I’m on a extremely tight budget for my overseas trip (leaving in just over a month!), and if it comes to it I’ll definitely choose new clothes (or a new Kate Spade handbag… Fingers crossed!) over food. To help my budget, I’m going to employ the following tips:
1. Loyalty Programs
Fast food restaurants often have loyalty programs which let you earn points for each purchase, and sometimes reward you just for signing up! The best way to do this, in my opinion at least, is to see the fast food places you’re most likely to eat at (for me, there’s an IHOP next door to one of the hotels I’m staying at, a Ben and Jerry’s at another, and a Dunkin Donuts near another, therefore it’s pretty much inevitable I’ll be going to those places at least once) and then see what loyalty programs they might offer.
I signed up for the Dunkin Donuts loyalty program, which gave me a free hot beverage voucher; Ben and Jerry’s, which gave me a free ice cream voucher; IHOP, which gave me a free stack of pancakes voucher, and Earl of Sandwich which gave me a free brownie voucher (from my recollection, I signed up before my trip last year) – all just for signing up!
If you happen to be travelling around the time of your birthday, these loyalty programs often send you free vouchers for your birthday, too.
2. Buy Somewhere Else
I am obsessed with Ghiradelli chocolate, which you can’t get anywhere in Australia. Naturally, I will be stocking up when I go to America (…bringing back a full suitcase of chocolate is normal, right??). I’ll be visiting Ghiradelli on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, and I’ll be visiting Ghiradelli at Downtown Disney in Orlando…. BUT, the likelihood of actually buying chocolate there is slim. Why? Because it’s cheaper elsewhere:
At Ghiradelli in San Francisco, the (amazingly supercalifragilisticexpialidocious-ly delicious) chocolate bars I like are $4.35 + tax.
At Ghiradelli in Orlando, I’m also assuming they’re $4.35 + tax, if not more (I can’t find the exact price, because I fail at the internet).
At Walgreens in Union Square, right near where I’m staying, it is $2.99 + tax.
Am I saving much? No, but every dollar counts. Check around for products you like – is it cheaper elsewhere?
3. Snack for Lunch
If you can, have a late/ big breakfast, and then have a ‘snack’ for lunch. Buying a box of granola bars from a supermarket is always going to be cheaper than buying a lunch from a cafe. Options for a (relatively) healthy and filling lunch ‘snack’ are granola bars, nuts and dried fruit or trail mix, or otherwise, if you can, pack a sandwich that doesn’t need refrigeration – like peanut butter or nutella, which can be purchased cheaply at grocery stores – or even some hotel gift shops.
If you’d prefer not to have a granola bar or a PB&J for lunch, some grocery stores offer an inexpensive make your own salad bar, or a cup of soup from a department store food court (e.g. Bloomingdales) can run as cheap as $3.
At some point, I will post a list of cheap (and decent) places that I like to frequent for a cheap lunch when in America, so keep your eye out for that one!
4. Buy Kids Meals
Whilst portion size is inevitably smaller when you buy a kids meal (after all, kids have smaller appetites, right?) they often come with a drink, and in the case of Disney (I’ll be posting a separate ‘how to save money at Disney’ post really soon) and a few other places, come with sides. Whilst it may not be as much food, it can often be up to half the price of an adult meal.
Whilst I find that I can easily eat an adult’s meal, a kids meal does exactly the same job of quelling my hunger – and I’d much rather eat less food, and save money if it comes down to it!
When you’re grocery shopping overseas, check out for coupons for local grocery stores. I’m constantly checking Coupons.com, Walmart’s coupons, Walgreens’ coupons, and the Food Emporium’s coupons. I also search for coupons for particular fast food places, just buy googling ‘(food place) coupons’. Sometimes, I’m lucky and there’ll be coupons for that particular place, sometimes there won’t be – but it’s worth a shot.
This post is getting massively long, and I have to go to the gym now (*sigh*… I’d much rather not), so I’m just going to leave it there, with my 5 best ways of saving money when eating overseas. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments!
How do you save money on food when travelling – or at all? What are your tips? What are your favourite places to get a cheap meal? Let me know in the comments!
PS. I often listen to music when writing these posts, so I thought at the end of each of them I might write the song/songs I listened to whilst writing. Today, I listened to ‘Beat This Summer’ by Brad Paisley on repeat. The video clip is so cute!