Does anyone have a rough idea of what to budget for food per day? We are planning on going to grocery stores or food stands instead of going to restaurants all the time and most of our accommodations will offer breakfast. We are going to be in France, Germany, Austria, Poland, the Netherlands and Belgium.
I'm still in the process of compiling information on the food costs from my recent trip to Europe, so might have more definite numbers in a week or so.
As you mentioned, breakfast is usually provided at the Hotel so you won't have to worry about that. As you're planning to use grocery stores or deli's most of the time, a "ballpark figure" for two would be under €20 for lunch and perhaps less than €30 for dinner. However, this will depend a lot on what type of foods you buy, and how much.
On the subject of restaurants (I'll use France and Germany for an example, since I was just there a few weeks ago), the costs will vary depending on what type of restaurant you choose. There are some fairly "upscale" places in the larger cities, so of course you'll pay more if dining there. One of my dinners in Colmar at a very "nice" restaurant was €35 for one person, including wine and coffee. IMO, that meal was worth the cost!
I've found that even if the entree is priced reasonably, the "add ons" like wine, coffee and dessert can inflate the bill very quickly. Keep in mind that you'll pay for every cup of coffee - there are very few places that provide refills.
Steve, the OP clearly pointed out that they are planning on getting food at grocery stores and food stands rather than restaurants, so "depends on what kind of restaurant you choose" is irrelevant in this case. The $12, $18, and $40 price figures also steep for a single person who is not dining in restaurants for every meal.
OP, I personally budgeted $45/day each for food, using a dining model similar to yours (breakfast at hostel, lunch and dinner from grocery/markets/food stands). This also includes a couple of beers that we plan to enjoy in the motherland of beers. We are young travelers and prefer that to sit-down Michelin-starred dining :)
We only take the place's breakfast in the UK and Ireland since that's the only place we think it's a good deal.
Otherwise we buy coffee and eat out of the food sack in the back of the car. About half of the lunches come out of the same sack.
Supper is generally pretty spiffy, but certainly not extravagent. We don't eat dessert
The above plus an extra cup of coffee and a couple of beers each during the course of the day cost us less than fifty bucks per person. Scandanvia and Switzerland are probably double that. (Bergen: one pizza, two beers, $75, and that was the cheapest we could find.)
Anna, thank you for your reply. My partner and I are also young budget travelers. When you say $45, what currency do you mean?
Most of the places we are staying (with the exception of France) include breakfast in the cost.
We don't plan on eating in any fancy restaurants for lunch or dinner. Mostly grocery stores or sandwich stops and pretzel carts.
I already wish I could spend more time in Poland! I wish I could spend more time everywhere!!
If you're doing grocery stores, you can certainly save a lot of money. Many times we'll grab some pastries from the grocery baker and a liter of juice for a total of say, 4-5 euro total or so; a packaged sandwich and small salad for lunch (around 8-10 euro total);you get the idea. It really depends on your "style" of eating. If you keep things simple, you'll save more money to budget for beer and pierogis!
I have eated all over Germany in many different cities, and seldom pay more than 6-8 euro for lunch, add 2-3 euro for a drink. Dinner is usually 8-12 euro and again, 2-3 euro for a drink. If I am out and about, I grab a bratwurst from a "food stand" or a Döner Kebab for 2.50-3.50 and some kind of drink. I have never, ever paid $40 for a dinner here. I have never paid that much anywhere, not in Italy or Belgium or France. Maybe I am eating the wrong things, or that I usually order from the low end of the menu. I know that one can pay that much, in very nice restaurants, but it doesn't mean that you have to. For those on a budget, I would think they also would order from the cheaper menu items and go to cheaper restaurants.
I love eating at "food stands", especially at farmers markets.
Tip - eat your main meal at lunch time, your meals will be a lot cheaper than at dinner time.
MD, I'm talking US Dollars, so it may vary by a few bucks due to the exchange rates. But if you avoid restaurants, I can't imagine two meals and a couple of drinks costing more than that.
And I don't know about Germany, but in Seattle, food from a food truck can be infinitely more delicious than any restaurant dish. BRB, craving pulled pork sandwich from Maximus Minimus.
We just returned from 5 weeks from Amsterdam to Budapest and lots of places in between. Our family of 5 ate for $55/day. That's all of us, eating breakfasts the lodging provides, grocery-style lunches and the cheapest reasonably healthy restaurant dinners we could find (plus a few dinners we made ourselves at a rental). Now, I wouldn't suggest to anyone that they try to be that thrifty. But even if you add 50% to that number, it's still considerably less that the others have suggested. It's doable...if you want to do it.
I found an easy way to determine how much I was going to spend each day. I realized that the price "number" was about the same in Germany, Austria, and northern France as it is here. For example: Hotdog $3 US = $3 EUR, beer in a bar $4 US = $4 EUR, Fancy dinner $150 US = $150 EUR. Given the exchange rate, if you just think about how much you would spend on a vacation in the US, just double it, and you will be fine.
I take full advantage of breakfast, and usually skip lunch. Eating both lunch and dinner would be alot for me. I budget about 15 euro for the day for myself, including drinks, and I don't always spend all of it. It depends on whether I've spent alot of money on other things that day. I've had some awesome pizza in Germany - light and crispy, and huge.
I have found that in general the cost of meals is significantly different from what it is in the US. Budget about the same amount as you would for a vacation trip here keeping in mind that you will not be expected to leave the 15-20% tip.