Gennifer just asked about the relative availability/cost of the following food items, a typical grocery list. I'll admit, I certainly didn't think about something this practical until I arrived-and was then surprised at what I could/couldn't find that I used to buy in the States. Generally, it's largely the branded, pre-packaged things that are a challenge to find here (and as you'll note from my 'I'm a Hoarder' post....). The below commentary is simply based on my personal experience-if anyone knows otherwise, give a shout! Here's Gennifer's list. My commentary follows:
biscuit dough (like American bread-type biscuits, not "cookies")
1 pkg. Velveeta 16 slices
1 pkg. 12 hamburger buns
1 box Banquet-brand frozen fried chicken, 8 pieces
1 pkg. bacon bits/crumbled bacon (like for salad)
1 quart of heavy whipping cream
1 quart of olive oil
3-pounds/48 ounces ground beef
1 pound-16 ounces ground lamb
1 ounce cinnamon
1 ounce white pepper
1 ounce paprika
1 ounce parsley
1 pkg. pita bread (5 per pk.)
3 ounces of loose orange tea
2 ounces of white loose tea (I have my own bags, brew my own, blah blah)
5 yellow potatoes
2 bags of spinach leaves for salad
6 Bosc pears
1 sweet yellow onion
8 ounces gorgonzola cheese
8 ounces of baker's chocolate
1/2 dozen brown eggs
1 can-diced tomatoes
4 pkgs. toilet paper, 4 rolls each
plastic food storage containers
one 5-pound bag of sugar
2 pounds of coffee
1 gallon of milk, approx. 4 litres
2 oz. pine nuts
The top hilighted items may prove a bit difficult/impossible to find here, but a few comments to clarify...
*'American biscuits'...as a proper souther girl, there are certainly few months in my life that go by when I don't eat a biscuit. Made, not purchased-and if you ever find them pre-made here, I'd be stunned. But, I find even making them has provent to be a challenge-yes, I 'import' my own Crisco shortening (ahem..), but the flour here-even self-rising-must be different. I haven't actually been able to produce a good biscut here, as they simply don't rise properly. :( On the flip side, you should introduce yourself to Yorkshire Puddings ('yorkie puds'). They're simply lovely, and you can find pre-made/frozen ones. I hear Aunt Bessie does a good one (ask me again after Xmas, as they've gone on the shopping list! :)).
*Hamburger buns...You won't be able to find them year-round; they're a summer-only product. And, the ones that I have found aren't completely like in the US-they tend to be much smaller, and for some reason, a bit harder-and never pre-sliced. The one thing I haven't done is gone the route of 'butty' buns (butty's are simply sandwiches. as are 'sarnies.'), and though they don't taste like hamburger buns, they are larger-and if you find good ones-would probably be just as good. Any good bakery would carry them, and likely and larger grocery store would have packs of them year round as well.
*Banquet frozen fried chicken...Banquet doesn't exist here to my knowledge, but the frozen fried chix part won't be a problem. I can't comment on quality, but a very quick search on the online grocery store I frequently shop at quickly returned a page of results.
*Velveeta...not a chance. In fact, I've only once seen 'american-style' sliced cheese here, and it was during the summer. I've never eaten Velveeta, so I can't actually comment on availablity, but at the least, if you google 'american food store' you'll get a robust list of both brick & mortar and online shops where you may very well be able to buy Velveta. Price will certanly be an issue (example: most imported, American boxes of cereal in these shops usually run ~$10), but if you've gotta have it, you've gotta have it! :)
*Bacon bits....I haven't seen these, but I don't eat them, so it's possible they're out there. As a great substitute however, you can easily purchase 'lardons' (think 'bits') of fresh chopped bacon in the meat cases and make your own!
Everything else, you can easily find-or the subsitution would be so close (not sure about 'bosc' pears, but pears for sure..), you'll be fine.
As far as cost is concerned, I think it comes down to a personal preference. And it's worth noting that some of the things on your list (spices for example..), you'd buy in bulk once at a higher price-but it couldl take months to fully use.
Presuming the above is just for one person, you could very likely go the basic/essential route that many grocery stores are running these days on their private label brands and probably get away with just spending ~£20-25. However, if you decide to go a bit up-market, perhaps go for a higher level of quality either in the grocery store, or even venture out to a farmer's market, you could go as high as £40-ish. In general, for Simon & I, I spend~£25 a week at the farmer's market -and that food tends to get consumed in the week-and I then spend another ~£25 a week at the grocery store, and probably half of that is for things with a multi-week span. Our food shop also involves buying things we can take to work for lunch, so we eat out less for lunch during the week, but do tend to eat dinner out about 3x a week. However, I almost *always* use a voucher (coupon...), or my taste card (indespensible!), so we rarely pay full price for our meals out!
Great question, Gennifer. Hope the above helps.