10 ways to manage your veg meals under 3 Pounds in UK/Ireland!

Food is expensive while traveling to the west. A typical meal costs 10-15 GBP and if you add a few extra items, you're looking at spending 20-25 Pounds per person per meals during a trip. For two people over 10 days, that is 20 Pounds*2 meals per day *2 persons *10 days = 800 Pounds/Euros or INR 70000 for two meals a day alone. For budget traveler, spending so much on food makes their trip non-viable. Here's how you can reduce your food expense while touring UK and Ireland by almost 70-80% to under 2-3 Pounds per meal. Same logic/tips should work elsewhere in Europe or in America but since my last trip was to UK and Ireland, I am focusing on these two countries. Being vegetarian I have focused on veg food options. If you're Ok with non-veg you will have a lot more options.

What are the budget alternatives to expensive meals in UK & Ireland?
1. Microwaveable Rice
Many supermarkets sell microwaveable rice for under a pound. There're several varieties- Plain Rice, Basmati Rice, Pulav Rice, Vegetable Rice etc. They cost about 70-80 pence in bigger super markets like Sainsbury, Tesco or Waitrose, a bit more in smaller stores.

You will need a microwave access to cook these rice ready to eat rice packets- common in most hostels. Rice will be ready in 2 mins and can be had with anything you're comfortable with- such as curd and pickle, ghee and pickle or Puliyogare mix etc. Curd is available readily in supermarkets (around 80 pense for 300-500 ml), pickle and other items carry from India or buy from an Indian Grocery store. A little bit of effort and you can have simple, healthy and satisfying meal for under 2-3 Pounds.

2. MTR Ready to eat packs
MTR has several ready to eat items- such as Sambar Rice, Lemon Rice etc- carry a few from India or buy from Indian Grocery stores- cost about 1.49 GBP per pack. One pack may not be adequate, 2 per person per meal is recommended. Can be cooked in microwave or stove within minutes. No additional items are needed.

3. Cup Noodles
Cup noodles can be purchased from any supermarket for about a pound each or less. Once I got 3 Maggie cup noodles for a pound in a mega store. Bombay Masala was costing around 60p in SPAR. Lots of vegetarian options are also available. You will need hot water to prepare them- usually available in most large supermarkets or you have to carry your own hot water or request in a coffee shop or cook once back in hostel.
4. Ready to eat Rice mix
Similar to Noodles, several other items, Upma, Rice Curry, Soup etc are available in ready to eat formats for about 1.5 Pounds. Get some hot water and your meals is ready in minutes.

5. Buy cooked steam rice from Indian Restaurants
If you don't have access to a microwave, you can buy a bowl of rice from Indian restaurants in your city-typically sold for 2 to 2.5 Pounds. With steam rice in hand, mix it with anything that suits your taste (as explained in option 1) and make your own meals.

6. Lunch time mini pizza
I saw that Papa Jones is selling a lunch time small size pizza for about 5.5 Pounds. Didn't try this but this might be good to grab on the go, without the hassles of having to cook your own food. If you're a group of 3-4 people then buying a large pizza and sharing also works out economical. A pizza costs at around 8 to 20 Pounds in UK depending on size, toppings and other things

7. Meal Deals in supermarkets
Most supermarkets offer a meal-deal for about 3 to 4 Pounds. Under meal deal you can pick one sandwich/salad, one snacks and one juice (or similar combinations) for the offer price- this usually works out cheaper compared to total price of these 3 items purchased individually.

8. French Fries (locally referred to as chips)
Not a healthy option but once in a while if your tastebuds demand you can try this. A small cup of french fries can be bought in various chips shops for 2 to 3 Pounds. Usually served with any choice of sauce, these are good to manage immediate hunger for a few hours.

9. Salads and Sandwiches
Not my favorite option but if it works for you great. Supermarkets sell ready to read sandwiches and salads, vegan options included for a few pounds. If you have access to microwave will be good to warm them a bit else you will have to eat them cold. I would say use this option if nothing else is working out.

10. Fruits
If nothing works, fruits are my last resort. Almost every supermarket in any part of the world will have apples, bananas and other fruits. An Apple is typically available for 40-60 pence, a banana 25-50 pence, a bag of easy to peal oranges for about 1.5-1.8 Pounds. Essentially for 3-4 Pounds you can get enough fruits to manage your hunger till you get access to better food.

Side dish/additional options:
Soup packets, coffee mix, chips, potato smashes, cucumber


Of course it is not necessary you've to try only these all days. Depending on your budget, preferences and what's available around you, might be good idea to try proper meals/local food etc once a while.
My experience during UK & Ireland trip w.r.t food:
I have spent around 11200 INR on food during my 23 days UK trip- Averaging 6 GBP per day but we can consider 10 GBP per day considering the days I didn't have access to home food (I had the opportunity to stay with friends for about 10 days so got some home food during this stay, making it easier to manage with ready to eat food during other times).  Staying in hostels, I have mostly relied on Options 1, 2, 3, 4,5, 8 (once) and 10. I did find Indian restaurants in all cities I visited, but didn't have a need to buy food there as I had access to cheaper alternatives. Did visit Indian restaurants on 2-3 occasions mainly to buy steam rice or have some affordable items (chats/samosa etc).

A friend has suggested two brands that sell lots of ready to eat stuff that you can carry with you- https://www.desimealz.com/ and https://adukale.com/- Check them out.

Other points to note w.r.t food in Europe & UK
  • Indian restaurants (or most restaurants for that matter) usually have limited opening hours- like 12 Noon to 2 PM, 6 PM to 11 PM etc. Even less on Sundays. [Detailed post] Check timing and plan your day if you're counting on visiting an Indian restaurant for meals.
  • Some items may have traces of alcohol. Pay attention.
  • I got free bowl of rice with a cup of soup in a restaurant. For many rice is a side dish!
  • Beware of waste segregation rules- food waste, plastic, glass etc will have to go to separate bins
What are your experiences and tips? Got any comments or questions? Do state in comments.

Similar: Managing Australia stay & food in under INR 2000 per day * US Trip on extreme budget- report * Why eat Indian food when abroad * Indian Restaurants in Denmark * UK trip expense report-extreme budget *

4 comments:

  1. Great post. This indeed works when your hotel/hostel has a microwave or lets you use the one in the dining area. I did that in US a couple of times. But in Europe (in the hotels that I stayed at) they did not allow me to use the microwave. Only one place - in Zurich even had a kettle which I used to heat up soup. It was great as all the nearby restaurants were closed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. Yes, hotels have that disadvantage- they expect guests to spend even more at in house restaurants and generate more revenue.

      Delete
  2. Informative Post for a health-conscious person like me! I am visiting Dubai next week on Business Dubai Visa . Could you please share some meal tips for me as well?

    ReplyDelete

Appreciate your efforts and interests to comment. Comments may be moderated due to increased spam. Will ideally respond to comments within few days.Use Anonymous option if you don't wish to leave your name/ID behind- Shrinidhi

Powered by Blogger.