While European grocery stores can be a little intimidating, they are a godsend for budget travelers, often even more so than markets. Even if you don’t have access to a refrigerator, you can easily snag great produce, sandwiches and giant bottles of water for less than a quarter of the prices you’ll find at tourist traps. Take a break from restaurants and have a picnic in the park with your goodies — you can people-watch while congratulating yourself on all the money you just saved. Plus, shopping alongside the locals is quite the cultural experience. Just remember to follow the people … last time we were in Barcelona, I had just about given up on finding pickles, when we stumbled upon an escalator leading down into a bonanza of pickled goods! It was heaven — a frugal heaven, at that. (NOTE: if you’re ever in tapas country, try banderillas, little spears full of pickled goods meant to be taken all in one bite. OMG — best thing ever).
Here’s a great post from a blogger who lives overseas — she has summed up the differences between European and American supermarkets quite nicely. For us, the biggest difference is the fact that you typically have to pay for plastic bags … other than that, even though things look different on the surface, the processes involved are pretty much the same.