Healthy and Happy in France for 15 euros a week.
If you are anything like myself, a traveler on a serious budget, keeping yourself fed during your time abroad is a constant challenge. While we would all love to spend breakfast, lunch and dinner exploring every exquisite French restaurant around, the current exchange rate and your waist line will probably team up to thwart you. Therefore, for the sake of your health and your wallet, knowing your way around the local supermarche is a must.
So, for your convenience I have assembled some essential tips to keep in mind when planning your trip to the store… as well as a sample of what you can get for 15 euros or less.
- Forget your favorite brands. Unless it’s Coca Cola you are unlikely to find any of the familiar brands you are use to back home. Most products will be either regionally produced or a subsidiary brand of the supermarkets’ parent company. The good thing is that this gives your a fabulous chance to branch out and explore how the the rest of the world survives without Frito’s and Mountain Dew.
The tax is included in the displayed sales price. This is one of my favorite things about shopping in Europe. Instead of trying to estimate, usually incorrectly, the sales tax to be added on to each item you buy, Europeans have come up with a novel concept… have the price on the sticker be the same price at the register!
Local food is cheaper. Unlike in the states, where we pay for the privilege of enjoying the fruits of local labor, in Europe you will notice a noticeable drop in prices for items not imported from outside the region. As you might expect then, wine, cheese and baguettes can be had for a pittance. Take advantage.
Invest in a reusable grocery bag. There is a 30 to 60 cent charge for each plastic bag at checkout. For a few euros you can purchase a colorful tote that, regardless of the environmental benefits, will also save you tons over the long run.
Don’t dally in line. When it comes to getting in and out of the checkout line… the french like to do it quickly. Have your money out and ready when you get to the register and bag your items as they are being scanned. Failure to do so will result in a whole years worth of evil glances and muttered insults.
Cash is King. While your American credit and debit cards will usually be accepted at most major supermarkets… using them is likely to be more trouble than their worth. Cashiers hate processing them because it slows the line down and will tell you so… vigorously. Also, many banks love to tack on extra fees and processing charges that can murder your budget. Be smart… carry cash.
As promised here is a sample list of what can be bought for about15 euros.
8 Pack of fruit flavored yogurt- 1.89 euro
Baguette- 0.69 euro
Slab of Goat Cheese- 1.48 euro
Generic version of Nutella- 1.90 euro.
Pasta: Large bag- 0.89 euro
Can of tomato sauce- 2.49 euro
A large slice of Gouda- 2 euro
Canned Mixed Vegetables- 1.14 euro
Bag of Potato Chips- 1.15euro
Grape Jelly- 1.56 euro
Total – 15. 19 euros.
FYI- Keep in mind current currency exchange rates.
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