Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose. Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, ShopRite. How are these names similar to one another? They’re all major grocery stores (with the exception of ShopRite as it is only major in certain east coast states). Living in the UK, specifically London, for a full nine months, I have come to notice some major differences.

1. Produce expires so much faster!?

grocery stores

Photo by Sunny Tang

Or, rather, the produce in the UK is packaged and has an expiration date on it. Since we usually handpick our produce in the US, I suppose we’re used to guesstimating when they are good to eat or rotten. I almost felt the pressure to finish a box of grapes within two days of buying them in London.

#SpoonTip: I immediately put my produce in the freezer so that it would last longer.

2. May I have a shopping trolley?

grocery stores

Photo courtesy of rollstore.co.uk

Aside from the name differentiation, even the shopping carts in the supermarkets are different from the ones in the United States. American grocery carts tend to have a bottom rack where you could put the packages of water bottles or heavier items that are hard to lift into the cart itself. But these trolleys are missing them! Totally something I didn’t realize that was so great until it wasn’t there anymore.

3. Units of measurement

grocery stores

Photo courtesy of Maria Molinero from unsplash.com

We all know that the US and two other countries are the only ones who use the customary system. It’s a given that the UK would obviously not have their serving sizes measure by ounces or cups. However, when the serving sizes are given by grams, what am I supposed to do?

During these times, I definitely guesstimated the amount of food I was eating. The product suggests 75 grams as a serving size? I have no idea what that means and how to measure that so I guess this is enough (the thought process of most of my meals).

4. Ready-to-go meals galore

grocery stores

Photo by Jocelyn Hsu

There are so many ready-made meals in the UK. Seriously, SO MANY. In fact, an article stated as of last year that many of the elderly are turning to ready-made meals over dinner. The US has its fair share of healthy frozen meals with brands like Healthy Choice and Lean Cuisine, but the UK takes it to the next level to the point where even the supermarkets makes their own ready-made meals.

5. Cashiers sit at the till

grocery stores

Photo courtesy of anglotopia.net

It’s been a topic discussed in the US. It’s even been brought to court. Cashiers in the US are not allowed to sit down when working behind the cash registers. There are plenty of online threads saying why the US does have their cashiers stand while cashiers in other countries do not. Regardless of reason, seeing something other than what you’re used to because of respective country is always an oddity.

Of course, there are plenty other reasons that haven’t been mentioned which differentiate UK supermarkets and US supermarkets from one another. It may be a slight shock and confusing at first, but eventually, you’ll master the aisles within the UK and the US.