With the 2012 Olympics just around the corner, many South Africans will be packing their bags, finalising accommodation arrangements, checking on their visas and preparing for the airport hassles and long flight that is part and parcel of travelling to distant shores. The excitement is palpable and the atmosphere in London will be electric. There can be no doubt that anyone embarking for the 2012 Summer Games will, by now, be feeling the distraction of anticipation. Surely, it will be a trip to remember.
With the recent double dip recession, however, budgets are tight and any trip to one of the most expensive cities in the world will put financial strain on South Africans. Whereas there are many things on which you shouldn’t cut corners, if you are savvy you could save a considerable sum of pounds by eating wisely (or, to put it more bluntly, eating on the cheap).
The city is world renowned for the quality and taste of its culinary delights. Unfortunately, these meals are also associated with dizzyingly expensive restaurant prices. To put things into perspective: an average dish and bottle of wine at an upper-crust eatery could cost as much as an average wage worker earns in a week. This article will offer some tips to the potential Olympics traveller on how to get the best value for your money when it comes to food expenses.
London is a highly competitive market place, and all industries are saturated with special offers and other bargains. Take advantage of this fact. Looking for a good bargain is where the difficulty comes in; word of mouth is a good source of information, so speak to locals and find out what they know. Secondly, the information superhighway is also a good bet for getting the inside track on good deals. The following sites might well contain some useful tips, and consequently save you a few hard earned pounds (Rand): toptable.co.uk, lastminute.com, 5pm.co.uk, and Google.
If your accommodation for the Olympic Games has self-catering facilities (always a cheaper way to travel) and you’re not averse to whipping up a nutrient rich pasta, hit the supermarkets. Lidl, Whiterose and Tesco are three supermarket chains that carry good food at reasonable prices. Beware of high end stores like Marks & Spencer in which you’ll pay double the amount for the exact same or similar product. The trick to cooking is getting creative with simple ingredients: you don’t have to be able to roast a leg of lamb to eat well. Besides, the object here is to save money.
Keep a watchful eye open for bakeries, coffee shops and sandwich stands (or other smaller facilities selling fresh and prepared foodstuffs). Who could deny that a fresh baguette with yoghurt and fruit would constitute a healthy, tasty and filling breakfast? Do, however, avoid costly and unhealthy treats.
Without exception, your body will prefer healthy food to nutrient poor take-away, and considering the fact that you can expect to be very active during the Games, it is important that you eat well. Whereas fish is slightly pricey when compared to other white meats, it is very high in protein, low in fat, and rich in omega oils. This makes it a good choice for an active lifestyle. Hake and cod are very much cheaper than salmon, and the benefits of all 3 fish are more or less similar. If you do buy red meat, remember that lamb is more costly than mutton, and that beef will be the cheapest option. If you are in any doubt, let the butcher know that you are a tourist on a budget, and s/he will point you in the right direction.
There is a lot of variety and choice when it comes to vegetables, soups, pastas and sauces. Additionally, all of the latter food stuffs are quick, easy and cheap to prepare. There will be instances when you have no choice but to buy ready-made, unhealthy food from a vendor or fast food outlet. Try to compensate and mitigate the negative effects of this type of foodstuff by ensuring that you eat as healthily as you can whenever you have the opportunity to.