M&B owns the All Bar One and Harvester chains
Demand for food has helped Mitchells & Butlers boost like-for-like sales by 1.3% in the nine weeks to 20 September.
M&B, whose pub brands include All Bar One, said about two-thirds of total sales were now generated from meals and drinks ordered with food.
But it blamed a slowdown at its mid-market Harvester pubs on the pressure which families with mortgages faced.
Offsetting rising food and energy bills meant it would have to triple sales growth, it said.
Value for money
Food sales grew 3.6% in the period, slower than it had seen previously.
The firm's pubs have become increasingly reliant on food since the smoking ban deterred many drinkers. It said it was now selling 115 million meals a year - up 8.2%.
An increased demand for cask ale and soft drinks saw overall drink sales rise by 0.3%.
M&B said it expected that customers feeling the pinch during the economic slowdown would "intensify the demand for both enhanced quality and value for money".
It owns and runs some 2,000 pubs nationwide.