As both vegans and bargain hunters, we work hard to find the best quality produce for the lowest prices when shopping for food. Since there’s not one holy grail supermarket here in the UK, we often find ourselves visiting a few different places each week to make sure we get the best deals.
As we eat majority whole food plant-based, we cook a lot of our own meals and therefore purchase plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. You don’t have to be an expert to know that fresh fruit groceries are not always cheap. We live in a world where it’s possible to buy out-of-season produce at any time of the year, from strawberries from Seville to avocados all the way from Sri Lanka, it’s no wonder people think buying fresh fruit and vegetables is expensive!
We’ve got our weekly food shopping routine down to a tee, however I was interested to find out whether other vegans do the same as us and shop about, or whether they feel that one supermarket is far superior to other. We asked the Vegan UK Facebook Group to tell us which is their favourite UK supermarket and why, as well as highlight their top purchases we have to try at each store. Here’s what they said…
Shopping Around is the Way to Go
“Aldi is excellent for the basics but I need to visit Tesco for Tofoo and Oatly.”
As expected, many people agreed that there is no single definitive supermarket for vegans yet. Established supermarkets like Tesco and Sainsbury’s take pride in their ability to offer a huge range of products for varying diets, including vegans and gluten free, meaning you’ll find a decent selection of plant milk and even frozen veggie food, even in the smaller shops.
However, the German budget chains are catching up. Not only are Aldi and Lidl a great place to visit for fresh fruit and vegetables on a budget, but we’ve also noticed that they’re stocking up on more vegan-friendly items, like falafel and different flavours of hummus. We particularly love the Spicy Bean Burgers at Lidl and frozen fruit for smoothies from both stores.
In addition, Aldi’s own toiletry range Lacura has recently come out as cruelty free, which is great for those looking to pick up the likes of cruelty free hand soap and deodorant on a budget.
The Digital Underdog
Living up North, I’ve never shopped at Ocado. I don’t believe it has even delivered to my postcode until recently, so it was never an option I even considered. However, the poll shows overwhelming feedback for Ocado, the online grocery chain, which boasts thousands of vegan items on their website – all accessible through the simple search function.
“I think Ocado is the best (but obv is an online supermarket), it’s quite pricey though.”
As always, there are sacrifices to be made, with an unrivaled selection of vegan goodies, Ocado isn’t cheap and is only available online. You normally receive a significant discount on your first shop, but after that I imagine it can get quite pricey doing your full shop by this means.
It’s Where You Shop
“I’ve found the vegan options at different branches within the same company vary, stores in more affluent areas generally have more vegan options.”
An interesting point that I never considered is that some stores within the same chain will offer a different selection. An example we encountered recently was Tesco’s new meat-free addition Oumph wasn’t stocked at our local Tesco Extra, despite it being one of the largest stores in the region. Meanwhile, other Tesco stores in other areas have stocked the entire Oumph range.
It seems that different areas will receive varying demand for vegan products, therefore you may find a fantastic selection in one store and then five miles down the road there could be nothing but Quorn in the veggie section.
Money Saving Tips
For us, we like to shop locally and in bulk wherever we can. Our local weigh shop is in Newcastle city centre, which is a good half an hour away from where we live and we can only get there on the weekends. We try our best to head there to pick up nuts, seeds, dried fruit as well as dried pulses like lentils, beans and, of course, our breakfast favourite – oats. Conscious of packaging, we tend to re-use the plastic bags from previous trips. However, I am sure they’d be open to you bringing you own containers, as long as they get weighed beforehand.
The most convenient way to save money is to visit the supermarket regularly and purchase groceries in small batches. We’ve stopped doing a weekly ‘big’ shop as it can be difficult to foresee how the week will go, and often fresh fruit and vegetables don’t last as long as you expect.
Instead, we aim to head to Aldi or Lidl to stock up on essentials like bananas, apple and oranges, then head to Sainsbury’s, Tesco or Morrisons for our weekly vegan treats like Oatly oat milk and Trek bars.
As I’ve already mentioned, I think each chain’s vegan offering is dependent on where you live. However, there was one clear winner in our poll of 400 vegans in the UK. With a vast selection of frozen goods, including party food like sausage rolls and churros, as well as a huge free from selection with a wide choice of super foods, it’s clear that Tesco is the people’s favourite vegan supermarket! It’s no wonder Tesco is so popular considering they also stock some of our favourite up-and-coning vegans brands, such as Oumph and Wicked Kitchen.