Driving around Hawaii trying to find a place to eat, I didn’t expect we’d wind up at IHOP. No offense, of course.
And the beach bar in the Cayman’s took us for at least $25 every time we ate there, even if it was just a hot dog.
First: set a food budget. It doesn’t have to be unreasonable, but you should have a plan for what you’re going to spend each day. Sure, Rachel Ray can do it in $40 (or $50 on some new shows), but whether you plan to spend $20 or $220, it’s best to think about that ahead of time.
Follow the budget. I’m not saying you need to be crazy and start your phone’s calculator at every turn, but a generall feeling of how you’re doing will bring you closer to your financial goals. It will also give you something to judge your food choices against. Yes, a gelato sounds amazing. But a $12 gelato before dinner may not be worth it if you’ve only got $25 left for the day’s budget. Be mindful of your drinks too; those can quickly sink a budget if you aren’t careful.
Go grocery shopping. Whether you’re staying in a house/condo/apartment or a hotel, there are items you can buy from local vendors to save on budget. Snacks and breakfast are great meals to shop for. Find a great market and pick up a few pieces of fruit, maybe some cheese, some pastries. Try it for a few days before you dismiss it outright.
Eat like a local. Most people who live in Las Vegas do not go to the strip. Ever. Or, only when their out-of-town friends come in and make them. No locals in Cancun eat the over-priced, resort-adjacent restaurants. If you’re a bit adventurous and the neighborhood is safe, get off the beaten path and find a local place. The food will be a better representation of the local culture and you’ll pay just a fraction of the cost. Mexican food (which is just “food” when you’re in Mexico, do not taste like Taco Bell. Sorry.)
Try something new. Have fun.