Travel to Ireland: Eating on a Budget
No travel to Ireland is complete without visiting some pubs, eating potatoes, and drinking a pint.
This is the last in a six-part series on travel to Ireland. Check out the previous five posts on recommendations for planning your trip, must-see sites, how to pack, driving recos and watch outs, and photography tips.
Travel to Ireland: Fabulous Food Finds
If you've ever thought of or have planned an Irish vacation, you have probably heard that the food is bland. We did as well. So we were pleasantly surprised for the fabulous food finds we encountered every step of the way. Here are some tips for food, drink, and eating establishments to check out on your travel to Ireland.
1. Pay a visit to a local grocery store upon arrival.
The first thing we did when we arrived in Ireland was visited the local grocery store. We stocked up on food for breakfast and lunch, snacks, and treats for on the go. We made sure to get things everyone would like, but we also ventured out and tried some of the local food flare.
2. Eat breakfast at home.
Since we had limited daylight hours due to the fact that we were traveling in winter, we made the most of our time by getting a quick bite of breakfast before we left the house each day. We kept it simple and had cold cereal, hard boiled eggs, and toast and jam.
3. Pack a lunch and eat on the go.
Our goal was to save up during the day so we could enjoy meals in the evenings. We bought fixings for sandwiches: bread, lunch meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise, and mustard and prepared them each morning before heading out. We also bought ice packets and a small cooler at the grocery store so we could keep the sandwiches fresh. We also bought lots of bottles of water so we had plenty of drinks, especially at meal time. We found that the long driving days required a bit of caffeine, so we bought soft drinks that we saved for those extra tired moments on the road.
While we did pack a lunch most every day, we opted to eat out a couple of the days. One place we absolutely loved and would recommend was on Dingle Bay, an artsy cafe of sorts right on the main road. The seafood chowder and salads were to die for and worth spending your food budget on.
4. Buy snacks for on the go or late-night munchies.
Because visiting Ireland requires so much time in the car, make sure to have snacks on hand. We loved the chocolate in Ireland, but also appreciated having fresh fruit like clementines and apples. Check out what your local grocery store has to offer and buy snacks you love. These also come in handy after a long day of site seeing and in time for late-night munchies.
5. Enjoy traditional Irish food at pubs and recommended restaurants.
While we didn't spend a fortune on dinner, we did allow ourselves to spend a little more in the evenings. Traditional Irish food to try that you can most commonly find in pubs includes basic comfort food items like these:
- Fish and chips
- Irish Stew
- Potatoes (they come in all varieties)
- Shepherd pie
- Toffee Pudding
If you are looking for a more traditional restaurant and meal, I recommend following the choices as outlined in Lonely Planet: Ireland's book. They always recommend fabulous food finds.
6. Have a pint at your local pub.
Ireland wasn't prepared for a group of four women, three of whom didn't drink. Alcohol is probably a country snack in Ireland and is certainly appreciated. Pub owners and servers scratched their heads when we'd order soft drinks or water for our pints. But, whether you are looking for a soda, a Guinness, or something a little stronger, the local pubs will have you covered.
We loved the colorful and friendly nature of pubs. They serve dinner, will always let you stop and use a restroom if you are in need during your site seeing, and typically have a night or two dedicated to live music. We highly recommend visiting for dinner and during the live music.
If you visit Dublin, go on the Guinness factory tour to learn more about how the pint and this prominent family plays a role in Ireland's history.
Pat Collins Bar photo courtesy of Jen Tilley Photography.
What are your tips for eating on a budget while on vacation?