In UK, we normally cooked our dinners and would only go to restaurants during weekends or holidays. As my son was at school during weekdays, making lunch for just two of us became quite uneconomical and we normally ended up having instant noodles, pasta or bread instead.
Buying takeaway from the Old Market was not cheap and costed about £6 to £7 per head and without any drink. On the contrary, eating in Food Courts of M&S or John Lewis seemed to be more attractive. A simple lunch with a drink was only about £8 to £9. Although the portion is usually small, given the relatively cosy environment, having lunch there should definitely be a good choice if you are not hungry.
出街食的話，到 Old Market 買外賣，不包飲品亦要 6、7 鎊一個人；反而到 M&S、John Lewis 的 Food Court，一份簡單午點加個飲品只是 8、9 鎊一個人，份量雖然小一點，但環境就清靜得多，如果不太肚餓，這也是個不錯的選擇。
The first time I came across Meal Deal was in early May when we went to Canary Wharf to pick up our BRP. As UK was still in her lockdown state, we had some difficulties founding place for lunch. After some walks there, we finally arrived at a Tesco Express store and noticed some meal offerings at an unbelievable price. A Meal Deal consisted of a drink, a main and a snack was just £3! Of course, you could only choose from designated types of food items. Those food tended to be more suited for local people and were only served cold. Nevertheless, choices were still plenty.
And as such, we only spent £9 to feed our bellies.
第一次碰上 Meal Deal 是五月初到 Canary Wharf 取 BRP。由於英國還處於 Lockdown 階段，中午時份我們不知道可以到甚麼地方吃飯。走了一段路，最後在 Tesco Express 見到一個便宜到難以想像的優惠。一份 Meal Deal 包括一支飲品、一個主食及一個小吃，只需三鎊！當然你只可在指定的食品內揀選，口味亦以當地人為主，而且沒有熱食，但每一類尚算有不少的選擇。
After months living in Kingston, I found that supermarket chains like Sainsbury’s, Tesco & ASDA also had meal deals available. Surprisingly, even Boots and WHSmith offered meal deal as well.
To my understanding, the idea of Meal Deal was first started by the pharmacy chain Boots in 1985 and subsequently followed by various supermarket chains as well as other retailed chains.
A Meal Deal consists of three key items: a main (sandwich or pasta), a drink (soda, juice, packaged frozen coffee) , and a snack (potato chips, sausage roll, bread, fruit, etc.). They generally tend to be served cold in supermarkets, but some also offer hot options. Meal deals vary in price, with most being around £3 up to £5. With such an affordable price, no wonder there are so many people crowded next to those chilled shelves where meal deal items are placed, during lunch time.
When I go for groceries, I usually go to Sainsbury’s nearby. However, if I want to buy meal deal, I will go slightly further to Sainsbury’s at Sury Basin as there are ovens there to prepare some hot food such as Sausage Roll, pizza, roast chicken etc. Furthermore, freshly baked breads are also available there.
Comparing with Tesco Express, Sainsbury’s meal deal is slightly more expensive at £3.5.
在 Kingston 住下來，發覺一般超市如 Sainsbury’s、Tesco、ASDA 等都有 Meal Deal 供應，甚至連 Boots、WHSmith 都有。
據說 Meal Deal 這個構想源自藥品連鎖商 Boots，從 1985 年推出以來，超市及其他零售商亦商相繼加入戰團。
一個 Meal Deal 有三部份組成：主食（三文治或意大利粉）、飲品（汽水，果汁，包裝凍咖啡）及小吃（薯片、sausage roll、麵包、生菓等）。一般來說都是凍食，個別地方會提供加熱服務，價錢由三鎊至五鎊不等，非常相宜，難怪每到午飯時間，放置 Meal Deals 的冷凍架都會擠滿人羣。
日常生活所需，我大多會到附近的 Sainsbury’s，但要買 Meal Deal 的話，我會走遠一點，到位於 Sury Basin 的 Sainsbury’s，因那裡有焗爐可提供一個些熱食如 Sausage Roll、pizza、燒鷄等，亦有新鮮烘焙的麵包供應。
Sainsbury’s 的 Meal Deal 定價 3.5 鎊，比 Tesco Express 稍貴。
After so many years of development, quite a number of the former competitors have changed their strategies now and some even no longer offer Meal Deal options directly.
Given the product prices are already low, budget supermarkets like Aldi have turned to alternative discounts and offer similar high-quality Ready-to-go meals at much lower prices than the others.
For supermarket ASDA, it had changed its rules of the game. You can pick any three from their range of Free to Go items and get the cheapest one free. Such an arrangement is not only more flexible, but one can even get a lunch at a much lower price.
經過多年發展，很多昔日競爭對手今天已改變玩法，有些甚至不再直接提供 Meal Deal 選擇。
像 Aldi 那類低價超市，因一般即食物品已頗便宜，他們改攻另類優惠，以比同業較低的價格提供相若的優質 Ready-to-go 餐食。
而超市ASDA 的 Meal Deal 玩法則有點不同，你可以在指定的 Free to Go 食品、飲品系列中任意揀三樣，而其中最便宜的那一件免費。這個安排較具彈性，你甚至可以做到更低價吃到一份午餐。
In terms of quality, foods in Meal Deals are so-so. If just a meat roll or sandwich with a drink is enough for your lunch, Greggs may also be a good choice for something more tasty. Currently, there are only two Meal Deals available from Greggs, namely, Savoury Roll & Drink Deal and Sandwich & Drink Deal. The former sells for £2.25 while the latter is slightly more expensive, at £3.35.
Despite Greggs is famous for its Sausage Roll, personally I like its sandwiches more for their great taste and freshness!
論質素，Meal Deal 的食品當然比較一般，如果午餐只吃一件 Roll 或一份三文治，又想好味一點，我會去 Greggs。 他們的 Meal Deal 選擇不多，只得 Savoury Roll & Drink Deal 或 Sandwich & Drink Deal，前者只需 2.35 鎊而後者稍貴 3.35 鎊。
Greggs 雖然是以 Sausage Roll 馳名，不過我反而喜歡他們的三文治，貪佢夠鮮味！
Another low cost dining place is JD Wetherspoon. This English Pub chain was established 40+ years ago and targeted for the mass-market offering low-price food and drink. It now has 900+ outlets spreading over UK.
Traditional English Pub is quite a decent place, especially those near residential areas. With only few tables of customers, probably you can spend your day sitting there with nothing to do. Just like I had my lunch with my wife few months ago, it costed us slightly below £11 with food and drink.
另一個價格亦實惠的地方是 JD Wetherspoon。這間英式酒吧連鎖店有四十多年的歷史，現時有九佰多間分店遍佈於英國各地，主打平價飲食。
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