Eating in Israel on a Budget - 07/12/2018
One highlight of spending the summer in Israel is getting to immerse yourself in one of the best food scenes in the world. But as a summer intern, still a college student or a recent grad, and maybe this is even your first time living on your own in an apartment, budgeting for food can be difficult. Here are some tips and tricks to eating on a budget in Israel so you can enjoy all the amazing food but not break the bank.
- With Israel’s markets as your grocery store you won’t feel like you’re missing out by cooking in your apartment. Produce is much cheaper at markets than in stores along with other foods like hummus, pita, bourekas, dried fruits, and candy. You’ll also find inexpensive clothes, jewelry, and other souvenirs. It might feel like a tourist trap but locals head to places like the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv or Machane Yehuda in Jerusalem for their groceries too.
- Don’t be afraid to bargain. The people who run the stands in markets are used to it. Though the souvenirs and clothes are easier to bargain for you may have success with some food vendors too. Tell them it’s too expensive for you and they’re likely to counter with a cheaper price. This is a chance for you to decide how much you want to spend on something but if someone doesn’t drop their price, don’t just give up. There are probably five more stands just like it to try next.
- Meal prepping saves a lot of time and money. At the end of a work day you’ll get back to your apartment and be hot, tired, and hungry. To avoid the temptation of stopping to buy dinner out on your way home, prepare dishes at the beginning of the week to keep in your fridge. Buy cucumbers and tomatoes and make a huge Israeli salad and stock up on hummus and veggies. On a hot plate it’s easy to pre-make quinoa, pasta, or rice which are filling and cheap to buy in bulk. Try out making your own shakshuka or celebrate taco tuesday in with your roommates.
- Bring your own lunch to work. You will quickly learn the culture at your internship in terms of what people do for lunch but either way bring your own at least some of the days. Bring leftovers from last night’s dinner or something you meal prepped in order to save money instead of buying lunch out day after day.
- In Israel, “iced coffee” is a blended slushy drink like a Frappuccino. It’s found everywhere and you’ll want it all the time. Aroma is the Starbucks of Israel and becoming a regular at your local Aroma is part of the Israel experience. But if you’re looking to save money on your daily coffees head to Cofix instead. Cofix is another chain found all over that offers a 5 shekel cup of coffee which is a price you can’t beat.
- Potluck style dinners are a super efficient way to both hang out with friends and save money. If each person brings one item, there will be plenty to eat for all and it’ll be cheaper than buying your own meal out. This is particularly nice to do on Shabbat as an end to your week and if there isn’t a large enough communal space in your apartment for your size group, bring some towels down to the beach or picnic at a local park.
- Take advantage of happy hours. Many restaurants and bars in Israel will offer happy hour specials like 1+1 deals on drinks. In order to make sure you’re getting the most for your money look up the place online beforehand to see if they have a happy hour menu or any other special discounts.
- Don’t buy food at the beach. I know, it’s so convenient and watermelon and feta sounds so good when it’s 90 degrees and you’ve been in the sun for hours. But it’s much more expensive than it needs to be. Buy food at the market or at a local AM:PM grocery store beforehand and bring it down to the beach with you. Also, bring your own towel and avoid lounge chairs as beach bars and vendors will charge you to sit on them.
- Eat the street food. Falafel, sabich, shawarma and hummus are very easy to find and are a cheaper alternative to a more formal sit down restaurant. It’s hard to find bad street food but some favorites are Hakosem in Tel Aviv and Hummus Abu Dhabi which has locations in Tel Aviv and Beersheba.
- And lastly, eat out too! If you budget well you’ll have no problem spending a bit more at nicer restaurants. From Shakshuka at Tmol Shilshom in Jerusalem, to Tamara frozen yogurt and late night eats at Benedict, authentic Druze village cuisine in Haifa, or a mediterranean feast at The Old Man and The Sea in Yaffo, you will not go hungry.