Spending nine days in Orlando before Christmas is not a budget expense that is part of our unemployment “God Watch.” So as I cook in our condo, and enjoy this spontaneous week away, I thought I would invite you to share your best meal tips for eating on vacation.
For many, vacation equals eating out, and that’s what makes it a true vacation. Yet others can’t stand the thought of seeing their precious dollars disappear on food and would rather spend it elsewhere during their time away. How do you handle food during your vacation?
This past June, we planned a cheap family vacation without being “cheap” and that week included no eating out. This week, since we’re traveling with the football team, we’ve had to have a happy medium between saving our budget and being rude by ignoring the team 🙂 Saving money while on vacation comes in many forms.
Fact: We have never taken a vacation without me cooking 85% of our meals in the condo (this doesn’t include those one night trips).
Fact: I always bring at least one cooler filled with frozen/refrigerated items that I know will be really expensive in the stores.
Fact: I always bring one gallon of frozen milk to use as my ice pack in that cooler.
Fact: I always bring some of my stockpiled foods. I refuse to pay full price for cereal on vacation when I get it for free with coupons. 🙂
Fib: Even if I had $1,000,000, I would still cook 85% of my meals in our condo.
Please take a second and let me know some of your best vacation food tips. I’ll do a follow up post with some more of my special secrets, as well as share some of yours. 🙂
I know we’d all love to hear about this, so please leave them in the comments.
*Edited to add…there are some GREAT IDEAS being added…love this! Keep it up.
I can’t wait to be inspired by this week’s Tasty Tuesday Parade of Foods. As always, please link to your direct recipe post and not your home page URL, as well as leaving a link back here so that everyone can join in on the fun.
Posted at: We are that Family
I’ve been known to use HG season ‘n steam products in the little suite hotel rooms that just have a little fridge and a microwave! All I have to pick up locally is the chicken.
Your list is very thorough! And the fib…ya…me too!!!
You are doing a great job!! I don’t have any tips – just learnin’ from you! Love your fib – hee,hee!
Love your blog! When we vaction we pack as much as we can fit to avoid impulse and convenience shopping. I try to cover snacks, drinks, easy self serve breakfast, lunches and snacks. In the cooler: frozen milk, sandwich meat, bread, etc. with our fruit, cheese, and misc cold items. In addition we take along a picnic basket of fried chicken (great cold) potato salad, deviled eggs, chips, trial mix, drinks. This keeps us from buying foods and junk at every fuel stop. Before our vaction I plan a menu for the week of meals we’ll prepare vs. when we’ll eat out.
I really admire what you’re doing. The last time we went on vacation, we spent almost $1,000 eating out for the week. We had a full kitchen, too, so it was a real shame that we were so careless. I’m looking forward to your post!
We will hopefully be going away after dh gets back from his deployment and staying at a condo, so we will definitely be eating mostly from there. I know one big thing for eating out on vacation is eating out at lunch typically is cheaper than dinner. Not for fast food but other restaurants. I was going to say real food, but.. lol. 😀
My mom used to make up a menu of things to eat while on vacation to make it easier to stick to it, but also planning a time to go out and eat, too. 😀 Then whatever things you can take from home can go with you like certain spices. 😀
Oh, Jen, I have traveled with my husband when he has to go TDY. We have spent 4 weeks, then 6 weeks, then 8 weeks in a hotel room in Michigan. All it has is a mini refrigerator. A crock pot is a wonderful thing to have if you have room. I love that you can put something in and leave to do other things. I also took one of those sandwich makers. It is wonderful to make pizza pockets or hot sandwiches with different ingredients. Or you can make apple turnovers and stuff. Have fun!
I cook a lot of our meals on vacation as well. I blogged about it last week.
Cooler, yep! Cereal, other breakfast food, snacks and fruit, yep! I’m going to freeze milk the next time! Hadn’t thought of that. 🙂 Planning meals ahead really helps me so that I can be sure to have spices, ingredients and condiments – little things that make a big difference!
I don’t have any tips for cooking on vacation, because sadly enough, we don’t take vacations. I bet you are having a blast though. Thanks for hosting!
I save my mypoints & swagbucks for giftcards to restaurants. When we travel I always buy an Entertainment book for the area we are visiting – lots of Buy 1 Get 1 FREE meals, but it’s just me and my husband too. We only eat breakfast and an early supper on vacation. We make breakfast, but always eat supper out – after all it IS vacation.
When we took our vacation back in June, I wrote a post on ways we saved money on food and eating out. You can read it here: http://girlstogrow.blogspot.com/2009/05/dining-out-while-on-vacation.html
If we are going on a vacation where I will be cooking, I try to make a casserole for the first night the day before we go. Then all I have to do is get it out of the cooler and pop it in the oven – so no stress after a long journey!
I love your tips, particularly the one about the milk – excellent idea!
Instead of buying individual ice creams for 2.50 or more each, we like to get half gallon and take it back to “our place,” sit on the beach, at the campsite, etc and enjoy it together!
We just got back from a long weekend away in which we did just this. For us, having a 1 and a 3 year old makes it very motivating to eat in the condo! LOL. They will tolerate restaurants, but it certainly isn’t their favorite thing.
My two tips are plan your menus before you go and take the crockpot. We tend to splurge on more convenience foods on vacation, but it is still way less expensive than eating out, and makes it more of a vacation for me if I get to cook less.
When we traveled for Thanksgiving, I planned my menu just like I would have if we were home. The only difference was I had to make some of my meals ahead of time to reheat in the microwave. I packed all of our snacks, lunches and dinners. The highlight of all of it, was the day I used my crockpot to cook some soup (it was leftover from a previous meal, and would have went bad if I hadn’t brought it along). I threw in some corn from our Thanksgiving feast, and turned it on. When we arrived back at our hotel after visiting with family all day–we were bombarded with the smell of our soup as soon as we stepped in the foyer. It was hilarious!
I figured our total food cost for 5 days was under the $50 mark–where as it would have been far into the hundreds had we chosen to eat out. The children loved eating in our room versus eating out. 🙂
We stayed in a condo in Gulf Shores last summer and ate lunch and breakfast at “home” in the condo. I found that oatmeal was a great breakfast b/c it’s inexpensive , easy to pack and filling. We typically ate sandwiches for lunch, but we also brought our leftovers from eating dinner out back to the condo and enjoyed them reheated for lunch!
I think grocery shopping beforehand vs. once you reach your destination is a matter of personal preference. When DH and I travel without kids, it’s easier to just go once we get to our vacation spot (less stress beforehand). On the other hand, with kids, it’s nice to be completely prepared once you get where you are going so you don’t have to grocery shop with hungry cranky little ones.
Absolutely…shopping is personal preference. I bring my “couponed” items with us, like the cereal and then shop for the larger items once we arrive. But I do believe every single vacationer hit the Wally World in Orlando when I was there. What was I thinking? 🙂 Walmart on the weekend is not a smart vacationing tip. hee hee
We have a thermos (flask) that we fill with coffee before leaving home, so we have coffee on the road – for free!! Saves a stack!!
My husband and I took an 8 day trip to Washington DC and spent only $200 in food and things for the kids…everything. We brought as much as we could with us in our suit case. we brought oatmeal for every morning and used the coffee pot for hot water and the cups in the hotel. When we got there we went to a grocery store and bought a small peanut butter and Jelly and a small cooler to get ice from the ice machine to keep everything good that needed to be cold. We also brought all we could as snacks and treats and such from home and put our lunches together in the hotel before leaving for the day. We then would eat out for dinner, but we went to subway and other cheaper places for dinner except for a couple nights. It was so neat to be able to make that trip because I learned that traveling doesn’t have to be expensive if you plan ahead and have a plan.
Just found this website and I love this Tasty Tuesday idea:)
I don’t have any grand “saving” ideas for vacations when it comes to food. At home, I’m a lot more health conscience but when I go on vacation, I throw caution to the wind.
So inexpensive meals that my family LOVES but are not very healthy are completely acceptable to us during vacay:)
Ramen noodles with cut-up left over hotdogs.
Hot dog’s w/chips
Little Cesars ($5 large pizza)
Dollar burgers from fast food (add chips and drinks at hotel/condo)
Frozen lasagna (from local grocery store) with or without salad
You get my drift:)
Oh for breakfast we do e.a.s.y mostly but usually have one BIG breakfast day (complete with grits w/cheese, bacon, sausage, eggs, pancakes)
But usually, we just have Pop Tarts or Cereal:) Cereal is very inexpensive.
I love my electric skillet in which I can cook, boil or fry food. Saves money and allows us to share time with each other
I always pack food for our family vacations, however, I recently went on a girls weekend getaway trip. I had Fiber One bars and Special K Pretzel bars and some other eat a quick snack types of food , but none of the normal things I’d pack for a vaction. One night we headed out to get a box of cereal for me and a box of cereal for one of the girls travelling with us who was pregnant. We ended up spending $10 for a single serve box of cereal, a small box of cereal, and a gallon of milk! Yikes. It definitely pays to plan ahead!
Sometimes I bring a slow cooker (or pick one up at Good will in the city I’m visiting. It’s great for making soups during the day!
The last vacation we took, we ate our breakfast, and sometimes lunch, in the room and ate our dinners out. It does save money and allows you to spend it on other things you would rather do on your vacation. Great post!
I love the idea about freezing the milk. That would prevent a late night or early morning trip to the store to be ready for breakfast.
For eating out, I always research a list of “kids eat free” restaurants for the area. We’ve found some really fun local restaurants that way. When we drive up, our kids usually say “So kids eat free here tonight?”
We went to the beach this summer for a week with my whole family – 18 of us. We decided to take a break from cooking and go easy for breakfast and dinner – cereal and sandwiches mostly. For dinner we took turns cooking. Each “family” cooked one night. Each of us only had to cook one night – albeit for 18 people, but still. One night of cooking for the whole week was fabulous!
Premake wraps for meals Bean burritos with cheese, egg and cheese for breakfast . Tons of brownies and Rice Krispy treats take care of snacks and then dinner out on the cheap. Muffins work for breakfast as well. This works for going to a condo you can premake everything and don’t have to worry about much at all add some fruits and drinks maybe some chips.
If you can’t eat out every meal save coupons for frozen meals and buy them when you get there at the grocery. Stouffer’s has a great lasagna and chicken bake and a few other family sized meals serve with salad get some kitchen time off this way and it makes for not expensive meals!
The brownies and drinks work all summer no matter where you are going add some apples and or chips to a bin in the vehicle and your always set until the next stop which can even be for a loaf of bread and a jar of Peanut Butter for an entire meal.
We have an electric cooler — it plugs into the car cigarette lighter and has an adapter for household power as well. If we don’t have a room with a fridge, DH carries the cooler to our room and plugs it in.
At the very least, milk, cheese, and lunchmeat stay good in the cooler.
We took lots of staples including most everything for breakfast & lunch. Then researched the grocery stores close by and brought coupons to do meal planning around prior to arriving at our destination. We did pick up milk & juice but had all of the other snacks & drinks for the week. We eat out a couple of times at our favorite local spots but don’t feel bad at all after saving so much on food for the rest of our vacation. We also utilize the grills at our resort – so that hubby can share in the cooking 🙂
Love the frozen milk idea – definitely going to try that next time. Wonder if you can freeze OJ, too.
@Leann, You can definitely freeze OJ, Leana…ask me how I know. 🙂 It works wonderfully.