Tips for budget dining


If you plan on eating at a restaurant and are looking to save on cash these tips will help. I have added tips which are applicable to my home city of Cape Town. I also added tips for travellers. I hope you get to eat really wherever you are. Hopefully, these tips will be helpful Bon appetite and please forgive me if the food images make you hungry. I apologise in advance.

Treat yourself with lunch

Lunch prices are often cheaper than the cost of dinner. If you want to have a fancy meal without the fancy price tags treat yourself to a scrumptious lunch. And grab a lighter less expensive dinner meal.

Had these delicious fries in Ghent, Belguim for lunch. 


If you are going out with friends you could opt to snack at home or eat a meal before dining out. Snack on apples or nuts which will keep you fuller for longer. And enjoy a light meal if you are going to pre-eat. That way you can order something lighter like a salad or go straight to dessert with coffee. The main meal is usually the most expensive item on the menu. I have done this a few times and I only had dessert and coffee instead of a full meal.

Look for specials

In Cape Town, Cape Town magazine and the Cape Town food blog lists a number of food specials. You can simply search the name of the city you are in and food specials on Google to find budget-friendly offers.

Compare prices

In Germany, menus are often posted at the entrance of a restaurant that way you can compare costs. Don’t be afraid to pick up a menu and look through prices if there’s no large menu posted at the entrance. You have the right to look around and chose a restaurant that suits your needs.  Online menus matter like I stated above but, sometimes they change. So make sure that you won’t be overpaying for your meal.

Skip the sides

If you happen to be running low on funds skipping the side dishes, extra sauce and toppings is a good way to save on your food bill. Whilst travelling in Germany I had just a burger instead of a burger and fries when I ate at places like Burger King or MacDonald’s.

Be careful with water

In Germany, you cannot order water from the tap. You often have to buy bottled water. I’d suggest you carry your water with you. Bottled water prices in restaurants tend to be ridiculous. I once paid roughly €15 just for a bottle of water. That is more or less the cost of a  meal.  In Cape Town, if you ask for tap water it won’t be seen as strange and you don’t have to buy bottled water. Most restaurants will be fine with bringing you water just explicitly state that you want tap water.

Ask about the breadsticks

Breadsticks and breadbaskets aren’t always free. Find out of you have to pay for the bread otherwise you might be in for a shock when you get your bill.

Know the tipping policy

In Japan, it is rude to tip service staff. In Germany and Austria, it isn’t required although people won’t be offended if you do tip. In South Africa, tipping is usually expected more upmarket places have a standard tipping charge if you sit at a table with a few people. The number varies from place to place. And tipping is normal even at cheaper restaurants. In Italy, you are charged for sitting down coperto. My boyfriend once tipped a waiter without knowing that the tip was already included in the bill. So read the menu, ask the staff and be aware as most of us can’t afford double tipping.

The special of the day

The special of the day can be really tasty and inexpensive. It can also be pricey and not special at all. Look at the menu and compare the prices. And be friendly to the wait staff talk to them and ask about the special. This way you are less likely to purchase a meal which is underwhelming.

Soups and salads

Soups and salads tend to be far less expensive than say steak or seafood dishes. If you need to be kinder to your wallet opt for these items.

Winter specials

In Cape Town, there are many winter specials at a wide variety of restaurants in the city. Capetonians tend to bundle up and stay indoors at the slightest bit of rainfall. To encourage diners to visit their establishments’ restaurants run specials which are only valid during the winter season.  Europeans don’t really care about the cold so you will be hard-pressed to find these kinds of offers. So come to visit Cape Town in winter and eat up a storm.

Street food

In Germany, it’s bratwurst on a bread roll. In South Africa, it’s a boerewors roll with braised onions. In America, it’s the hotdog these are typical street food dishes I love eating. Eat local and eat the street food just be observant and eat from places where kids are eating. Kids have lower immune systems than adults if they aren’t getting sick from the food you should be ok. Also, you can observe how the food is prepared to make sure it’s sanitary. Eating local food is a delicious way to indulge in the culture of the place you are visiting don’t miss the opportunity.

Follow the locals

If you plan on eating out in a new city avoid places close to tourist hotspots. Rather walk around and follow the locals. Listen to the languages being spoken at the restaurant and people watch a bit. If you want a more specific plan then search for local food apps on the Google play store. Places that are frequented by tourists and travellers are bound to charge more for food. Also, try to avoid main roads and wander around back alleys instead.

A galette in Renes , France saw all the locals sitting there and my friend and I ended up at this place. A galette is a savoury crepe made with buckwheat flour. Mine had cheese and ham inside of it with the egg in the middle.

The ambience

Skip the fancy décor instead eat at places that aren’t as grand looking. If there are many patrons inside then the food is bound to taste scrumptious. I went to a top class Japanese restaurant in Dusseldorf and had to wait in line to be seated outside. The seats were very plain and the inside section was so small. The food, however, blew me away. It just goes to show don’t judge a restaurant by its lack of décor.


In some countries, beer is less expensive than water. Here’s looking at you Germany. In Cape Town, there are many affordable wines thanks to our winding wine route. Sometimes in certain cities alcohol can be very pricey so find out if it is. Limit your drinks to one or two if it is. And do pre-drinks before you get to the bar or restaurant.

Go straight to dessert 

Instead of ordering a meal have dessert as your meal. I tend to never order dessert after a big main meal as I’m stuffed. So when I feel like it I have just dessert with coffee.

My friends and I had apple strudel and brownies instead of dinner at a restaurant in Germany.


Once again thank you for your support. If you want to comment please go ahead. Do you have extra tips? If you do let me know; I would love to hear from you.

Wishing you happy travels through the journey of life!

xxx Nikki xxx



  1. ~Curiosity~ says:

    These are good tips. I travel to Germany often so these are helpful. But, I go on business trips so I don’t really have to pay out of pocket which is nice. The the tips in general are good as I travel for pleasure as well! Thanks:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks it’s great to that you get to travel for work 😊glad you found my post useful.

      Liked by 1 person

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