Today I definitively deduce where the best lunch spot is on Manchester Uni’s campus

A devastating impact on my bank account


“Lunch?”

Few would say no.

Unfortunately, the lunch options on UoM’s campus are meagre at best. When 1pm rolls around in Blue 2, an individual is faced with a tricky decision: Quavers from the vending machine or a long walk to retrieve a meal deal.

Today, I was in quite the pickle, struggling to get my head around some International Security related dilemmas. As any ordinary procrastinator would, I disturbed my studious studies by timing how long it would take me to walk to different lovely lunch spots from the Main Library’s rotating doors.

Once there, I evaluated the slim pickings of meal choice and compiled the findings in an article.

The conclusions are as follows:

532 in the SU – 2 minutes 46 seconds

Rather an indulgent lunch if you were to consume everyday but I suppose no-one was ever killed by a pizza and a disappointingly small portion of chips. Especially when a Diet Coca-Cola comes into play for the health benefits.

I received 50% off as it was a ‘Meat Free Monday’. Either that, or the staff were pandering to my ravishingly good looks. All in all, a hugely underrated lunch location.

Kro Bar – 2 minutes 51 seconds

Like 532, Kro Bar caters to a niche market of society gatherings and has deals on every day of the week. Unlike 532, it is full of lecturers who side eye your 11am pint sippage and its deals are, frankly, shit.

Both spots specialise in poor quality student scran but for the rather high prices of Kro Bar, you’d be better off elsewhere. However, it is close to Main Library and a few months back, when I was trying to do some mushroom exposure therapy, I consumed a full English breakfast here (laden with mushrooms) and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Cafe in Ali G – 3 minutes 1 second (stopped to talk)

£5 for a small selection of sandwiches, one being cheese and onion (?), an even smaller selection of crisps, one being mature cheddar and onion (?) and a bottle of water (?). Luckily, I had some anti-bacterial hand sanitiser with moisturising properties in my pocket so picking up this loathsome lunch offering only left me with minor inflammation.

As a woman of the people, I didn’t buy anything as I felt I would be betraying my morals. However, one time the barista did give me some blue roll for an unfortunate smoothie related accident I had had nearby. Perhaps then, in its own small way, depleting Ali G’s cafe of their blue roll stores is still sticking it to the man.

Corridor Cafe – 3 minutes 5 seconds

A lovely lunch indeed. The meal deal here used to cost rather a bit more but today I arrived and spotted a sign informing me it was a respectable £3.50! This included a diverse range of sandwiches and some splendid salad pots.

A strong contender for its cheap prices and closeness to the Main Library.

Benugo – 4 minutes 32 seconds

The most expensive lunch place I have ever visited. Nevertheless, it sees me once a week for my purchase of an “Italian Deli Panini” (£4.95). Tasty but the bread is perhaps too floury – I have spoiled many a jumper with its wheaty dandruff.

Not too far away but it certainly feels it. Unsure what their target market is; very few flat white London business bros hanging around Chorlton-upon-Medlock.

Uni Place food court – 6 minutes 21 seconds

Vegan shawarma wrap was both sublime and delectable, though it set me back £5.50.

I left with a few pressing queries: Why in Gabriel’s good name is this place always full? Who are the mysterious folk hanging out in here like its a secondary school canteen? Why, each time I have come to this fine dining establishment, has someone started playing piano in the open university hallway without a morsel of shame?

Sainsbury’s – 6 minutes and 42 seconds

Poor, poor selection. I settled for a chicken, sweetcorn and mayo sandwich, smoothie and crisps – minimal savings and minimal taste. An unenjoyable shopping experience, watched by a security guard at all times and Feng shui of the place is slightly off.

In case you feel this rating is skewed by my grubby mitts and their inability to select the best meal deal combinations, let me reassure you that this rating is peer-reviewed. Straight laced Milly joined me on the scene. I’ll keep her meal deal private (an innocent woman’s business is her business) but here’s what she had to say:

Milly, 20 – “Sainsbury’s freezer section is too cold. Also, their sandwich bread is soggy and their meal deal choices are shit.”

Thanks for that, Milly. Back to it.

Morrisons – 7 minutes

An exquisite variety of meal deal options. Salad bar as a main, wedges as a side and smoothie as a drink – optimal savings of £2.50. Extremely popular lunch spot, long queue but goes down speedily as Morrisons staff shout at you to keep it moving.

Pangs of embarrassment will hit if you reach the front of the queue, head for self-checkouts and staff members reprimand you for not using the tills manned by real life people. You can just never tell these days.

McDonald’s – 7 minutes 57 seconds

Busy and far away. The walking time pays off though in the reliable selection of food. Always tasty, rarely expensive, never satisfying.

With McDonald’s Oxford Road and their fine range of fries, enough is never enough.

Pret-a-manger – 8 minutes 36 seconds

I don’t think I have purchased a Pret lunch more than twice in my years and I try to avoid it where possible. £5 for a sandwich on rye bread? A preposterous suggestion.

Yet, people love it. I am unsure whether perhaps in puberty my tastebuds developed poorly but I would struggle to justify smoked salmon and cream cheese when a Big Mac is just around the corner. Queues out of the door, prices through the roof, another no from me.

Greggs – 9 minutes 40 seconds

Nice lunch deal – hot sandwich, wedges and a drink for £4.80. Not quite Morrisons, though, where all of the above, hot sandwich even swapped out for a steak bake, comes in at £3.50.

Almost a ten minute walk away so I cannot in good faith recommend as a lunch location. Seems busy in the morning but I have never noticed anyone heading there for lunch. As Adele once prudently noted, sometimes the road less travelled is a road best left behind.

Winner!

Taking the cake is Morrisons. Seven minutes there plus seven minutes back plus forty six minutes of consumption time and you can reset the Pomodoro timer and get back to work. Yippee!

Friends who decided on Pret will only have forty three minutes to eat (assuming your brethrenship is founded upon your shared preference for an hour long lunch) and this will be largely disturbed by rye provoked thirst.

Accordingly, only you will manage to return to your studies promptly. Yes, the Pret victim might be consuming an artisan bake but you, my friend, have an extra £1.50 in your bank account and a high horse to climb up on.

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