Eating is one of my absolute favorite activities while traveling. Some of my best travel memories are through food; whether it’s finishing dinner in France with a plate of oozing, raw-milk cheeses or devouring a fresh, cilantro-flecked ceviche in a Chilean seafood market, food ties you to a place in a way like no other.
While it would be a tragedy to go all the way to Spain and skimp on trying the pricey but celestial Iberian ham, it’s an important to know when to save and when to splurge when it comes to food.
Here are some ideas for eating and drinking cheaply while still learning about the local food culture.
From pork gyros in Greece to fried herring on wasa in Sweden, street food is tasty and economical. While many people are skeptical about eating street food, my rule of thumb is that if you see a long line or the locals rave about it, the street food is safe for you to eat it too.
You’re never going to feel like Ina Garten in a hostel kitchen, but it is possible to make simple, filling meals; pasta with sausage and tomato sauce, bruschetta and goat cheese salad are some of my favorites. And don’t forgot to use the ‘free box’- most hostels have a box where travelers leave behind the ingredients they don’t need.
Farmers’ markets are a great way to collect ingredients for a picnic or a simple meal at the hostel (and also just a lot of fun to see). Once while staying in Cork, Ireland I bought Irish soda bread, buttered eggs and white cheddar at the famed English Market. I returned to my hostel and made myself a delicious fried egg and cheddar sandwich. Inexpensive, filling, delicious.
I love picnics- it’s a great way to save money while enjoying a simple meal, wine in the park and people-watching. Just bring a baguette with some cheese and deli meat and enjoy yourself! And even though Rick Steves has led me astray in the past, this picnic set actually looks very useful.
I also have some tips about how to drink cheaply abroad, check them out!