Tag Archives: tesco metro

An unnecessarily long post about St. John’s Wood Tesco Metro

25 Feb

(Yes, I’m blogging about grocery shopping again.)

I’m afraid I might have to stop shopping at Tesco Metro. I enter the store pumped for new groceries and leave in a stressed, frazzled state. That shouldn’t happen while grocery shopping.

For starters, the store itself is stress-inducing. Whoever designed the store did not count on anyone using a shopping cart or there ever being more than five people in the store at once. There are pillars, displays and storage carts in the middle of almost every aisle, making it impossible for more than one cart to fit through at a time. The aisles are so jam-packed that you can never stop to contemplate a purchase. You have to grab the item while still maintaining a steady speed so as to not create a backup. It’s like driving around looking at Christmas lights — you can slow down, but you can’t stop or people will honk. If Tesco insists on offering giant shopping carts in their tiny store, they should install horns on them. Nothing jolts an oblivious aisle-blocking stroller-toting mum like a good honk.

The store designer also did not count on there ever being more than two people in line at each check out (or “more than two people queued up at each till,” if I must Britishize it). If there are more than two customers, they stretch out into the aisles, making it difficult to cross the front of the store or to go down an aisle. No one likes to leave a gap for fear of someone cutting. Yesterday was so bad that I actually would turn my cart around and backtrack down an aisle towards the back of the store just to avoid crossing the lines at the front. Don’t people have better things to do on a Thursday morning than hit up Tesco?

The store is also in a bizarre location. It is called the St. John’s Wood Tesco Metro, but it doesn’t feel like St. John’s Wood. Someone on Twitter described the SJW neighborhood best: “Stunning houses, wealthy Americans, lots of dry cleaners but lacking in pubs.” It is also lacking in grocery stores, likely because all the “rich Americans” use delivery services (my refusal to have my groceries delivered is material for another post). The minute I hit Church Street it’s like I’m in a different ‘hood, a different country almost. There’s always a Middle Eastern-esque street market going on. They have your usual street fair items — fresh fruit and vegetables, jewelry, knock-off handbags and suspiciously cheap clothing. But there are also some really bizarre items, like duvets and small household appliances. It’s weird. “Hey, where’d you get that crock pot?” “Just down the street — literally.” There’s also always a strong incense aroma in the air. This is what I lug my shopping trolley by every time I’m craving Tesco-brand orange-mango juice or mushroom sauce.

I really wish I could commit to a grocery store and become a regular shopper. But there are three different stores within a mile and a half of my flat, and I like things from all of them. I go to Sainsbury’s for most items, but Waitrose has the best salad dressing and croutons. Tesco Metro has better ready-made meals and the mushroom sauce I like to eat with gnocchi. Of course yesterday they were sold out of it. That also contributed to my stress — lugging my shopping trolley over a mile for a certain item to find out it was out of stock. I also went because they were having a 3 for 2 sale on cereal. My family is coming in two weeks so I thought I should stock up on my some breakfast items. I have eight boxes of cereal now. I may have taken that too far.

In short, I wish I could quit you, Tesco Metro, but your prices and mushroom sauce may just keep me coming back. Perhaps I’ll make the journey worth it next time and pick up a nice £1.99 jumper (that’s British for “sweater”) or rice cooker from a street vender.

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Fancy a trolley?

23 Nov

(We’re back in London now after two weeks in China.)

I took my new shopping cart (I’m sorry, “trolley”) out for a spin this afternoon. The only time I ever miss driving is grocery shopping time. Our flat is in a nice area, but there are absolutely no grocery stores nearby. Tesco Metro is one mile one way, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s a mile the other way. There’s a Tesco Express a half mile away, but it is more like a convenience store and only good for bananas, water and the £2 sandwich meal deal. Ever since I realized I’d be lugging groceries a mile I tried to convince Stephen we needed a wheeling shopping cart/trolley.

“Those are only for old people!” he told me.

In Chicago the popular shopping carts were entirely metal. Here they are almost like a backpack (“rucksack”) on wheels.  A couple weeks ago we bought some groceries at Waitrose then bought some lamps at Argos. After walking less than a block with the goods, suddenly the carts weren’t just for old people and we bought one on the way home.

Today was my first time using the trolley on my own. Since we bought it and immediately filled it, I haven’t yet had the experience of wheeling it empty to the store. It was awkward. I felt stupid wheeling the empty cart, so I tried various ways of carrying it. The handle is too narrow to swing on my arm, so I just kind of slipped it on my hand and lifted it up. But that quickly got too heavy and I switched to wheeling. But then the pavement got rough and I again went to carrying it. I bet I was fun to watch.

While we were living in Notting Hill we got spoiled by the Tesco Metro a block down the street. Stephen loved their chicken curry and I liked their mushroom pasta. The Tesco Express carries neither of those so I had to walk 1.3 miles to the Tesco Metro today. 1.3 miles doesn’t seem like far, but it is when it’s cold and you’re lugging a cart. It feels even longer when the cart is full.

When I arrived I was faced with a problem — what was I supposed to do with my cart? I couldn’t wheel it while carrying a basket. So I put it inside my shopping cart. As I wandered through the tight aisles I realized almost every person in the store had a little trolley like mine. Some were carrying it empty with their food in a basket, while others put their food directly in their cart. When I went to check out I realized that those who didn’t want to carry their cart through the store simply left it up front. It was kind of funny to see all the different colored trolleys up there. It reminded me of all the strollers parked outside the Scooby-Doo ride at Kings Island.

“These must be really good,” the checkout lady said as she scanned my stacks of curry and pasta. I felt like some pathetic single girl who doesn’t cook. I like to think I am capable of cooking, I just don’t like the hassle. Why make my own curry or mushroom pasta when Tesco’s is so cheap and so good?

I packed the bag of my trolley to the brim and carried the rest of my groceries in my panda tote, then began the long journey home. I now have sore arms and legs and can understand why grocery delivery services are so popular here.

The best deal in Britain

2 Oct

For some inexplicable reason, I was unusually worried about grocery shopping here. Not just that they wouldn’t have the food and brands I like, but that everything would be extraordinarily expensive. The way we stocked up on toiletries in our ocean freight you’d think we were moving somewhere without stores. But–surprise!–they do have stores here. We’ve been going to a Tesco Metro just down the street, which isn’t even a full-fledged supermarket. They seem to be geared towards people who live in the area and just need to pick up a few things, as there is no parking lot or shopping carts, only baskets. Everything is smaller too, like the laundry detergent bottle. That might be the store or just the UK in general–their paper towels are shorter than ours too. I was pleasantly surprised by how reasonably priced things were. We got a can of Pringles for 99 pence ($1.56), a six-pack of yogurt for 90 pence ($1.40) and a box of cookies for 44 pence (70 cents). But the best deal by far is the Tesco Meal Deal–you get a prepackaged sandwich, bag of chips–I mean crisps, and pop, water or juice for £2 ($3.16). You can’t beat that deal, even in the US! And the sandwiches aren’t bad either considered they are premade and packaged in a triangle box. So far I like the ham and cheese and chicken caesar. Some of them are a bit bizarre, like prawn and mayonnaise and chicken and bacon stuffing. While trying to find an image for this post, a Tesco lasagna sandwich kept coming up. I’d love to try that.

While you can get some American brands here (Heinz, Kellogg’s), there are some you can’t. I found the website of this store in St. John’s Wood that capitalizes on that fact and sells American products to rich American expats for ridiculous prices. A box of Kraft mac and cheese is £2 ($3.16), Oreos are £5 (close to $8) and–the kicker–Lucky Charms for £7 ($11). I love Lucky Charms, but not that much! Looks like I’ll be stocking up on them when I go back to the states for Christmas.