Western Europe: Is it Possible to Eat Cheap?

Isn't this penguin sitting in front of a pile of Euros so cute (and somewhat creepy?) I thought everyone would appreciate this penguin as much as I did when I found him on Google images. On a more serious note, the reason why I decided to use the picture above is to convey the common concerns of a traveler on a tight budget...not in Asia, or India...or, even Thailand...
in Europe.
As an American solo traveler, I find that it can be much more challenging to be frugal in Europe...more specifically, Western Europe compared to traveling in Vietnam or Thailand. As a matter of fact, it's pretty damn rare to find a sufficient meal for anything less than 5-10 Euros in a restaurant - - a constant reminder that I am definitely NOT in Southeast Asia anymore.
For those of you who plan to travel to Western Europe one day or want to return - - I have found there are ways to not only be creative with the mighty Euro but also be open to other options stretch that Euro like that Stretch Armstrong character back in the early 90's. 
Strech-Armstrong. Circa 1970s - 1990s

Anyway, back to 2012 again...there are definitely ways to be frugal even in the most expensive areas in Europe such as France or the Netherlands. I went to the Supermarket in Lille, France today and thought I would share my personal shopping experience with you right now:

The baguettes, $0.40 - $1.00 Euro

First tip: Eat what the locals eat! Most of the time, the prices will be quite reasonable because there is a large demand and supply! I ended up buying a smaller baguette for only $0.46 (only because I knew it would take me at least 2.5 days to finish and by that time, stale baguettes become hard as a rock)

Proof that I am not tech-savvy. 6 apples for 1 Euro!

Tip #2, it seems fruits and vegetables...scratch that, most fresh produce is cheaper than processed foods such as cereal or cookies (this applies to most countries). Although I ended up settling for 2 individual golden apples (for only $0.36 cents and not wanting to make my backpack heavier), these apples were obviously a fabulous deal for a lone traveler in a fancy country. 

A very large cheese selection indeed. Found a good chunk of Compte cheese for a little over 1 Euro. 

A very large Nutella selection as well? No, I did not buy any Nutella. Just thought this picture was funny.

Tip #3, Buy separate foods that you know you can mix and match for later meals. I tend to stay away from pre-packaged meals (as well as pre-cut fruits or veggies) for several reasons. 1) It's more inexpensive, 2) You can eat any of these items separately, 3) Or mush them all together into one big happy family of a sandwich....minus the almonds...or apple slices (depending on your adventurous palate), and 4)Make 2 or more meals out of this.


So, there you have it. For those adventurous wanderlusts that want to extend his/her travels (such as myself), it is possible to do so in places like France or England. It just takes some self-discipline, creativity, and walking around a supermarket very slowly to encourage good decision-making. In addition, I had the pleasure of being fed a fabulous foie gras du canard with baguette and apperitif wine in exchange for some good ol' fashioned manual labor:

 Sanding wood helping a new friend start a new life in Lille, France - - but will extend on that particular adventure in another blog post. :)

Stay tuned and happy travels!


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