How to Eat in Romania, Like a Romanian, for 22 Euros per Week

Even though I did my research in the past and I realized that in terms of supermarket prices, Romania is not less expensive than Spain, for example, there is certainly an area where the country rules: fresh products from farmer markets. Extremely cheap. $1 for a lettuce, a bunch of onion and a bunch of radishes-cheap.

I’ve also read recently an article about a Romanian family of three who has a budget of just $100/100 Euros per month. Per MONTH!

Indeed, they don’t have the most varied meals you can think of, but it’s still cheap. In our case, for example, with eating extremely varied foods, a lot of fresh vegetables and fruits and even some organic products (but not that much in terms of meat), we spent last year an average of $344 / 318 Euros per month for a family of three. Yup, even toddlers raise the costs of food.

But I’ve decided to create a weekly menu for ONE PERSON living in Romania based on the prices in Spring 2015 (during the summer/fall they drop even more in the case of fruits and vegetables) to show you that you can have a nice, varied diet here for a really, really low price. So let’s get this started:

Breakfast #1: 2 eggs, 2 slices of bacon, one slice of bread – 0.35 Eur
Breakfast #2: 1 low fat jar of yogurt, 2 slices of toast & cheese – 0.80 Eur
Breakfast #3: Fresh cheese, green onions, radishes, olives & 2 slices of ham – 0.84 Eur
Breakfast #4: Cup of tea and two slices of toast with Romanian jam – 0.35 Eur
Breakfast 5, 6, 7: Mix and repeat

Lunch #1: Grilled chicken breast & Mexican vegetables: 1.10 Eur
Lunch #2: Delicious Romanian bean stew with smoked pork meat: 1.05 Eur
Lunch #3: Baked potatoes with cheese and green salad: 0.60 Eur
Lunch #4: Mac & Romanian cheese: 0.90 Eur
Lunch #5: Sarmale & Mamaliga (learn more about traditional Romanian foods here): 0.90 Eur
Lunch 6 & 7: Mix and repeat
Extra soup: Since we’ve recently heard that Romanians love to eat soup, we can add a bowl that would last about three days for the price of 1.10 Eur (for three days)

Dinner #1: Grilled pork & Vegetables: 1.45 Eur
Dinner #2: Big salad (green onions, lettuce, radishes, cucumber, tomatoes and cheese): 1.10 Eur
Dinner #3: Baked chicken leg with mashed potatoes: 1 Eur
Dinner #4: Cheese & ham sandwiches with a jar of yogurt: 1 Eur
Dinner 5, 6, 7: Mix and repeat

Additional snacks
Dessert 1: home made Romanian pancakes with Romanian jam: 0.80 Eur
Dessert 2: apples: 0.25 Eur (that would be about 500 grams, you would probably eat less)
Dessert 3: Apple Pie for two days: 1.50 Eur

TOTAL for 7 days: 21.82 Euros

Note 1: Romanians eat most of their food at home, cooking everything from scratch. If you can’t do this, you will have to pay more. But if you live like a Romanian, you can even beat the prices above!

Note 2: I did not include in the prices above the prices of gas or electricity for cooking the food and some ingredients (like oil, salt, sugar and so on) but these would not add too much to the overall value.

This would total for 93 Euros per month – let’s round it up to 100 to include other ingredients that you would need. This is completely doable and I am sure that it could be done for an even lower price.

So if you’re really on a budget, you could really make it work for a low price here. And have in mind that I did not add pasta and rice which would reduce the overall costs even more.

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8 thoughts on “How to Eat in Romania, Like a Romanian, for 22 Euros per Week”

  1. Not bad for fresh food. We eat most of our meals at home too, but of course it’s impossible to come in this! I always love finding out how others eat, and for how little we really need in this life, food and creature comfort stuff.

  2. Hi Calin: Coming in at #2, heeeere’s Teil!
    Glad my palate is very pedestrian–nothing fancy schmancy for me;-) In no order: Potatoes, rice (instant), pasta, oatmeal (instant), bread, skim milk, yoghurt (low-fat), vegetables (frozen) but would love fresh if available, flour, cottage cheese (low-fat), sour cream (low-fat), spray can butter (“Pam”), tinned biscuits (cookies–rationed to four a day;-). I use Gerber baby food as a substitute for meat sauces–yeah, I get funny looks at the check-out stand;-) I also use baby food to sweeten my cakes. I will eat sugar-free applesauce, or any tinned fruit which is added-sugar free. Fresh apples, strawberries, blueberries (waaay too expensive, here), bananas, are best, if available. I like bottle juice which is 100% juice–not the juice cocktails which are mostly sugar water. I microwave everything, from home-made cakes (no butter, sugar, and only small levels of sodium in “riser”) to pasta, to–you name it. I haven’t used a stovetop or oven in years. My landlord can’t believe I’ve never used his stove;-)
    My big issue here in the USA is the amount of added fat, sodium, and sugar they put in foods. It’s no wonder there’s an epidemic of high-blood pressure, obesity, etc., here;-O. (Of course it makes the drug companies a lot of money having doctors push their numerous pills to counteract the effects of all the ailments caused by all the food additives.)
    Sorry, you probably don’t really want to read about my eating choices and my food gripes–ha, ha!
    My questions are:
    #1. Do you have a particular (super) market where you buy your groceries?
    #2. Do they offer “rewards” cards? Slide your card for a discount?
    #3. Do they offer senior citizen discounts? (Age 55 and older?)
    #4. Do you bag your own groceries? I remember when I was “stationed” in Germany, I was shocked having to bag up my own groceries. The people behind me looked at me like I just dropped off the turnip truck;-) That’s one thing I like about the USA–and as you know there aren’t many things I like about the USA–ha, ha! They definitely bag your groceries for you. However, I can put on my “big boy pants” and bag my own, too;-)
    #5. Are expiration dates clearly marked on the products so you don’t end up with stale, moldy, sour, otherwise unappetizing food purchases?
    Thanks for this very useful posting. I seem to be homing in on Oradea as my retirement destination. If you ever are able to post anything in future articles about Oradea, I’d be thrilled;-)
    Take care!

    • Hello, Teil! I am really happy to see that you’re eating really healthy. Since I moved to a healthy or healthier way of eating about 8 months ago, I am always glad when I find out I’m not alone 🙂 We have the same problem with a lot of added fat and sugar in most of our food, but you can find a lot without any added sugar or salt. We also have a traditional jam that’s made entirely out of plums with zero added sugar and it’s really good. It’s called “magiun”. However, we don’t have Pam. Only heard of it and never saw anything like that 😛

      Now to answer your questions:

      1. Yes, we do, and we got to it after comparing prices. It’s called Kaufland (and we were previously shopping at the more expensive Cora). However, the difference in prices is not too big when it comes to these large supermarkets (we call them hypermarkets).

      2. Some of them do – Cora, for example, offers bonus points on a card that you can exchange for products. We got an iron and some pans with those points so far 🙂 Kaufland has none, though.

      3. I don’t think so, but I never really paid attention to this.

      4. Yup, you have to bag your own groceries.

      5. Some products require a bit of searching on your side to find the expiration date, but I never had any problem finding them. There are also large fines for stores if they sell expired products, so they also do their best to remove all expired products.

      Oradea is a city that I like too and I am sure I’ll write about it soon – probably after our trip in May, though, when I plan to write more about the most important cities in Romania.

  3. Wait a second, do you know how long it takes to make sarmale? You have to pickle cabbage for at least a day! Well, it’s worth it. One could make up a batch and then eat it all week long. At least I could.

    • That is true, Stuart. Getting the cabbage ready would take at least a few weeks, I guess. But now you can find pickled cabbage on sale in supermarkets, so you can skip that process (even though it doesn’t taste as good as the real, homemade thing). And it’s true, when you cook sarmale, you prepare a huge bowl.

  4. Hey Calin: This is something to celebrate, isn’t it?
    “Romania’s Government will cut the value-added tax (VAT) for all food items from 24% to 9%, starting June 1, 2015, Prime Minister Victor Ponta announced on Tuesday, April 7.
    Ponta said that the reduced VAT will apply to all food products, as well as on non-alcoholic beverages and catering services. The current VAT rate on food is 24%, except for bread which has a reduced VAT rate of 9%.” This is from Gee, I’d be dancing in the streets at this good news;-) Now, Romania’s food prices will surely be cheaper than those of KemKem’s Spain;-)

    • Ah, Teil, you were surely faster than I was with this one. I was planning to write the news soon 🙂 And yes, this might mean prices in Romania will finally be among the lowest in Europe when it comes to food too (and this should impact restaurants as well). There are worries that those who sell the products will try to bag in some extra profits simply by adding extra commissions, so we’ll have to wait and see if it really has an impact. But I’ve already noticed prices on some products (milk and yogurt for now) that have gone up, probably just so they will get back to what they were until the reduced VAT announcement was meant. Hopefully this won’t be widespread and we’ll actually get a lower price.


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