How to eat on a budget when travelling in Britain

When travelling, food can quickly take up a large part of your budget if you are not careful. However, it doesn’t mean that you have to live off packet noodles while you travel. For many cultures, the food is just as important as the art and traditions, so it would be a shame to miss out on this.

There are lots of ways to still eat well on a budget; it just takes a little strategy and guidance. This article outlines the best ways to ensure you eat the cultured food on a budget during your travels through Great Britain.


When you are backpacking, making your own meals is the cheapest option. It can actually be quite enjoyable because each country’s supermarket will be related to their culture and the food that locals most enjoys eating.

In English supermarkets, you can find the traditional pies, fish, chips and mushy peas you would purchase from the over-priced tourist fish and chip shops, they just require cooking. If you are after a traditional Roast Dinner, in the frozen section you can find ready meals that have meat and all the trimmings ready to cook quickly.

How to eat on a budget when travelling in Britain

Supermarket in the UK

British and European supermarkets are known to be slightly smaller than those in other countries, so be prepared for a bit less space. Also remember that if you are staying in a hostel, you are limited to the types of meals you can prepare because you will not have a lot of storage space. Purchase ingredients that will only stretch to a meal or two. If you’re staying in one of Britain’s traditional caravan parks, there are plenty of comforting meals you can make.

If you don’t feel like cooking, you can buy ready prepared sandwiches and wraps for around £3-£4.

Budget Takeouts

Buying a meal from a budget take away or street food vendor is the perfect way to get a warm filling meal on the cheap. Each country has their own street food speciality, but the best budget meal in Britain would be the Kebab takeout. The doner kebab is the best value for money and usually costs around £4.50 and includes a hefty pile of thinly shaved meat, served in a pita bread and topped with salad and sauces.

How to eat on a budget when travelling in Britain

British Kebab

To find the best prices, venture out of the cities and into the working-class neighbourhoods. These takeouts will be the cheapest. British bakeries also provide quality affordable food. During lunch and dinner you can find pastries, baguettes, sandwiches and toasties, all at reasonable prices.

Farmers Market

A trip to Britain isn’t complete with a visit to a farmers market. It is full of great food that is home grown and sold at a reasonable price. It is also an exciting cultural experience. The quality of the fruit, veg and meat is often far better than those in the supermarket.

There are farmers markets in most cities in the UK every week. You’ll need to plan a bit ahead and find out when the next one is. They usually finish early afternoon, so be sure to get there nice and early. A great trick is to wait until the market is starting to close because then, some stalls will discount their goods.

Budget-friendly Restaurants

When you do choose to go for a restaurant meal, be sure to seek out the best quality for the best possible price. The best tip for this is to follow the locals; the biggest clue is in the menu. If the menu is in multiple languages, you know it’s a place for tourists. You will probably need to venture away from the tourist areas into residential neighbourhoods.

Try not to use guidebooks to find restaurant recommendations because many places featured in them get very popular and have the ability to raise their prices and lower their quality. Instead, research restaurants online using TripAdvisor or Yelp.

How to eat on a budget when travelling in Britain

Eating on a budget when travelling in Britain

Many British restaurants will advertise a lunch special to attract business from people on their lunch break. It’s usually a set meal or menu and it usually works out a lot cheaper to take the deal. Also, the UK is home to many buffet type restaurants and ‘eat all you can’. These are great, fill up on these. They are not often that expensive, usually about £10 for a plate and the ability to go up to the buffet as many times as you like!

This post was written by Lorna Powell. She is a freelance professional with a keen interest in travel. When not busy with her day to day tasks, she can be found planning her next adventure, out exploring the countryside, or busy baking something delicious in her kitchen.

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5 thoughts on “How to eat on a budget when travelling in Britain

  1. Victor

    During my time in Western Europe and the UK, I will definitely be hitting up the supermarkets and farmer’s markets … thank for the additional tips!

  2. Emilli

    As a Brit, my heart is breaking – PLEASE do not buy a roast dinner frozen ready to cook, they are awful & in no way a reflection of the real thing, so you’ll never appreciate how great they are if that’s your only experience! (The same goes to fish/pie & chips, but that’d be the lesser of two evils…)

    If you’re getting a takeaway, make sure you have cheesy chips & gravy as true (northern) takeaway!

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