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Portuguese Food – Eating Cheaply in Portugal

Fresh fish - healthy and inexpensive

The cost of Portuguese food is a subject often debated by ex-pats, with some saying it is much cheaper than eating in England and others finding it more expensive. Based on our experience, the cost is largely dependent on what you eat, with eating like the locals working out far cheaper than buying imported products from ‘back home’ or further afield.

Fresh fish - healthy and inexpensive

Fresh fish – healthy and inexpensive

Eating cheaply in Portugal is simple enough. Sticking with a diet of fresh fish, seafood, pork and chicken, along with fruit and vegetables from the local market will certainly not break the bank. Pingo Doce supermarket offers good value and Lidl and Aldi are both good for bargains (and enjoy a far superior reputation in Portugal than they do in the UK).

Going to cafés and restaurants frequented by the locals in your area is a great way to dine out cheaply and many of the takeaways specialising in piri piri chicken, ribs and other such delights are also excellent value. Of course there are many more expensive restaurants as well, but if you stick with where the locals go most evenings you are sure to find some seriously bargain meals, without compromising on quality. Vela II in Santa Margarida near Tavira is the perfect example.

Olives - cheap, health and delicious

Olives – cheap, nutritious and delicious

Food becomes somewhat more expensive if you eat lamb and steak regularly, although these still won’t break the bank: it is imported products that really start driving up your weekly shopping bills. There are times when something from ‘back home’ just has to be bought – whether it’s a jar of Marmite, a bottle of Robinson’s squash or a tin of Heinz spaghetti hoops. Prices can vary wildly between different shops, with Heinz baked beans in our local area ranging from €1.05 to €2.69, so shopping around is advised if there are certain home comforts that you simply cannot exist without.

For those considering a life in Portugal (which I highly recommend), here is a quick list of random items to give you an idea of some basic costs (based on prices from Jumbo supermarket at the time of writing):

Milk – €0.24

Eggs (six, medium) – €0.69

Sliced bread – from €0.64

Mineral water (1.5 litre) – €0.20

Chicken (whole) – €2.89

Pork chops – €2.99 per kilo

Potatoes – €0.69 per kilo

Peaches – €1.89 per kilo

Wine (bottle) – decent choice from around €1.19 upwards

Beer (can) – €0.45

Beer - a very cheap essential

Beer – a very cheap essential

Image credits: Wikimedia and Flickr