This is the final installment of the Traveling as a Picky Eater series, and it’s all about eating in England.
The tips I’ve talked about in Part 1 and Part 2, which focus on backpacking and traveling around Europe, are very different to my tips for actually residing in a foreign country. So this post will cover what it was like living and eating in England for my year abroad.
I studied abroad in England, so I got fairly lucky because most of the food is pretty bland or plain (and I don’t mean that as criticism), but this was still the top thing I was anxious about before departing the USA.
No matter what country you’re living in, there is going to be some adjustment. Even if you aren’t a picky eater, you’ve probably fallen into some sort of dietary routine. You know your favorite grocery stores, brands, and restaurants. All of that is going to change when you move to another country. This may be exciting for some, but for a picky eater… it’s terrifying.
Grocery Shopping in England is stressful
I went to an ASDA when I first arrived in my new city for a full load of groceries to get me started… and I never returned. To be blunt, it was chaotic and horrible. I had never noticed it before, but it turns out grocery stores in the USA tend to have better traffic control and be a lot more orderly. In England, I felt like someone was going to crash into me at every turn. No matter which side I pushed my cart, someone was careening towards me.
Since it was my first time in a British grocery store, I was super unfamiliar with all the brands, so I was meandering down aisles and staring blankly at packages of food (while trying not to get hit by another shopper). Suffice to say, it was overwhelming.
After that fateful grocery haul, I immediately opted for Tesco delivery.
1. Because I adore Tesco.
2. Getting my groceries delivered was ideal considering the bus trip and walk to the store was fairly far from my flat.
If you’re living abroad in the UK, opt for grocery delivery! You can browse foods and brands online and set a delivery time. It eliminates all the stress and hassle of grocery shopping. Plus, a lot of students do it.
Aside from grocery delivery, I also visited the local Sainsbury in town for occasional things I needed (like a flake bar and a bottle of rosé). Tesco and Sainsbury’s were definitely my favorite British grocery stores.
What were my favorite restaurants in England?
Well, I’m not gonna lie… my friends and I frequented our local TGI Friday’s almost once a week. It became sort of an inside joke because we went there so often. I’m a big TGIF fan back in the USA, but I think I actually prefer the British ones more. They take their bar skills very seriously.
I’m also a huge Pizza Express and Nando’s fan. They’re located in most cities/towns and have great options for picky eaters.
The photo above is from Wagamama’s. Not my favorite place, but it was fairly good for a light meal.
Eating in England: What foods do I miss the most?
Well flake bars and Cadbury milk chocolate top this list for sure. Also Pizza Express dough balls. And Dean’s shortbread biscuits!
No, blood pudding and spotted dick don’t make the list.
I also miss pubs. Pub culture is something that the USA just doesn’t have. There’s a few, but for the most part if you go out to a bar, it’s a completely different atmosphere.
Final Thoughts on Eating in England and Abroad:
People love to throw stones at picky eaters, but they don’t have an inkling of the embarrassment and guilt you probably already feel about your diet. Don’t let anyone make you feel like an inconvenience. And even more importantly, don’t let it inhibit you from experiencing new cultures and exploring the world!
For the record, I do encourage trying new things (I do this myself), but it’s okay to keep it within your comfort zone. For example, if you like all the ingredients in a dish, then there’s a very good chance you’ll enjoy that dish. Try it!
You know yourself and your palate better than anyone. For the sake of your wallet and pending hunger, go for foods that you’re fairly certain you’ll like.
I hope you enjoyed this series and found it helpful if you have any dietary anxieties about traveling, whether they’re health related or you have a limited palate. With these tips, the world is truly yours to explore!