TV Editor Kylie Clarke gives us her verdict on who she feels is the deserving winner of the battle between Tesco and Sainsbury’s’ meal deals.

TV Editor. MA Language, Culture and Communication.
Images by Franki Chamaki

… Tesco vs Sainsbury’s, the greatest feud since the Montagues vs the Capulets…

An undeniable staple of every university student’s diet is a trusty meal deal. Whether you need something quick to grab between lectures or you simply do not have the effort to cook after a tedious day of seminars, a meal deal is always there for you to fall back on.

I myself am guilty of thinking that it is acceptable to substitute every meal for a meal deal – I managed to make it through the whole of my undergraduate degree without learning to cook.

You need only visit any of the small supermarkets on the Bristol Road in the early afternoon on a week-day to see proof of how popular the meal deal is. Seriously, it feels like the Black Friday sales, sandwiches flying off the shelves and tired third years fighting over the last iced coffee. Chaos. The question however is where do you go to acquire the best meal deal?

The two most relevant competitors within the meal deal discourse are Tesco and Sainsbury’s. Therefore, I present to you: Tesco vs Sainsbury’s, the greatest feud since the Montagues vs the Capulets, only more intense.

There is one which has an edge…


For the purpose of this comparison, I will be focusing on the standard meal deal ranges offered by both supermarkets, not the luxury £5 meal deals. Let’s be honest, nobody is affording that in this cost of living crisis, and if you can, you may as well go buy a takeaway for that price. 

Mains: Both Tesco and Sainsbury’s offer a range of sandwiches, wraps, pastas and salads as part of their range. Many of the sandwiches from both supermarkets offer the standard sandwich flavours, including ham, cheese, chicken, tuna, and even a breakfast sandwich (although the mix of cold egg and ketchup creeps me out). 

While both offer a similar range of sandwich fillings, the item which gives Tesco an edge is the triple sandwich, which is better value. Tesco also offers a range of baguettes, which Sainsbury’s is lacking. In terms of wraps, both shops have a range of chicken, vegetarian and plant-based fillings. Both also have a similar range of tomato, chicken and tuna salads.

Tesco does offer a greater variety of salads, including a katsu rice bowl and a prawn salad. Though Sainsbury’s may be limited in their options, their caesar salad is a classic done very well. 

If you want to go for a higher value option, however…

Snacks: The most popular snack choice for a meal deal is a packet of crisps, of which both Tesco and Sainsbury’s offer a similar range of brands and flavours. Both shops offer vegetarian and meat based snacks, as well as fruit pots as a healthier option. Sainsbury’s also offers granola yoghurts as part of the deal, whereas Tesco has a greater range of sushi options.

If you have a sweet tooth, both shops also offer a variety of chocolate bars. If you want to go for a higher value option, however, I would advise choosing a bakery item as a snack, which is an area in which Sainsbury’s wins. While Tesco only offers some specific bakery items as a meal deal snack, Sainsbury’s offers a greater range of bakery items, including a pizza roll and more sweet options. 

Drinks: Both shops offer a very similar range of drinks, including the high value innocent smoothie, fizzy drinks, energy drinks, iced coffee, juices and water. 


I think we can all remember where we were on the day that Tesco put its meal deal price up from £3 to £3.90. The true betrayal of a nation. Even with the £3.40 club card discount – do not even get me started on what a scam the concept of a club card is – the price change is still disappointing. However, with a club card, it still comes in at 10p cheaper than the £3.50 price of a Sainsbury’s meal deal. Both shops are on a pretty level playing field when it comes to price value. 

Both excel in different areas and have their own unique options..



In terms of convenience for Selly Oak students, Tesco and Sainsbury’s are both easy options, as they both reside on the Bristol Road and are close proximity to campus. Furthermore, while Sainsbury’s shuts at 11pm, the Tesco Esso is open 24 hours. Whether you need a brain power snack in the middle of a nighttime library session or you need some drunk food on the way back from sports night which is healthier than a Dixy’s or PizzaLand, the Tesco meal deal will be there for you when Sainsbury’s won’t. 


Overall, I think Tesco and Sainsbury’s both offer a similar and varied range of meal deal items for decent prices. Both excel in different areas and have their own unique options, however, there is one which has an edge. For me, the Tesco meal deal reigns supreme.


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