So you're in Banff, you're on a budget, but you want to eat nutritious food in pleasant surroundings.  Forget all those people who claim Banff is expensive!  You can eat well,  and save money!  Here are a few ideas ...

First, consider doing your own breakfasts and packed lunches.  Banff has two supermarkets - Nesters Marketplace on Bear Street (where all the locals shop) and Safeway on Elk Street - and both have lots to choose from.  For breakfasts, consider pastries, sliced sausage, cheese and fruit.  For lunches, the deli counters offer pre-made salads and many other options.  Many visitors enjoy takeout meals from the Safeway.

In restaurant food, for the rock-bottom low-price option, try the Cascade Plaza food court located on the lowest level of this indoor mall, at 317 Banff Avenue.   This is where the high school kids go for lunch.  Choose from Japanese, Sinhalese, pizza, hot dogs, burgers.  There's a great fresh juice bar.  Yes, you're in a mall, but there's a big skylight overhead, a fireplace going in winter, and the people-watching is entertaining.

Now, for a real restaurant meal ...

Check out Pad Thai (back of the ClockTower Mall, 100 block of Banff Avenue). They have a wide selection of inexpensive Thai food. Their food is delicious, and makes up for the rather pedestrian surroundings.

Large portions for a small price are available at the Paddock Grill (located in the Mount Royal Hotel basement).  This is a pub with a budget-friendly creative menu.  In addition to specials like the $7.50 steak sandwich, you'll find homemade soups and very interesting pizzas and grilled sandwiches. Free pool before 6 pm and lots of screens with the game make this a spot not just for supper.

Also great for inexpensive Asian food is  Chaya at 118 Banff Avenue.  Noodle dishes, great sushi, low prices.  A tiny space with only a few tiny tables, but great people-watching onto Banff Avenue.

Tucked on a back street (223 Bear), Barpa Bill's is a tiny hole-in-the-wall with fast food that Banffites rave about.  Go to Barpa Bill's when you're looking for a generous serving of something high-fat but delicious -- their french fries (chips) are second to none.

For just enough sushi at a good price (a good price for sushi, that is), ask anyone in town for the "sushi train place" ( Sushi House).  This tiny restaurant on Caribou Street lets you choose your sushi from the cars of a passing model train.   Kids love it, and so do the adults.

Families find the Old Spaghetti Factory, in the Cascade Plaza Mall, to be a good value for a sit-down meal without any "weird food". It's part of a small chain of restaurants based in Vancouver.