Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations for saving money on food while traveling.

Eating out and trying local cuisines is one of the biggest parts of travel and shouldn’t be completely cut out just because you have a tight budget.

Here are ten methods that I use to save money on food while traveling. If you have your own, please share them in the comments below.

For more budget tips, read recommendations for finding travel accommodation on a budget.

1. Cook 1-2 meals per day minimum

Aim to cook 1-2 meals per day in your place of accommodation, and then make the meals you eat out count e.g. good quality, local dishes. There is no point wasting your money buying slices of pizza in Paris.

Don’t worry if you aren’t a master chef (trust me, I can barely boil an egg). The dishes can be very simple. Consider bread or cereals for breakfast, then pasta, rice. and noodles with vegetables for dinner. Going to supermarkets or local food markets in other countries can be very eye opening and a lot of fun! So this will actually add another element to your trip.

Just remember to choose accommodation that comes with a kitchen e.g. hostel, aparthotel, Airbnb.

Sign up to Airbnb and receive a $20 USD ($28 AUD) credit for your first stay.

fresh-produce-on-the-market-tour-in-bangkok-thailand

2. Go local

Do you research before or ask your hotel reception where the cheapest and best local restaurants are. I have also found that tour guides have great tips for restaurants and bars. In Warsaw, I was able to have a 3-course meal for less than the equivalent of USD $5 by eating at a Bar Mleczny (milk bar).

Read my reasons why Warsaw, Poland should be your next European destination.

Lunch-at-Bar-mleczny-in-Warsaw-Poland-Adoration-4-Adventure

3. Share a main

Not all meal sizes are created equal. Depending on which country you visit, an appetizer can be the size of a main in your home country (I am looking at you, U.S.A.). Get an idea of the size of the meal is before ordering. You could even ask your server to demonstrate the portion size using their hands. Then consider whether an appetizer will be enough.

Alternatively, it might be worthwhile splitting one main dish between two people. If you are traveling solo and the meal size it large, take your leftovers to go and eat for your next lunch or dinner.

4. Fillers are appetite killers

When I was younger and my family would go to an all-you-can-eat restaurant, Mum would always tell us not to fill up on bread. Well, here I am telling you to do exactly the opposite. If you are eating out and there is free bread – go for it! Then order a starter instead of a main. This also works if you order carbohydrate-heavy starters as a meal. I have been known (more than once) to order a bowl of fries as dinner to save money.

Obviously, moderation is important and anything in excess over an extended period of thing can be a bad thing. Even my best friends, carbohydrates. So please take your own health into consideration before bingeing on bread like me.

Dinner-at-A-Venda-Faro-Portugal

5. Drink water

Okay, so water is a beverage, not a food, however, the cost of drinks in restaurants can really add up. If you want to save money, stick to water when eating out then buy a bottle of wine or beers from the supermarket to drink back at the hostel.

6. Be cheap and/or go vegetarian

A very easy method to use! Browse the menu and choose the cheapest option on it. This is literally me in almost any restaurant. Vegetarian meals are also usually cheaper than those with meat, so it could be a healthy alternative.

If you are vegetarian or vegan, read my top 5 tips for traveling with a food allergy or preference.

Tea-and-scones-in-Limerick-Ireland-Adoratin-4-Adventure

7. Choose accommodation that includes breakfast

This is something I always try to do when I travel. Breakfast may not be the most expensive meal of the day but the cost can quickly add up. Hotel booking websites like Booking.com will even give you the option of filtering for accommodation that includes free breakfast.

Make your next Booking.com reservation and receive a $15 USD ($20 AUD) credit after your stay.

Also, check with your place of accommodation whether they have vouchers or discounts for local restaurants.

Breakfast-buffet-at-Gat-Rooms-Restaurant-Lisbon-Portugal

8. Bakeries

If your accommodation doesn’t include free breakfast, then look for a local bakery to get a cheap but filling meal. Supermarkets and bakeries are also great places to pick up sandwiches for a cheap lunch. Take it to the nearest park and make a picnic out of it.

9. Eat on the street

Honestly, if I had a choice of eating at a restaurant or from a street food vendor, I would probably choose the latter. I adore street food! It’s usually cheap, fresh, and local. When traveling through the regions of South East Asia and Central America, you can eat for as little as USD $1.

Read how much it costs to backpack Central America.

Pupusas in San Ignacio, Belize

10. Restaurant alternatives

For the experience of eating local cuisine without the necessary restaurant price tag, there are restaurant alternatives. BonAppetour is a platform that provides in-home dining experiences, cooking classes, and tastings. The in-home dining experiences are hosted by local chefs and provide a fun atmosphere to talk to locals and make new friends.

Using BonAppetour, I have taken a Thai cooking class in Bangkok, Thailand and had dinner with a Portuguese family in Lisbon.

Book your next Bonappetour experience using the A4A Reader Discount Code “A4A10OFF” and receive 10% off.

Eating my Thai meal at Bangkok Cooking Academy


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Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations for money on food while traveling. Methods I regularly use to find low-cost meals and restaurant alternatives.

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