How to Eat Cheap in London on a Tight Budget

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.

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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.

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A medium 7” pizza can be had for as low as 1.99 GBP ~ $3.18 USD.

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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.

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First, choose among a sandwich, wrap, or pasta with the words “Meal deal” labeled on the package.

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Second, choose a snack which must be labeled “selected snack”.

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Lastly, choose a drink which has the words “Meal Deal” written next to the price.

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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.

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Do you have any tips for eating cheap in London?

 

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Points Summary
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7 Comments on "How to Eat Cheap in London on a Tight Budget"

  1. Thanks for the tips on how to eat cheap in London. I’m going there next summer and was wondering how to get the cheapest food.

  2. The Mystery Traveler | November 6, 2014 at 12:16 am | Reply

    Marks and Spencer also often have a grocery store inside many of their locations, which is also quite affordable. The selection is much larger than what can be found at Tesco or similar convenience type stores.

  3. TimeOut has a good list of cheap eats. You’ll have to do some hunting beforehand to see if there is a place near where you’ll be for the day, but I found a few gems.

    //www.timeout.com/london/restaurants/regency-cafe
    Try a traditional British breakfast? Would beat takeaway pizza and sandwiches…
    Plus, really good Yelp reviews: //www.yelp.com/biz/regency-caf%C3%A9-london-2

    //www.timeout.com/london/restaurants/sagar-2
    Indian restaurant with good reviews – Set meal is ~6 GBP. It’s near Convent Garden. Takeaway boxes for apparently 3.5 GBP.
    //www.yelp.com/biz/sagar-london-2 – Good reviews too

    //www.timeout.com/london/restaurants/cafe-below
    This one is interesting. It has a special offer for 50% off the a la carte menu. That brings the prices down to more “normal” American prices. //www.cafebelowmenus.co.uk/cafebelow/daily_menu.htm

    //www.yelp.com/biz/masters-super-fish-london
    Apparently amazing fish & chips. 5 GBP for takeaway in a brown bag (no frills, but as long as it tastes good!)

  4. “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.”

    If you’re recommending these places I don’t believe you actually ate there! Sure, they’re cheap but they’re barely food – hygiene of these places are questionable at best! Much better to stick to supermarkets for meal deals or later in the evening when they reduce prices on certain items to get them to clear. Tesco Express and Sainsbury’s Local shops shut around 11pm, so going there after 8pm usually means you can find a bargain. Ask the staff where the clearance shelf is

  5. do they take CC at these restaurants and supermarkets ?

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