I found plenty of meat without having to kill either of Otho's pigs (though did save and try it, to see what would happen). There is a quest in town (healing both soldiers) which will give you a level of Restoration.That's free experience points for you, so there's no reason not to take advantage of it.
You actually need to turn the dragon statues in order to open the catacombs beneath Aleroth.
Before unfreezing Lanilor, you can go loot his house. I entered the well to loot Mardaneus' house before triggering the second cutscene with him and Lanilor, but that isn't necessary. Mardaneus will not object if you rummage through his stuff (at least not before he is cured).
Lanilor will approach with the teleporter stone either when you open the catacombs, or the first time you try to enter after he gets unfrozen.
For stat points, once you get your constitution up enough you can not be killed by a couple hits from a strong opponents, you can stop boosting it as much and put more into agility. By the end of the game, most warriors end up with about 2 parts strength, 2 parts agility and 1 part constitution, though of course equipment bonuses and requirements will effect the distribution, especially at the start of the game.
Food and sleep are helpful at the beginning of the game for healing (meat/bread) and mana (chicken), but you should be able to collect enough crappy loot to trade for potions. Once you get your stats up enough that hp or mana are above 80, it is better to switch to restoration potions
The orcs to the east west and north of Aleroth are weaker and more spread out than those to the south, so you can clear them before trying to do the escort quest. The escort can wait indefinitely, as long as you do it before any of the quests that can give you an invitation to the castle.
Some of the people in the farmlands have side quests for you. If your reputation gets too low NPCs can stop talking or trading with you.
Corinna in Verdistis has a quest for you, and (more importantly) is a good trader (next to Kistandalius probably the best source to purchase jewellery, large/silver charms and sometimes spell books).
If you are in Verdistis, anyway, get the quest from the guy in the cellar of the Ducal Inn, and go steal the item he wants. Don't return it, though; it is better to keep it yourself (in the disk version you can return it to complete the quest and then buy it back).Early Starter Tips (NON-Spoiler Version)Free skills, and spell books you can buy