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Realistic Food Budget for London

I was there 12/2007 and I'm going back in 2 weeks. Its just me and my husband. What is a realistic food budget (i.e. good and cheap?) We're not opposed to dining at chains or hole in the walls or pubs. I was thinking $150 US a day,but is that too high? I'd like to get by on $100 US a day or less for food. Thoughts?

On our December trip, we didn't pay too much attention to food costs and had way too many $50 - $100 US meals. Trying to watch the money this time.

Posted by
780 posts

Good question. I am eager to see the responses! I am going to London by myself for a week long holiday in December, and I have no idea how much food costs. I suppose I just now realized that 3 meals a day can add up! I was only budgeting 20 pounds a day for food ($40) but maybe I need a bit more? I dont need alot of food or even anything fancy....

Posted by
25 posts

Tami - I don't think $40US per day is doable. It would be hard. I'm curious to hear responses also. I've been on the chowhound board and here trying to figure out where to go to keep the costs down but not have to eat badly.

When I was there in December, we ate at Wagamama, ASK, and lots of other pubby type places but most meals averaged $50 US for two.

Posted by
780 posts

Wow. I dont eat more than $15 worth of food a day at home or work! I dont eat a lot but I like to eat somewhat healthy (i.e. I will eat some junk, but not much fried stuff or overly processed crap - it makes me feel awful). And I dont eat fish or indian food, so im screwed for any "cheap grub". Waahh. I know even deli stuff from stores costs alot, and its hard to buy groceries to make your own food cheaper when youre staying in a hotel room with no kitchen facilities!

Posted by
1294 posts

Jennifer

Depends a lot on what you want to do, and where you are. We were in London at the weekend - only a 60 mile trip for us - to see King Lear at the Globe Theatre. I really recommend going if you get the chance, but I digress...

We spent £10 for two on a substantial breakfast in a cafe near London Bridge station, were so full we just got a snack - croissants and a custard tart - for lunch at £3 each, and then a really nice middle eastern meal for £35 in the Tas. Assuming two dollars to the pound that works out at 102 dollars. We could easily have saved money if we'd eaten our evening meal in a pub. There are still places you can eat for £7 each if you look around.

If you're central it's worth eating early (or late) as a lot of places have pre-theatre deals.

Finally a plug for my favourite restaurant in central London - Jimmy's in Frith Street. You can eat substantially, with wine, here for £45. I've been going for around 40 years and it has barely changed. Don't take my word for it

http://www.restaurant-guide.com/jimmys-2.htm

Cheers
Alan

Posted by
264 posts

Certainly a lot depends on your lifestyle and what a meal means to you. Are you each going to get a glass of wine with your dinner and pay 4 pounds. There's 16 USD right there. A couple of starters with a meal does the same thing or a dessert at the end. When you go into the pub are you going to get the high priced steak on the menu instead of the pasta bake or the chicken.

I think a realistic estimate of someone being fairly conservative would be as follows:

Breakfast - Croissant/Juice from a Pret/Eat or Bakery Type Place 4 pounds per person

Lunch - Pub Lunch 7.50 per person, drink tap water

Dinner - Pub Dinner Again / Perhaps a Cheap Curry - 7.50 per person.

Your on vacation so a wine each - 8 Pounds total.

So in that situation you have 46 pounds or 92 dollars. Figure a couple quid throughout the day for snacks, a coke here or there. That's 100 dollars.

Posted by
283 posts

If you are staying at a place with breakfast then eat up and supplement at lunch time with a sandwich from somewhere like M&S and Pret. Sandwiches or salads between £2-5. Dinner you can get away with £10 meals if you look for deals.

Sign up to moneysupermarket.com for 2for1 deals and popular restaurants. They change regularly so keep looking. At the moment there are deals for Giraffe and Gourmet Burger Kitchen. Before that Pizza Express... good deals to be had out there!

Posted by
57 posts

My sister's and I (3 of us) ate pretty inexpensively in London last year thanks to Marks & Spencers. You can get a nice variety of food for a good price -- we had dinner one evening for less than 15GBP: sandwiches, pasta salad, fruit, and chocolate mousse. Not bad for 3 people (and we're healthy eaters). We ate dinner at a Nando's another evening for around 15GBP as well -- we split a chicken and 2 sides and we all got soft drinks. (If you're wondering about breakfast, it was included at our hostel.) I would suggest budgeting high so you have a cushion and fewer surprises. Doing this throughout our 2 week trip around Britain allowed us to splurge on the last night of our trip, we had 35GBP dinner at the Sherlock Pub.

Posted by
191 posts

I have a thread of my own that I started on a similar topic awhile back, but I SECOND NANDO'S!!! I love Nando's!!! But thanks for starting this thread...my husband is starting to freak out a little about the costs of eating in London (now that we're leaving in 2 weeks, he's actually starting to read up a little on where we're going since I've done all the planning thus far).

Posted by
1804 posts

I do think you can get by on $100 USD/day if you aren't big drinkers.

Places like Jenny Lo's Teahouse, Yo! Sushi, West End Kitchen or Stockpot offer some decent dinner options that won't ruin budgets. And I agree with many of the other places mentioned above - particularly Marks & Spencer's and Pizza Express.

Lots of great Indian restaurants and kebab houses all over town.

If you are spending time at any of the markets (i.e., Portobello Road, Camden Locks) they have some excellent food vendors where you can get fabulous takeaway for lunch or dinner. Very nice if you want to make an inexpensive picnic for yourselves at a local park.

Posted by
1358 posts

You are receiving a lot of good advice here. I will add our solution to dining economically.

Wherever we are we find a supermarket and buy bread, lunch meat, fruit, bottled water and anything more that tweaks our appetite.

Then we find a park and picnic. Sometimes we have to eat in our car. We have done it all over the world and we still look forward to doing it again next time.

In Asia because we had a car we bought a small Styrofoam ice chest and iced some food for two weeks.

Posted by
344 posts

My wife and I spent June in GB with 5 days in London. We budget 50GBP ($100) per day for the two of us together. We ate pastries from Sainsbury's for breakfast and we mostly ate lunches from from there as well and did it picnic style. we did have a few lunches out and ate a pubs for dinner. It was doable in London, but we had to be careful. Outside of London, we always ended up with extra cash.

Posted by
643 posts

Has anyone gone to 'Leon' in London? It's a fast food place with low prices and something called "Freedom Food Chicken". Looks interesting.

Posted by
349 posts

What you spend in US in $ in London will be in pounds. So if you spend 15 dollars for lunch in US plan on spending about $28 in London . It is a good time to go dry and on a diet !! compare normal prices not the super US deals ie 2for one or early bird ect

Posted by
2210 posts

Meals are where we try to economize. We always stay in B&Bs that have nice big breakfasts. That way we are able to skip lunch. We always bring Balance Bars with us from home to tide us over if we get hungry before dinner. In London, pub dinners are not expensive. They also have these take out sandwich places with surprisingly good sandwiches -- lots of variety -- at reasonable prices. Supermarkets work too, as others have suggested. One of our favorite things is to get take out fish & chips. It's delicious and very filling. It's fun to eat outside and watch the people go by. I haven't been to London for a few years, so I can't tell you what it costs now, but it sure won't set you back anywhere near $100. Have fun!

Posted by
43 posts

I definitely second and third Marks & Spencer. We also enjoyed Yo Sushi and Wagamama too.

Posted by
1014 posts

Look at JD Wetherspoons -http://www.jdwetherspoon.co.uk/pubs/index.php?Submit=Go&LatLongId=2446455&SearchPub=london- They have 2 for 1 lunches and dinners. They also run specials -right now a burger, chips and a pint are less than 5L.

Tesco and Sainsburys have cafeterias that can be inexpensive. If they do not have a cafeteria in the store, they still have prepared foods that can be taken out and eaten as a picnic.

We found several Chinese restaurants that had cheap all you can eat prices.

We also like to ask a local where a good place to eat is. They usually know the good places, just ask.

Posted by
93 posts

I agree with Carl...find a market and buy bread and a few pieces of fruit....We saved a BUNCH of money in Venice by seeking out the market across the canal....we fed four adults for 20 euro with bread, cheeses and meats..yummo! We're heading to London in 2009 and have scoped out the area around our hotel...luckily we're across the street from a fruit market! I have also heard London is very expensive...so I plan on eating up at the comp. breakfast...then snacking most days until something really catches my eye...that way I can endulge without feeling too bad..

Posted by
25 posts

This is what me & my husband did last month when we were in London. We found a Marks & Spencer close to our hotel. We would pick up sandwiches or salads from them almost every day. We would get breakfast goodies there too or at Pret a Manger. We ate at Wagamama, Gordon's Wine Bar, various pubs, St Martins in the Fields Cafe in the Crypt and a take away fish & chips shops. We stayed at around 100 or so per day. A couple of nights we did our own version of a pub crawl, so on those days we would eat a huge lunch and then get M&S to eat in our hotel room before venturing out for the night.