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Aug 13, 2012 08:24 AM

Affordable Groceries [London]

Just moved to london for a year from the US, and trying to figure out where to go to buy good quality but affordable groceries (fruits, veggies, seafood, meat/poultry). I know London has a lot of farmers markets, but wasn't sure if like the US, farmers markets are more expensive than regular grocery stores or not. Currently staying in Kilburn, closer to the edge near Cricklewood. Are there certain markets that are a cook's dream? What about ethnic markets - in the US, going to asia stores or indian stores often have good produce and seafood at much affordable prices.


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  1. Kilburn has a tremendous number of relevant Turkish, Indian, etc stores which will be cheaper for certain things, but your best bet is a nearby market. I'm not particularly familiar with that area, but you must have a market nearby. Markets here are not farmer's markets per se, but they can easily be half the price of high street supermarkets. For example, when I first moved here from the States I would have literally starved if I had to funnel my budget through Tesco's insane prices, but Brixton Market allowed me to cook for one on 20 pounds a week (and that included plenty of meant.)

    My personal favorite markets are Brixton Market and Queen's Market though the former has changed considerably and both are too far from you. Hopefully someone who knows your local area better can chime in. You're also able to reach Harringey Green Lanes via the overground and that area has some great Turkish supermarkets.

    1. There's a large Asian supermarket called Wing Yip in Cricklewood (Edgware Road).

      7 Replies
      1. re: gort

        Wing Yip is Chinese, rather than Asian.

        The Birmingham based company has a branch in the city as well as Manchester, Cricklewood and Croyden.

        1. re: Harters

          The Wing Yip we go to has items from Japan, India, Thailand, and many other places - not just Chinese at all these days. They have a huge assortment of spices from all over the world.

          1. re: zuriga1

            I suspect the confusion stems from the fact that when Americans say 'Asian' they mean East Asians. When Brits say 'Asian' they often mean what Americans would describe as 'Indian'

            1. re: r.vacapinta

              Indeed so. To we Britons, "Asian" means "South Asian" - the countries of Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. East Asians are normally described as the country of origin of their ethnic background - mainly Chinese


              1. re: Harters

                Hey thanks! good to know those subtle differences. Either way, greatly appreciate the Wing Yip suggestion! Would everyone agree that it'll offer a more affordable place to buy groceries than a Tesco equivalent?

                1. re: pgwiz1

                  Generally, yes, Wing Yip should be a better bet than the major supermarkets for their sort of "ethinic" goods. My local Sainsbury stocks a few Wing Yip products - needless to say at a higher price. If I only need, say, their oyster sauce, I'll buy it in Sainsbury rather than schlep into the city to Wing Yip.

              2. re: r.vacapinta

                Yep - I often slip back to my old ways of thinking. :-) I should have moved here when I was much younger!

        2. The thought that comes immediately to my mind is that you have the good fortune to be situated just north of The Lebanese/Syrian/Iranian fault line that runs up and has its epicentre along the Edgware Road.

          There you will find a supermarket called Green Valley which has garnered a lot of praise on this forum.

          3 Replies
          1. re: loobcom

            They raised their prices by a scary amount though.

            1. re: JFores

              I agree. I like green valley for its range, but it's a good deal more expensive than a large number of suburban turkish supermarkets, most of which will stock a fairly similar range. I'm afraid I can't suggest one in Kilburn though.

              The grocery shopping is great in green lanes (turkish and eastern european) and brixton (Caribbean and south american) if you can be bothered making either of those pilgrimages.

              1. re: lacemaker

                Absolutely...should've added "will travel for food" :). Thanks for the suggestions!

          2. First, most markets in London are not farmers markets. Most are traditional street markets with produce bought from wholesales. So much of it is low cost and mass produced, and like all markets the world over the prices will vary through the day, so go shopping later on Saturday and you get less choice but probably better bargains. But do avoid the farmers markets which should be easy as they are hyped.

            Do check out big supermarkets. First, the major brands aim at different markets, so they work to different price points i.e Waitrose top end, Sainsbury and Tesco middle, and Lidl the lower end. Then suss out the promos and take advantage of them, they often loss lead and undercut even the markets.

            I am slightly dubious about recomendations for specialist Asian or Middle Eastern shops. I think the area is most imporrtant the immigrant neighborhoods will be cheaper across the board than the up market areas so head to those areas - even the big chains will price differently (with different product mixes) I.e,a specialist Asuan supermarket in a posh area isn't going to be cheap.

            The best advice is to shop around and constantly check prices, the market stall will be the cheapest one day the supermarket then next.

            10 Replies
            1. re: PhilD

              I think if you're willing to buy in reasonable volume (a tub full, more or less) it will be very, very hard to find a supermarket that can match the fruit and vegetable prices at even a mid range ethnic market, particularly for anything even slightly exotic. And that includes Lidl (which, by the way stocks a decent range of cheap german small goods). Tesco, et al are a pretty good source for most other non-obscure ingredients - simple Caribbean goods can be cheaper online from tesco than they are in Brixton - but they are almost never the cheapest source of fruit and vegetables.

              1. re: lacemaker

                The OP wanted regular veggies an reduce not exotics. Agree the supermarkets are not as good on those lines but their loss leaders need to be watched carefully. You also need to bring into play the price/quality factor and wastage. I don't think UK food retailing is either static or simple.

                1. re: lacemaker

                  The search for cheap produce needs to build in a consideration of travel costs.

                  There is little point in me knowing that a particular street market sells excellent produce at a great price if that market is on the other side of my metro area and a 30 mile round trip drive (plus car parking cost). I would (and do) only shop there if I'm in that part of the world for another reason.

                  1. re: Harters

                    Guys, he's in Kilburn. The area is easily 50%+ immigrant and it has a huge variety of shops. There is no reason to get robbed by Tesco for overpriced meat and veg. I can't name places off the top of my head, but the road from Kilburn station to Lihiniya has over half a dozen TFC style markets of various origins, Iranian restaurants, Afghan places, etc.

                    This isn't some sort of "oh no we have to travel to an ethnic market" situation. He lives in an area with loads of them. I just don't know if there's a street market nearby.

                    1. re: JFores

                      Concur with your statistics JF. It should be easy. A simple Google search will raise some results about markets in Kilburn itself.

                      Also just an FYI - Brixton is in Zone 2 and its 15 mins into central from there... so no remortgaging your life or wasting your time to get there. I work in Mayfair and it takes me 20 mins max to get into work in the morning, counting rush hour.

                      It has an M&S food, Sainburys Local, MASSIVE Tesco (Acre Lane), couple of Delis and a Market - so obviously lots of choice - to compare all of these, apart from MAYBE the Tesco I've always found the markets, TFCs and Wing Yips (also check out Loon Fung near City Airport - may be easier to get to than Wing Yip in Croydon) to be way cheaper than the Supermarket.

                      I too, am learning all of this pretty fast seeing as I just moved out and am having to also cook for one!

                      1. re: ShekhaV

                        ShekhaV - have you discovered the Aladdin's cave that is Nour's yet? Best place to get fresh herbs, cheap veg, yoghurt, pulses etc. Plus a massive range of chilli sauce!

                        1. re: greedygirl

                          YES! its *amazing* I walked past it several times and then was totally shocked to see how far back it went, its deceptively large. Also, am I being thick - but where *is* the farmer's market on Sunday? x x

                          1. re: ShekhaV

                            On Brixton Station Road - where the Rec is. Opening hours are 10-2.

                            1. re: ShekhaV

                              Its on the same stretch where they've been doing pop up theme market days like the vintage booths one a month or so back.

                        2. re: JFores

                          Yeah. A long time ago I lived up that way. There's a street market near the corner of the High Road and Brondesbury Rd, but I can't remember how much food they have in it. There are a few little fruit/veg market stalls dotted along the high road, near the sainsburys. Several cheap halal butchers in side streets just off the high road too. Take a wonder pgwiz1, you won't have much difficulty finding stuff.

                  2. Don't discount farmer's markets. Mine, in Brixton, sells great quality meat for cheaper than the butcher or supermarket. If you go at the end of the day you may get bargains.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: greedygirl

                      Agree - the Ridley Road market in East London has great bargains, not even just at the end of the day.