Moving to the UK – Setting a Grocery Budget

This post is written mostly for those moving to the UK from American however budgeting ideas are easy to implement no matter where you live.    For those of you who are just mildly curious about how US prices in the grocery aisle compare……read on.


One of the aspects of moving to a new county and calculating your expenses is setting a grocery budget.  A grocery budget is a daunting task even in the US.  Budgeting is made more difficult these days by the ever rising prices of food.

Here is the UK some foods are much, much cheaper and some are much more expensive.   I take the more expensive items and cut back on the recipes I use them in or replace them altogether.


Items that are cheaper in the UK 

Milk and Butter (and many more grass fed and organic options)



Cheeses – (oh my!  The cheese is cheaper and better here.  There are more varieties available than you could ever imagine)

Eggs – You can pick up free range eggs much cheaper than the US but don’t look for them in the refrigerated section they are not washed here so they are shelf stable.  Cool

Chocolate – Plain dark chocolate for baking is the cheapest so …. again get baking

Rolled Oats –  (a very inexpensive way to eat breakfast, they are called porridge oats here)


Plain Corn chips (store brand for a bag of plain corn chips are about .45 pence as well)

Flour (all purpose, unbleached is…..hold on to your hat .45  pence for a store brand of about a US 5 lb bag)  That almost makes me angry.  I paid $3 for that amount in the states.   If you don’t cook from scratch start learning.  That is too  good of a deal to pass up.  My friend, Shaye Elliot, published a really great cookbook to jump start a whole food, from scratch kitchen.  Here is a link to her new book

Items that are more expensive

Dried Beans (Whaaa.  I still can’t see why canned beans are cheaper here)   I buy them in bulk and they aren’t as costly that way.  Cook up a crock pot of black beans then freeze them in 2 cup containers.  Use them mashed with butter and sea salt as a tex-mex side dish or add whole beans to taco meat for stretching the budget and cutting down on red meat.

Beef (Ground beef is called beef mince here and roast are called joints even if there is no bone in them.  Beef is expensive because lamb is the primary meat product raised here.)

Chicken (whole chicken is about the same but cut boneless chicken breast are really expensive)

Prepared packaged foods (crackers, snacks, granola bars and such forget them or get on Pintrest and get some recipes)

Processed foods (even pasta sauce is much more expensive than the ingredients for pasta sauce)

Processed Cereals

Some ways to stretch the beef mince:  I have recently found that lentils can double the amount of beef mince that I use in taco meat and pasta sauce.  Much better for you anyway.  Lentils take on the taste of whatever they are cooked in.  Wonderful.

Check out Tesco’s website to see actual store prices.

Remember to take into account the current exchange rate.  Today the US is about $1.70 to the Pound.  So a half gallon milk that only cost a pound is about $1.70.  That is still much cheaper than the US at $2.50 – $3.50 a half gallon.

More another day……..




4 responses to “Moving to the UK – Setting a Grocery Budget

  1. Hi Beth,

    If you like good quality & a wide variety of cheese, I’d suggest one of your Friday field trips should take you to Hawes in North Yorkshire. It’s home to the famous Wensleydale Creamery.

    There’s a public viewing tour of the production area where the children can learn about cheese production, a cafe and a large cheese shop (of course). The best thing about the cheese shop is you can try a nibble before you buy so you know you’ll love the cheese when you open it at home.

    The creamery itself is only a few hundred yards off the main road through Hawes itself.

    Allow yourselves at least a full afternoon to get there and back because there is so much wonderful scenery down that way you’re bound to want to get out and explore.

  2. This is really interesting. I’ve heard such varying reports about how our prices, in the UK, compare with those in the US.
    Lamb is fairly expensive here too.
    We sometimes eat chilli con carne where the minced beef has kidney beans added. Tinned kidney beans are some of our cheapest beans.
    It is worth trying Lidl and Aldi as they are cheaper than the main supermarkets. Some of their products can surpass those of the major stores.

    • I do find a lot of the prices very interesting. Back in the US we have a local sweet corn that can be purchased, in season for about 12 full ears for$2. Here two very small ears of fresh corn are over $3. I think a lot depends on what grows locally and what is in season. It is a bit odd to me that a large amount of lamb in the stores here says that it comes from New Zealand. Why? That seems an awfully long way to ship lamb when there are hundreds of those cotton coated fluffs right out our back door.

      Another factor with the prices in the US are farmer subsidies by the government. Grains and dairy are big ones. I believe that is why milk and flour are so much cheaper here in the UK. Whole dried beans are very cheap in the US (although they have increased in the past few years) They still run about 1\4 the cost of canned in the US but the reverse seems true in the UK. I will check the other stores that you mentioned.

      There is so much more to say on this bit I think I will write another blog. Thank you for reading and for your comments.


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