When we go on a trip and travel somewhere, our trips are all about food. We like to eat and eat well. In general, we try to cook breakfast and dinners at home, go to lunch somewhere, pack a picnic lunch to bring along or pick up food at a local market. Meals at restaurants are expensive and dinners in particular can easily break any travel budget. With a home exchange, you get a kitchen to cook in which really helps keep your food expenses in check while traveling. Being frugal in San Francisco is easy with a kitchen and a little attitude adjustment.
Make getting your food the event when you travel and you’ll find yourself skipping the restaurant and enjoying the process. Here’s how we made getting the food the event…
Frugal in San Francisco Part 1: Food
Our hunt for good, inexpensive food in San Francisco centered around Chinatown. Our home exchange house was located close to this exciting hub of activity. Chinatown produce is amazingly inexpensive and fresh. The take out food was great and we loved the dumplings. We picked up several different types from Good Mong Kok Bakery, on a recommendation from a friend. The line was out the door and we had to elbow people out of the way but it was well worth the wait. We spent less than $5.00 and enjoyed them in the car on our drive home.
Our splurge was a dinner for 8 people and we picked up salmon in Chinatown. We were fortunate to have a grill right outside the door of our home exchange house, which made for easy grilling (especially since my husband did it!). The vegetables were half the cost of what I usually pay at my local grocery store.
We also picked up focaccia bread from Liguria’s Bakery on Washington Square. Liguria’s has been around for 101 years and all they do is focaccia. Get there early because once they sell out, they’re done. The packaging on the focaccia bread which was so simple and I loved it.
Snacks one afternoon were pot-stickers from U Lee’s Restaurant in the Nob Hill neighborhood, on Hyde Street.
They are renowned for their pot-stickers and they lived up to their reputation. We had eaten lunch at home and had these as an afternoon snack. It was also a good time to escape the rain that was following us.
Another spot recommended to us that we tried was Bob’s Donuts. It was a long walk from our house, but only a short distance from U Lee’s. Luckily, we had full stomachs and voted to eat the donuts the next morning with breakfast. It was hard to wait for morning to come but the donuts were great with coffee. I meant to take a picture of the donuts but I wasn’t quick enough. They were gone before I had a chance to say a word!
One of the days we ate lunch out at the Ferry Building Market, which is located just west of the financial district along the Embarcadero and has a wonderful market and many food shops. We enjoyed lunch at Roli Rotti and Hapa Ramen. We split the sandwiches and potatoes because the servings were so generous.
The Ferry Building Market also has tours, which are free but we were there on the wrong day. Check their schedule here.
We also picked up fresh sourdough bread from The Acme Bread Company and enjoyed it when we arrived back at our home in Portland. It comes in a paper bag which I then placed inside a plastic bag and sealed the top so it would stay fresh. (I had to hide it in the car so no one would discover it and snack on it!)
Even though we did not go out to dinner, we enjoyed fabulous, delicious meals during our vacation. Not everyone wants to trade their home and I think renting an apartment is an excellent option for having a kitchen while traveling. Airbnb is a website where you can rent an apartment from a real person. Many hotels offer rooms with a kitchenette and this is another option for containing your food costs while traveling.
What are your tricks for containing food costs while traveling?
The meal plan from our vacation week is here.
Lunch is a great time to eat out – read why here.
Sheila, from Eat to Gather, wrote a post about another San Francisco donut shop that we didn’t get to – Dynamo Donuts – but they sound delicious!
Frugal in San Francisco Part 2
Frugal in San Francisco Part 3
A very big thank you to everyone who shared with us their favorite spots for dining and food shopping in San Francisco.
You can sign-up for InterVac Home Exchange service by clicking the image below. Type in the name “TETREAULT” at checkout and receive $5.00 off your membership. InterVac is short for International Vacation but you can do exchanges within your own country as well. This is the website we’ve used for all 7 and soon to be 8 of our home exchanges. If you’d like me to speak to your group or organization about home swapping, frugal living with style or blogging, please check here.
6 thoughts on “Frugal in San Francisco Part 1”
aaahh I love San Francisco! What a fun way to travel, I agree eating dinner out it a budget breaker! Especially with our 6 hearty eaters. Great tips and fun pictures….although I would have loved to see a picture of those donuts ; ) Thanks too for the linky love.
You are welcome, Sheila. Thanks for your suggestion!
You are so smart – I love that you had a vacation “all about food” and didn’t have to eat out every meal! I think you got the best parts of SF food without all the waste!
Thanks Annie! We had a great time exploring food places and already know what spots we’re hitting on our next trip down.
We’re headed to San Francisco in July so I’m taking notes! We’re staying in a hotel so will be eating out a lot. The Ferry Market Building sounds great and I’ve never been there on my previous trips.
Julie! You’ll love the Ferry Market area and I’m sure your weather will be lovely in the summer. There’s 2 more posts coming about things we did during the week – where we splurged and where we didn’t. Have fun!
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