Department store and shopping mall food courts offer the best value for the money in dining for visitors, and the sanitary standards are generally high.  Here, you can spend as little as USD $2 for a filling meal of pan-fried noodles and soup.  It's a noisy and sometimes chaotic dining experience, to be sure, but one that is authentic "modern China" and great for travellers on a budget looking for a quick bite to eat. 

Megabite is one food court that is highly recommended for quality and variety.  They have locations in the Science and Technology Museum, Raffles City Mall, and several Carrefour stores.  You first purchase a debit card and then check out the various food stations.  All of the vendors have a display of their offerings along with prices, so all you have to do is point to what you want and hand the clerk your card. 

Even cheaper eats, and not less nutritious and tasty are the endless "street kitchens" and hole-in-the-wall food shops found tucked away in alleys. Join UnTour Shanghai's Night Markets tour to explore the late night street food in the city - you can eat easy with them. They have been running street food tours since 2010 in Shanghai and only patronize their trusted vendors, who are all the guys with the cleanest hygiene practices, on their tour route. In the evenings this area also caters to Shanghai residents who may not have the time to cook dinner, so you can expect an even wider spread.   An entire sumptiously roasted/braised duck can be had for all of $7-8!   In fact, these stalls capture the real taste & essence of local food fare, not to be missed.

 The guidebook written by foodies for foodies, Glutton Guide Shanghai is all you’ll need to plan a memorable meal-based trip in Shanghai. Highlighting the city’s most authentic and delicious foods, Glutton Guide leads travelers to local treasures that are easy to miss and often hard to find – unless you know exactly where to look and what to order. In addition to an overview of Shanghai’s best street foods and regional cuisines of China, which include many cheap eats, reader will find a guide to the city’s best international restaurants and bars as well as handy safety tips and a getting around guide.