You are traveling on a shoestring budget to wonderful exotic destinations where food is fragrant, inviting and so far removed from your usual fare that in some cases you have no idea what it is. But constrained by cash, (and sometimes fear,) you end up in an international fast food chain, eating cheap burgers and fries. Surely there is a better way of eating cheaply?
In expensive first world countries where restaurant prices are exorbitant, try small delis and supermarkets. Here you can buy fresh food, prepared meals, fruit and drinks at prices afforded by the local population. Most shops have microwave ovens where you can warm takeaway food, or alternatively they will heat the food up for you. Then all you need to do is choose some beautiful spot to eat your meal as you watch the life of the city go by.
If you wish to eat in a restaurant, do not choose one close to a popular tourist attraction. These tend to be more expensive than restaurants situated a few blocks away and sometimes the quality of the food is poor. Consult restaurant guides for the city or town that you are in. Try to find restaurants frequented by locals. They tend to have good quality food and reflect prices that have not been inflated for a tourist trade.
Look for specials in restaurants in off peak days and seasons. Many restaurants run specials in times when trade is low. You can sometimes have meals in beautiful up-market restaurants for a fraction of their normal price. Lunchtimes are sometimes cheaper than evenings, depending on the country that you are traveling in. Eat your main meal during the day and have a snack in the evening if this is the case.
Check local newspapers for information about farmers markets and local produce fairs. These always offer amazing varieties of homemade meals, as well as breads, meats, cheeses and preserves. Farmers markets have become extremely popular in cities around the world and are a fascinating insight into the lives of the cities inhabitants.
Street markets are a great place to get good quality affordable meals. Before choosing your vendor, spend a few minutes looking at the market trade. Choose a vendor that is popular. Food which is prepared and sold speedily will generally be safe and delicious. It is also a great opportunity to try something new. You may end up with a new favorite food. Curries and spices preserve food, so choosing something spicy is usually a safe eating experience.
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