Supermarkets & Grocers
Like in the UK most people tend to do their grocery shopping in larger supermarkets and save the small shops for special occasions. You will however find many differences between the UK and US when it comes to groceries, and it may take some time to find what you like. As with many things in America, shopping is generally a car-based activity.
Whether supermarkets can sell alcohol will vary state to state.
You might find some or all of these supermarket chains in your local area. Depending on the chain, they may also offer pick-up or delivery options.
- Safeway is good for everyday basics. Some stores have in-house bakeries, deli counters, and fish-mongers.
- Giant and Superfresh are two additional alternatives with similar items on offer.
- Whole Foods specialises in natural foods with many of the fruits and vegetables being organic and all of the meat hormone and antibiotic free. It’s very attractive but considerably pricier.
- Trader Joe’s, like Whole Foods, caters to a more health conscious consumer, but is a bit cheaper. You will not find many recognisable brands here, though they do offer high quality items and some good deals.
- Costco is a huge discount warehouse which sells everything from bulk foodstuffs, household goods, computers and sports equipment. A membership is required.
There are endless options in American grocery stores, and whilst you will find some new favourite things, there are some important differences it is useful to be aware of:
Bread: You can have an interesting experience buying bread here. A lot of it is very sweet as sugar is usually added, unless bought fresh from a bakery stand.
Herbs/Spices: Most supermarkets carry fresh herbs, as well as small jars of most herbs and spices at quite high prices. If you have a local International store it might be cheaper.
High Fructose Corn Syrup: Many American foods are sweetened with this product as opposed to sugar. The product is banned in the UK as it is believed difficult to digest. It is contained in many products, including those which may seem familiar from home e.g. Kellogs Corn Flakes, Heinz Tomato Ketchup. Alternatives can be found (some of which are organic options), but if you want to avoid high fructose corn syrup it is best to check the ingredient labels.
Hormones in Milk and Meat: There are far more hormones contained in milk here in the US than in the UK and for this reason many officers choose to buy organic brands to reduce hormone content. Some meat is also produced with added hormones. Remember to check all packaging before purchase.
Many items in the US are known by different names than what is used in the UK. Some common examples are:
- Aubergine > Eggplant
- Bicarbonate of Soda > Baking Soda
- Biscuit > Cookie
- Cling Film > Saran (or Plastic) Wrap
- Corn Flour > Corn Starch
- Coriander > Cilantro
- Courgette > Zucchini
- Essence > Extract
- Greaseproof Paper > Parchment Paper
- Minced Beef > Ground Beef
- Prawn > Shrimp
- Rocket > Arugula
- Sultana > Golden Raisin
- Swede > Rutabaga
- Treacle > Molasses