As you may know, eating cheap is almost impossible in London, England and most of Western Europe. Last year I visited expensive cities such as Monaco, Finland, and Switzerland and wrote Why You Should Avoid Traveling to Western Europe.
I was in London yesterday during a 23 hour layover on my mileage run vacation to London, Krakow, and Warsaw and was already floored by the high prices. The US Dollar is really weak against the British Pound and the current exchange rate is 1 USD to 0.62 pence and 1 GBP = 1.60 USD which means Americans are basically overpaying 60% for goods and services in London. This means that 6.95 GBP burrito at a Chipotle in London (usually $6 in the states) is 11.12 USD, almost double the price!
There are actually ways to combat these food high prices in London, but that often means stepping down from nice cafes and restaurants for takeaways, street food, and fast food. Believe it or not, the price of getting an order to go (takeaway) is much cheaper than eating in the restaurant and the prices will be listed. According to British law, restaurants must post their menu with listed prices outside the restaurant (usually in the window).
Here’s how to eat cheap in London on a tight budget:
Rolls and Sandwiches are your friends – Rolls and sandwiches are often filling and inexpensive starting at 1.50 GBP ~ $2.40 USD from various small restaurants and cafes.
Fast food joints – You can find amazing deals at fast food restaurants such as Chicken burgers for 99 pence ~ $1.58 USD. A chicken combo meal with fries and a drink go for 2.99 GBP ~ $.4.78 USD and won’t break the bank.
A medium 7” pizza can be had for as low as 1.99 GBP ~ $3.18 USD.
Supermarkets – Locals often flock to supermarkets such as Tesco for inexpensive meal deals. A meal deal is basically a sandwich, wrap, salad, or a pasta PLUS a sweet, savory or healthy snack PLUS a drink for only 3.00 GBP ~ $4.80 USD or less.
First, choose among a sandwich, wrap, or pasta with the words “Meal deal” labeled on the package.
Second, choose a snack which must be labeled “selected snack”.
Lastly, choose a drink which has the words “Meal Deal” written next to the price.
I had a Flame Grilled Chicken and Bacon Pasta, Pink Lady Apple and Grape snack pack, and a large Evian water all for 3.00 GBP ~ $4.80 USD for dinner which was an absolute steal.
Do you have any tips for eating cheap in London?