Fast Food Capital of the UK

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Takeaway spending surged by more than 50% a few weeks after the first lockdown. The average Brit used to spend around £12 a month on takeaway, but this jumped to more than £20 a month as more people used takeaways to treat themselves while staying in.

The trend is still growing. In January 2021, Google searches for 'Uber Eats' were up by a whopping 116% compared to last year, while searches for Deliveroo jumped by 67% and Just Eat by 42%. With more people ordering in their favourite meals instead of cooking, the nation's on track to spend 11 billion pounds on takeaway this year!


Students Spend £925 a Year on Takeaways

The large rise in takeaway shops in the UK highlights the dominance of fast food in the UK, with data showing an increase of 4,000 fast food outlets in England since 2014. Fast food shops now occupy more than a quarter of all food outlets in the country.

While fast food outlets are prevalent throughout the UK, Cardiff has been revealed to be the unhealthiest city with 30 fast food outlets for every 100,000 people. This is approximately 23 more fast food restaurants per 100,000 people than the healthiest city, Sheffield, which has only 6.


UK Cities with the Most Fast Food Outlets per 100,000 People

  • Cardiff – 30
  • Newcastle – 27
  • Birmingham – 26
  • Oxford – 25
  • Bath – 24
  • Exeter – 24
  • Cambridge – 24
  • Edinburgh – 23
  • Bristol – 21
  • Leeds – 18
  • York – 17
  • Nottingham – 16
  • Reading – 16
  • Brighton – 15
  • Belfast – 15
  • Glasgow – 14
  • Leicester – 14
  • Liverpool – 14
  • Swansea – 13
  • London – 9
  • Manchester – 7
  • Sheffield – 6

When it comes to coffee lovers, Cambridge is the coffee capital of the UK with 20 coffee shops per 100,000 people, while Newcastle takes the title as McDonald's capital with one restaurant for every 19,000 people. Oxford boasts the most pizza restaurants per 100,000 people at 8 while Birmingham is the city with the most Greggs overall.


Most Popular Fast Food Restaurants in the UK

While Brits are spoilt for choice when it comes to fast-food restaurants, some of the most popular choices are franchises, including Greggs, Subway, Pizza Hut and McDonald's.

The most popular pizza chains in the UK are Pizza Express, Pizza Hut, Papa Johns and Dominos. Pizza Express was also the most craved takeaway across the UK during the first lockdown.


A Nation of Burger Lovers

Food delivery service Deliveroo revealed the most popular food choices on the app across the UK. It seems we are a nation of burger lovers, with 28 of the 60 cities on the list choosing some sort of burger as the most popular dish. Thai food came second, as the favourite choice of seven cities, burritos were third at six cities, and only four cities favoured pizza. It also seems that the classic fish and chips is losing its place in the nation’s heart, with just one city, Cheltenham, choosing the traditional meal as the top option.


Average Spend on Takeaways Per Year

Brits love takeout food, as we can see by the number of takeaway outlets popping up throughout the country. Here are the most popular takeaway meals in the UK, as well as the average amount spent per person each year.

  • Mexican – £11.90
  • Turkish – 10.79
  • Thai –- 10.62
  • Indian – £10.30
  • Italian – £10.26
  • Chinese – £9.86


The Cost of Being a Student

According to Which? University, students spend up to £67 a month on food shopping. Add to this accommodation (which is a whole other ballgame), as well as transport, entertainment and utilities, and the cost of being a student is quite high. Here are a few of the highest expenses of student life, with some handy hints on how to keep them in check:

  Transport – £83

This usually fluctuates depending on the city you are studying in – smaller cities like Edinburgh can be covered by foot or bike, while bigger cities like Manchester and Birmingham makes public transport more of a necessity. Investing in a bike is a good option (that’s eco-friendly as well), while those travelling in bigger cities should be sure to look out for any student discounts for transport from your accommodation to uni.

  Grocery shopping – £67

Shop around to find the best deal for different items, buy non-brand, budget items where you can and take up stores with discount offers. Make use of your student ID and flash it around wherever you can.

  Water and electricity – £45

If you are living on campus, these utilities will be included in your rent. However, if you live in a private house or flat-share, this will need to be covered out of pocket.

  Interests and hobbies – £36

While you should never cut out activities that make your happy and healthy, there are ways to cut down on the cost. Instead of gym fees, run outdoors or find organised sport, while visiting local music gigs is better that splashing out on tickets to international acts.

  Other living expenses:

  • Clothing – £42
  • Holidays and flights – £70
  • Bank charges and fees – £17
  • Phone and Internet – £26
  • Alcohol and cigarettes – £16
  • Coffee and tea – £7
  • Other expenses – £20


Students Spend £925 a Year on Takeaways

According to food ordering service, the average spend on takeaway food a month was £102.77, which equates to £924.90 each academic year. Those at uni order takeaways an average of 8.3 times a month, compared to the rest of Britain ordering just 1.95 times a month.

So, does this mean that students are unhealthy eaters or just plain lazy? We don’t think so! The truth is that, if you think about the time it takes to go shopping and prepare a home-cooked meal, not to mention the cost of ingredients, students are actually more interested in prioritising their studies and social lives over spending time in the kitchen.


Saving Money on Takeaways

Treating yourself to a takeaway can be the highlight of your week, especially if you are bogged down with studies, work and everything else that comes with student life. But, when you are living off a student loan or a paltry salary, can you still indulge in some fast food without breaking the bank? Here are some top tips to help you save money while still enjoying some of your favourite fast food.

  • Avoid delivery services – Yes, apps like Uber Eats and Deliveroo are majorly convenient, but in most cases, there is a delivery free or service charge that is added to your bill. Make sure to check if there are any added charges you may not know about before placing your order.
  • Buy in bulk – Buying in bulk at various takeaway venues could mean a discount or free delivery on your order. You can always use the leftovers for lunch or dinner the following day and receive some discounts in the process. Or, you can get together with your friends or flat mates to place the order and feed your whole house for less.
  • Check campus flyers – While most flyers are almost immediately chucked into the garbage bin, sometimes they are worth checking out, especially if they’re advertising local food discounts and specials.
  • Check for student discounts – Many takeaway places offer student discounts or freebies when you present your student ID card.


How Students Can Eat for Free

In many towns and venues across the country, students can basically eat for free at some of the most popular restaurants, with their student ID. For those extra-frugal students, here are some other smart ways you can (legally!) get free grub.

  • Sign up for various rewards cards – Rewards cards are handy, as they help you to gather points for every purchase, which then adds up to a bigger discount on future purchases. It may take a while to gather enough points to a free meal, but it’s definitely worth it once you do.
  • Get a job in a restaurant – As a waiter or restaurant worker, there is a good chance you will get some free food while on the job, which is always a great perk.
  • Use vouchers/free samples – Be on the lookout for vouchers and free food samples on offer in local newspapers, magazines and online. Brands often hand out freebies to help promote their products, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled.

Download the Infographic  – Fast Food In The UK

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