August 25, 2014

How Did I Save Hundreds of $$ on Food?

May21

I saved hundreds of dollars on food during our vacation this week.

For many, vacation is a time to splurge and I completely respect that decision, but when you are feeding a crew of over the top eaters like my guys, sometimes that splurge would cost hundreds. My kids agreed they’d rather put that money to other uses.

If you haven’t read my post with all my tips for Saving Money on Food during vacation, it’s a must read. All your comments are priceless and add so much to the discussion.

While I stand by all my money saving ideas, honestly, I had never put them to use at a luxurious resort before, especially with one which didn’t have a kitchen. Quite frankly, I’m still chuckling at what our maid must have thought.

I am sure she hasn’t seen the likes of  our “restaurant” before, but I did clean up for her. :) People who stay at this hotel, don’t try and save money on food, until us.

I am so thankful for this wonderful gift from the Food Blog Forum, and even more thankful for five children who just GET “me,” and never utter a word of complaint, but you must watch my tiny video to take the journey with me. :)

Do you have a funny story on how you save money on food?

We’d all LOVE to hear about it in the comments.

I can’t wait to see what you are creating in the kitchen this week.





Comments

  1. I love this! Great video too! I’m all for cooking on vacation. It doesn’t have to be hard either. Of course, it is easier if you have a kitchen ;) But I’ve done the same as you before, although my cooking appliance of choice was a hot pot instead of a griddle. Thanks for sharing that you can have a great time and keep it affordable too.

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  2. Paula R. says:

    Jen… I LOVE this! I can’t believe you stayed at the Grand Floridian! It’s my dream to stay there!
    What are great opportunity for you to attend this conference and the fact that you took your kiddos and all piled in together is fantastic. I bet they had an amazing time.

    I have never attempted meal prep in a hotel before–not a luxury one anyway.
    I’m curious if you hit a grocery store en route and

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    Jen Reply:

    Paula – Yes, it was a dream too and I felt SO fortunate that we pretty much got the rooms for free since it was sponsored by Disney. The place is gorgeous, but the room we had was just your basic hotel room so it was definitely a tight, “love” fit. haha We missed my hubby, but I told him, you would never have fit. :)

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  3. How creative! I wish that I had thought of that – my husband and kids would have been so much happier!! I am going to try to share your link with my readers.

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    Jen Reply:

    Thanks so much. :)

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  4. Paula R. says:

    Jen… I hit the publish button by mistake! Oops!

    Anyway… Did you take groceries from home in coolers and utilized the room fridge?
    I guess if you are driving it makes it so much easier to pack up the van with supplies rather than if you’re flying and have limited space.

    I loved how your kids got on board with it. I’m sure they would have preferred to spend money on souvenirs. On our first trip to Disney… My mom pumped us up saying we were having peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwiches and that we would eat them in the car so we wouldn’t waste time waiting in food lines when we could be riding rides. Ha! We had an amazing trip on a budget.

    You definitely get an A++for creativity and I’m sure your husband’s confidence rests in you knowing you gave his kids a memorable trip without breaking the bank.
    You are awesome. I would love to hear more about his you pulled off meals in a hotel room without a kitchen !

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    Jen Reply:

    Thanks for your sweet words. Yes, I brought items from home and they had a small fridge. Even if they didn’t have a fridge, the pancakes are still great. I used the “just add water” brand and brought syrup. I wasn’t going to stop at the store, but I did end up getting eggs. ;) Yes, we even did eggs or I should say, my 13 year old made them up for everyone while I was at the conference. In order to pull it off without a kitchen, I brought a griddle which allowed us to do pancakes, eggs, grilled ham and cheese sandwiches etc. If we were staying longer, I would have brought my small crock pot. I know many can’t rap their brand around it, especially in a fancy hotel, but with four teens and a 9 year old with a big appetite too, they eat a TON. It would easily have been a few hundred a DAY if I had to pay Disney prices. When I bring coolers, I freeze the things like juice or small yogurts and those are my ice packs. On the post I linked to, there are a bunch more ideas.

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  5. You made me laugh! That’s awesome! I don’t know how you ever thought it up! Really nice video too. :)

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  6. Girl, I’m right there with ya. In fact, I have an article coming out in our local women’s magazine on the same thoughts, save your food money for fun splurges {like Disney Park}. Love your video and we do the exact same thing at the beach. Be there in 3 weeks, can’t wait!! Thanks for the fantastic post!

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  7. How neat! I would have never thought to bring a griddle, but that would have been totally awesome! I love that video too!

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  8. Thanks so much for hosting! I am sharing my son’s Peanut Butter Oaties this week. :-)

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  9. I take a sandwich maker (Snackmaster) with me when traveling and I can make pancakes with brown-n-serve sausages in them, pizza pocket sandwiches, hot apple pies, mini-omelets, and more. I have been doing this for just about the whole twenty-eight years I have been married.

    Hooray for frugal traveling!

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  10. While we were stationed in Europe with three picky eaters, I quickly learned how to use the electric teakettle to make meals that my kids would eat. These kettles are found in almost all hotel rooms in Europe–they simply make quick boiled water. We had oatmeal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch (not in the pot, obvs) and I remember one memorable meal of cheese tortellini and peas that I made completely in the tea kettle, served with tiny cans of mandarin oranges. My husband thinks I’m nuts, but I hate spending money on food. I grew up this way–my parents still travel with a loaf of bread and peanut butter, chips and snack foods. When I drank soda, I always brought my own 12-pack along as well–nothing gets you faster than spending $3-4 for a vending machine soda at a hotel!

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    Jen Reply:

    I LOVE this. I think we need to start our own club of frugal foodie travelers. I had a hot pot like that in college, similar to that one you are talking about. Maybe I need to find out if they still sell them. Your tortellini made me think of the mac and cheese I would do and the great thing is that it’s much smaller than my griddle. :)

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  11. You *do* have the best kids ever!

    I definitely brought a lot of food with me. No kitchen, but a cooler with milk and cheese for the toddler. We ate breakfast “in” with food from home, but we splurged on food for lunch and dinner. But that’s our thing, we actually travel to eat more than anything. :)

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    Jen Reply:

    Exactly, for many, the restaurants and the food IS the best part of the vacation and I love that aspect too, but when those big guys are with me, my pocket book doth protest. ;)

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  12. Alma Jimenez Carroll says:

    Eat a good breakfast at the hotel. Take a “picnic” into the park, (sandwhich items, PB or tuna or other deli meats) and snacks for throughout the day. Water and powdered gatorade, then eat out for dinner or order something to be delivered or take out. It all depends how tired we are at the end of the day.

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  13. Alma Jimenez Carroll says:

    Eat a good breakfast at the hotel. Take a “picnic” into the park, (sandwhich items, PB or tuna or other deli meats) and snacks for throughout the day. Water and powdered gatorade, then eat out for dinner or order something to be delivered or take out. It all depends how tired we are at the end of the day.

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  14. Jeanine says:

    Hi Jen,

    I love all your ideas, but I have a problem. This summer, we are very lucky to be going to my husband’s family reunion in the grand tetons, and I say we are lucky because we’ll be staying at a beautiful resort thanks to my in laws (We will only be responsible for our meals.) The problem is that the resort is in a National Park, and rooms have no refrigerator and you are not allowed to heat food or cook in ANY way because the smell will attract bears! I have a four year old and a three year old AND a two month old. The resort people said we could go to the grocery store and get an ice chest and do cereal and PBJ and such (we will be flying) but I am worried about having to do dinner every single night out. (we will be staying one week.) Any suggestions?

    As you can see from my use of caps, I am kind of freaking out about this. :) Please help.

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    Allison Reply:

    @Jeanine, It does make it difficulty when the hotel rules keep you from cooking. You could always skip grocery shopping one week and eat from your pantry to save that money for food on vacation. If you ate the meals you could cook in a hotel room at home before you go, you could use your grocery money for that week to spend on vacation. Jen has many meals on her site that are very frugal. Also, you could probably pack a foldable cloth “cooler” and skip the ice chest expense.

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    Julie Reply:

    @Jeanine, If you have to go out one night, be sure to eat something that can also be eaten cold the next day for lunch and then have sandwiches for dinner…just make sure you order enough. I’m thinking pizza, fried/roasted chicken, meatloaf (sandwiches the next day) and keep some pasta salad/potato salad/green salad on hand….you might not save a ton, but you will save on gas, drinks and a tip for the server!
    Another idea is to go to restaurants that have ‘to go’ windows and have a picnic somewhere with your own drinks etc.
    Although I’m not a fan of Styrofoam, you could get an inexpensive Styrofoam cooler and save on having to buy an expensive one just to leave it behind.
    HTH!

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    Jen Reply:

    Great ideas, Julie – thanks for adding in some great suggestions. :)

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  15. You’ve inspired me to make a vacay video from pics too, great job!

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  16. karen davis says:

    Jen, just want you to know I enjoy your blog, everything about it from fashion on a budget, to food and recipes, to saving money, it really make a difference what you have to say, Thanks so much, may God continue to Bless you and your family, sincerely, Karen

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  17. Give me the link when you’re done. I’d love to see it.

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  18. Dawnette Thomas says:

    We just did a similar thing, except our room flooded and had to pack up all the food and move it to another room. The hotel staff was rather impressed with how much food we got into the dresser. We also spent three days in DisneyLand and only bought 1 treat in memory of a dear friend. Thank you for being “weird” enough to show the possibilities.

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  19. You are INCREDIBLE. Never in a million years would I think to do that. :)

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  20. T Barnes says:

    How about an Electric griddle, ninja 3 in 1 cooking system (for cooking spaghetti, hamburger patties, sausage, bacon, the list goes on THE BEST), keurig (for hot water for oatmeal, grits etc.) and ninja blender (for smoothies slushies etc.) & don’t forget the grills that most resorts provide. (FOIL) We also had a small fridge available Yes I have taken all of this on vacation : ) Now can you imagine the look on our housekeeping’s face? We ate out twice the whole week as we too wanted to spend our money on other things, so we tried this for the first time this year and it was awesome, we were able to come home with some of our vacation budget! Hey when you have kids you do what you gotta do. I agree eating out should be apart of the experience so we chose places we didn’t have back home, other than that we cooked in! One of the best vacation’s ever!!!

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    Jen Reply:

    You are my new favorite, best friend. Love that!!!!

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  21. I came looking for these posts as we plan a trip to the beach. I remembered reading some great tips. I never thought about taking a griddle or sandwich maker. The hotel we are about to travel to will have a mini fridge and microwave and breakfast is included. Our twist is that in a lot of places we can not eat out because both of our boys have severe food allergies. We have found an easy and less expensive way to feed us is to eat the hotel breakfast, sandwiches/snacky lunch (crackers, cheese, fruit, popcorn, chips) and for dinner we do a couple of things. We save our points for a certain pizza place and when we travel we locate one nearby and use our points for one pizza and only pay for the smaller items. We end up spending $15-$20 for that whole dinner with leftovers. Another night we will stop by a grocery store and pick up a rotisserie chicken (usually for $5-$7) and then make sides like mashed potatoes, rice, or macaroni in the microwave along with steaming/heating some veggies and I bake and bring rolls and bread so we have those as well. The chicken also provides meat for mini sandwiches in rolls or can be added to rice(cooked in the microwave) or a sandwich. We just have to remember to bring storage bags/containers because pizza boxes/rotisserie chicken containers do not fit well in the mini fridge.

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    Jen Reply:

    It was so fun to read how you do it. You know that we are all about saving money when reading this is as good as snuggling up with a good book. :)

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Trackbacks

  1. [...] This post (watch the video) from my friend Jen cracked me up.  I can totally see Jen doing this, and I have to admit that I’ve done it once myself, when Jeremy and I were on a business trip to Las Vegas and were broke (prior to going to Vegas, haha).  I totally need to remember this next time we travel because I could fix a way better breakfast with a griddle, pancake mix, and some syrup that you get in the hotel lobby! [...]

  2. [...] This post (watch the video) from my friend Jen cracked me up. I can totally see Jen doing this, and I have to admit that I’ve done it once myself, when Jeremy and I were on a business trip to Las Vegas and were broke (prior to going to Vegas, haha). I totally need to remember this next time we travel because I could fix a way better breakfast with a griddle, pancake mix, and some syrup that you get in the hotel lobby! [...]

  3. [...] kitchen.  But, it’s possible to cook even if you don’t have a full kitchen – check out how much friend Jen cooked in a hotel room at Disney!  I’ve actually brought along an electric griddle on a trip once myself, though I [...]

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