Living as a student on a budget can be tough – especially if you live in Leiden, where the rent is sometimes staggeringly high. Luckily, trying to save money doesn’t mean eating instant ramen 24/7. Below you’ll find a list of the best cheap eats in Leiden (less than 10 Euros per meal). We’re concentrating on local places or small chains, and excluding obvious options like McDonald’s or Domino’s.
Better Bagels – your new go-to place for breakfast and brunch
Whether you’re planning a quick breakfast on the way to uni or a lazy Sunday brunch, a meal at Better Bagels is the perfect way to start your day. It’s in this charming little shop where you can get the best bagels in all of the Netherlands.
You can choose between a variety of bagels with a multitude of different fillings such as cream cheese, hummus, various kinds of fish, meat and cheese. Avoiding gluten? Don’t you worry, they have gluten-free options, too. Prices range from €3.30 Euro for a Plain Jane bagel with cream cheese to a little over €6 if you want your bagel filled with the likes of organic pastrami or sustainable smoked salmon. Feeling creative? You can pick-and-choose your fillings to suit your liking.
Besides bagels, you can also get a variety of cakes and sweet pastries, such as the absolutely delicious New York-style cheesecake. Oh, and don’t forget about the coffee!
Our top pick? A Plain Jane with some extra rocket and a big slice of sustainable smoked salmon.
Donatello’s – delicious, Italian, cheap
There may come a time when you’re craving some Italian, but the mere thought of ordering a Domino’s pizza for the third time this month makes you gag. Just check out the (relatively) similarly-named, but much more authentically Italian Donatello’s.
Pizza prices here range from €5.95 for a classic Margherita to around €10.50 for fancier options such as their Pollo con Proscuitto di Parma pizza (chicken, Parma Ham, goat’s cheese and other ingredients). Donatello’s pizzas range from classic Italian flavours to much more “exotic” ones (yep, you can also order a pineapple pizza). If you’re feeling like ingesting more carbs (we don’t blame you for that, carbs are delicious), you can always ask for a thicker American-style pizza base. Or a calzone!
Naturally, this Italian restaurant is much more than just pizzas and calzones. While the main dishes are a bit too expensive to be called cheap eats, the pasta prices are much more student-friendly. Our favourite? Definitely Spaghetti Aglio e Olio (garlic, chillies and Parmesan in olive oil).
Don’t worry, Donatello’s do delivery. Ideal for when you’re cramming for exams and can’t be bothered to get out of your room.
Einstein – cheap eats for lunch, drinks and parties in the evening
Last but not least is every student’s go-to bar for Wednesday drinks – Einstein (mentioned previously on our list of the best student bars in Leiden). Although it’s a great place to meet fellow international students and socialize, Einstein’s more than just nice drinks and great parties. It’s also perfect for when you’re dreaming of a heartier meal.
OK, we admit – dinner options at Einstein don’t always qualify as “cheap eats”. That’s why we recommend dropping in for lunch (served until 4:30 PM) and trying some of their delicious soups, sandwiches, and warm paninis (prices ranging from €5.75 to €9.95). Whether you’re vegan/vegetarian or just crave something plant-based, Einstein and their scrumptious meat-free options have got you covered.
What if it’s after 4:30 and you’re still hungry? Our favourite strategy is to come with a bunch of friends, order several side-dishes or snacks, and share. Splitting the bill means you can eat a bunch of delicious grub without spending that much money. Planning to make shared meals a tradition? In that case, we recommend getting a Bunq group account. That way, you can deduct the price of the entire meal from the shared account (without getting into the complex mathematics of simple division!)
Keep an eye on the specials of the day! For €10, you can get a big, filling meal such as a ribeye steak, burger or spareribs.