Australia travel tips – buying food

Australia travel tips – buying food

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Buying cheap food during vacations in Australia

Here are some tips for buying cheap but healthy food while you are on vacation in Australia. It may all seem like common sense but you would be amazed by how many people buy junk food every day during a vacation.

Markets, supermarkets

Google local fresh produce farmer’s markets in the area that your are vacationing in or near. Why eat junk food when there may be a market nearby? If you do not have a hire car then catch public transport if there is some nearby and take a medium to large size carry bag with you to a market. There you will see locally grown fresh produce that can be cheaper than what you can buy it for in the shops.

Buy a week’s worth of fruit and vegetables and store the vegetables in the fridge where you are staying. You may need to go to a shop nearby and buy some snap-lock plastic bags to store the vegetables in but this will ensure that you are eating healthy foods. Pick up some bread rolls at a supermarket to put salad items in and even buy some deli meats there to store in the fridge to mix with this later.

While you are at a supermarket, look for foods that you can store for a week in the fridge. Obviously this all assumes that you are staying somewhere that has at least a small fridge. You can pick up fruit and vegetables at the supermarket or see if there is an independent fruit and vegetable retailer nearby. Experiment with other foods that are healthy and will keep in the fridge.

A lot of the accommodation for tourists do not have much of a kitchen. Some cabins in tourist parks will have a small kitchen area consisting of a fridge, microwave and small sink and adjacent bench. That is all you need to prepare healthy meals to avoid buying junk food every day. They even supply dishes and cutlery so take advantage of it. So many people do not because junk food is quick and easy but why would you bother with that?


The above could suit lunch or dinner but there are bakeries that can meet these needs to an extent as well. Forget the franchises with overpriced cakes made from palm oil and opt for the local, independent bakery if there is one nearby. Sure they sell some foods that are not all that healthy but a bakery is still a better option than junk food stores.

Many Australian country towns usually have a bakery that do a good trade during tourist season. Some have wood oven pizzas as well as cakes and pastries. There may be healthier options to explore there as well. It is usually worth a look or at least seeing if they have a web site listing what they sell. There are some bakeries in some cities that are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are even unusual eateries that may not be bakeries but unique in that sell only pancakes with cream or something else and some of them are open 24/7.

Other tips

Cafes and restaurants

If you want to dine out at a cafe or restaurant then try to do so in the middle of the day, especially Monday to Wednesday when it is quiet. Check first to see what their prices are because they can be cheaper than at night. Also, in a pub try to eat in the general bar or bistro area instead of the restaurant section. In most places it is the same food brought in and stored and warmed up later rather than cooked there by chefs. The restaurant section offers the same food as in the bistro and although there may be chefs running around they generally warm up the pre-cooked food there just the same (and some of it is still cold in the centre).

Very few places actually cook food in the kitchen apart from meat sometimes. Out of the ones that do they try to sell you as much alcohol as possible and make you wait quite a while for the food. The places that actually cook and bring out the food quickly enough are few and far in between and have planned in advance based on booking numbers for each night. The amount of food on a plate is small though and the price can be $30 – $50 a meal minimum so it is far from good value for money if you are a tourist on a budget. If you are going to spend that sort of money then you are better off finding a restaurant that offers a smorgasbord where you fill up your plate as many times as you like.

Another tip: Whichever eatery you go to, do not be fooled by signs showing awards that they have won. Quite often these are industry awards only rather than anything that a consumer organisation has given them based on customer reviews. Sometimes there is an entrance fee just for the “privilege” of being considered for an “award” so the public finds them to be a joke. Ignore the awards that they show off!

Quick and easy?

Convenience stores are places to avoid if you want cheap but healthy food. These places are considered by locals to be a rip off because they do not have the same buying power of the supermarkets. There are specific convenience stores, like your 7 Eleven types of places, and there are petrol stations that sell overpriced food as well. The range can be very small so just avoid them. Having said that they can be good in an emergency if you need to buy something other than food (like some Band Aids) when nothing else is open late at night. That is why 7 Eleven is popular in some states (other states do not have them).


If you go to a sports game or other major event, check the terms and conditions on the back of the ticket or on the web site. You may be able to take some food and also some water but you cannot take alcohol because of liquor licencing laws in each state. Prices for food and drinks at many major events are considerably higher than anywhere else. A lot of the food on offer at major events in Australia is highly profitable, overpriced junk food.

I hope these tips help in some way if you are a tourist in Australia? Some people will not like what I have said above and that is their prerogative. Other people, on the other hand, will agree with some of it based on their own experiences. Only you can decide what if any of the above advice you choose to follow according to your travel budget.

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