Money-Saving Food Planning for Europe

Traveling through Europe is an unforgettable experience, but the costs can quickly add up. One major expense is food, but with some savvy strategies, you can enjoy delicious meals without breaking the bank.

Here are some practical tips for money-saving food planning for Europe.

Dive into our ultimate guide to money-saving food planning for Europe and discover how to eat like a local, find hidden culinary gems, and make the most of every euro.

Ready to embark on a delicious, budget-friendly adventure? Let’s get started!

Shop at Local Markets

Local markets are a treasure trove of fresh produce, meats, and cheeses. Not only is the food fresher than what you’ll find in supermarkets, but the prices are often lower. Make it a point to visit markets early in the morning when vendors are setting up; you might snag some great deals.

In cities like Barcelona or Paris, markets like La Boqueria and Marché Bastille offer a wide variety of affordable, high-quality food. Buy some fresh bread, cheese, and fruits for a picnic in one of the many beautiful parks. This approach not only saves money but also allows you to experience local flavors.

Cook Your Own Meals

If your accommodation has a kitchen, take advantage of it. Cooking your own meals can drastically cut down your food expenses. Hostels, Airbnb apartments, and even some budget hotels offer kitchen facilities.

Head to a local supermarket or market to buy ingredients for simple meals. Preparing breakfast or dinner at “home” means you can splurge a bit more on lunch or treats during the day. Plus, it’s a fun way to try cooking with local ingredients!

Eat Like a Local

Eating where locals eat often means better prices and more authentic food. Tourist-heavy areas tend to have inflated prices and lower quality. Venture a few streets away from major attractions to find restaurants and cafes where locals dine.

Use apps like Yelp or TripAdvisor to find hidden gems. In Italy, look for trattorias; in Spain, search for tapas bars frequented by locals. The food will be more authentic, and your wallet will thank you.

Opt for Street Food

Street food is a fantastic way to taste local cuisine without spending a lot. European cities are known for their vibrant street food scenes. From crepes in Paris to currywurst in Berlin, there’s something for everyone.

Street food is often much cheaper than restaurant meals and just as delicious. Plus, it’s a great way to eat on the go if you’re exploring a city. Check out our guide to street food in Europe for more recommendations.

Take Advantage of Lunch Specials

Many European restaurants offer lunch specials that are much cheaper than their dinner menus. These “menu del día” deals usually include multiple courses and sometimes even a drink for a fixed price. It’s an excellent way to enjoy a sit-down meal without overspending.

Plan your day so that your main meal is at lunchtime. This way, you can enjoy a hearty meal without the hefty dinner price tag. In cities like Lisbon and Budapest, these deals can be particularly budget-friendly.

Use Food Apps and Discounts

Several apps can help you find discounts on food and drinks. Apps like Too Good To Go allow you to buy unsold food from restaurants at a fraction of the price. It’s not only budget-friendly but also helps reduce food waste.

Other apps like EatWith or BonAppetour offer unique dining experiences with locals at reasonable prices. These apps can provide you with insider tips on where to eat and help you discover fantastic deals.

Avoid Tourist Traps

Restaurants near major tourist attractions often charge higher prices for lower-quality food. Avoiding these traps can save you a lot of money. Instead, walk a few blocks away from the main attractions to find better and cheaper options.

Do some research before heading out for a meal. Look for reviews from fellow travelers or locals that highlight good-value eateries. Sometimes, the best meals are found off the beaten path.

Drink Tap Water

In many European countries, tap water is safe to drink and free! Carry a reusable water bottle and refill it throughout the day. This simple habit can save you several euros each day.

In cities like Rome and Madrid, public fountains provide fresh drinking water for free. Not only is this eco-friendly, but it also keeps you hydrated without spending money on bottled water.

I’ve not found a single place in Europe (major cities) which doesn’t have a free tap water for drinking. If you are going for hiking then I would suggest you to carry your own water bottle.

Pack Snacks

Having snacks on hand can prevent costly impulse buys when hunger strikes. Pack portable snacks like nuts, dried fruits, or granola bars. These can be lifesavers during long travel days or when local dining options are limited.

Snacks are especially useful when traveling with kids. They can help keep everyone happy and full between meals without resorting to expensive convenience stores or fast food.

During my recent trip to Genoa, Italy, I was able to cut the cost of food by 50% by cooking my meals at home and buying groceries from local shops.

Explore All-Inclusive Options

Sometimes all-inclusive deals can be more economical, especially in places where food is pricey. Look for accommodations that offer breakfast included or even full-board options.

This approach can simplify budgeting since most of your meals are covered upfront. Research and compare different options to see if an all-inclusive package fits your travel needs and budget.

Final Thoughts

Money-saving food planning for Europe doesn’t mean compromising on taste or experience. With some planning and local knowledge, you can enjoy delicious meals without overspending. Remember to try local markets, cook when possible, eat like a local, and use technology to find the best deals.

For more tips on budget travel in Europe, check out our Budget Travel Guide and other helpful articles on our Travel Tips page. Happy travels!

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