Eat Smart

New Tastes Abroad: How to stretch your dollars (or pounds)

by Rebecca Toback, blogger


If you’re abroad and ditching the dollar for either euros or pounds, you may be losing sleep at night pondering where your money goes. My roommates and I sure are. In London, we use the pound (£), and on average every £60 equals $100. The euro (€) fairs a bit better, with every $100 giving you €70.

So when it’s time to go food shopping, you may think purchasing 5 apples for £3 is a bargain. In reality, however, that £3 will convert to about $5—then you’re paying a dollar an apple. That would probably never happen in the U.S., but once you’re converting money (and getting charged by your credit card companies for international use), the amount you spend in pounds is almost doubled when it arrives on your credit card statement in dollars.

Obviously, you’ll want to be wise with your pounds and shop at the supermarkets that give you the best deals. Since the SU school in London is in central London, everything is more expensive than it would be in the city’s outskirts. There are local, central and express grocery stores in the outskirts; the local and central stores are usually less expensive and have more of the essentials, while the express stores stock more prepared foods. Local stores are your best bet, and they still sell prepared meals for discounted rates, such as three meals for £5 at Tesco. Another grocery store (with clothing in some locations), Marks and Spencer, has a deal that includes dinner for two and a bottle of wine for £10. It’s those deals that students need to hunt for to save money.

Quiche is another food I tried for the first time in London. The British love their pies, and they sell quiche in supermarkets, food courts, and at the department stores. Tesco has a deal for two quiches at £5. Each quiche includes four servings, so for dinner, that’s nearly as cheap as it can get.

If you get sick of packaged dinners and want to hit the town with friends for a meal, you can get do it cheap if you check out student discount sites. They supply coupons for many of London’s restaurants. Studentbeans.com has dozens of coupons for pubs and restaurants including Pizza Express, a sit down pizza place (which is much nicer than the American Pizza Express); Bella Italia, an italian restaurant; and Yo Sushi, a conveyor-belt Japanese restaurant much like Sakanaya in downtown Syracuse. My best studentbeans.com deal was for 40 percent off at Yo Sushi. A 40 percent discount basically makes the price in pounds equal to the price in dollars, if the meal had been full price.

Not only does studentbeans.com have good discounts, but it lets you know about restaurants and London events that you wouldn’t have previously known about. Though London and parts of Europe that use the euro can be expensive, you can learn some money-saving tricks that will save you a few pounds. So go put them to use on a pint out at the pub—or you know, maybe for your future.

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