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How to Feed a Teenage Boy In England Without Breaking our Budget

Help! I need ideas for feeding my son when in England, who follows the Hobbit meal plan (copious quantities and often), without dropping our entire food budget on him. High tea dainties won't cut it. I've seen Pret-a-Manger mentioned, as well as Mammawadas (or something like that ?) as reasonably priced food places. We are all trying to stick to high-protein foods, so any meat/protein meal ideas as well? And this is probably a no-brainer, but is beef jerky quite commonly available in England ? many thanks!

Posted by
3696 posts

My grandsons love doner... those places are quite cheap and if you add the fries it can fill them up!

Posted by
693 posts

Stay in apartments so you can make some of your own meals.

Posted by
16856 posts

http://www.wagamama.com/ is that other restaurant; also http://www.nandos.com/ is a roast chicken chain. Don't forget that supermarkets also have prepared to-go items and typical picnic fare. If your hotel provides a "full English" breakfast, those are usually generous, with both eggs and meat included, as well as seconds on cereal and toast.

I would also pack a few Cliff Bars or other type meal replacement bars to help with snacking. My husband is a big eater and always travels with some of those.

Posted by
5627 posts

It's Wagamama's! Noodles, so carbs. Sunday roasts for all of you. The Pret a Manger sandwiches are excellent. Made fresh daily. Look for pub lunch specials and yes, he can go into pubs. Grilled Kebabs. Kansas City BBQ. http://www.bodeansbbq.com/site/ Fill yourselves up with a full English Breakfast (eggs, beans, toast and bacon) at the Regency Cafe on Regency Street. Go early. http://www.billyfranks.co.uk Amazing what you can find on an internet search. Cheap packaged sandwiches can be bought in Waitrose, Sainsbury and Tesco market chains. Here's a good guide:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/4861572/50-of-the-best-lunchtime-sandwiches.html

Posted by
247 posts

I just wanted to second the vote for Pret A Manger. Husband and I really enjoyed their food on our first trip to Europe (we're both in our 20's). It was healthy, lots of protein options, fast and cheap. If I could compare it to something here in the states, perhaps its like Panera Bread but faster take away items too. The only place we could find that beat it for "cheap eats" was McDonalds... and really there is nothing really very healthy on their menu.

If we had Pret here in my home town I would never eat anywhere else again. lol

Posted by
8889 posts

Take full advantage of the English Breakfast.

For midday, fish and chips, eaten from paper standing in the street, or sitting on a bench. You two (I assume it's two) can share a portion or just watch him (or just steal some of his chips).
Eating fish and chips in a sit down restaurant with plate and cutlery is sissie!

Pub meals: anything with chips; "bangers and mash" (sausages, mashed potatoes and gravy); Steak and Kidney pie with chips or mash.

And doner kebabs definitely.

Beef jerky, a few years ago no, now you will find it in larger supermarkets and delicatessens as an expensive exotic item.

Posted by
5559 posts

Does he like breakfast? Make sure you get a full cooked breakfast everyday. Breakfast in the UK at B&B's is often this list....

Some sort of fruit salad or fresh fruit
Juice
Cold Cereal--hot cereal or porridge often available.
yogurt
Eggs with bacon and sausage and baked beans and mushrooms and broiled tomato and toast and black and /or white pudding (he needs to just think of this as a different kind of sausage) and copious toast.

Sometimes potatoes.
Sometimes fried bread
Coffee, tea, milk.

Sometimes you can get other things like kippers.

Pam

Posted by
5559 posts

Oh, and I forgot, there are usually pizza places particularly if you are anywhere near a university. :)

Posted by
2619 posts

Look for Pizza Express all over London. Also if you are in London, look for food stands/carts that sell wraps, hamburgers or crepes. Look for Indian restaurants that have lunch buffets, so he can fill up. Many Indian lunch buffets have an excellent and tasty selection of vegetables on them!

Grocery stores will have ready-made sandwiches you can pick up for the whole family. Or just pick up a loaf of French bread, cheese, grapes and apples for a picnic lunch on a park bench.

Posted by
626 posts

Chris F's summary of Jerky is perfect. My local Sainsburys has 2-3 types, but i doubt it's close to as good as the stuff available in the USA. Its super expensive, about £3 for 100g/4oz.

Jellied eels... Do they even exist anymore? (Retorical)

Much as i love Pret, Keith might be right. Unless your diet it heavily healthy/salad based, you'll find little there.

If you're visiting London, the term cheap may be relative.

Kebabs, shish rather than donar (whole chunks of meat rather than minced/processed) are a great idea.

Posted by
18 posts

Thank you - this is extremely helpful! We will be doing a driving tour around southern England, then to London for several days. Some folks mentioned getting picnic food at grocery stores, but I'm wondering if there are all that many in the London core ? I know there aren't any in our downtown area, just the expensive corner stores with mostly junk food. Also, is Tesco a membership-type store like Costco, or can anyone shop there?
Also, someone mentioned Sunday roasts...what is that, exactly ? I'm picturing what Americans used to eat as their big Sunday meal after church, so I assume a decent-sized piece of meat with sides, served family style perhaps ? Are these at pubs ?
Thanks again, this is such a relief! I will indeed include a plethora of snacks in our luggage :-)

Posted by
1280 posts

There are smaller grocery shops in central London. Tesco is a general supermarket chain that will have a presence there, the other main supermarkets are Sainsbury's,, ASDA, Morrisons, with Waitrose, Aldi, Lidl and the Cooperative also present.

Posted by
1838 posts

Also consider Weatherspoon Pub chain. http://www.jdwetherspoon.co.uk/home/food/quality

I would also try a British Fish & Chip meal - which you can usually have as a takeaway. (Chips in the UK = French Fries but these are not the stick like things you get in north America. The chips will be much bigger).

You need have no worries about finding reasonably priced food in Britain.

Posted by
25722 posts

Tescos is the - for the moment - largest supermarket chain in the UK, and there are one or more in every town in the country, just about. They also have smaller city stores with slightly higher prices and somewhat smaller selection.

Other supermarket chains are Sainsburys, Budgens, Asda (owned by Walmart but different), Morrisons, Waitrose, and some smaller chains as well as the German Aldi and Lidl.

All of the larger chains have smaller city stores, and in London you can't walk anywhere without tripping over one.

You mention jerky - if I want any I do go to my Costco membership warehouse and get a little. Very expensive, usually made with South American (Brazilian) meat.

Boots the Chemist, Superdrug, and most supermarkets do a lunch deal, at the refrigerators near the door, where a sandwich or wrap, crisps (potato chips in American) or a small dessert, and a 500 ml bottle of coke or coke equivalent or a smoothie. These usually are around £3.99 or a little more or a little less. Even Marks and Spencer get into the meal deal thing.

The bill at Wagamama can creep up when you add a few gyoza at the beginning and if you have anything to drink beyond the free green tea. Tasty though. Don't expect a table to yourself - that's not how they do it.

Posted by
626 posts

There are lots of 'express' or 'local' stores in central London. These are smaller, and higher priced versions of the bigger stores. Anyone can go to Tesco. Marks & Spencer (M&S) is best for picnic foods, but CAN be more expensive than Tesco or Sainsbury's etc. but the quality is way beyond most others. I say can be, because I find them very reasonable when making best use of the offers frequently available.

Sunday Roast is a big deal here (on Sundays) nearly all pubs will offer something, ranging from around £6 up, but more likely nearer £10 in town. Low cost isn't always an indication of bad food in this case as many pub landlords almost offer it at cost to get people in for the drinks. You'd be unlucky to get a bad 'Roast' in a pub... look for one that's busy... and go early 12-1pm, as they can sell out.

A traditional 'Roast' is roast meat (chicken, lamb, pork or beef) with roast veg (carrots, parsnips, etc.) and roast potatoes, I include these separately, as if done well, they deserve a mention... there will also be Yorkshire Pudding (a yorkie), crackling (only with pork... if your lucky), stuffing, mint sauce, apple sauce, etc. (usually matched to the type of meat... i.e. you won't get apple sauce served with lamb, you would get mint sauce). All the stuff except the meat is often call 'all the trimmings'. So you might see 'Choice of Roast with all the trimmings'. Places will often offer a choice of two of the four meats mentioned which tends to change from week to week. It won't be served family style.

Posted by
626 posts

At the lower end of the food spectrum... 'Subway' can offer good value for money, and 'Greggs' offer a lunch deal for £3 (wrap/sandwich and a drink), and their Cajun Chicken Wrap is actually very nice. Avoid getting food in coffee shops, overpriced and average quality.

Posted by
5627 posts

And to be certain you and the family get what you paid for you should research the differences in terms for certain food items. Pretty sure you'd all love bangers and mash, or having a butty and crisps but you should know what they are. Besides you can always stop at a Burger King, or Subway, or Mickey D's but why would you? You'll not starve in England.

Posted by
2619 posts

Visit a grocery store, stock up on sandwich bread, peanut butter and plastic zip-lock sandwich bags. Make peanut butter sandwiches for your son's day bag (maybe for everyone's day bags). When the "three o'clock munchies" hit you in the afternoon, buy a cold drink, head to a park, and have sandwiches. This should be a good snack to always have on hand for your hungry son. Not to replace a meal, just to tide him over until dinnertime.

Posted by
5559 posts

The roast potatoes that come with the Sunday roast can be unbelievably good. I keep trying to replicate my English friend, June's. I am getting close, but I'm not there yet. She served them to four of us and none of us could even speak as we devoured them. (Crispy outside fluffy inside. Trick is to parboil them and then "rough" them up before coating with oil and baking....)

Posted by
707 posts

For the driving part of your trip, bring a cloth bag to use to organize picnic supplies. I keep plates, napkins, utensils, sandwich bags (for leftovers), crackers, cookies, etc. in the bag and then we buy yogurt, fruit, cheese, bread each day when we see a store. Picnics save expense and save time too!

Posted by
626 posts

Pamela's method for making roast potatoes is spot on, but for the very best ones, the oil used is goose fat, which is sold over here.

Unfortunately, its rare to get the perfect roast potato when eating out, but they are still nice.

Posted by
25722 posts

What's a bunty?

I think she means butty. Also similar to a bap. Rather than a crisp butty I much more expect to see a chip butty.

Posted by
25722 posts

Avoid getting food in coffee shops, overpriced and average quality.

Except, of course, Caffé Nero - their stuff is quite tasty, and I think that the coffee is some of the best.

Posted by
626 posts

Agree Nigel... I thought could be a chip butty, not had one of those for ages.

A chip sandwich, for those who are wondering. It should be proper chips (UK), not fries... and definitely not crisps, or chips (USA). Home cooked chips are best, 'chip shop' chips (Fish 'n' Chip shop chips) can work if crispy. And real butter... not marge!

Now, if things needed to be confused further... There is a 'crisp sandwich', but it's not a butty. Cheese and Onion crisps, or chips (USA), make a great sandwich.

We have taken a jump back to the 80's with these, but I bet they still taste great today :o)

A Bacon Butty is almost up there with a good Roast, and an essential component in a balanced diet... so I'm told.

I like Caffé Nero, but not had any food from there, I'll try some this weekend if I can and report back :o)

I usually get coffee from Pret. Nero if there is one there, Costa as a back up plan, but never from Starbuck's.

Posted by
70 posts

Like Laura mentioned, you could grab a cheeky Nando's (c'mon, someone had to say it...). On the level though, half a chicken and 2 sides and soda refills for less than £15 isn't bad. They even have passable veggie options. I have a big appetite myself - I make my chilli's with 500g of mince with at least a tablespoon of crushed bhut jolokia - and a Nando's will fill me up nicely. It's not the best quality (better than KFC though and a lot less grease) and some restaurants seem to set their quality bar very low, but find a good one and it's a tasty straightforward meal with more protein than pizza, for not-stupid money.

Something else - Harvester and Toby. The first is a mid-range family restaurant but the mixed grill is decent enough (my friend who does tri's and ironman stuff swears by them!). If your son likes salads, the salad bar is all-you-can-eat. My friends fill huge bowls to the brim as starters. Toby might be ideal for you as they do a £4 all-you-can-eat breakfast. Again, it's mid-range so don't expect the ritz but your food is on a plate not a tray! You can (and we do!) eat truly epic amounts of fairly tasty food. So you can fill yourselves with enough fuel to keep you going all day with nothing more than a light snack when the energy flags mid-afternoon. http://www.tobycarvery.co.uk/breakfast/

Posted by
3696 posts

I am not sure, but I think the trick to getting the roast potatoes like this is to use a gas oven... for some reason I remember my grandmother telling me that scalloped potatoes and mac and cheese would never 'brown up' the same way in an electric over... not even using the broiler. ???

Posted by
70 posts

I think this may be a touch OT but make of it what you will...

Certainly nowadays gas or electric makes no difference to doing roasties - a high enough heat held consistently is all that matters there as it's the fat that does the browning and modern fan-assisted electric ovens are streets ahead of my old gas one. Really old 'leccy jobs were awful which I reckon is the root of that notion. For the USians hankering after a proper sunday roast, the real "secrets" to getting decent sunday roast spuds are the high heat, quality of fat and above and beyond all other considerations, the potato breed. I wont comment on the meat - the US has in my not inconsiderable experience more than got the measure of roasting a joint! Texas longhorn topside, wrapped in foil and roasted at very low heat overnight so it stays pink and moist, then flashed under the grill (broiler) just before serving to brown it. Yum...

So, my roasties method:

1) I'd use only Maris Piper or King Edwards spuds to get that fluffy-in-the-middle texture. I'd reckon (but haven't tried) Yukon Gold as a US variety that would do well. Never use baking spud varieties (they fall apart and soak up too much fat - imagine eating a ball of fatty mash) or waxy ones which remain rock-hard and don't cook through properly.
2) A good deep layer of duck or goose fat in a deep roasting pan, sizzling hot before you put the spuds in. If you are cooking for vegetarians then I found that groundnut oil works OK and gives a good colour. Corn or rapeseed oils are useless as they won't brown properly. The objective is to basically shallow-fry the surface whilst baking the interior.
3) Cut the spuds so no piece is more than say 2" a side so they cook through.
4) Parboil the spuds until a fork slides in a few mm with no effort.
5) Drain the spuds completely - I pat-dry them to minimise spatter and oven cleaning.
6) Bash them about a bit to rough them.
7) Score the larger pieces a few times.
8) Put the larger pieces in first and the very small ones say 10 minutes later to you don't have rock-hard chunks or undercooked middles.
9) Roll them around so they coat in fat, then let them roast up in a very hot oven for an hour-ish until they are golden brown with dark crispy edges. Turn them every 15 minutes or so.
10) Turn down the oven to low and drain off the fat (it can be reused once, after that it starts to taste bad) while you plate up.
11) Make the gravy from the roast drippings while the meat rests - decant it with a separating jug into a saucepan, keep it warm on the hob while you stir in salt, pepper (I use white for chicken so as not to leave black flecks), a little herbage for zing (ground rosemary, sage, marjoram or finely grated/ground horseradish depending on the meat) and thicken with potato flour whisking constantly to avoid lumps.
12) On warmed plates put the spuds on last - meat should be cool after resting and cut thin to warm on the plate, veggies keep their heat well anyway but the spuds will go cold very quickly. They can sit in a low oven for ages as long as they are properly crisped so don't panic if you're meat isn't ready! If you cant plate in the kitchen and serve immediately, use a warmed tureen with a lid to take them to the table and serve as quickly as possible.

I am now so hungry I could even eat a McD. OK, perhaps not...

One last thing to note to the OP and other USians looking for food in the UK (if anyone is still reading this and not in the Kitchen!): basic burgers like BK and McD are ubiquitous, true, but then horse-crap steams the same from New York to old York. You can get the fractionally more up-market stuff here now for that taste-of-home you might be craving - Wendy's and Five Guys are over here and spreading, and Bubba Gump has a place at the Troc. I never cared much for FG's burgers either side of the water, but their peanut-oil fries are awesome and as good here as there :)

Posted by
5627 posts

Yikes a typo and all hell breaks loose. I've corrected my post to butty and purposely said crisps to get generate a discussion about what they are. Succeeded there. Hopefully, young master Sparkle will not starve and learn to enjoy Toad in the Hole. Agree always Caffe Nero or Costa, NEVER Starbucks, who consistently burn their beans. Great OT cooking lesson though!!!

Posted by
26 posts

We had great good luck with pub lunches and yes, some do Sunday roasts; we saw beef, pork, turkey and chicken with many side dishes. There is also a chain called West Cornwall Pasty Co. where you can eat in or carry out, giving the option of "one to go" for later hungry moments. Do take advantage of the "full English" breakfast which will keep you going, and going, and going...

Posted by
18 posts

I am REALLY enjoying my foodie friends' responses (and cooking lessons) in this post! thank you! :-)
Oh! and what is Toad in the Hole ?

Posted by
8889 posts

Toad-in-the-hole: Sausages laid in a metal baking tray, then Yorkshire pudding batter mix poured over and cooked in an oven.
See here for recipe and picture: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/5822/toad-in-the-hole-in-4-easy-steps

Something I don't think I've had since I was a teenager. A cheap and filling dish served in the school canteen. That was the days when pizza was an exotic foreign food you read about, and pasta came in cans and was yellow. They don't make food like they used to.

Edit: Mike J, Snap, we both posted a link to the same recipe.

Posted by
8293 posts

I have three of Delia's cook books and I loved seeing her TV programmes when visiting the UK. I have never heard her called Saint Delia but have British friends who always refer to Elizabeth David as Saint Elizabeth.

Posted by
714 posts

Also look for Simply Food, found in many high streets usually in towns that do not have an M & S store and at major stations, airports etc. An offshoot of Marks and Spencer (aka M&S or Marks and Sparks), it specializes in all M & S regular ready made food offerings, salads, meat pies, roast chicken etc. Also tasty microwaveable meals in all sizes. Introduce your son to pork pies and Scotch Eggs. Both of these make excellent snacks and lunches.

Look for pubs offering a carvery - this means that the pub offers a roast with all the trimmings. They are usually buffet style though some do serve. Often they are part of a chain - Toby is one and Crown another. There are special deals every day.
Other pubs will just have a sign outside saying something like "Pub meals" and maybe listing the specials of the days and the price.

It's been a while but I remember there used to be chains offering baked potatoes with all sorts of different toppings- which made for a quick and reasonably priced lunch.

You don't say how old your teenager is, but as an added note regarding teenagers eating in pubs. It is illegal or someone under 18 to drink alcohol in licensed premises, except where the child is 16 or 17 years old and accompanied by an adult. In this case it is legal for them to drink, but not buy, beer, wine and cider with a table meal.

Posted by
1879 posts

Well, I guess I'm not as much of a foodie as I thought I was. I'd never heard of bap (I Googled and now am clued in).

Thanks for a fun, and educational thread.

If I could get an a plane this afternoon, oh how fun it would to have an English roast and potatoes! Then some bap for breakfast :) the next morning.