How To Eat For Less When Travelling

by Nat and Tim

When travelling, most people are too busy sightseeing to plan meals.  If you’re anything like Nat and Tim of A Cook Not Mad, you probably find yourself at midday realizing that you haven’t eaten breakfast because you woke up late and wanted to make sure you were first in line for such and such a museum, or church.  You think you’re going to faint if you don’t get some food in you, stop at the first restaurant you see and wind up paying too much when a bit of planning could have left you with more money in your pocket.

Nat and Tim share with us a few ways they learned to eat for less when travelling abroad:


Attend Festivals

A sagra in Italy

Small towns as well as big cities hold different types of festivals during the year.  Food related or not, you can bet that you will be able to find cheap eats.  Take for example the Italian sagra or festa, you can immerse yourself in the culture, often times strike up a conversation and be understood, even if you don’t speak the language and fill your belly with delicious food and drink for next to nothing.



Go to the Market

shopping for food in Italy

One of our preferred ways to save money eating when traveling is to hit the markets.  It gives you an idea of what people are eating in the area you are visiting.  You are sure to find fresh produce; possibly some cured meats, cheese and bread.  Gather your preferred things to eat and there you have it, an impromptu picnic to be had on a park bench or in your hotel room.


Cook for yourself

Home cooked boeuf Bourguignon

If you are staying in accommodations with access to a kitchen (apartment, hostel or hotel room with kitchenette) you can save some money by cooking some or all of your meals.  You can cook a delicious meal even in the smallest of kitchens.  Head to the nearest supermarket or green market and get some local ingredients, if you’re not sure how to prepare them, ask an employee or market stall attendant, you may end up with a new favourite recipe.


Carry Snacks

When you head out to explore make sure to bring snacks and drinks with you this way you won’t be stuck paying more in touristy areas.  Use a refillable water bottle (with filter if the water quality is questionable) and save even more.


Accept a Dinner Invitation

If you are in a situation where a local invites you to a family dinner, accept the invitation.  You will get a glimpse into life as a local and it will surely be a rich experience that you will remember for years to come.  Of course, don’t arrive with both arms swinging; bring a bottle of wine or dessert to offer your gracious hosts.


Fast Food


No matter where you are in the world there is bound to be some sort of fast food around and it doesn’t necessarily have to be unhealthy.  Think street food in Thailand or food trucks in Seattle.  Of course McDonald’s is available worldwide and they may be interesting to visit and see what they offer in different parts of the planet but it’s also interesting to see other countries’ version of typical fast food like FEBO in Amsterdam or the Bicky burger in Belgium.  Fast food is fast, cheap and when you’re stuck and starving, it fills the bill.



Your food bill doesn’t need to be exorbitant while abroad.  With a bit of research and these tips you can enjoy your time away and save your money.  And remember; when in doubt ask a local, they know where to get the best deals!