With meal deals reaching eye-watering costs across the country, office workers have said they are looking to move towards the humble packed lunch.
This week Pret faced backlash after a sandwich, snack and drink were spotted at an unprecedented £13.60 and an extra £1.20 if the buyer wanted to dine in at their High Street Kensington branch.
Amid an ongoing cost-of-living crisis, people are now reporting that they are changing their orders, making lunch at home or taking out subscriptions to mitigate the expense.
“The price of lunch goes up ever so slightly each time that you don’t notice it,” said Mr Daniel Hall, a 42-year-old finance employee. “You get used to it going up and you’re tapping in and out, not realising how much it’s costing.”
Ms Kelfra Flete Gomez, 21, who is a student and works part-time, said she’s no longer able to afford to buy sandwiches. “There’s no chance. Before I could get a few things for a fiver. Now, if I buy a coffee in the morning, lunch at midday, a juice or a chocolate bar later on, it costs £20. You’re better off bringing it from home. That’s what I do.”
The now infamous “posh” cheddar and pickle baguette was priced at £6 if eating in at the Moorgate branch of Pret A Manger. On its own, it would cost the buyer £4.99. Cheaper alternatives included the Greggs cheese baguette for £3.65 which costs an additional 70p if adding a hot or cold drink.
At Tesco, a cheese ploughman’s sandwich costs £2.10 or £3.90 as part of a meal deal including a snack and drink, or £2.75 at competitor Sainsbury’s which charges a full fiver for a meal deal.
Plain cheese sandwiches appeared to be cheaper with Marks and Spencer costing £1.95 for a sandwich and Sainsbury’s charging £1.40.
Mr Mark Flack, 49, is an engineer who says he has a monthly subscription and shops around to find the best deals. “I’ve had to make a conscious effort to think about where I’m shopping,” he said. “Before, I wouldn’t think twice about Tesco or Asda or Sainsburys. Now I think, maybe I’ll go to Aldi, because you get more for your money.”
He felt that some of the discounts offered by his Pret A Manger’s monthly subscription were counteracted with the increasing costs. He said: “They’ve increased our discount to 20% but I feel they’ve put the prices up to make up for it.”
However, some felt that money saving tips weren’t always helpful. For Candela Lagreca, 27, her job means she often doesn’t have the time or energy to pack lunches or shop in the evening. “I’m a technician and producer for live events. I’m always out and about and on my feet so most of the time I’m having sandwiches,” she said. “You need to work to make money, work takes most of your day, sometimes I have to work over the weekend. The likelihood of shopping when I get home to make a packed lunch is not high.”
Pret reported an 89% increase in profits last year as they blamed higher energy costs for their rising prices.