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Food budget for Europe?

My husband and I will be spending time in Cork, Dublin, London, Paris, and Rome over a little more than 3 weeks. We leave very soon and I really haven't thought much about food yet! We have an afternoon tea booked in Dublin, which I know is expensive, but other than that... how much is a good amount to guesstimate for food each day? We aren't fast food (McDonalds) people, but we're happy to do a quick counter service meal if it's good (think Chipotle or something). I definitely think we'll be doing several table service meals, possibly one every day or two? We're also thinking about bringing some Complete Cookies or something similar for lunches while we're out and about. I'm just looking for a rough estimate to start my budget on!

Posted by
1017 posts

It is very difficult to answer your question with any degree of accuracy because of the scope of your travels and the uncertainties of your desires.

I suggest you begin your inquiry with RS guidebooks for Ireland, London, Paris, and Rome to get an idea of dining costs and options. A pub lunch in London near Westminster will have an entirely different pricing structure than eating un panino and una birra purchased at a small cafe near the Pantheon. A meal at a French Bistro in the 5th Arrondissement can cost 15 Euro or 60 Euro.

Purchase the guidebooks. If weight is an issue, purchase what you can in eBooks for reading on Kindle or on your iPad. Find out what things cost and what you like to eat based upon the descriptions. For example, here is a description of a restaurant in the Marais in Paris from RS France guide:

$ $ Les Bonnes Soeurs, a block from the square, blends modern and traditional fare with contemporary bistro ambience. Isabelle takes good care of her clients and offers portions that are big and inventive. The delicious and filling pressé de chèvre starter (a hunk of goat cheese topped with tapenade and tomatoes) begs to be shared. The risotto is très tasty, the hearty French hamburger comes with a salad and the best fries I’ve tasted in Paris. For many, a main course is plenty; others like to order two starters (plats from € 16, no menu, daily, 8 Rue du Pas de la Mule, tel. 01 42 74 55 80).

It shows that the prices are moderate (two $$) and gives an idea of the fare and the specialities.

The more pre-trip preparation you do from guidebooks (Lonely Planet guides are very good, as well) the better experience you will have dining abroad. I have no idea what "Complete Cookies" are, but they sound awful.

If you want to ball park your eating expenses, budget $75-$100 per day and you will always have money left over. Except in London, which is pretty costly. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
11286 posts

For a very rough estimate, I find that the crude $1 = €1 = £1 works. In other words, if you'd spend $50 a day at home on food, start by assuming you'll need €50 in the euro countries and £50 in London. Again, that's a very rough estimate, but it's better than nothing. Other than that, it's too variable to say. As you say, fancy restaurants will cost more, and food bought from supermarkets will cost less, and it's very hard to predict with precision.

Also don't forget, you have to eat wherever you are. Unlike hotels, which you pay for in addition to your home rent or mortgage, when you're traveling you aren't paying double for food. So, I only worry about the amount I'm spending over what I would spend at home (while traveling, I'm eating out more often, and sometimes at nicer or more expensive places).

Posted by
430 posts

Assuming you will be fed breakfast in your hotel, I would budget on average 15-20E for lunch and 30-60E for dinner. It'll depend on how hungry you are, whether you skip lunch and just have a snack, whether you buy from a food stand or grocery store for lunch, and if you decide to enjoy wine or beer with your meal. We were in London in May and dinners ran 30-60 pounds easily. Seems to me there have been similar threads on this forum, so you could do a search and see what pops up.

Posted by
6869 posts

I used to research meals and make plans that we never followed. Just roll with the flow on food. We do not place that much emphasis on food any longer and budgets don't work with us.

We eat heavy at breakfasts that are included in our rooms. We do some picnicking mid afternoon. And we usually eat light suppers. Our spending on food is relatively little.

Posted by
6869 posts

I used to research meals and make plans that we never followed. Just roll with the flow on food. We do not place that much emphasis on food any longer and budgets don't work with us.

We eat heavy at breakfasts that are included in our rooms. We do some picnicking mid afternoon. And we usually eat light suppers. Our spending on food is relatively little.

Posted by
11613 posts

You can have a nice sit-down restaurant meal once a day, a lighter meal once a day, breakfast at your hotel.

I alternate splurge and skinny days, for example, one night a full-course dinner and the next a pizza; you can get prepared foods at tavole calde in Italy, or from grocery stores, for €10/person including a drink. A big salad ("insalatone" in Italy) at a restaurant will set you back €10+, and it's a meal.

Posted by
2560 posts

So I'm thinking, if you are close to leaving and haven't thought much about food, food is not an important part of your travel experience. If that is the case there is inexpensive food available in all the places you will visit. If I am mistaken do this-take your entire trip budget, back out airfare, hotels, admissions as best you can and what is left is for food. Use that to have some memorable meals, especially in London, Paris and Rome. Eat the large, usually hotel supplied breakfast, eat a light lunch, spend your food dollars for dinner. The exception would be days, such as your tea, when you may not want anything for dinner.

Posted by
1286 posts

Our food budget is $125.00 a day for two people, sometimes more one day, sometimes less, averages to about that. We eat the typical breakfast wherever we are which is usually our cheapest meal, lunch is unplanned we just eat when we get hungry and we don't like to spend a lot of time doing it. Dinner is our big meal and eaten later than we are used to and it is typically around 60€, don't know why but it just works out that way. It's the end of the day, we are tired, we lounge, eat, drink and talk...one of our favorite times of the day. During the day we may stop for a Spritz and beer, a coffee, street food, maybe a crepe or a gelato. In London we really loved Wagamama's (cheap and delicious-chain but good) and we also loved Pret-a-Manger for a nice picnic lunch that is advertised as healthy food, and we would look for one when we wanted a couple sandwiches and drinks, find a bench and people watch. In Rome they serve snacks with your drinks, kinda like a little meal at some places. At one place we got chips, pizza bread and nuts and at another, olives, little sandwiches and chips...whatttt?? We called that lunch.

Posted by
21045 posts

In theory, I much prefer to have my main meal at lunchtime because--at least on weekdays--a lot of restaurant's have special 10-to-20 euro deals providing a balanced meal that's a reasonable amount of food for between 10 and 20 euros; multi-course dinners can be too large and will virtually always cost substantially more than lunch at the same restaurant.

However, restaurant lunches sometimes conflict with sightseeing plans or a scheduled move to a new city. And if you are going to consume a large hotel breakfast, you likely will not be ready for a restaurant lunch.

Do note that hotel breakfasts are not free. You are most certainly paying for that food, nearly always at a price higher than a neighboring cafe would charge. You just don't know how much it's costing you unless you find a price list showing the breakfast add-on. B&B-style places sometimes have extremely limited and/or early breakfast hours; one of mine was 8 to 8:30 AM. And I find breakfast meat quality and preparation problematic even in the US. I always decline the breakfast if it means I pay less for the room.

However:

  • Paying for breakfast is sometimes mandatory.

  • Eating in the hotel is likely to be faster than going elsewhere unless you grab a roll and coffee and eat on the run or at a stand-up counter.

  • Families traveling with children may appreciate the comparatively broad selection offered by some large hotels north of the Alps. (Cost will be high if kids just east cereal, though.)

  • Coffee drinkers usually want their first caffeine infusion as early as possible.

  • if you hit a place that puts extra effort into its breakfasts, it's a relaxing luxury (once you drag yourself out of bed and get dressed, that is). I've recently had scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, French toast with fresh strawberries and an omelet, all in England.