Whenever we go for vacation or travel to different cities, a major chunk of the expenses is on food and drinks. No matter how much you try to cut on food expenses, you end up shelling out a lot on this necessary item. However, during budget travelling, apart from lodging, expenses on food can be cut down to a great extent if planned wisely. Now when you are football travelling (like we did this time during FIFA WC 2018) you are on the go for 15-20 days. During those travelling days, eating restaurant bought/store bought food for every meal of the day can be disastrous both for your tummy and your pocket. However, there are some hacks which can solve this problem quite effectively. During our stay in Russia for the FIFA WC 2018, we tried the following things to eat healthily and cut down the money we spend on food and drinks:
1) Try to stay in accommodations which have a kitchen
This is one of the major criteria we look for while booking our accommodations. Cooking food is always cheaper than store-bought food. That is why we like cooking our own food while on the go. Yes, we do eat out and love to try local cuisine at local eating joints and restaurants. But eating out for continuous 15-20 days can be tiresome for your stomach and pocket. You cannot do that for all your meals, right? Now, some of you might be thinking, “Why will I spend so much time to cook food while I am there to explore new places and enjoy football matches?” Trust me guys, you can prepare very tasty meals in just minutes and that too super cheap.
The kitchen at KD Hostel, Kaliningrad, Russia
2) Use supermarkets and local markets
I will suggest doing some research on the local markets and supermarkets in the city that you are travelling. For this, you have your best friend google to help you out. Local markets are probably where you will find the best ingredients. However, buying from local markets may require bargaining. This is because in some places if the seller realises that you are a foreigner, they might try to rip you off. Now, if you do not want to take that trouble while travelling, just find out the best supermarket around and you will be fine.
A local Market in Kazan, Russia
From our experience, we have realized that locals usually prefer to shop from the local markets rather than supermarkets. Especially if they want to buy fresh produce, meat or fish. But the choice is yours. Either way, you will save a lot of money.
Fresh Produce In a Super Market in Kaliningrad, Russia
3) Use minimum ingredients to cook
Try to use fewer ingredients for your meals. Bengali moms always use a proverb which translates in English as following “If salt, pepper, and sugar are in the right proportion you already have a tasty dish”. This is universally true. You just need a few ingredients to cook a balanced and tasty meal. If you master the art of cooking with fewer ingredients, the advantages are:
- You won’t need to spend a fortune to buy ingredients;
- You don’t need to worry about storing them or carrying them along while you are travelling;
- You will save hours of prepping your ingredients before you cook.
Easily Available Common Ingredient. We Were Cooking Crab Meat Pasta
The Product Crab Meat Pasta, Ingredients – Olive Oil, Garlic, Parsley, Crab Meat, Spaghetti, Salt & Pepper
4) Free breakfast
Who doesn’t love a complimentary breakfast!!! Imagine you are ready to start your adventurous day in a foreign city and you have a sumptuous breakfast delivered to your room. The feeling is just awesome. With this thing on mind, try to book hotels or hostels that provide free breakfasts. Many mid-range hotels provide breakfast menus.
Free Breakfast Cereals at KD Hostel Kaliningrad
We have stayed in hostels where they had provided free breakfast cereals, tea bags, and coffees. We are not suggesting you live on these freebies for your entire stay. But don’t be shy. It’s okay to use them for your breakfast. Even if you must buy breakfast, try to find cheap breakfast options. Breakfast menus are usually cheaper than a full course lunch or dinner, especially in Europe. Try to make your cheapest meal the heaviest.
5) Pack your lunch
This is another way to save up your cash while on the road. We do it all the time as this is a good way to save a hole in our pockets. While we are preparing breakfast or dinner, we pack some of the same food. One of the easiest options can be wraps. In fact, wraps were the lifesavers when we were travelling during the WC 2018. You can fill your wraps with chicken, bacon, lettuce tomatoes or anything that you fancy. They are healthy, tasty, easy to pack and carry along. Most importantly, they are easy on pockets. If you are carrying something like pasta or rice, you can carry lightweight plastic boxes. Your food will be fresh that way.
Enjoying Our Packed Lunch At Zelenogradsk
6) Ask advice from the locals on eating out
It’s never bad to take help of the locals of a place you are exploring. If you ask your hotel or travel guide, they will likely refer you to the high-end restaurants and pubs popular among tourists. Instead, ask the locals for advice on where they eat or hang out usually. You will be surprised to find out some hidden gems in town. This is the best way to find out the good places to eat out. Locals of a place not always eat out at expensive places.
One very useful resource which the travel community doesn’t talk about a lot and sometimes even frowns upon is wiki travel. We found some fantastic places to eat which were pocket-friendly from wiki travels.
We Read About This Restaurant In Wiki Travels. Bilyar Serves Exotic Tatar Food in Kazan, Russia
7) Dine with a local
This is something we absolutely love. There are many platforms which allow you to live with the locals. For example, couch surfing and Airbnb. While you are staying with them, you have the best opportunity to have local home-made food. You could offer to buy or pay for the ingredients. In Kazan, we used Airbnb to book our accommodation. Our host Elena was a very kind lady. She used to make a delicious breakfast for us. The night before we were leaving Kazan, we prepared Indian style chicken curry accompanied with basmati rice for her. She treated us with Russian Salad. We not only made food we made some wonderful memories. We became such good friends with Elena that we are still in touch with her.
Chicken Curry And Basmati Rice Made By Us
Russian Salad Made By Elena, We Enjoyed It With Hoegaarden
There is a dedicated website that connects you with locals with whom you can dine with for a meal. It is called eatwith.com. We have personally not tried this, so will not be able to provide you a review. Honestly, we had browsed through some of the “experiences” available on the website. We found it a bit expensive for the kind of budget we usually travel on. But you can always explore this.
8) Avoid spending money on drinking water
You may not agree upon this one. You will be surprised how quickly it adds up to the total cost of your trip. Yes, we too buy packed water. However, we try to do it smartly so that we do not end up spending a lot of money on water. Many times, it is not possible to find clean drinking water on the go. But whenever we bought water, we tried to get the largest bottle (1.5 to 2 litres). If you buy in large volume, the price is always less. Also, try to buy water from supermarkets as it is always cheaper. For example, in Russia when we bought 1.5 litres of water we usually paid 30 roubles. The same brand of water when bought from a roadside stall or small store in a smaller volume (0.5 litres) was a lot more expensive (50-70 Roubles).
The best option is to totally avoid buying water because in many western countries water is very expensive. Sometimes half a litre of water cost lot more than a pint of beer. Try to stay in accommodations where they have a water purifier or water softener (If tap water is drinkable). Tap water is safe to drink in some countries. However, just confirm this from the locals or landlord. Whenever you see a drinking water point refill your bottles. Another solution is to carry water bottles which have an inbuilt water purifier. We haven’t used one of these yet. But we will probably carry one of these on our next trip. We will surely post a review article on it.
Arindam Refilling Our Water Bottle At Drinking Water Point In Gorky Park, Moscow, Russia
9) Avoid drinking alcohol in pubs, bars, and stadiums
Nothing is better than watching football with a beer can in hand. Whenever you are travelling for football, you tend to shell out a chunk of your budget on alcohol. Alcohol can get very expensive during major tournaments especially in stadiums, pubs, and bar. For example, during FIFA World Cup 2018, a glass of beer available at the stadium and fan fests were 350 Roubles. If you are a westerner, you might be thinking that’s cheap but for poor souls like us it was quite expensive. Moreover, the same beer (A can of Budweiser) cost approximately 65-70 Roubles in a supermarket. It is best if you can avoid alcohol altogether.
Yummy Dinner with Beer – Ready To Be Enjoyed While Watching Football On TV
Football Fans From Around The Enjoying A Match on TV at Mon Ami Hostel Lounge, St Petersburg, Russia
If that is not possible for you here is what we do (yes, we are guilty as well). We try to avoid drinking in a pub or bar. We do that occasionally only if accompanied by good food. We buy beer from the supermarket and have it at our hostels or accommodations. Hostels usually have a big lounge with TVs; so, you could enjoy your match and dinner with beer there. That’s how you turn it into a sports bar. You can drink in open in most western countries. However, it is advisable to check the laws with locals before drinking in open. On match days, you can have the beer or drink at your room before leaving for the match. Trust me, you will feel that kick during the match even if you are not drinking at that time.
So, these are the ways that we adapt to save money on food and drink. Let us know in the comments section if you have any tips to share. We would be glad to learn.