Food and drink
Your grocery bill may be one of the biggest expenditures you have as a student, second only to your accommodation rent.
The cost of food in the UK varies depending on where you buy it and there are a choice of supermarkets suitable for all budgets. From budget supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl for your staple ingredients, to local farmers and producers markets if you’re looking for something a bit more special, there’s something for everyone. As a bustling multicultural city, you’ll never be short of food and drink options.
International food and cuisine
British shops and supermarkets stock a wide range of products including, in some larger stores, food imported from other countries as well as produce meeting religious requirements such as halal and kosher. Manchester also has many delicatessens and local ethnic centres, including the UK's second largest Chinatown.
The International Society will be able to give you further advice on alternative food shops.
The supermarkets you visit and the products you choose can have an impact on your overall cost of university life.
We have compiled the following tables to compare the average price of unbranded and branded goods. We’ve also put together a comparison of items bought from a ‘budget’ supermarket versus a ‘luxury’ one, with prices correct as of March 2023.
Branded vs unbranded goods
The table below lists a range of frequently-purchased products and compares the prices of the cheapest unbranded items with the most expensive branded products at a leading UK supermarket*.
|Product||Unbranded (£)||Branded (£)|
|Milk (4 pints)||1.65||2.15|
|Bread (medium loaf)||0.60||1.55|
|Box of cereal||0.95||3.00|
|Orange juice (1l)||0.85||2.89|
|Instant coffee (200g)||2.25||7.00|
|Mineral water (1.5l)||0.48||1.60|
|Cooking oil (250ml)||1.60||3.00|
|Chicken breast fillets (2 portions)||3.00||4.40|
|Minced beef (500g)||3.10||4.60|
|Lamb chops (2 chops)||3.25||5.00|
|Pork chops (2 chops)||1.90||3.00|
|Salmon (2 fillets)||4.40||5.00|
|Tinned tuna (3pk)||1.90||4.25|
|Tinned sweetcorn (198g)||0.55||0.85|
|Baked beans (415g)||0.50||1.40|
|Deodorant spray (150ml)||1.00||4.00|
|Shower gel (250ml)||0.99||4.25|
|Hand wash (500ml)||0.90||2.25|
|Toothbrush (medium-size, non-electric)||0.99||5.00|
*prices correct as of March 2023
Budget vs luxury supermarket
This table compares the prices of store-branded products at two leading UK supermarkets – one ‘budget’ and one ‘luxury’ – to show how prices can differ based on supermarket alone*.
|Product||Budget supermarket (£)||Luxury supermarket (£)|
|Milk (4 pints)||1.65||1.70|
|Bread (medium loaf)||0.39||0.85|
|Box of cereal||0.95||1.35|
|Orange juice (1l)||0.85||1.10|
|Instant coffee (200g)||1.85||3.50|
|Mineral water (1.5l)||0.26||0.75|
|Cooking oil (250ml)||1.49||2.40|
|Chicken breast fillets (2 portions)||2.29||4.40|
|Minced beef (500g)||1.95||2.00|
|Lamb chops (2 chops)||3.99||4.72|
|Pork chops (2 chops)||2.62||4.25|
|Salmon (2 fillets)||3.29||4.50|
|Tinned tuna (3pk)||2.49||4.50|
|Tinned sweetcorn (198g)||0.52||0.70|
|Baked beans (415g)||0.45||0.55|
|Deodorant spray (150ml)||0.65||2.50|
|Shower gel (250ml)||0.55||1.00|
|Hand wash (500ml)||0.55||1.40|
|Toothbrush (medium-size, non-electric)||0.65||1.17|
*prices correct as of March 2023