Groceries Part I – The Cheapest Stores

Welcome to “Life in Liverpool: A Student’s Guide to Smart Spending

Before we go on to today’s topic, let me share the reasons for these posts. This section of my blog will be dedicated to offering advice and ideas to international students coming to the city of Liverpool. While, as a Puerto Rican, my advice is tailored most specifically to other US students, all international students (and even home students) can easily benefit from these helpful tips.

I have it on good authority that, as far as major cities go, Liverpool is one of the most affordable places in the UK. On one hand, having never been to any other city or town in the UK, I cannot vouch for this assessment. On the other hand, I am inclined to believe this sentiment given that even with my very limited budget, I have been able to eat every day and even engage in some leisure activities during my time in this city.

So, here I will compile a guide to food, places, and activities that a typical student might be interested in, and how with a few financial tweaks, a student can live comfortably and affordably in Liverpool.

The first topic is “Groceries“, and we’ll begin with ‘The Cheapest Stores in Liverpool

Especially when one comes from another country, it can be particularly difficult to gauge appropriate price ranges in stores. At first, the only measuring system one has is the one from one’s own country, and the amounts one would usually pay for food in one’s own currency. This can become conflicting for US students who, while knowing the pound costs more than the dollar, will see the apparently ‘lower’ prices on foodstuffs, and believe they are making a good buy.

The important thing to keep in mind is: whatever you used to pay in dollars for a particular item, should be half or less than half in pounds. For example, if you paid three bucks for half a gallon of milk, you should not be expected to pay more than 1.50 quid for it in the UK (btw, the equivalent to 1/2 gallon is roughly 4 pints). That’s more or less the benchmark, cut your home price in half, and see if the items you are buying cost more or less.

The first few months in Liverpool will be spent trying out different stores and determining whether this store’s prices are better than that store’s prices. Therefore, I will give you my personal recommendations that might ease your frustrations.

While in the US, a bigger store means cheaper prices; i.e. Wal-Mart usually has the best affordable prices, and the smaller stores will stiff you for your money (heck, even Walgreens often carries ridiculously high prices), the opposite is true in Liverpool. The biggest stores in this port-city are TESCO and Sainsbury’s, and they tend to be the most expensive ones.

There are other stores that can be even more expensive, like Marks & Spencer, but I have never bothered with them, so I am unfit to judge them accurately. TESCO and Sainsbury’s, on the other hand, I have been to on numerous occasion, and have been surprised at the high prices they have for some of their products compared to other stores. However, they do occasionally have products at discount prices, whenever they are about to expire and the like, so you can get good deals.

It’s all about careful shopping!

My personal recommendation is to shop at Iceland, Aldi and HomeBargains. Also, make use of such stores as Poundworld and 99p Stores. As the names suggest, these the products in these stores is always one pound or 99p, and although many of the items they have are of a significantly lower quality, it is possible to find good stuff here.

Still, for quality and price, your best bets are Iceland, Aldi and Home-Bargains. Another possibility that I have used on occasion is Lidl, which tends to carry a wider amount of foreign products which may delight many of the international students. Although I have not been to the store in several months, I am still under the impression that the prices are much more affordable than TESCO and Sainsbury’s.

That’s it for now, part II of ‘Groceries’ will come soon, and it will focus on ‘Managing the Food Budget‘, and will feature an item-by-item price list.

AR Signing off!

PS. Comments and Suggestions are quite welcome ^_^

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