Budget Friendly Eating Ideas while Studying Abroad in Sydney

Where do I eat and grocery shop? How do I find the cheapest groceries? Who’s hungry? I am! These questions were running through my head when I started considering studying abroad. From my time abroad in Sydney, Australia, I learned a few helpful tips to ensure you’re eating enough food while still staying within your study abroad budget. It’s all about being smart with your money and planning ahead. Let’s begin this journey of budget-friendly eating, a crucial aspect of your study abroad experience!  

This was homemade chicken alfredo with fettuccini noodles and topped with parmesan cheese. I was missing home food and decided to spend some time making a yummy meal that I could eat for the week! 

Cooking For Yourself 

This is usually the first thing students think of when they think of food while studying abroad, and it can be intimidating to cook for yourself, especially if you never had to. But remember, cooking is a skill that you can master, and finding food that’s delicious, easy, and quick can be a fun challenge. The good news is that this can be easy. I highly recommend eating simple meals like chicken and rice, pasta, and sandwiches. The feeling of accomplishment and empowerment when you prepare a meal for yourself is truly rewarding.  

So where should you buy groceries? Here in Sydney, many CEA CAPA students live in a suburb called Haymarket, and one major benefit is that there are so many grocery stores nearby. One exciting adventure I have is to buy from local markets: for example, Paddy’s Market! It’s not just about the groceries; it’s about immersing yourself in the local culture, experiencing the vibrant atmosphere, and interacting with the friendly vendors. I absolutely love going in on Sunday and sifting through the fresh produce. They also have the cheapest fresh produce available on Sunday! At first, it might seem daunting, but then you realize how easy it is, and with time and practice, you will be a market master in no time! 

A plate of black beans, salsa, chicken, white rice, guacamole, and corn chips

I made a healthy homemade taco bowl for myself!  

If markets scare you, I recommend going to Coles or The Metro, also known as Woolworths. These two stores are the cheapest and closest. Aldi is another great grocery store in the Haymarket area. Another note about grocery shopping is that there are sadly no superstores here, like Target or Walmart, so I often found myself going to multiple stores just to find what I needed. Another thing that threw me off was the prices. At first, I was frustrated that grocery stores were so expensive. I tried to remember the exchange rate is in our favor, so something that is $10 AUD is currently $6.60 USD, which is helpful!  


Haymarket is genuinely one of the best places to live because it is so central to everything in the city. Looking at Haymarket as a global suburb, there are so many little restaurants, and you can barely walk one hundred meters without finding a coffee shop. My favorite way to find cheap restaurants was to search for the cuisine I wanted to eat and then put “cheap” in. There were so many yummy inexpensive restaurants within a 10-minute walk from the building where I live. It’s like a treasure hunt for delicious and affordable food!  

Some of my favorite restaurants:  

A bowl of ramen sitting on a table

My first bowl of authentic ramen. I loved this restaurant!  

Although this is a short list, there are many more unique and yummy places to eat. I also highly recommend looking at this link from Time Out. They update this page frequently to help you find places to eat in Sydney. 

A big part of Sydney’s culture is food, which I love. There are so many delicious snacks at the tips of your fingers. A semester abroad is a great time to try new food and explore your horizons. I believe I have become more diverse by trying different cuisines and learning the culture of each restaurant.  

One thing I’ve found that’s a little different from dining in the U.S. is that at most Asian restaurants and some others, you will be seated, but then there’s a self-serving water station. You also must bring the menu up and order from the cashier.  

One surprising thing that shocked me was how eco-friendly every restaurant is, from wooden cutlery to paper straws. You won’t find a paper straw anywhere in sight. Another part of Australia’s eco-friendliness is that everywhere you go, you’ll get a plastic reusable take-home container, which is often more expensive, ranging from 10 cents to 2 AUD.  

A hand holding a United States passport in front of a plate of chicken nuggets and french fries at a restaurant

While in Sydney I traveled a lot and would often try different food from different countries, but sometimes chicken nuggets were exactly what I needed. 

Make it Yourself Meals

Another popular option is to invest in an account and app that delivers food to your door. One example of this is HelloFresh, which many of my friends do. There are many reasons why one would choose this option, as it helps make decision-making less stressful and gives you the exact directions needed to cook a healthy and nutritious meal. 

Alright, that’s it! Those are my helpful, budget-friendly eating tips.  

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