How to eat on a budget in Mozambique

Budget sandwich in Mozambique

When we travel, we like to eat well, we like to eat local, and we like to spend as little money as possible doing it. In fact, eating on a budget (and a shoestring one at that) is how we manage to afford to do so much travelling! Mozambique is no exception.

Our modus operandi is as follows:

  • Shop where the locals shoplocal locals, not expat locals
  • Picknick with pizazz – make the people sitting nearby eating foeie gras want what you have!

Shopping the streets

In Mozambique, shopping locally means buying from street vendors instead of a supermarket. Street vendors sell fruits, vegetables, nuts and the local Portuguese-style bread, pao.

Buying from street stalls ensures you get fresh, usually local, seasonal produce (apples are the exception – they are always inported from South Africa!) It also means that your purchases go to locals supporting their families, instead of to a chainstore headquartered in a neighbouring country!

As for the cost- goods on the streets are generally very reasonably priced. In fact, I even shop on the streets in South Africa for my groceries! Amounts are so reasonable, that as a rule I don’t even attempt to bargain. Unless you are in a ‘tourist area’, no one is trying to rip you off, they are just trying to make a decent living, and I support that!

Some tips for your shopping

Here are my best tips for getting the most out of your roadside purchasing:

  • When you see something you want to buy, stop and buy it. You may not find it again down the road! Fruit, especially, is largely region-specific. Find coconuts at the coast, pineapples further north, oranges inland!
  • Greet the salesperson with a friendly smile and greet them in the local language if you can. ‘Good morning’ in Portuguese is ‘bon dia‘.
  • Point to the item you are interested in, and ask the price by gesturing to your wallet and signalling ‘I don’t know’ with yoir hands. You may be told the price in English, Portuguese, in writing, on a calculator, or being shown a piece of money.
  • Decide if you want to buy, and in what quantity. If you feel it is too expensive, you csn check prices elsewhere or attempt to bargain. If you are not sure about something, you may be offered a sample to taste.
  • Place your order, pay, and collect your purchase. If you brought a reuable bag, now is the time to pull it out! If not, you can still use an empty bottle to make an ecobrick to take home as a souvenir of your trip!

A note on pao: the Portuguese-style bread bears a slight resemblance to the manna of the Old Testament. It is not pleasant to eat the next day. Always buy pao the day you want to eat it, just enough for that day!

Picknicking in style

Picknicking in Mozambique

We purchased pao, ripe avocados, pineapple, tomato, cucumber and freshly roasted cashews. In our picnic bag, besides cutlery and crockery, we carry butter, mayonnaise, Bovril, honey, salt and pepper, and spices. A peeler and a sharp knife for cutting bread and vegetables are also useful.

Pao loaded with fresh tomato, crisp sliced cucumber, melt-your-mouth butter avo and sweet juict pineapple was amazing! Even more so what it cost – a total of 125mets/R30/$2. We fed two adults, two kids and still had leftovers!

Don’t do wheat or gluten? No problem – chop it up into a salad, sprinkle on cashews, serve with a side of coconut and a banana!

Want a cooked meal? Opt for fresh fish, yams or sweet potato, salad or cooked greens and homemade tomato sauce.

Don’t feel like cooking? Visit a local street-side restaurant instead of a tourist one.

There you have it – my best tips for eating on a budget in Mozambique! Do you have any to share?

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