I was told Europe was expensive, but when you have strange Monopoly money in your hands, you really have no concept of currency. I knew the exchange rate wasn’t the best, but then again, it is much better then the last time I was here a year and a half a go.
I knew the cost of living was higher in Europe than where I’m from in the United States, but throwing together a couple of 3-euro priced items doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. The reality is, it adds up. My original plan to eat only one meal out a day has left me with less wiggle room then I had expected. After doing that for a week, I realized my money was dwindling fast. Each time I took out cash from an ATM, upwards of $10 was tacked onto the transaction.
I resisted every urge to shop around in the big sales that are going on right now (until this weekend when I succumbed to a great deal). Two weeks without shopping? That’s will power right there.
But that small spree was nothing compared to the hundreds of dollars I’ve spent on food. Mind you, I have stopped eating out for the most part, but grocery shopping can get expensive, too. The food is gone before I know it. Whether it’s due to those “family dinners” with classmates, or just deciding to add a salad to my meal, my pantry has been bare more often then full. In response to this hardship, I have made a list of essentials for eating on the cheap. For any travelers in a similar situation, I recommend you take some of these items into consideration.
Milk (remember, “entier” means whole)
Machè (you need to get some greens in there)
A beet (goes well with the salad and provides a lot of energy)
Cheap bottle of olive oil (cheaper then red sauce for your pasta)
Grated cheese (adds some flavor)
Nuts (nothing fancy)
Baguette (and some brie if you are feeling adventurous)
It may not sound like the most nutritional set of meals, but it gets the job done. Eating like this can give anyone on a tight budget a little wiggle room to break down and get a kebab when they are stuck at ALFMED with no story idea in a time of crisis and hunger. Now, I have to figure out what to eat during the 10 days I’m traveling after this program….