Must-do Ideas for Eating Out on a Budget and Top Three Foods for National Picnic Week

Must-do Ideas for Eating Out on a Budget

How many of us have paid a small fortune for a mediocre meal in a café or restaurant?

My tipping point came after paying £50 for an ordinary Saturday lunch in a local pub (and the girls only had garlic bread and juice!)

‘Never again’….I said…..’in future meals
out are for special occasions only’.

Rather than have to dash home to eat every time we want a day out, the plan is to eat well but spend less and here’s how……

My top 3 tips for eating out on a budget:

1 Fish & Chips at the Seaside

Fish & Chips at the seasideOne of our nearest seaside resorts is Llandudno, which we love. It’s got a cute little sandy beach for building sandcastles, a fabulous long prom for meandering with little ones on scooters and a pier with its various attractions for the children.

But the best bit is the fish and chips! After a morning on the beach we love to treat ourselves to fish and chips with curry sauce (cue Peter Kay quotes) on a bench on the prom before venturing up to the top of the Great Orme. Classic seaside family fun.

I know fish and chips literally aren’t ‘as cheap as chips’ these days but you can still feed the family relatively inexpensively if you share a large portion between you and take your own drinks.

2 Barbecue at Sunset

Barbecue at SunsetThere’s something really special about eating freshly cooked food outdoors (have I read too many Enid Blyton books?) And to watch the sunset after enjoying delicious food is just magical.

Check the weather forecast and if it’s good, pack a kettle barbecue in the car with a cool bag full of barbecue goodies, your favourite non-alcoholic drinks (I like to buy posh pop, such as elderflower pressé), some comfy folding chairs and a few blankets. If you have children/grandchildren, pack a ball and some toys and if they’re only young take their pyjamas then if they fall asleep on the drive home they can be easily transferred to bed. Drive to your favourite west-facing beauty spot so that you can watch the sun slowly sink into the horizon after your barbecue.

On the next sunny Sunday (hopefully this weekend for a Father’s Day treat) we plan to head off to Anglesey for an afternoon on the sand followed by a barbecue before watching the sun go down. Perfect!

For our top six barbecue favourites click here

3 Picnic in the Countryside

Picnic in the CountrysideI love a good picnic, so will thoroughly enjoy celebrating National Picnic Week this week. The secret to successful picnicking is to choose special food, not something that you would eat every day.

Obviously the British weather can be unpredictable, so you may need to seek shelter in the car or under a picnic shelter – some visitor attractions offer spaces for indoor picnicking – check their website before you visit.

If you’re walking some distance before you eat then ensure that you travel light  – use a comfy rucksack and take disposable packaging that you can bin after you have eaten, you’ll need a proper picnic blanket (with a waterproof backing). If you’re likely to eat near to where you park then you can push the boat out a little with folding chairs and proper plates and cups.


Pack your favourite portable foods.

Here are my top three for National Picnic Week:



Sweet potato and pepper omelette

Sweet Potato & Pepper Spanish Omelette

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Per portion:
321 Kcal
17.7g fat (4.2g saturated)
Suitable for vegetarians


  • Sweet potato 1 large, peeled, cut in half lengthways and then into 5mm (¼in) slices
  • Vegetable oil 1 tbsp
  • Red pepper 1, deseeded and cut into thin slices
  • Garlic 2 cloves, peeled and crushed
  • Eggs 6, beaten
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Chopped parsley 2 tbsp
  • Chopped coriander 2 tbsp


  1. Place the sweet potato in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to the boil and cook for about 5 minutes until just tender. Drain well.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently fry the pepper and garlic for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the sweet potato slices, and cook, stirring, for a further minute.
  3. Pack the vegetables evenly over the base of the frying pan and pour in the eggs and plenty of seasoning. Cook over a gentle heat for about 10 minutes, mixing the cooked egg from the edge of the pan into the centre, until the egg is set all over.
  4. Preheat the grill to hot, and place the omelette under the grill, protecting the frying pan handle if necessary, to cook for 2–3 minutes to brown the top.
  5. Serve hot or cold, straight from the pan, cut into wedges, and sprinkled generously with the chopped herbs.


Extra Mature Cheddar Muffins

Extra Mature Cheddar Muffins

  • Servings: 12 muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Per muffin
175 Kcal
6.8g fat (3.7g saturated)
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing


  • Self-raising flour 300g (11oz)
  • Baking powder 1 tsp
  • Bicarbonate of soda ½ tsp
  • Caster sugar 25g (1oz)
  • Extra mature Cheddar cheese 150g (5oz), grated
  • Full-fat milk 300ml (½ pint)
  • Eggs 2, beaten


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases. Sift together all the dry ingredients into a bowl and lightly mix together. Then add the cheese and rub into the flour mix very gently.
  2. Whisk together the milk and eggs in a jug. Gently fold the liquid into the dry ingredients, taking care not to overmix.
  3. Divide the batter between the muffin cases and bake for 18–20 minutes or until well risen and golden. Serve warm or cold.
  4. Cook’s tip If you are a fan of blue cheese and you want a very adult muffin, try crumbling 150g (5oz) of blue cheese with 50g (2oz) chopped walnuts instead of mature Cheddar cheese.


Cranberry Bread Pudding

Cranberry Bread Pudding

  • Servings: 16 squares
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Per square
245 Kcal
9.9g fat (5.6g saturated)
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing


  • Milk 375ml (13fl oz)
  • White bread 225g (8oz), crust removed, bread torn into small pieces
  • Oranges grated zest of 2, plus juice of 1
  • Mixed ground spice 1 tbsp
  • Seedless raisins 175g (6oz)
  • Sultanas 150g (5oz)
  • Mixed chopped peel 50g (2oz)
  • Ready-to-eat prunes 75g (3oz), chopped
  • Ready-to-eat dried apricots 75g (3oz), chopped
  • Dried cranberries 75g (3oz)
  • Eggs 3, beaten
  • Butter 150g (5oz), melted
  • Black treacle 1–2 tbsp
  • Granulated sugar 50g (2oz), plus extra for sprinkling


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and grease a 23cm (9in) square shallow baking dish. Pour the milk into a bowl, add the bread and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the 50g (2oz) of sugar, and mix well.
  2. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread evenly. Bake for 45–50 minutes until the pudding is lightly browned and set in the centre.
  3. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and serve hot or cold, cut into chunky squares.


Take a Box of EggsThese recipes are taken from Take a Box of Eggs available for just £7.99.

I’m sure I don’t need to say this folks, but when eating alfresco make sure you take all your litter with you and leave beautiful places just as pretty as how you found them. Have fun!




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