The best way to enjoy the memories from your travels is to bring souvenirs home to enjoy after your trip has ended. If you are making your way to the UK this new year, there are plenty of wonderful items to find in UK grocery stores! While famous for football, pop music celebrities, the royal family, and pubs, the UK is also known for having extraordinary grocery stores that offer wide varieties of both everyday and unusual foods. Even if you’re only traveling within London, you’ll easily find everything! This article will detail the best souvenirs from UK grocery stores, from crisps and tea to skincare items, that are easy to travel with as well as bring through customs.
Top Items to Buy in UK Grocery Stores
More commonly known as potato chips, they’re called crisps in the UK! UK grocery stores have a large variety of unusually flavored crisps, that are worth bringing home to try! Flavors include “Chicken Katsu Curry,” “Parmesan and Prosciutto,” “Japanese Wasabi and Ginger,” and “Vintage Cheddar and Chutney.” Depending on the brand and size, crisps are only 55 pence to 2 pounds, which leaves lots of room in your budget to try new flavors!
According to a survey by the Independent, Britain’s favorite brand of crisps are Walkers and Kettle and we cannot disagree!
The UK is famous for their cheddar cheese and it accounts for more than half of all cheeses sold in Britain! Cheddar’s popularity has to do with the wide variety that UK grocery stores carry. Cheddar is sold in levels of sharpness from “1,” mild, to “4,” very sharp. Blue stilton cheese is also a popular British product.
3. Jams and Marmalade
Easy find in UK grocery stores, sweet AND savory jams and marmalades make for a great souvenir! The UK has perfected the savory alternative to sweet jams and marmalades, which includes flavors like bacon or tomato, even carrot or onion jam! In the same aisle, you’ll also find a variety of pickles to enjoy with your new savory jams.
The most trusted brands for jams in the UK are Cottage Delight and Fortnum & Mason.
4. British Chocolate
Another great souvenir that you can find in UK grocery stores is chocolate fit for royalty – Cadbury and Maltesers. Cadbury chocolate bars are classic and deliciously creamy, and can also be found flavored with Oreos or Tiffin (raisins and biscuit filled). If you like crispy and light chocolate, bring home a bag of Maltesers, chocolate covered malted milk balls. Yum!
While Cadbury and Maltesers are available in many parts of the world, you’ll find that there are a lot more variations in terms of flavors and sizes that can only be bought in the UK!
Did you know that the average Brit drinks 876 cups of tea per year?! All of that tea means that not only do UK grocery stores have plenty for you to choose from, but the British really know their tea! A wonderfully British and easy to pack souvenir, popular tea brands include Yorkshire Tea, Tetley, PG Tips, and Twinings. Depending on the time of year, you can find seasonal flavors or bring home the classics, like English Breakfast or Earl Grey.
6. Digestive Cookies
While digestive cookies do not actually help with digestion and are originally a product of Scotland, they can easily be found in UK grocery stores! A semi-sweet biscuit, digestive cookies are usually eaten with or dunked into tea or coffee. McVitie’s is one of the most popular and inexpensive brands available. We’re fans of the Hobnobs!
7. Pimm’s No. 1 Cup
A gin- based liqueur, Pimm’s No. 1 has a deep red color and is flavored with ‘herbal botanicals,’ spices, and caramelized orange. The liqueur is essential in making the classic British cocktail, Pimm’s Cup, which consists of Pimm’s mixed with sparkling lemonade, sliced oranges, cucumbers, and strawberries. The cocktail is served over ice and garnished with a mint leaf. The perfect summer drink!
8. HP Sauce
Named after London’s House of Parliament, HP Sauce has become an icon of British culture. A savory sauce that is good for anything, especially eggs and chips (fries), and everyone, even the vegetarians in your life! The primary flavors include malt vinegar, tomatoes, tamarind, and dates. HP sauce is available in 255g and 600g bottles and is easily found in all UK grocery stores.
9. Maldon Sea Salt
Looking for something to elevate your cooking at home? Maldon Sea Salt is definitely the perfect souvenir for you! Produced in the coastal town of Maldon, this salt is still made with the same traditional artisan methods since 1882. It’s different from regular salt because it comes in flakes and is used as a finishing salt. It is also less bitter and less salty than regular salt.
10. Real Techniques Brushes
Real Techniques is one of the world’s most famous makeup brush brands. It was founded in London and produces vegan, professional quality makeup brushes. Available in sets and individually in ASDA UK grocery stores, these brushes are great quality and perfect for anyone on a budget. Their website also offers ‘tips and tricks’ videos of how to best use and care for their products.
11. Simple Skincare
The UK’s #1 facial skin care brand, Simple Skincare, is especially famous for their gentle makeup removing products. Their most popular products include ‘Simple Kind to Eyes Eye Make-Up Remover Pads’ and ‘Simple Radiance Cleansing Wipes.’ Besides being kind to those with sensitive skin, Simple Skincare is also making an effort to promote kindness in all areas – from promoting being kind online to reusing plastic!
The Best UK Grocery Stores
With over 3400 locations nationwide, Tesco will not only have all the souvenirs you are looking for but will also be easy to find. While Tesco’s are usually large UK grocery stores, there are also Tesco Express locations within the busiest parts of London, and some locations are even open 24 hours!
Marks & Spencer Food
Founded by Michael Marks and Thomas Spencer, Marks and Spencer also has locations all over London. Specializing in high-quality products and food, most M&S locations are open Saturday and Sunday too. Check out the London Bridge and Cannon Street locations while in London to find the souvenirs you need.
For a budget UK grocery store, Aldi is a discount supermarket chain with over 10,000 stores in 20 countries. They sell a wide variety of grocery products and are at par with Lidl. While visiting Camden Street Market, you can also pop into Aldi from 7am to 11pm, Monday to Saturday, and from 11am to 5pm on Sundays.
3 Tips for Shopping at UK Grocery Stores
1. Bring Your Own Grocery Bag
When shopping at any UK grocery store, be sure to bring your own shopping bag as they are not provided. The UK has been making an effort to limit the usage of plastic bags due to its effects on wildlife and as of July 2019, England’s largest retailers are now selling 90% fewer plastic bags. However, don’t worry, if you do not have one with you, you can always purchase a reusable bag in store. It is also important to know that you pack your own groceries bags!
2. Go at the right time
For a less busy shopping experience at any UK grocery store, avoid going after work and in the early evenings and on the weekends. Instead, do your souvenir shopping in the during the weeknights or weekend mornings when the stores first open.
Also, always remember to check times for your local UK grocery stores as not all locations are open on Sundays and may close early on Saturdays. Depending on the time of year that you travel, keep in mind that some stores may be closed on major holidays, as well – Christmas, New Years, and other bank holidays.
3. Save time and use the Self Checkout
Another tip for shopping at a UK grocery store is to look for self checkout options. Many supermarkets in the UK have them. They are a great way to complete your checkout quickly! Do make sure, however, that you do not have a credit card that requires signature verification as it requires additional assistance in the self checkout lane. Instead use a debit card or credit card with a pin, or a contactless card.