“The Boots Meal Deal is the highlight of my time at Cambridge”

It took Jess Black twenty years to find her calling, and now she has found it in an unexpected place: Boots. Here’s why.

Jess Black

"The cornucopia of snacks and treats is enough to make the mouths of even the pickiest eater water"flickr/alwyn_ladell

It was while finishing up another packet of Kettles Sea Salt crisps (the best crisps, without a doubt) that I realised a rather profound truth: I have probably spent more money on Boots Meal Deals than I have on tuition fees.

But there is a reason for this, and I have come to realise that my borderline addiction to the bountiful trifecta that is the Boots Meal Deal – or, to its fans, the humble BMD, and to the comedians among us, the Boots Deal Meal (spoonerism!) – is not something to be ashamed, rather something to be embraced. For the BMD, the best meal deal on the streets of Cambridge, has become – through my repetitious consumption of its trinitarian parts – the best part of my experience at the University of Cambridge.

Now, to the naysayers, my love of the BMD may be taken to mean that i am having a terrible time in the hallowed institution that is one half of Oxbridge and that a £3.50 (ish) meal deal is the only light in my miserable terms. But the naysayers would, as is often the case with that set, be wrong. I have had wonderful terms in the city, terms that have been tremendously enriched by my participation in and consumption of hundreds upon hundreds of BMDs.

“For the uninitiated, I shall explain”

For the uninitiated, I shall explain. The Boots Meal Deal is a three-part feast that one can purchase from Cambridge’s own Boots Pharmacy for the not insubstantial price of around £3.50. One receives for one’s payment a ‘main course’ (oftentimes a sandwich, but occasionally a pasta or sushi dish), a ‘snack’ (the fun part of the BMD; one can choose a packet of crisps, or perhaps a sweet treat), and a ‘drink’ (a liquid format of nourishment; examples include, but are by no means limited to, water and juice).

And the cornucopia of snacks and treats is enough to make the mouths of even the pickiest eater water. The feeling can only be described as heavenly as my fingers dance over the day’s selection – am I to buy a No-Duck Hoisin Wrap, a nutritious and delicious vegan feast, or perhaps a classic Egg and Cress sandwich, to hit that childhood nostalgia? But look, as my hand reaches even further for the Tomato and Cheese pasta, a warming and fulfilling dish that is the perfect cure for any queasiness that may persist after a quaff too many at the pub the night before!

And the snacks are no less indulgent. Usually, I treat myself to the aforementioned Kettles Crips, but in my younger and more vulnerable years I sampled the cakes and, yes, even the yoghurts. Alas, my indulgence in the latter came to a rather abrupt conclusion when, in my excitement, I opened the pot too fast, spattering the strawberry flavoured desert all over floors of my college library and leaving a somewhat unsightly stain.

“The cornucopia of snacks and treats is enough to make the mouths of even the pickiest eater water”

An interesting addition to the BMD is the calorie count. Now, having studied GCSE Biology I am aware that a calorie is an exact unit of measurement of energy used by scientists world-wide and thus, when making my selection, I oftentimes take this into account. If, for example, I know I have arranged a long-walk, or an intense study session (which we Cambridge students are all too familiar with) I will opt for a 500+ calorie meal: a pasta dish, or perhaps a three-sandwich cheddar plowman’s feast if I wish to reconnect to my agricultural roots. However, if my day looks to take a sedate pace (a phrase all too alien to us hardworking Cantabrigians!) I will settle for a 300-400 calorie meal – hello Egg and Cress sandwich, my old friend.

But halt! – I must take a pause from my enthusiastic chin-wagging. For as I write this, I am all too aware that something is missing from my insubstantial words, for my descriptions are all too material, too mundane. There is a deeper profundity to the BMD that transcends mere words.

The BMD is the feeling of running through the rain into the warmth of Boots and seeing the shining sight that is fully packed shelves of nutrition; it is the knowledge that one’s lunchtime slot is fully prepared for; it is nuzzling up to one’s friends and sharing a smile as one breaks into a fresh packet of crisps.


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As I write this, I wipe a tear from my eye. For the Boots Meal Deal is not only the best part of my Cambridge experience, it is the highlight of my life. 20 years it took me to find my calling, and all along it was stacked in neatly lined shelves – from sandwich to sweet treat – in the sacrosanct halls of Boots Pharmaceuticals the nationwide.

Thank you Boots. Thank you for the memories. And here’s to many more.

(The writer would like to posit an addendum that she is not in any way monetarily affiliated with Boots. She just really likes Boots Meal Deals).