The best food photography is achieved with natural light! Therefore, there is no need to invest in expensive lighting equipment. However, there are a few basic items that will help you to get the best out of your natural light.
First of all, the camera, you can purchase a DSLR, but if your purpose is to use your images for social media, a phone camera will do. However, not all phone cameras are the same. Although a lot of people think the pixel count is key, there are other features to consider. A lot of phone cameras over compensate for colour and/or light. This means that it might be hard to photograph a setup with dark tones, for example. Another thing that might occur is that your phone compensates for the lack of detail by sharpening the photo excessively. Phone cameras are improving though and the newer ones are performing a lot better.
A second purchase you might want to consider is a tripod. A tripod will help you stabilise the camera which will make it easier to take photos in low light. THere are very basic ones that will do the job, such as this one: https://connscameras.ie/tripods-monopods-supports/joby-gorillapod-1k-tripod-only/817024015114/42484/
Another invaluable item, is a reflector. You can go for a professional one, such as this one: https://www.barkerphotographic.ie/studio-lighting/lighting-accessories/light-reflectors-and-diffusers/interfit-56cm-22-inch-5-in-1-reflector. However, it can just as easily be done with a white foam board, like the ones you can get in a DIY shop. It will help you reflect the light and fill in the shadows.
The last item that really needs your consideration is a backdrop. You can purchase them online but if you want to go for the budget option, there are different possibilities. You can get a A3 or A2 sized sheet of plain paper sheet. Another option is to use a wall paper sample. Or go DIY and paint a board in the colour you like. It’s a great way to find your own style.
It is easy to do food photography on a budget. It just needs a bit of thought. Once you have a fair idea of how you want to photograph your food, the sky’s the limit.