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How to Save Money on Food

Food is a great way to discover your destination, and every meal does not have to be a major expense.

From knowing where the locals eat cheaply, to sampling your way through an open-air market, there are many ways to save money and still enjoy memorable dining experiences. Here are some tips and tricks to help you stretch your daily budget.

Hit the Local Bar

In most cities you will find downtown streets lined with pubs and bars. Almost every bar across Europe offers more than just alcohol – you’ll also find bread, cheese, meats, and several kinds of snacks such as pommes frites and a variety of tortas available. Best of all, bar menus boast high-end flavor at a low-end cost, and many pubs offer outdoor seating.

Head out for Middle-Eastern, Indian, or Chinese Food

You might not be in Dubai, New Delhi, or Shenzhen, but cheap foods from around the world are everywhere in Europe, South America and, Africa. Some of the best food you’ll eat will be from small “hole in the wall” eateries featuring popular dishes from the Middle East, India, and China. For a few euros, enjoy a lunch of kabobs, falafel, tikka masala (curried chicken), or chow fun (flat rice noodles with vegetables or meat). These cuisines may not be what you expect to eat in the middle of Paris, but they offer a delicious way to save your budget for a few more extravagant French dinners.

Sweet & Savory Street Vendors

Whether you need a quick lunch or you’re craving for an after-dinner treat, street vendors are happy to oblige at prices that can’t be beat. You can find everything from savory regional specialties, to roasted nuts and freshly sliced fruit from the local countryside. For a sweet snack, be on the lookout for sidewalk food carts selling gelato, local pastries, or crêpes. Street vendors are a great way to save money on food while traveling, plus they offer a terrific taste of how the locals eat.

Cafeteria Dining

In many cities, you will find cafeteria-style dining is available and at lower prices than traditional restaurants. Grab a tray, get in line and pick the appetizer, entrée, drink, and dessert of your choice. You’ll have plenty of options to choose from, making cafeteria dining an excellent choice for those traveling in groups. The price is right and the food is fresh, typically offering seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Picnicking

Dining al fresco can be one of the best ways to eat on a budget when traveling abroad. Head to any open-air market or local grocer to stock up on traditional meats and cheeses, find excellent and affordable wines and artisan breads for a few euros. In addition to your food, pick up a corkscrew, a small knife, and disposable containers to take your dining experience to a local park or sit on the steps in a town square. Buy at least one container with a lid, to double as a small cutting board, plus you can repack anything you don’t eat. A memorable picnicking adventure will cost you a fraction of what you’d spend at a restaurant.

Read more about picnicking in Europe here

All of these tips will help you budget on a daily basis, but don’t forget that you’re on vacation! Splurge once in a while for that fancy restaurant, or unique local specialty.

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