Cheaper than Cook-It-Yourself (CIY): A Day at Ikea Restaurant

By Tana Kosiyabong


“Today is a Big Day,” I told myself as I woke up. Though it was not easy to dig myself out of bed at 8 am on Saturday, somehow I did it. As usual, it took me about an hour to get ready and walk out the door. Two buses and an hour later, I found myself at Ikea Richmond. Today, I’ll spend all day eating away 3 meals here and try my best not to buy any more furniture or decorating knick-knacks.

After I got off the bus, I headed straight to the Ikea restaurant on the second floor. I ordered two breakfasts, one dollar each. They came with a good portion of scrambled eggs, fries and two sausages. The eggs were quite weird, but I didn’t mind them. Instead of scrambling them in a pan, I think the cook either baked or microwaved beaten eggs then roughly ground them. I tasted no grease on the eggs at all. The Canadian Heart Association would be so proud. The sausages were well cooked but greasy and the fries were crispy. The meals were simple yet decent.

Once again, my cheap appetite got me in trouble. I could have been satisfied with just one breakfast. However, because it was so cheap, I couldn’t resist ordering two of them. This was my first mistake of the day. I was already full a quarter of the way into the second breakfast. But I couldn’t throw the rest away. Instead, I shoveled them down my throat like it was a subway tunnel. The only problem was that my stomach couldn’t handle a whole train. It felt like Déjà vu from my Starbucks Vivanno Smoothies story. I have to control myself. Fingers crossed.

After the breakfast, or two, I browsed around the store, which could potentially hurt my wallet. Surprisingly, there was no harm done. I ended up sitting on an armchair reading my book. It was a strange yet interesting experience. The display living room was cozy and homey. The Poäng armchair was so comfortable. I was ready to immerge myself into the book, when a family walked in.

“Daddy… DADDY, I want a puppy!” the little girl shouted.
“I think I’d like it better if it were dark brown,” dad told his wife as he ignored the screeching girl.
“But I prefer this color,” his wife disagreed.
“Well… good luck with that,” I muttered.

After about an hour and many living room intruders later, it was almost 3:00 pm. I wasn’t even hungry yet. But I had to eat something if I were to reach the 3-meal goal today.

So, I headed straight to the restaurant. The line was pretty short. I chose the organic pasta with marinara sauce for $1.99. If it weren’t because I already had 4 links of greasy sausages earlier, I would have added 5 meatballs to my pasta for $1.49. The dish, however, looked a bit plain, so I added a piece of garlic toast (50 cent) to my plate. “It makes a better photo,” I told myself. But I wasn’t hungry to start with. And on top of the pasta marinara, I had to eat garlic toast? Oye. I was in trouble again. “Congratulations, Tana! This is your second dumb idea of the day,” I murmured.

The pasta was overcooked as expected. It sat on a hot tray for a while. The sauce was quite tasty, but not enough of it on the plate. The garlic toast was not very garlicky. I ate about half my plate before my stomach ran out of space. It was no longer cooperating and about to explode like a ticking time bomb. This was the first time in a very long time that I couldn’t finish my plate.


At this point I didn’t see how I could possibly continue eating anything else before the last shuttle bus left at 5:45. So I aborted the 3rd meal plan – 2 hot dogs (50 cents each) and a frozen yogurt cone ($1). But don’t worry, I’ll be back again for revenge.

Before I left, I had a chance to thoroughly explore the Ikea food market for the first time. Normally, this would be an afterthought. There are a wide variety of interesting and exotic products I would love to try. Lingonberry jam and Cloudberry jam to name a couple. Many of them, however, are frozen. I couldn’t take them home with me today. My condo was an hour away. So, I bought a few food items as seen in the photo below. Hey, the man’s gotta eat tomorrow. And they weren’t furniture.


Overall, I gave this Cheap Appetite mission a pass. Even though I didn’t reach the 3-meal goal, it was really fun and I was really full. Besides I was able to refrain myself from furniture or decorative purchases. I also learned a lot about Ikea’s food market and food products. I promise to write more about them in the near future.

Ikea Breakfast Special: ©©© ½
Ikea Pasta Marinara: ©© ¾
Ikea Garlic Toast: ©© ½


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38 thoughts on “Cheaper than Cook-It-Yourself (CIY): A Day at Ikea Restaurant

  1. Too funny. I guess it needed to be done- to show you can eat decently and cheap… I need to go to Ikea.. I have never been.. There is one in Sacramento so I need to go!

  2. Love it. I’m amazed you walked out of an Ikea without buying a bag of a hojillion bent/partially melted tealights. That bag of infinite candles is always my weakness. I’ve only eaten the Swedish meatballs, which were probably like little shotputs in my belly, and I steered away from the “traditional” pickle bar that included such delights as ludefisk and other preserved fish parts. I know the Swedes dig it, I’m just not gangsta enough for it.

    1. Thanks Wasabi,
      Fortunately my condo is so tiny, I can’t buy more stuffs from Ikea. Otherwise, I will have no space to walk around. I never try those preserved fish parts either. I like the meatball though. My favorite is the frozen yogurt. But I had to pass on it this time.;(

  3. I have eaten at Ikea before.. and can relate to your experience. I tried their Chicken Marsala.. and thought that the chef/cook had left out the marsala all together.

    1. Avanti,
      I agree that Ikea food is not the best. But some of them are so cheap I can’t resist. I never try chicken marsala before. I don’t think they have it at the Richmond location. But after reading your comment, I don’t want to try it anyway:)

    1. They sell Swedish meatball at their food market in the frozen form too. I bought it once. I was pretty good. 🙂

  4. Those eggs could have been powdered eggs; I used to work in a food service kitchen, and they had them. They aren’t too bad as long as they’re mixed right and not overcooked- Sounds like you had a great day!

    1. Vanilla and Thyme,
      Yes it could have been powdered eggs! I never thought of them. When I was in the undergrad, a friend of mine did a research on powdered eggs. She made Thai dessert with them. They were pretty good, but hard to mix. I had a great time:) I wish I could eat the hotdogs and frozen yogurt though. lol

  5. Hello
    you are so right – the qulity is fine, the price is amazing and kids love it too…. i enjoy going to IKEA very much and like oyu i try not to stock up on to many decoration stuf… i always buy groceries there like the dill chips, mustard, pickled hering, caramel, jams, cookies and such… IKEA is wonderful…
    waving from Germany… alissa

    1. Hey Alissa,
      I’m glad to hear from you:) How’s Germany? I wish to visit there one day. I will check out Ikea food market again soon. Maybe I’ll go to the one in Coquitlam this time. They have a much bigger food market there. I’m not sure about the pickled herring though.

  6. hi – oh yes definalty – if you come to visit germany i am sure you will have a blast and groceries are way cheaper here then in the USA… you would really enjoy a vaccation i am sure… Well you either love or hate pickled herring -lol… i eat it once a year or maybe twice … but IKEA has lots of great food items so far i haven’t had anything that tasted bad… i also like their christmas cookies….

    1. Alissa,
      I like many of their food products too. Last night I just had some of their dark chocolate. One big bar for a dollar:) You must have a bigger ikea food market in Germany. The one that I went to is pretty small. Even then, I am amazed by so many interesting food items. Thanks for your comment:)

    1. Thanks Mathilde for retweeting my story:) It was fun and cheap. The food is decent for the price. I wish they were closer. lol.

  7. Ikea is a nice place to go to spend time. I usually head straight to the restaurant for a coffee or two (as refills are free) and a slice of cake or cinnamon roll. Their carrot cake was quite dry and too sweet for my liking and wouldn’t order it again. I like the hot dogs as it’s so cheap! I notice you bought citron salt; never tried that before and will definitely get it the next time I’m there. Thanks!

    1. Hi Margie,
      I agree. Ikea is a nice place to spend time. I like their cinnamon roll too, but I would get the one that has no icing on. They don’t always have the non icing ones though. I love their cheap hot dogs and frozen yogurt. I still don’t know what to do with the citron salt I bought. But it’s so cheap I can’t resist. lol. If you have any idea, let me know:)

  8. Too bad Ikea isn’t in a more central location like Downtown… I would have a field day in there, running around like a kid.

    Would you try doing this again, but better planned out?

    1. Thanks Kevin. I definitely will do it again. And yes, this time I will make a better plan and stick with it.. Maybe I’ll drive my car out so I don’t have to go home at 5:45pm. I think they open til 8pm on Saturday:)

    1. Thanks Diana. What are you planning to do with the lemon salt? I wouldn’t call it culinary experience per se. It’s more like a fun cheap down-to-earth food experience:)

  9. Now I have to go back to Ikea. I went a couple of months ago when one opened not too far from our home. Unfortunately, everyone had pick the same day as me to check out the new store, it was SO crowded. I didn’t even get a chance to look at the food, darn. Guess where I am headed next week.

  10. OMFG I love Ikea. They had the rack of ribs for 7.99 one week and I said “Okay, give me a rack”. Thinking that getting 4 ribs for that price would be great.
    No. They pulled out a RACK of ribs, bent it in thirds, and crammed it on my plate. Mmmmmmmm…. I think I need a new chair. Yeah.

    1. Thanks Gina, it was a fun day at Ikea. I ate too much:) I will have to go back for a revenge later. Thanks for stopping by.

  11. I like your photo of the breakfast. Calgary Ikea is having their 5 year birthday and it’s free breakfast for 4 days. How’s that for cheap??

    1. That’s so awesome! Free breakfast is definitely the best. The place must be packed. What a great marketing strategy! Now I wish I were in calgary…for a few days at least:)
      Thanks for your comment heffalumps.

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