Eating Well on a Backpacker's Budget
Arriving in Australia, we had been told that food was expensive out here, but it still doesn't prepare you for when you see the price tags on the shelf edges, at first forgetting to account for the currency differences, then still, thinking, 'bloody hell that's dear!'.
We always intended to self-cater wherever possible, we aren't fancy eaters, and we rarely ate out in England, because money wasn't abundant and we always enjoyed cheaper options and eating in. So we knew we would cautiously buy our food here, and that's what we did, fairly successfully.
The first day here we made the mistake of buying food from a local shop (vegemite, weetbix, bread, milk, spaghetti, other basics, totalling $28), then realizing days later after a trip to Woolworth's (an inexpensive supermarket in Australia), that we had been a tad ripped off, through our own fault of not researching where was cheapest to shop locally.
In Woolworth's we managed to get cheap noodles, pasta sauce concentrate mixes, Nutino (a nutella dupe), parmesan for not much over $10, and we shopped around for alcohol, getting a 6-pack of cider for $12 as opposed to $20. Then on another day we located an even cheaper and more local supermarket, Coles. We spent about $20 in Coles on pasta, broccoli, onions, apples, a pasta sauce, orange juice, bread, milk, cheese, and cookies (not having snacks was getting us down!). We definitely bought the cheapest versions of what we needed and it resulted in a decent saving.
Our top tips from our first grocery shopping experience in Melbourne...
1> Go further (walk/bus/train) to larger chain stores to avoid paying inflated local small food-store prices.
2> Research the cheapest priced supermarkets in the region/area, instead of marching around all the different stores comparing.
3> Buy enough food for all your meals for however long you intend to stay in your location. We made our breakfast foods last the week and only topped up on perishables once.
4> If you want to eat out, plan ahead. We found a small place called 'Lentil As Anything' in St. Kilda where you pay what you feel your meal is worth, but realistically you will spend around $12 at most. We could of meandered for ages and ended up so hungry we spent more than we wanted to, but we found out about this place before we left the house that day, so it was a goal to visit it as opposed to turn up starving to somewhere overpriced.
5> Buy key meal ingredients in bulk sizes. We like toast for breakfast, and pasta for dinner, which we eat a lot but both can be bland meals, so we bought larger versions of chocolate spread and parmesan, which will last us a good while.
6> Make food you will enjoy. If you think you are saving money by making basic and non-nutritious meals you may find yourself so bored and unsatisfied that you raid the local fish and chip shop. Make variety part of your cooking, it isn't luxurious, its preventing extra food spending!
7> In Melbourne there are water fountains and filtered water taps in lots of places, a great way to keep your water bottle full, and yourself hydrated, staving off cravings for a quick duck into a cafe or coffee-shop.
Thanks for reading!
Hannah and Taran here. We hail from Southern England, where we met online and are now realizing our mutual passion for travel here at Nomad'erHowFar. We discuss Nomadic Living, Simplifying your Life and Long-term Travel, to empower, motivate and inspire our readers. Get to know us here!