Frugal Foodie – Eating on a Budget

Chicken Curry Fried Rice Recipe - Pikalily Food Blog

Do you enjoy eating? Of course you do – who doesn’t? We’re big foodie fans and really enjoy getting the family around the table for a feast. But eating well and preparing a feast for the family seems to be getting ever more expensive.

A few years back we got involved in a project with Hubbub and Tesco NI which focused on food wastage and budgeting. This taught us quite a bit, and was a big part of our Live Lagom project some months later with IKEA (you can read about that here).

This projects taught us a lot about being smarter with food waste and also budgeting for food and our weekly shop. With this in mind, here are a couple of tips to eating on a budget.

Look for Budget Recipes

Winter Irish Lamb Stew - Pikalily Food Blog

You don’t need the finest king prawns, rib eye steak and rare truffles to make a recipe delicious. In fact, with the right cooking techniques and know how, it’s very satisfying to turn humble ingredients into incredible dishes.

When you have a good understanding of flavour combinations, know your way around your spice rack and have perfected some cooking skills then it’s easy to eat delicious food every day without breaking the bank. Do some research, look online for budget meal ideas and scour cookbooks aimed at those on a budget.

One of the best budget meals to cook at this time of the year is stew. A big pot with potatoes, veg, some beef or lamb and stock can provide lunch and dinner for several days at very little cost (depending on the size of your family of course). Check out our quick and easy stew recipe for some inspiration.

Ingredients like pasta, rice and other grains make a cheap base, from there you can add all kinds of meat and/or vegetables to create something amazing. If you invest in a slow cooker, this is a fantastic way to turn cheap, tough cuts of meat into the most incredible melt in the mouth texture. If you love to cook or want to start, don’t feel as though you need lots of money and fancy ingredients to do so.

Fruit crumble recipe - Pikalily Food Blog

Also think outside the box when it comes to the food you have lying about your home. Fruit in particular is something that can quickly go off, but rather than throwing it in the bin, look at ways you can use it in snacks or smoothies or even desserts like this peach crumble recipe we created a few years back.

Throw Potluck Parties

Do you love entertaining friends? Throwing a party with food and drinks is always a great way to get everyone together, however it can be expensive and the costs can mount up, especially if you have quite a few guests.

M and S Summer Flavour feast - Pikalily Food Blog

One way around this is to throw a ‘potluck’ party. Here, everyone brings a dish they’ve cooked. You get to make a couple of dishes, and you can all enjoy your own food as well as everyone else’s. One tip to make this work is to assign starters, mains and desserts to different guests. That way you don’t end up with lots of the same thing. You could even base it on a cuisine so that everything works well together, rather than risking lots of random meals.

And of course, let’s not forget the wine and beers that complement the food. Again, the potluck approach can open you up to different flavours and pairings when it comes to alcohol.

Find Voucher Codes for Restaurants

As someone that appreciates food, the worst thing when you’re on a budget is not being able to afford to eat out very often. Eating out can be expensive, and not something everyone has in their budget to do on a regular basis.

Review of Gorilla Bar Manchester - Pikalily Food Blog

However, you don’t need to pay full price for meals when you go out, in fact there are way more discounts than you might have realised. Find a site offering discount codes like and utilise any coupons you find.

Sites like Groupon and Wowcher also offer meals out for cheap, and while these are often restricted to certain menus or days of the week, it can be a great way to try out multiple restaurants at a fraction of the price. If you have a restaurant you enjoy or want to try, check out their website. You might find deals directly for certain times or days.

Got Anything to Add?

Are you a frugal foodie? Do you have any tips to add when it comes to budgeting your food and dining options? Let us know in the comments section below.

Until next time, happy dining.

Helen, Nial and Lewis


Welcome to Pikalily, an award-winning food, travel and lifestyle blog. We are Nial and Helen, a happily married couple from Northern Ireland, who share a passion for food and travel among many things. We became parents to our beautiful boy Lewis in 2017. Follow our adventures through the blog.

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