Student Reflections

Your Guide to Cheap Food in London

Riya Pravin Rajput
January 25, 2022
Borough Market

As I had mentioned in my previous blog (here!), London is a pretty expensive city to be in as a student. It wouldn’t hurt to save a couple of bucks on food now and then so you can treat yourself to a fine dining experience once in a while without going broke. In London, gone are the days when street food meant low-quality snacks from random traders. It has now transformed into a superior eating experience with some of the best foods from around the world.

As we know, London is known for its attractive markets hustling with tourists (hungry tourists!). Owing to this trend, there has been a significant growth in the number of food stalls in these popular streets and markets which, more often than not, are reasonably priced. You can find anything from a light midday snack to a full course lunchtime meal without having to break your bank at these markets:

The Camden Market

Easily accessible by the underground, and touched upon in my previous posts, Camden market is a local favorite! From vintage stores to delectable food stalls to the best bars and pubs, Camden is always filled with a crowd. As their website says, the market houses cult cafes, terrace bars, top-notch street food, and fresh-baked sweet stuff, this place is worth visiting to grab some cheap bites. From falafels to single-serve boxes of Indian cuisine, and of course fish and chips, you name it.

The Borough Market

Located in Southward, the Borough Market is yet another local and tourist favourite. Residing in an attractive location accessible by the underground (London Bridge Rail terminal station), you can expect this market to also be bustling with tourists from around the world. The variety of food you can find in the Borough Market will leave you amused. You can expect to be blown away by the grilled seafood tortillas, and different kinds of cheese from East Sussex or the Park Farm. 

The Spitalfields Market

Located in close proximity to Chapter Spitalfields (where most Northeastern students live), the Spitalfields Market is just a 5 minute walk from the dorm. Usually less busy than the other two markets, Spitalfields Market is the right amount of posh and pocket friendly. Housing multiple pop-up stores and food trucks, the market also has a good number and selection of foods. From Thai to India to American, you can be sure to find your taste here. 

Another steal that most students live off of is the life-saving meal deals from supermarkets when you’re running low on cash. Supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose, and M&S food to name a few, offer a main dish, a side of crisps (as they call it here), and a drink starting at only £3! 

There are a few more local guide’s tips to scoring some cheap food in London, let’s get into it!

Soft Launches

A very popular way of testing menus on a set of people before going public, many restaurants offer RIDICULOUS amounts of discounts for you to come and try their food. How to find a soft launch you may ask? Google! There are many websites such as Soft Launch London which have taken it upon themselves to keep the public updated on any upcoming soft launches where they can score some cheap deals on meals.

Chain Restaurants

Although sometimes boring, chain restaurants can sometimes offer good value while keeping their price on the lower end to keep the chain going. Chains such as Pizza Express, Pizza Union, Nando’s, Wagamama, and Leon can be spotted at almost any part of London and can be a safe bet when it comes to taste because you’ve probably tasted their food in Boston (or any other part of the world) previously.

Asking for a To-Go Container

Ordered a lot of food in a restaurant? Don’t be afraid to ask for a to-go container and take your food along with you. It can not only provide a good meal for the next morning, but will also help you make the best out of the money you paid to get it. 

Do Your Research

Last but not the least, do your homework before you go to a restaurant. Reading reviews, checking the menu, checking the service charge policies (no tips in the UK) will help you decide if the restaurant is a good fit for you. You don’t want to end up paying a ridiculous bill at a restaurant that does not serve quality food. It always pays off to do your research. 

The last set of tips are universal and can be used in any country, any city, any part of the world. At the end of the day, we all want the bang for our buck!