I am in absolute food heaven at the moment. Grilled seafood, meats and fresh salad and vegetables as far as the eye can see. On my!
We have sampled a LOT of local produce and specialties on this trip so far. Bratwurst, sauerkraut, goulash, dumplings, schnitzel, spit-roasted meats, squid, fish… I could go on and on.
I’ve read on a couple of other PF blogs that the best way to eat cheaply when traveling is to cook for yourself, but at this I get a major operator error alarm going off and my heart sinks. Cooking for yourself? Where’s the culinary delight in that? For me, eating the local food is a major part of experiencing a new culture. To give them their due though, it might not hurt to do that a couple of times, especially if you are staying in accommodation with cooking facilities and have lots of good, fresh produce available from local markets. But for the rest of the time, here are some tips for avoiding blowing the budget on food while traveling
Breakfast for pennies
If I could give one tip about avoiding getting ripped off food-wise while traveling it would be thus: if your hotel offers breakfast included in their price, partake of it. If it doesn’t, do not pay to eat there. Hotel buffet breakfasts are excellent value if included in the room rate, otherwise, you will pay stupid amounts of money for the privilege. Last night the hotel we were staying at didn’t include breakfast, and at check-in we were asked if we wanted to have breakfast at the hotel at a cost of twenty euros a head. Negative Ghost Rider! You would really have to eat a LOT to get your money’s worth at those prices; you’re really only paying for the immense variety of food options available. You are much better off heading to a coffee house and bakery and eating for pennies instead.
Eat where the locals eat
If you are looking for a place to eat, try to avoid the restaurants that are full of tourists, and instead seek the places that are full of the locals. You will get a more genuine food experience, and are more likely to be supporting locally run-eateries than if you eat in the big restaurants aimed at pulling in the tourist buck. If in doubt avoid anything that has wait staff dressed in national costume!
Head for the markets
If you find a large food market, often there are stalls that offer fast, tasty food that you can eat standing up. A great way to eat cheaply, locally, and on the go. There are usually also small locally-run cafes nearby that serves up the market’s ingredients cheaply with daily changing menus.
Order the plate of the day
In this part of the world the main meal of the day is lunch; which means that in restaurants the plate of the day is usually only available during the day, not in the evening. The plate of the day is usually cheaper than eating off the menu and is a great way to sample food you might not otherwise choose.