How to Save £865 on Lunch


Swapping your cafe lunch for meal deals

It's no secret that buying lunch from a cafe or deli is more expensive than buying from a supermarket or making your own, but you might be surprised by just how much you can save by changing your habits.

For instance, a chicken salad sandwich at Pret costs a whopping £4.50 on its own. However, by opting for a meal deal at Sainsbury's for £3.50, you could save £1.50 every lunchtime, which amounts to £457 over the course of a year. Tesco offers a £3.40 meal deal for clubcard holders, and Morrisons has a similar £3.50 meal deal.


Make your own meal deal

Want to save even more? The amount you can save depends on the effort you're willing to put in – the more effort, the greater the savings, but it may be less convenient.

Let's see how much you can save by making your own sandwiches. One cost-effective option is to buy ready-made sandwich fillers. These are easy to spread on a slice of bread, and voila, you have a sandwich! You can find a variety of sandwich fillers, such as chicken and bacon, egg mayo, tuna sweetcorn, seafood cocktail, and cheese and onion. In Asda, you can get two 250g pots for £3, or in Aldi, you can get one pot for £1.49. Each pot has enough for generous helpings on two sandwiches. Therefore, the filling for each sandwich will cost around 75p.

A loaf of bread costs approximately £1.50 and has 20 slices. The cost of two slices for our sandwich is around 7.5p. To add some salad to our sandwich, let's consider an iceberg lettuce priced at 70p. Assuming there are seven servings of lettuce in the head, the cost of the lettuce in our sandwich is about 10p. The total cost of our sandwich comes to approximately 93p. Now let's add the all-important crisps and drink. A 12-pack of Walkers crisps in Tesco costs £3.25, meaning one pack is around 27p. Adding a can of fizzy drink for 55p, the grand total is £1.70. This results in a £1.80 daily saving compared to a Sainsbury's meal deal and a £3.30 saving compared to a cafe lunch. If you swapped a Sainsbury's meal deal everyday for this you would save £657 annually.

Save even more and be healthy by swapping out the crisps for a banana and the drink for water. In that case, the total cost will be just £1.13, leading to a massive £2.37 daily saving (£865 annually) vs Sainsbury’s meal deal. Or a whopping £1,277 saving compared to the £5 lunch.


Other budget-friendly lunch ideas

If sandwiches aren't your thing, here are a few alternative and inexpensive ideas:

  1. Noodles: Upgrade from instant noodles to healthier options like "Naked Noodles" for 85p per pot. Just add boiling water for a quick and affordable lunch.
  2. Jacket potatoes: Use the sandwich fillers we discussed earlier as simple toppings for a jacket potato. Half a £1.50 sandwich filler will be plenty, and a loose baking potato costs just 25p, making a nutritious hot lunch for only £1.
  3. Rice and grains: Visit Aldi, where they sell microwaveable rice and grain packs for just 65p. They offer a variety of flavors, from Mexican-style rice to Spanish-style grains and chicken fried rice. Pair it with half a pack of pre-cooked chicken pieces, and the total cost comes to £1.65.


Alternatively, leftovers from cooked evening meals can also drastically reduce your lunch expenses. Likewise, setting aside a couple of hours to batch cook and freeze some of your favorite meals can return big savings.