When you think of travelling, you think of vibrant markets, cosy cafes, and trying new foods. It's part of the experience, taking in the culture, but when you're on the road and you're on a tight budget eating out can be tricky. But trying local food doesn't have to mean spending loads of money on dining out. Here's seven tips to help you save money, get creative in the kitchen and eat well on the road.
Eat like the locals
Local produce is always cheaper. Skip the foreign imports and comfort food and pick up something regional. Just because they sell Cheddar cheese and West Country butter doesn't mean you should pay twice the price for it because it reminds you of home. Pick up something local, try something new and you might just find it's even better.
Buy from markets & street vendors
See those little old ladies sitting on chairs by the side of the road with crates of veg? Or that guy selling jars of honey and bottles of wine out the back of his van? Stop and take a look.
Odds are they'll be a fraction of the price of the ones they sell in supermarkets, home grown and locally produced.
Markets can be tricky to find if you don't know the area, but if you're passing by and see one make sure you pop in for a bargain. Keep some cash on you at all times and keep your eyes peeled while you're on the road.
We've managed to get a weeks' veg for £1.60 before, and once got an entire crate of fresh tomatoes for under £2!
Our usual method of eating cheap is to plan out our week's meals in advance and buy accordingly, but once we realised we could buy seasonal veg direct from the grower we decided to start buying what we saw and then figuring out how to make a meal out of it. Potatoes and onions are year-round staples, but look out for squash in the autumn, kale in the winter and corn in the summer. One big squash or pumpkin can make you a week's meals- one giant pumpkin even made us 20 meals, enough for ten days!
Roast it on a fire, boil it in a soup, shallow fry it or add it to your usual meals to liven things up. Whatever it is, there's a recipe for it.
This has always been our go-to method for saving money. Don't waste money on gas cooking every night or buying loads of different ingredients, get the biggest pot you can possibly fit in your van and cook up an enormous three day meal in it.
If eating the same meal for three days straight sounds boring then jazz it up a bit each day- cook up a big pot of tomato pasta, on day one eat it straight, day two with cheese, day three with pesto. Try swapping rice for couscous, or switch up your baguette for a flat bread or farmhouse loaf.
Which brings me to my next point...
The French eat it with every meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner.
When Marie Antoinette famously said, "Let them eat cake" she was talking about baguette.
It's cheap, it's filling and it's a staple food. Buy it fresh from the shop, part-baked or make it from scratch.
The possibilities are endless and you'll find you need smaller portions of food.
Save on gas and build a fire.
It's a much more fun and involved way of cooking, it gets you outside, it keeps you warm, it adds a smokey flavour to your food, you can even boil a kettle on it and wash up afterwards.
The possibilities are endless.
If it's not raining outside you've got no excuse- build a fire.
If you want to treat yourself and eat out then check out where the locals eat- after all, they know best.
Do your research and find yourself a bargain- the amount of times we've had a delicious meal out for under a tenner is astounding.
In pretty much any country apart from England you can usually find a decent pizza for around €5, but you can guarantee that regional dishes will be just as cheap.
While it’s not for every traveller, a few of our friends we’ve met on the road have told us of the delights of Dumpster Diving, and shared with us some tips. Dumpster diving simply involves sneaking round the back of supermarkets and fruit and veg stores and taking the produce they’re throwing out. While you can get in big trouble for this in England, you can also find literal tons of free food, wine, tobacco, snacks, fruits and vegetables, often as fresh as you’d buy it in store. The key is to take a little at a time, or preferably visit when a shop is shut.
Let us know in the comments below if you’re ever tried Dumpster Diving before, and if you had any luck!
So there we have it, seven ways to eat cheap and eat well on the road. It's a great way to save money, try new food and get outdoors. What better way to get the most out of travelling?