Now I’ve finally made it to Serbia. Sitting here in a cafe where I’m discounted for the hours I spend working here minus the hours I’m running around the city looking and sniffing both food and architecture.
What can I say I’m a sucker for architecture and food.
So to commemorate Belgrade — Since it’s my 45th country and my last country in the Balkan map, I decided to unveil one of my secrets to keep walking for 7 hours without feeling tired or drained.
The secret is minimal diet, budget friendly but packed with everything you need.
Always Go Local — Avoid the easy supermarkets and head to the local markets.
Go Local, that’s what they said!
I remember my first trip when I landed in Philippines, the first thing I did was head to a supermarket for the most basic stuff. It cost me more than what a local would spend. However, the flavors seemed different — It didn’t feel home.
So I asked my host, where does she shop. She took me to her favorite market both wet and dry. The vegetables and meat produce were so fresh that you can scrape your knee and know the pain is real.
I loaded up my basket and bags since I was going to be there for about 3 weeks. I spent equally as much but for food which would last me a week. Healthier food including snacks.
So, when I arrived in Belgrade, that was my first question.
Where can I find fresh food?
Off I head to the market at 7 am — the smell, the noise, the people and the love was enough for me to get amazing food including a free breakfast for half of what I would normally have spent eating out.
Got to admit Serbian Cheese would keep you wanting more!
All you need is protein, carbs, vitamins, iron, and minerals. A dish with 5 components can save you the tons you spend on shitty McD or fast food.
So what do you need to keep your energy up?
All you need is the basics in the right proportion.
I enjoy eating more vegetables than meat when I’m traveling unless on occasions the local delicacies entice me. However, I always have the essentials I look for or stock up on. Just the basics.
If you’re on a budget and you want to see more than you spend then this would be your perfect hack.
I always have on me, tomatoes, bananas, rice, local or canned beans, yogurt, milk and corn flakes ( cereal).
For extras, green vegetables, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and paprika powder — and I’m good to go.
Now you can still eat out and have fun but you wouldn’t be constantly dependent on food from a restaurant, fast food or stores.
Look for the small shops — hidden and only known by a true local.
If you’re too lazy to constantly having to prepare food. You prefer eating out — then you have an alternative.
Going around Asia, one thing I’ve realized the best food are on the streets. Fancy chairs and tablecloths are for the weak. However, I also realized that in Asia, Africa or Europe the diamonds are among the rocks.
Restaurants, or eateries that are hidden, looks run-down — located in a suspicious neighborhood or in an undiscovered neighborhood is where good food lies.
So ask the locals where you can find those. These places serve food for its taste and their passion instead of monetary gains. So you’ll be in good hands.
Like now I’ve found my favorite Cevapi eatery although it’s about a 20min walk.
Anything for a good Khyma and Cevapi.
You don’t have to always buy dessert in a coffee shop.
For those who work while travel — it’s hard to be cooped up in your hostel or hotel working even if the Internet connection is amazing. We want a new atmosphere. We want a change of scenery from the time we moved from our bed.
So ultimately we head to the coffee shop.
However, if you’re trying to be fancy constantly — you’ll never be on a budget . So basically you don’t have to take 6 cups of coffee and a giant piece of cake to go with it.
All you need is one cup of coffee and a pastry to accompany it. If you find a co-working spot then you’re in luck.
So if you’re on a budget don’t splurge on the cafe’s unique tiramisu.
Fruits, Fruits, and Lots of Fruits.
Local fruits are amazing unless you’re traveling in winter.
So stock up on your vitamin ADEK and C; your Potassium, Manganese, Minerals, and Fiber. Bananas, Apples, Oranges, Kiwis and Honey Melon you can find them quite easily. However, do check out the seasonal fruits too.
Fruits usually fill the space up in your stomach and process in median rate, unlike fast food where after half hour you’re looking for the next loo.
This avoids the cravings and hunger factor and fruits are rather cheap — pair it with a glass of yogurt or store it as a prepped smoothie. Hunger would be the least of your concern.
Oatmeal and Overnight Oatmeal is your breakfast boost.
I love oatmeal especially overnight oatmeal with a touch of honey. It’s the perfect TO-GO Breakfast.
When I’m in a hostel, the kitchens are small and sometimes 3 people are using it at the same time preparing their meal. It gets crowded, stressful and intense so I prefer preparing my food the previous night.
A cup of oatmeal, 1 or 1 1/2 cup of warm milk or hot water, add some bananas, sunflower seed or some berries if you have them, 2 teaspoons of honey and store it in a mason jar. Seal it tight and let it refrigerate.
Next morning, eat this with your morning cup of Jo or tea and you’re good for the next 6 hours even if you’re walking for about 7 hours straight in the forest.
Get a bag of cumin seeds or sunflower seeds with you — for chewing purposes.
The munchies are real and there’s no denying it.
Throughout the day our mouth craves for something to be munched along the way. As weird it may sound — it’s the truth.
So have a teaspoon of cumin or a bag of sunflower seeds to go along with you.
Certain components in cumin triggered with your saliva — reduces cravings and suppresses thought induced hunger. So it keeps you in balance with meals when your body requires it.
On the other hand, sunflower seeds are rich in Vitamin E, B1, and copper. It also creates the reward system in your brain if you choose to buy the ones with the shell still intact. Hence about a handful of sunflower seeds can easily curb your unpredictable hunger without having to buy sudden chips.
Eat together with hostel mates or friends you make there. If they’re local then you know you’ll be fed till the brim.
This is my favorite part about making new friends — you either eat together or you’re invited to eat with them.
Sharing a meal with your hostel mates reduces the cost of ingredients you need to purchase as it’s a sense of potluck. You share what you have and you enjoy what they serve.
Communal eating has been proven to psychologically reduce loneliness and create a sense of belonging. This will definitely become necessary for you at one point of time especially if you’re traveling for a longer period.
On the other hand, enjoying a meal at someone’s house means you’re in for a treat with the finest local cuisine cooked in your backyard. This will give you an understanding of how a countries culture is or how people there adapt and function. It makes you humble, teaches you respect and creates bonds that resemble closely to humanity.
So here are some things I do to be on a budget and it definitely can help you maintain a healthy mind while enjoying trains, buses, flights, cars, and walks.