A meal package may not be the most budget-friendly option, but it’s hard to argue with the variety, convenience, and flavor it provides.
You want to be sure you’re getting your money’s worth because they’re over £3 each. Get the most out of your meal deal by perusing our ranked selection of each shop’s offerings, including the most costly combos imaginable. On top of that, we have compiled some meal deal substitutes to help you avoid spending more than £20 each week on lunch.
We would be thrilled to see a direct message on Instagram from you if you think you’ve discovered a better value dinner offer than us!
Here are some of the most affordable and delicious meal bargains in the UK:
1. Sainsbury’s meal deal
- Dinner for two at Sainsbury’s costs £3.50 (or £5 if you buy it in bulk).
- Features of meal deals – Dinner, side dishes, and beverages
- Greatest worth For £7.60, you can have a gluten-free turkey feast with sage, onion, and gluten-free pork from Sainsbury’s; for £1.55, you can get Nomadic yogurt with chocolate and oat clusters; and for £2.80, you can get a grande iced cappuccino from Starbucks.
Even though Sainsbury’s meal deals are somewhat more expensive than Tesco’s, everyone pays the same amount. So, being a Nectar member isn’t required; the £3.50 price applies regardless of whether you have a loyalty card or not (though we still suggest obtaining one).
Savings opportunities abound in this area as well, as you can see. We came up with a combination that, without the deal, would have cost more than twice as much as a meal package. You can still score a steal if salad isn’t your thing; there were a few further main course selections that were £3 each.
From what I can see, the snack selection is equally impressive. In a meal deal scenario, the individual pieces of fresh fruit aren’t the most budget-friendly option, but they’re a wonderfully healthy substitute. Alternatively, you can select from a variety of bakery goodies if you’re in the mood for something sweet.
It’s worth noting that Sainsbury’s also provides a £5 dinner package, albeit it’s not exactly a bargain.
Everything about the £5 format—a main course, a snack, and a drink—remains same, as do the snacks and drinks that are part of the bargain.
The sole exception is that the £5 meal deal offers an array of even more costly alternatives in place of the main courses. This is a selection of high-quality salads, sandwiches, and wraps from Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference line.
You can pay up to £4.75 for certain of these mains. You may obtain nine pounds’ worth of food for five pounds if you include the priciest drink and snack (which we chose earlier) to the equation. Though not inexpensive, it is nevertheless a remarkable save.
2. Co-op meal deal
- Meal deals at the Co-op cost £3.50 for members and £4 for non-members.
- Product highlights of meal packages – Meat, sides, and beverages
- Priced at £8.50, this best-value Co-op dinner offer includes spaghetti with tomato basil and chicken, a millionnaire shortbread, and a 250 ml bottle of Innocent strawberry banana smoothie.
There are two tiers to the price of meal deals at Co-op, much like at Tesco. There’s considerable motivation to get a loyalty card, since members of the Co-op pay £3.50 and non-members pay £4.
The Co-op meal deal variety is fantastic, but it’s not affordable for non-members. Sandwiches, salads, spaghetti, and sushi are the usual suspects in meal deals, but soup and stuffed naan are also available on occasion. In our opinion, it’s not terrible for £3.50.
3. Tesco meal deal
Just like a main course, a snack, and a drink—Tesco and meal deals go hand in hand.
Yet, the Tesco meal deal had a very exciting 2022. First, there was the tremor when Tesco instituted a new system after a decade of charging £3 everywhere. Just like that, the regular price went up to £3.50 and only those with a Clubcard could buy it.
Additionally, Tesco slapped a 40p price increase on everyone in October 2022. To clarify, a meal deal costs £3.40 with a Clubcard and £3.90 without. Inflation has an impact on everything, including the most basic meal discount.
I won’t linger on the negative because Tesco has one of the largest selections of meal deals available.
As for main courses, you might be able to choose from sushi, Rustler burgers, microwavable toasties, or even warm baked goods like sausage rolls, depending on what’s available at your closest branch.
More importantly, there are still excellent deals to be had, even with the price increase. Most of the smoothies cost more than £2, therefore there are a lot of combinations that would cost more than £3.40 (or even £3.90)!
4. ASDA meal deal
- Meal deals at ASDA can be expensive, but you can get one free item when you buy three.
- Features of the meal package – Any three products that qualify
- Greatest worth Different ASDA meal deals are available.
The meal deal at ASDA isn’t quite like the usual way things are set up.
ASDA doesn’t offer a set price for a main dish, a snack, and a drink. Instead, you can choose any three items that are qualified, and they’ll give you the cheapest one for free. This one-of-a-kind deal also comes with some pros and cons.
The good news is that you can really choose any three things. For example, if you want three burgers, you can have them.
It can, however, make ASDA’s meal deal a little more pricey than others.
As an example, let’s look at the most expensive meal set. The most expensive meal costs £3.50, the most expensive snack costs £1.50, and the most expensive drink costs £2.40 for 473ml of Red Bull. If you chose those, you would get the eggs for free. You’d still spend £5.90, though.
What a bad deal! Most food deals have a price cap that stays the same no matter what you choose.
Plus, there isn’t a set price, so you can’t feel proud that you got the best deal possible.
5. Greggs meal deal
- Pricing for a Greggs meal deal is £4.35
- Deal includes a cold meal and a drink
- The best deal The Greggs food deal costs £6.35 and includes a flat white (£2.35) and a club baguette with bacon and roast chicken (£4).
Greggs also has a meal deal so it doesn’t fall behind its store competitors. In fact, Greggs does give more than one meal deal.
There are five deals, all of which include a drink, besides the sandwich and salad deals. They are for bakes, spicy rolls, sweet treats, and pizza. We will only talk about the salad and sandwich sets here, though, since they are the most “meal deal”-like.
The meal deal comes with all of your favorite Greggs burgers and salads, if anyone ever gets a salad from Greggs. Your drinks come in either a bottle of something cold or a regular-sized hot drink.
You might think that Greggs’ meal deal, which costs £4.35 and only comes with a main dish and a drink, is not as good value as the others on this list. That might be a good point of view, unless you’re a student.
Why? Because if you are a student at Greggs, you can get a free sausage roll, veggie roll, or sweet treat with any cold sandwich meal deal.
Even with that, it’s still pretty pricey, but it’s a lot better value for money than it seems at first. It’s clear why this is one of our favorite Greggs hacks, right?
6. Morrisons meal deal
- For a Morrisons meal deal, it costs £4.
- The meal deal comes with a main dish, a snack, and a drink.
- With a chicken Caesar wrap (£2.85), chicken tikka kebabs (£1.75), and a Naked Super Smoothie (£2.60), this is the best deal at Morrisons. It costs £7.20.
Morrisons may not have the most or cheapest meal deals, but theirs is still a good choice if you’re ever near one of their shops.
There aren’t many snacks to choose from, in particular. But, just like in Co-op, there’s something else in there that you’d normally expect to be in the mains: a good-sized piece of sushi.
We didn’t choose the sushi as the best value because it costs £1.50, which is less than the kebabs. It’s a winner, though, because of the amount of food and the pure joy of getting a good deal.
Other than that, things are pretty much the same at Morrisons. Wraps, sandwiches, and pasta are available as major dishes. Smoothies, juice, and some Costa Coffee cans are available as drinks. Not very exciting, but still a food deal.
Best alternatives to meal deals
1. Make your own soup.
Some grocery stores offer soups as part of their meal deals, which can be very helpful if you’re looking for something warm to eat in the winter.
Still, the meal deal will cost more than making your own soup at home, no matter how cheap it is.
We have a few easy soup recipes that even a beginner cook can make. All of them are great value at well under £1 a serving. Our mixed veggie soup recipe is especially cheap and simple to make.
2. Stick to our meal plan.
Feeling like £3.50 for lunch wasn’t a good deal? Meals for students cost less than £3.50 a day and include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
The plan has lunch ideas like a bean salad, cheese and onion rosti, and even a pasta dish. Every single one of them costs less than £1, and most of them cost much less. For less than the price of a meal deal, you also get two other tasty and healthy meals every day, plus snacks.
However, what if you really need a sandwich? Okay, so a meal deal can still be beat…
3. Make a cheap lunch for yourself.
Please don’t think that £3.50 for lunch was a good deal. You can get breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks every day through our student food plan for less than £3.50.
Recipes for a bean salad, cheese and onion rosti, and even a pasta dish are in the plan for lunch. Each one costs less than £1, and most of them are much less. For less than the price of a meal deal, you also get two other tasty and healthy meals every day + snacks.
There are times when you really need a meal, though. It’s still possible to beat a meal deal…
4. View the sale section
Once more, this trick works best at the end of the day, when stores really start to fill up their clearance sections.
You already know that the stock changes every day based on what’s going bad. However, as we explain in our guide on how to keep food fresh longer, the best-before times are only suggestions. For a few days later, you should be able to eat most foods!
A few ready-to-eat meals are usually available, but the big lunchtime win is when one of the meal deal mains gets a yellow sticker.
You won’t get a drink and a snack for your work, but you can always use the money you save on the main to buy them separately if the price drops enough.
5. TooGoodToGo has cheap food.
To keep food from going to waste, we’ve been big fans of apps for a while now. TooGoodToGo is one of the best for packing lunch.
This app lets stores, bars, and coffee shops sell extra items for less money. After you sign up, you’ll be able to see all the stores near you that use it, along with what they usually sell and how much they charge.
Several large stores, including Greggs, Pret, and Costa, use TooGoodToGo. You can often buy a mystery bag at these kinds of places that includes a mix of newly made foods like sandwiches, cakes, and more.
What’s in it will depend on what’s left over at the end of the day, but you’ll almost certainly have enough for lunch for at least two days for less than £5.
It’s important to keep in mind that most pickup times are after lunch because you’re getting expired goods at the end of the day. When you use this tip, you’ll need to plan ahead for the rest of the week.