The one thing that surprisingly made the most difference to our food budget: our choice of hostel (The Pod Sydney).
If you read my previous post How to Have a One-Week Holiday in Sydney, Australia for PHP 50,000, you’ll know we budgeted 15 AUD per person per meal for our one-week family trip to Sydney. The rationale:
To estimate the food budget for this trip, I used Numbeo, a crowd-sourced depository of information on cost of living around the world. For Sydney, here’s what they have:
- Cost of a typical meal at McDonald’s or other fast food chains – AUD 10
- Cost of a typical meal at an inexpensive restaurant – AUD 15.75
Based on these numbers, I figured AUD 15 should be a reasonable budget per meal per person — or AUD 45 per day.
We got lucky though! The accommodations we booked — The Pod Sydney, a family-friendly hostel smack in the middle of Sydney’s central business district — was located just a few meters away from a Coles supermarket. We had ready access to both fresh ingredients and frozen ready-to-eat or -pop-in-the-microwave food and we had at our disposal a kitchen with a fridge, stove, cooking utensils, microwave, etc. That made all the difference.
Disclaimer: this post is neither sponsored nor in any way incentivized by Coles or The Pod Sydney but we definitely highly recommend both!
A 2-Dollar Coles Meal
- A loaf of sandwich bread (about 20 slices) costs 0.85 AUD.
- A pack (roughly 8 slices) of hardwood smoked sliced ham costs 4 AUD.
- A 24-slice pack of cheese costs 3 AUD.
- A salad bag (with various greens that are just the right size for slipping into a sandwich) costs 3 AUD.
- A liter of orange juice (good for 3-4 meals) costs only 1 AUD.
A nice, filling ham & cheese sandwich paired with a glass of orange juice could thus easily cost less than 2 AUD.
Quick and Easy Meals
The ideal thing to do, of course, would be to prepare your own meals by buying the ingredients and cooking them yourself. Our hostel had a rice cooker which my sister used several times to prepare fresh, steaming hot rice for us. Our hostel-mates cooked everything from steaks, ramen, stir-fried vegetables, and spaghetti (surely the most popular meal at hostels worldwide).
That said, traveling can be tiring and sometimes all you want at the end of the day is a quick (but still delicious) dinner that you don’t have to make yourself.
Ta-dah! Microwave meals. 😀 They were actually quite good! Plus they’re filling and cheap:
- Beef lasagne: 7 AUD
- Shepherd’s pie: 7 AUD
- Sweet & sour chicken with rice: 6 AUD
- Thai green chicken curry & jasmine rice: 6 AUD
I personally went for some basmati rice (2 AUD) and lamb rogan josh (7 AUD) — they were delicious and there was actually enough in each pack for two meals (or two people).
These meals especially come in handy if your feet are aching from a whole day of walking and can’t bear the thought of going out again. Or if you’re traveling with a kid who has gotten exhausted and cranky (this applies to adults too, lol).
Savings: Over PHP20,000
It’s hard to believe but PHP20,000 is actually a conservative estimate — we actually saved nearly PHP30,000 on meals alone.
We spent only 2-10 AUD per meal, instead of the 15 AUD we budgeted for. Considering there are five of us and we stayed for a week (roughly 21 meals) in Sydney, that translated to a WHOLE lot of savings. We didn’t even need to scrimp on the amount of food: we bought tons of fruits, snacks, even dessert.
It’s fairly common to go a bit over your budget when you’re traveling. You always think: oh, I might as well go ahead and treat myself, I don’t know when I’ll be back after all. So the fact that we actually saved on this trip — and all the while feeling full, never wanting for anything — was definitely a pleasant surprise.
Get a good idea of the prices at Cole’s HERE.