MoneySaving alternatives to rail station food & drink outlets

MSE_James
MSE_James Posts: 1,104
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edited 12 December 2023 at 3:10PM in Public transport & cycling
With the news that the Office of Rail & Road is calling for more competition in the railway station catering market - and has found a 10 per cent price premium over the high street - I thought it might be good to share tips for cutting the cost of food & drink on the go.

Obviously bringing your own snacks and drinks will be cheapest ... but sometimes you can't prepare ahead of time and need to grab something before catching a train.

For example I noticed that at London Waterloo Station you can save on the price of a Festive Bake by avoiding the Greggs outlet on the Waterloo Road side of the station, and taking a five-minute walk to the Lower Marsh branch instead.

What are your top tips for good-value places to stock up (or sit down for a meal and a drink) near major rail stations?

Tips for good-value shops / cafes / restaurants / pubs near stations (but without the price premium) all welcome.
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  • giraffe69
    giraffe69 Posts: 3,544
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    I've got a "Bite" card which deducts 10% from several outlets at stations.
  • I'm surprised the average premium is only 10%. I expect food prices generally have been rising so fast they're catching up with the extortion-o-marts!
  • MSE_James
    MSE_James Posts: 1,104
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    @giraffe69 good reminder about the Bite card - I've got one but haven't used it for ages. Sadly the scheme isn't open to new members any more.
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  • If  the station has a branch of McDonalds (e.g. downstairs at Waterloo),--well their prices are not too inflated and they will honour national offers.  Likely to be the cheapest source of a hot drink on the station

    If the station has a branch of Pret, then that's where you will often find a cheap tea/coffee. Pret sells a filter coffee for under £2, and if there isn't any ready made at that point they will often give you an Americano instead for the same price.
  • MSE_James
    MSE_James Posts: 1,104
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    Yes, Pret's filter coffee is my go-to option as well.  I actually prefer it to the more expensive options. 

    Some good suggestions in response to this thread on MSE's Facebook page:

    https://www.facebook.com/MoneySavingExpert/posts/pfbid02d22S5MH4JGnGNvGCq7XS84XduDPftnmQChxpCZaDLvTFHxwsi4KADmpt9yo6NLPil 

    Including a reminder that Network Rail-managed stations tend to have water fountains these days.
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  • Worth knowing that at some of the bigger stations many of the food outlets are managed by one company: SSP.  This can include some high street brands which operate as franchises (e.g. Burger King--with railway station branches not honouring national offers/coupons).
  • MyLondon website (published by Reach Newspapers--i.e. Mirror group and a number of local titles) has also recently done an article on this topic (for London Bridge station only), calling our Greggs as cheapest (where available) although they missed the cheaper Pret Filter option.

    https://www.mylondon.news/whats-on/food-drink-news/i-searched-london-bridge-station-28331431
  • outtatune said:
    I'm surprised the average premium is only 10%. I expect food prices generally have been rising so fast they're catching up with the extortion-o-marts!
    indeed ,

    it was often cited that the  landlords  were charging  inflated rents  and/or had  systems and processes which added expensie and complication  for deliveries  
  • MSE_James said:
    With the news that the Office of Rail & Road is calling for more competition in the railway station catering market - and has found a 10 per cent price premium over the high street - I thought it might be good to share tips for cutting the cost of food & drink on the go.

    Obviously bringing your own snacks and drinks will be cheapest ... but sometimes you can't prepare ahead of time and need to grab something before catching a train.

    For example I noticed that at London Waterloo Station you can save on the price of a Festive Bake by avoiding the Greggs outlet on the Waterloo Road side of the station, and taking a five-minute walk to the Lower Marsh branch instead.

    What are your top tips for good-value places to stock up (or sit down for a meal and a drink) near major rail stations?

    Tips for good-value shops / cafes / restaurants / pubs near stations (but without the price premium) all welcome.
    Why wouldn't it be possible to prepare your food before leaving the house - i don't see how you can't prepare ?

    The MSE view is to plan, save your hard earned money, and live a life less expensive -  the whole site here shouts it from the rooftops.

    Failing to prepare, is preparing to fail.

    Yes, i know the thread is about spending but to the purists it shouldn't be.



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