney. All do a great range of cheap fruit and veg as well as ethnic bits you won't alwaus find in ASDA or Tesco.

      1. re: Nii
        eurytheia Sep 1, 2008 04:29 AM

        thanks guys. but doesn't brixton mainly sell west indian stuff? i'm a bit confused since all the guide books say berwick is the cheapest ... and brixton seems a bit too far for me. which markets can u buy meat/fish as well?

        no, not UCL, mine is in SW.

        1. re: eurytheia
          JFores Sep 1, 2008 04:57 AM

          Shep Bush and Brixton both have meat and fish while Berwick's selection of it is pitiful. Green St does as well. The trip to Brixton should only be about 20 minutes by tube from you which is like 1/3 as long as it takes me to get to UCL from Green St (and even less time than it took me to get to high school on the other side of Brooklyn.) Berwick's only in the guide books because its central. It has good produce sometimes, but very little else.

          1. re: eurytheia
            DietStartsTomorrow Sep 1, 2008 05:05 AM

            How about chapel market in Angel - a direct ride on the 73 bus from euston? It has meat, fish and all types of veg. Much nearer to home if you're going to be lugging heavy bulky bags of shopping around...

            1. re: eurytheia
              greedygirl Sep 1, 2008 05:07 AM

              Berwick St market used to be OK but has been in decline for a long time now. Brixton Market is good for W Indian stuff, but it basically sells everything, including lots of cleaning products etc. It's 20 mins from Euston by tube.

              1. re: eurytheia
                PhilD Sep 1, 2008 09:45 AM

                I wonder if you may find that it may be better to buy meat from supermarkets. They are very price/quality competitive. Veggies etc will probably be cheaper from some markets, but not all, as the bigger supermarkets have enormous buying power in the UK food economy. Their pricing policies are very sophisticated with loss leaders changing all the time and with other product lines priced to recoup the lost profit.

                I suspect JFores comments on the quality of Tesco/Sainsbury's are based on the smaller format stores in the centre of London, as you get into more suburban areas the size and range of products increases dramatically. Most of the big supermarkets also respond to local demographics, so more asian food in Asian areas, higher end/luxury foods in more affluent areas. And yes they have large produce sections and deli counters.

                Your best strategy is to shop at a broad range of places, a supermarket for staples especially the loss leading BOGOF's (buy one get one free), a good market for veggies and small quantities of fresh produce (most supermarkets over package and you can't buy small portions), and then small specialist stores for tricky to get ingredients for non-UK foods and good deli items.

                1. re: PhilD
                  zuriga1 Sep 1, 2008 11:32 PM

                  You make a good point about not generalizing when it comes to the major supermarkets. Even in the area around here, there is a huge difference in the quality and amount of diversity of products between one Tesco or Sainsbury's and another. We often drive about 20 minutes or more, when we could drive 5, in order to shop at a place which is much more appealing.

                  1. re: PhilD
                    greedygirl Sep 2, 2008 02:21 AM

                    I don't advise buying meat in the supermarkets - they don't generally stock the cheaper cuts (eg skirt) and are usually more expensive than a decent butcher - except for the loss leaders that Phil mentions. Similarly with fruit and veg - bananas, onions and potatoes will be cheap, but a lot of other stuff will be more expensive than in a market. The exception is Lidl, which is really cheap for most things. They have even started selling free-range chicken - which is a sign I think that their consumer demographic is changing.

                    1. re: greedygirl
                      foreignmuck Sep 9, 2008 08:43 AM

                      I get most of my meat from certian stores within Brixton Market (although be careful, a lot of them are a bit dodgy IMO). Stick to the Latin american ones and you can get some amazing skirt and flank steak for around £4.50 a kilo, which is beautifully juicy and tasty just grilled quickly. Whole chickens cost about the same and they can chop it up for you however you want. I try the majority of my shopping at Brixton Market as its cheap and generally pretty good if you know what you're doing.

                      1. re: foreignmuck
                        Ibrahim.Salha Sep 26, 2008 06:49 AM

                        I don't suppose you could maybe direct me towards the latin butchers you're speaking of, could you? I went for a walk around the market for the first time yesterday and only saw quite strange looking halal butchers.

                        1. re: Ibrahim.Salha
                          foreignmuck Sep 26, 2008 08:38 AM


                          there's one called Las Americas, which is on Popes road. Walk up Electric Avenue from the main road, cross Altantic Road and you're in Pope's Road.. Its just on the right hand side. Its got raw meat on one side of the store, and columbian snacks on the other side, including crispy chicarrons, which I usually cant resist getting .

                          Under the railway on popes road, pretty much on the junction of Atlantic and popes rd , there is an entrance into the arcade. Go in here, and you'll find a load of butchers, a fish stall and veggie stalls . The one i go to is a small one with a brazilian flag hanging outside. The other ones are OK too..

                          There's also a Portuguese one on Atlantic Road itself. a bit futher on from Mash and Son's fish stall....It got loads of veggies displayed outside.

                          1. re: foreignmuck
                            eurytheia Sep 27, 2008 09:20 AM

                            is the brixton market near the brixton tube station? i might be heading there over the next few days...

                            1. re: eurytheia
                              greedygirl Sep 27, 2008 10:39 AM

                              Turn right out of the tube station, and then immediately right again down Atlantic Road. There is a great deli on the corner with a blue awning outside. Carry on down that road, past the fishmonger (also excellent) and the Portuguese butcher. You will soon come to Electric Avenue and Pope's Road, which is where the outdoor markets are. There are also indoor markets on both sides of the road. If you're feeling peckish, you can get a fabulous and fairly cheap pizza at Franco Manca, which is in one of the covered markets.

                              1. re: greedygirl
                                eurytheia Oct 1, 2008 03:23 PM

                                thanks! brixton isn't really dodgy is it? my friends have told me it is...

                                1. re: eurytheia
                                  foreignmuck Oct 1, 2008 03:31 PM

                                  Everyone says Brixton is dodgy. But most of the time it's "percieved" dodgyness. Yeah, its a bit more colourful and edgy than chelsea, but at least it has charachter.

                                  But i've lived here for 7 years and never had a problem. Its highly unlikely you'll get stabbed or shot or even mugged. So go on! have an adventure. Make friends with a crackhead or two!

            2. s
              sulineats Aug 20, 2008 08:53 AM

              Another chain similar to Lidl is the Danish chain Netto. They sell regular brand name products at lower prices.

              3 Replies
              1. re: sulineats
                eurytheia Aug 28, 2008 03:02 AM

                thanks for all your replies! i've also read in a guidebook that brixton market is supposedly the cheapest market in london. any opinions on this?

                1. re: eurytheia
                  greedygirl Aug 28, 2008 04:41 AM

                  I live in Brixton and the market is a good place for cheap fruit and veg. I don't know whether it's the cheapest, as that's not a priority for me these days, but a student who posts on these boards, JFores, does most of his shopping here. Personally, I wouldn't buy meat on the market (fish is good though) but he does regularly.

                  1. re: greedygirl
                    eurytheia Aug 29, 2008 05:45 PM

                    Thanks greedygirl. How about Berwick?

              2. p
                peasouper Aug 20, 2008 05:00 AM


                Inverness Street in Camden is fab for fruit and veg and far far far cheaper than the supermarket, bags of cherries for a £1 for instance. I go there not just for the price, but because they are really good. I have had lovely fennel, herbs and an assortment of every lettuce imaginable from one stall.

                If you are too busy studying to cook The Stables Market reduces all it's noodle dishes around 5-6pm. A pound can get you very far.

                And if you want to splash out I recomend Asakusa sushi bar on Eversholt St. The carpet may give you a headache but the food is great.

                Good luck!

                1 Reply
                1. re: peasouper
                  DollyDagger Aug 20, 2008 05:16 AM

                  Ah I stand corrected - I'll have to try Inverness St again soon.

                  I second the recommendation for Asakusa - well worth a visit!

                2. d
                  DollyDagger Aug 20, 2008 03:27 AM

                  It depends where in Euston you'll be living, but I'd recommend doing your weekly shop in Morrisons (just up the road from Camden Stables Market) and then getting the bus back. I find our bill is always cheaper when we shop there and it's massive - they have everything I've ever needed. (Great world food sections!) Their fresh fish counter is very good, though we still tend to buy meat from a separate butcher.

                  Inverness Street (near Camden Town tube station) has some fruit and veg stalls, though I don't think they're any cheaper than in supermarkets.

                  You could visit Marylebone Farmers Market. Not cheap but a nice foodie experience anyway. http://www.lfm.org.uk/mary.asp

                  1. greedygirl Aug 20, 2008 03:14 AM

                    The German supermarket Lidl is your friend. They have great deals on fruit and veg, and a lot of their stuff, especially the deli meats and sausages, are really good quality. I don't buy any other meat though, apart from the free range chicken they've started selling. Also good for chocolate, tinned tomatoes etc, prosecco, frozen prawns, German-style rye bread, cat food (!) etc etc. They also have regular promotions - it was Spanish week last week and I got white marinated anchovies, and an enormous chorizo iberico for a fiver!

                    There's bound to be one near you - check their website.

                    1. Robin Joy Aug 19, 2008 10:43 PM

                      Bear in mind that travel costs can wipe out any price advantage local markets may have. An Underground trip is at least £1.50 each way (using an Oyster card, which is the pre-pay system or £4.00 cash) so you really need to be within 10 mins walk. Busses are a bit cheaper. A secondhand bike and a GOOD lock could make sense. Look here:


                      Borough Market should be avoided unless your surname is Rockerfeller!

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