What Do the British Eat For Lunch? (7 Typical UK Lunch Choices)

British Lunch

British lunch time is a precious thing, whether it’s  during the week when people are busy at work, or at the weekend when it’s typically family time.

When it gets to midday in the UK and the joy of the typical British breakfast has worn off, it’s time to start thinking about what will get you through to dinner time.

But if you’re not fortunate enough to be British, you’re probably wondering what the British typically eat for lunch? We hear you loud and clear.

Here’s 7 things traditionally (and somewhat typically) eaten for lunch in the UK:

1. The Sandwich: A Go-To British Lunch

A simple ol’ sarnie is many Britons’ first port of call for lunch, especially kids’ school packed-lunches and for adults during the typical 9-5 working week.

Underwhelming, you might think. But if it’s done right, you just can’t beat a sandwich for lunch (special thanks to the Earl of Sandwich here).

In fact, we love sandwiches so much in Blighty, there’s even a British Sandwich Week (in May each year).

Don’t get us wrong, we love all sorts of sandwich fillings in the UK, but the British classics are what we’re here to rave about. If you’re familiar with the traditional English Afternoon Tea, you’ll have probably discovered some of these classic sandwich fillings:

  • Cheddar cheese (with Branston pickle)
  • Ham (with mustard or salad)
  • Cucumber
  • Coronation chicken 
  • Smoked salmon and cream cheese
  • Egg mayonnaise and cress
  • Prawn mayonnaise
  • Beef and horseradish

Another popular sandwich typically eaten day to day in Britain is the bacon butty (although usually as a typical British breakfast).

2. Soup: A ‘Souper Duper’ British Lunch Choice

British Lunch - Soup

Another typical British lunch option is soup. From a classic tomato soup or simple mixed vegetable soup, to something more adventurous, you just can’t go wrong with a bowl of hot soup for lunch in the UK.

Traditional British soups include leek and potato, oxtail soup, Scotch broth, Welsh Cawl, Cock-a-leekie, Cullen Skink and Mulligatawny. Who said British food names are weird!?

Usually partnered with bread and butter or croutons, although it’s also common to find a soup and sandwich option on the menu in many UK cafes at lunch time.

3. A Jacket Potato: Is No Half-Baked British Lunch

A jacket potato (or baked potato) is another popular lunch choice with us Brits. Grab a spud. Put it in the oven. Add a dollop of butter and your filling of choice. Job done.

What filling to choose though? Baked beans, cheese or tuna mayo’ are probably the most popular choices, but you can be as inventive as you like when filling the versatile jacket.

4. The Ploughman’s Lunch: How Cheesy

Ploughman's Lunch

We know what you’re thinking: “What’s a Ploughman’s Lunch when it’s at home?” Not exactly an everyday lunch choice for most Brits nowadays, but a Ploughman’s Lunch is one of the most traditional UK dishes, invented by our farmers back in the day.

The farmers would originally grab hunks of cheese and bread along with an apple as a quick mid-work feast. Since those times, other things have been added to the classic Ploughman’s, like cold meats, pickles and chutneys, plus other British delicacies like pork pies and scotch eggs.

5. Salad: Leaf It Out

Salads are also a popular and typical lunch choice in the UK, even if a typical salad in Britain used to be a pretty depressing sight. These days a British salad can be a lot more exciting, you might say largely thanks to the UK’s celebrity chefs.

What’s more, salads can be a great ‘light-lunch’ choice, especially if you’re planning to eat a proper traditional British dinner later in the day. Then again, you might prefer to have a lighter dinner and larger lunch…

6. Classic British Dishes: For Lunch

Full English Breakfast

Classic British dishes such as Pie & Mash, Fish & Chips and even the Full English Breakfast can also be traditionally eaten for lunch in Blighty (although we call the Full English Breakfast an ‘All Day Breakfast’ in that case).

If you’ve got the time, why not have a full-on hot meal for lunch? What’s more, make it a traditional British one. More examples of classic British dishes eaten for lunch include Bangers & Mash, Shepherd’s Pie, or any other traditional British pub food for that matter.

Then there’s another classic dish, which deserves a special mention…

7. The Ultimate British Lunch: The (Sunday) Roast ‘Dinner’

British Lunch

You could have a traditional British roast for lunch any day of the week really, but it’s most traditional and typical for this to be enjoyed on a Sunday, hence the name, Sunday Roast, or Sunday Lunch (also confusingly known as a ‘roast dinner,’ but we’ll get to that).

A choice of meat, alongside stuffing, Yorkshire Pudding, roast potatoes and other vegetables, all laced with gravy, gives you the best British lunch, hands down. The next best thing after a Sunday Roast for lunch? A Sunday Roast sandwich, obviously.

What Is The Most Popular Lunch In The UK?

The most popular lunch in the UK just has to be the Sunday lunch, otherwise known as a Sunday roast. This being eaten religiously by plenty of Brits and enjoyed by UK tourists every week, it’s hard to see how there can be a more popular British lunch choice.

Why Do The British Call Lunch Dinner?

It’s somewhat of a mystery as to why the British wish to confuse everyone by sometimes calling lunch ‘dinner.’ Although, this typically refers to when Brits choose to have their largest meal of the day at lunchtime, rather than in the evening.

What Time Do The British Eat Lunch? 

Typically, we Brits eat lunch any time between 12pm (midday) and 2pm. Of course, this can vary slightly and will be dependent on peoples’ lifestyles, work patterns and preference. A traditional Sunday Lunch might be served slightly later than 2pm in some households, for example.

That said, there’s nothing stopping you from bringing your lunch forward to 11am or so, especially if you just can’t wait for your Ploughman’s. Although technically, that’d be known as brunch in Blighty.

So there you have it, that’s a typical British lunch covered. Next up, a typical British dinner… 

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