Updated on June 13, 2010
5 Tips for Eating on a Budget
We all need ways to cut costs while traveling. I like to splurge on an expensive meal from time to time as much as the next guy, but during a typical day it is important to keep costs down. I find it amusing that I can describe a day traveling as typical.
1.) Hang out in grocery stores
It may not be as exciting as eating in a nice restaurant or even at a small roadside establishment, but it will fill your stomach and keep your wallet off “E.” Many grocery stores have delis which offer an excellent opportunity to get a good meal for cheap.
Your other option at grocery stores is of course to buy groceries. If you are staying in a hostel; you probably have access to a kitchen. If you do; use it. Cooking for yourself will save you untold amounts on your budget. If you don’t have access to a kitchen a pack stove may be a valuable addition to your kit. If you haven’t already done so, check out my post on alcohol stoves.
2.) Learn to cook and do so well
Learning to cook can save you money in multiple ways. Being able to cook a palatable meal means that you will be able to stand your own cook long enough to save money, but it also gives you the opportunity for free meals. If you can impress others enough with your culinary skills they may just give you a free meal in exchange for your services.
3.) Choose menu items wisely
We have all made orders that turned out to be less than filling and sometimes thats ok, but I try not to make a habit of it. For instance I have a passion for seafood, but seafood is often more expensive and less filling than other options. I wouldn’t want to order chiporones and expect to be full. Chiporones are baby squid sauteed in a butter sauce.
Side items are typically where most restaurants make their money. The markup on sides is huge. You can often save money by buying “a la carte.” You have to ask yourself if fries or rice is really worth the extra cost. Many places also have different prices for items on bread or on a plate. At one cerveceria in Montevideo I noticed that the price for panchos (hotdogs) doubled with the addition of a bun. The same thing also happens with more filling sandwiches.
4.) Fresh fruit and veggies
Fresh fruit and vegetables are incredibly cheap throughout much of the world. Take advantage of this incredible opportunity. In most places processed food is more expensive than fresh. Buy some fresh fruit for your pack while you’re at the grocery store buying a cheap meal thanks to reading about it here.
5.) Take your leftovers
You paid for the food you might as well take the leftovers with you. A small Tupperware container could come in very handy, but mot places will wrap food up for you. I like to have something more secure to prevent spills in my pack. I really don’t need to have dressing or grease all over my clothes when I open my pack the next morning.
Hopefully these tips will help save you some money. The savings add up quickly and it could mean extra time traveling.