Back on a budget: the perfect cheap eats in Manchester

I've become a student again - and have challenged myself to eat on the cheap, without compromising on taste.

After a busy keeping the wallet as tight as possible, I like to splash out on a classy lunch. But, of course, it has to be cheap. 

But where to go for my meal? 

As I’m new to Manchester, I gave a shout out on social media.

Where can I get a cheap 'treat yourself’ lunch?

Where can I get a cheap 'treat yourself’ lunch?

Thanks to the very helpful shouts of ‘try a Tesco meal deal’ and ‘Greggs’ - and I thought it was Liverpool that had all the humour in the North West!

A bigger thank you to all the more exciting recommendations. I’ve had a great time exploring them.

Here’s my three favourites so far…


This and That Café, 3 Soap Street, M4 1EW

Lunch down a back alley.

No. I haven’t resorted to rooting through bins. This and That Café is a Manchester institution for cheap, hearty and tasty Indian food.

Situated down in the Northern Quarter, this eatery has been running for over thirty years. 

Choose a combination of curries from the canteen-style metal serving containers - and don’t forget to sprinkle the garnish and chilli sauces on afterwards! 

Three vegetable curries and rice costs £3.90. Substitute one of these for a meat dish and it becomes £4.50. It’s an absolute bargain! 

I went for this lovely combo…

A 'three-fuh': three veggie curries for under £4! 

A 'three-fuh': three veggie curries for under £4! 

The curries on offer change from day to day, so make sure you to check the menu in advance. 


The Real Junk Food Project, 85 Oxford Street, M1 6EQ

Dining on food waste while sat in a bath.

Again, I’ve not lost the plot. The Real Junk Food Café is a not-for-profit project which take out of date (but still safe) food, makes it into meals and then serves it to customer who pay what they feel for the privilege.

The decor is also free cycled (hence the bath, which has been made into an ace chaise longue). 

Lunch in a bath: The Real Junk Food Project

Lunch in a bath: The Real Junk Food Project

When I visited, I went for the delightfully spicy Boston bean stew, a glass of cordial squash and a slice of Tesco birthday cake (it wasn’t anyone’s birthday, it’s just what the depot had that day). 

It is a very worthy cause, so if you do visit, don’t scrimp on the payment! 


The Pound Bakery, Chorlton Place, Manchester M21 9AQ

Lunch on the cheap admid the hipsters and media types.

Chorlton has become a bit of a hotspot for the cool kids of late. 

But, don’t worry! Expensive panini and flat whites can be avoided by visiting this gem of a deli.

Lunch amid the hipsters... for a quid! 

Lunch amid the hipsters... for a quid! 

It has a great range of baguette sandwiches, each for a shiny pound coin. Or, if you’re really hungry, two meat and potato pies are also one hundred pennies.

A hot mug of tea is also a quid. 

This classic sarney and hot drink combo gives change from a fiver... and leaves the opportunity to buy some vinyl from the glut of charity shops on the Wilbraham Road with - or that’s what I did, anyway! 

...and a record from the change! 

...and a record from the change! 

What next?
Like all lists, this one is a work in progress. If you have any recommendations (for Manchester - and beyond!) let me know! 

AND If you have any other recipe ideas - or tips on cooking delicious food on the cheap - drop me a line!

Tweet me: @backonabudget