If you want to learn how to eat cheap or even free while on the road, you must have an open mind and a sauce made of hunger. It’s really not as hard as you may think though and you may actually form some habits, though not always legal ones, that could save you thousands when you return home.
One of a travelers biggest expense is food. In this guide I will teach you the techniques that will enable you to cut your food costs and prolong your adventure indefinitely. The first section will covers some simple ways that you can enhance the value of your dollar. I will then introduce you to some strategies, albeit unorthodox ones, that could potentially eliminate your food expenses all together.
Let’s say you’re backpacking with a group of friends, all of whom are much better endowed financially than yourself. You have been hitting the town every night since your trip began and inevitably, your funds are beginning to dry out. Although you still have 3 weeks left, the last 300 dollars is threatening to cut that time in half. What do you do? Have an epic night out and reschedule your flight back home for the next day? Well, you could, or you could implement a few simple budget saving methods.
Though these tactics are fairly obvious, they are often overlooked. 1. Only buy food from supermarkets. Your best bet is to stock up on bread, chocolate, cheese and cold cuts. 2. Never buy food in the train station or other tourist traps. Prices here tend to be 30-40% higher than the rest of the world. 3. Simply try and cut back on your consumption. If you are still struggling with finances, the following methods will bring your food costs down to 0$.
Eat For Free
These next methods are reserved for the traveler whose not afraid to get a bit dirty. 1. Dumpster diving. Every market has very strict regulations when it comes to aging produce and meat. In the result, they are forced to dispose of myriad edible foods, on and sometimes even a few days before their expiration dates. What does this mean for you? If you’re willing to jump on in that dumpster, you may just find your self in Zagat heaven. Well, not quite that nice but nice enough if you’re starving. While you’re in the dumpster, carefully selecting and gathering food, keep on the look out for additional items that you might be able to resell or recycle. Flowers, cans, and bottles are always good finds. If you aren’t able to sell the flowers on the street, you can always use them to try and pick up a girl or guy, provided you’ve showered recently.
The next approach in your quest for complementary dishes is in some ways, depending on your perspective, a bit more unsanitary than the last. How could it be more unsanitary than getting up inside a dumpster you ask? 2. The buffet left overs. In some ways it isn’t as bad though because the food is still luke warm and you can chose which peoples leftovers you want to eat. Just wait till they place their unfinished plate on the rack in the corner and help your self! I would try and be discreet about this method though if you want to avoid a mix of sympathetic and disapproving stares. In the end though, you will really be amazed with what you can walk away with. I once managed an untouched hot dog and a full plate of fries. One of the best days of my journey!
Another method, similar to the last, is to ask 3. restaurant and cafe owners for their leftovers or expired foods. Many times these owners will be kind and let you help your self. And if they are really nice, they might even treat you to a proper meal. Similarly, you might even find a meal in the offer of a friendly local whose invited you to his/her home. These are often the best meals because the food is traditional and never in short supply.
The final and illegal option is to 4. steal. However, this is the least advisable option and should only be utilized as a last resort. Karma is real and when you steal food, more times than not you will end up with diarrhea or with several birds pooping on your head. True stories.
To sum up, if you’re not too strapped for cash, shop smart and eat less. If you’re starving, be savvy, hit the dumpster and stay positive, you never know when you might run into an old friend for the first time.
Good luck and safe travels
Ps. If you have ever utilized these techniques or have some of your own, I would love to hear about them. Feel free to post below.