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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Jess Flaherty

I tried to find breakfast, lunch and dinner for £5 each in Liverpool city centre

I love going to eat out but it's not something I feel I can afford to do on a regular basis.

In a bid to feel wined and dined on a budget, I visited three local venues for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a budget of just £15 for all three meals.

I only wanted to visit independent venues for this challenge instead of big chains that have a little more flexibility with costs. Though it was a struggle at times, that's not a criticism and I don't begrudge any restaurant or café that's had to up its prices in recent months.

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The cost of living crisis affects all of us, with small and independent businesses battling increased energy bills and a rising cost of produce, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic which decimated the hospitality industry. Liverpool has no shortage of incredible restaurants, offering a variety of eclectic global cuisines and though many are unable to offer dishes for £5 or less, that doesn't mean they're not worth seeking out, or entirely out of reach.

I wish eating out at a restaurant didn't feel like such a luxury and that it was something we could all do on weekly basis, but with the vast majority of us struggling to make ends meet despite working so hard, finding cheap places to indulge in a treat feels more important than ever.

So, I took £15 into Liverpool city centre to see if I could find breakfast, lunch and dinner options for £5 each. I limited my search to the city centre as it's such a busy, bustling area for locals and tourists alike and with most city centres being pretty expensive, I wanted to see if it was even a possibility here. Here's how I got on:

Breakfast - 80p

I ventured to Dory's on Hardman Street and was amazed by the amount of budget-friendly options available. A full breakfast, made up of two pieces of bacon, two sausages, egg, beans, black pudding, hash brown, mushrooms, fried tomatoes and two pieces of toast was only £6.90 and, while out of budget for my challenge, I still think that's a really reasonable price.

There was beans on toast for £2.50, smashed avocado and halloumi on thick toast for £4.90, varieties of eggs on toast with a range of meats for under a fiver, a selection of bagels, and much more - so plenty to choose from.

Inside Dory's on Hardman Street (Jess Flaherty/Liverpool ECHO)

As I was going to be eating this en route to the newsroom, I didn't want anything too messy or difficult to tackle on my walk. I chose peanut butter on thick toast for a bargain-friendly 80p. I'm a bit of a bread snob - my mum said I "bread shamed" her when I was last home for a visit and had a slice of paper thin toast (the horror!) - but Dory's thick toast was satisfyingly chunky, with a generous slab of peanut butter. I was very impressed, and left with £4.20 change.

Lunch - £5.60

On my lunch break, I popped out of the office and wanted to stay as near as possible, so stuck to Old Hall Street and surrounding areas. I settled on Out to Lunch, which is a large corner plot on Chapel Street.

It was absolutely packed, with a large queue to the counter serving as evidence of its popularity. The shop offers a range of tasty sandwiches, breakfasts, drinks, lunches, soups and more.

There was a variety of meat options and the vegetarian sandwich selection was impressive, too. Every veggie option was less than £5, but I was craving a bit of stodgy comfort food and a sandwich just wasn't going to cut it.

My order from Out to Lunch (Jess Flaherty/Liverpool ECHO)

I opted for a jacket potato with cheese, priced at £4.40, but added beans with my change from breakfast, taking the total to £5.60.

The jacket potato was light and fluffy, while the generous serving of beans and cheese perfectly hit the spot. The potato skin was a little burnt underneath, which was a shame, but it didn't ruin the dish and I was left feeling full for hours. The staff were also incredibly friendly and warm, and the venue has a really lovely community feel to it.

I've got a bit of a Pepsi Max addiction and as I don't like tea or coffee (I know, I know), it's how I get my caffeine fix. Out to Lunch had a decent selection of drinks, including Pepsi Max with cherry and with lime, but they didn't have my beloved original flavour.

The queue at Out to Lunch (Jess Flaherty/Liverpool ECHO)

I ventured to Sainsbury's on my way back and picked up a bottle, which was £1.60. I'm not going to count this in my total as it was entirely optional, and I had my water bottle with me so could have easily filled it up for free back in the office.

If you fancy recreating this challenge, or you're on a £5 budget, then drinks really do bump up the total spend but most venues do offer tap water for free to keep costs low.

Dinner/tea - £4 without extras

Finding an evening meal for £5 was much, much trickier. I checked numerous venues in the city centre and was priced out of the vast majority. There were plenty of places offering reasonable and attainable prices, but the £5 limit was proving quite difficult.

By the time I'd made it to Bold Street, I was tired and very hungry. After checking several venues and being impressed by main dishes available for £5.50-£7, I eventually settled on KO Grill after spotting a £4 wrap on the menu.

The venue was so packed, I had to wait outside for a little while for a table to become available. The smoky aroma wafting out of the door had my mouth watering in seconds and I was keen to sit down and tuck in.

Inside KO Grill on Bold Street (Jess Flaherty/Liverpool ECHO)

The menu is vast, with all day breakfast options, burgers, curries, wraps and a range of side dishes to choose from. To stick to my £5 budget, I opted for a halloumi wrap, priced at £4. It's served with lettuce, tomato, red onion and garlic sauce. It doesn't come with any sides, but for £4, it's a generous portion and definitely enough to satisfy on a stricter budget.

But I wanted more. So far, I'd spent £6.40 of my £15 budget. Was it cheating to order hummus (£4) and a roti (£1)? Maybe, but I had £8.60 to play with and I was going to take advantage. In the interest of full disclosure, I spent £9 on food by ordering extras, so only went over my total budget by 40p on optional additional dishes.

The wrap was very tasty, with giant chunks of perfectly grilled halloumi and fresh, crisp lettuce. If I'd not been wandering around for so long looking for somewhere to eat, it would have been more than enough to fill me up but walking aimlessly for over an hour in uncomfortable boots really works up an appetite.

The £4 halloumi wrap from KO Grill on Bold Street (Jess Flaherty/Liverpool ECHO)

It's definitely possible to have an evening meal in the city centre for £5, though you may have to sacrifice extras (and carbonated beverages). As I'd made such a big saving on breakfast, it felt like a win to be able to add so many extras for just 40p more.

In total, I spent £15.40 on three meals and went home feeling full and satisfied. It was definitely a challenge tracking down cheap main dishes, but I was relieved - and pleasantly surprised - that it was actually an option in this current climate. Let us know your favourite budget-friendly venues in the comments section below!

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