Thursday, October 20, 2011

Frugal Eating On Vacation

We were able to save a good bit of cash by taking  a lot of our own food on our recent vacation. This also enabled us to eat more healthfully as well.

Andy doesn't like for me to work too much if we're supposed to be on vacation so I promised him that I would plan only easy things to take along. :-) I find it fun and relaxing to cook on vacation and the little kitchen makes me feel like I'm playing house! I know that to some people, cooking while on vacation sounds absurd, but I don't mind it one bit!

The month before our trip, I began planning by listing the meals we would be eating away from home and then started making a list of food ideas. Over that month, I started buying things we wanted to take and putting them away.

Friday-- lunch while traveling, supper at cabin
Saturday--breakfast at cabin, lunch out at Folk School Festival, supper at cabin
Sunday--breakfast at cabin, lunch out for anniversary, supper at cabin
Monday--breakfast at cabin, lunch while traveling

This helped me to know exactly what I was working with. And also since we had been to the cabin a couple of times before, I knew we had a full-size refrigerator with small freezer on top(not those little hotel fridges!), an oven and stove top and a grill to use.

We packed our cooler full and also made a small grocery store trip once we reached our destination.

Our menu:

Lunch: Bag of beef jerky, cheese slices, veggies, hard-boiled eggs, apples
Supper: Grilled steaks, salad (used FREE coupon), mashed butternut squash(prepared ahead and frozen), olives

Breakfast: Egg and sausage casserole (made ahead and frozen), bananas
Lunch: Bought lunch at Festival. Decided on BBQ plates as the most for our money and the best option for our eating style.
Supper: BBQ meatballs (frozen ahead and cooked in my tiny crockpot), brown rice(bought  microwaveable Minute Ready Rice on sale with coupon), salad

Breakfast: Egg and sausage casserole, bananas
Lunch: Ate at Rib Country.
Supper: Snacky-type foods: leftover meatballs served as an appetizer, cheese, rice chips(a good compromise food), veggies and dip(veggies cut and dip prepared at home)

Breakfast: hard-boiled eggs, sauteed peppers and onions (brought these to serve with scrambled eggs but forgot to buy eggs but had extra boiled eggs along so it worked out well!)
Lunch: Snacky-type foods: whatever was left-- veggies, cheese slices, hard-boiled eggs, some smoked turkey slices leftover from our restaurant meal the day before.

We also took snacks: dark chocolate, cashews, dried fruit, rice chips, apples, peanut butter, bananas, extra hard-boiled eggs, veggies and dip. 

What we liked:
*Meals were super easy to prepare with minimal clean-up!
*Egg casserole was a very good idea. I popped it into the oven in the morning (took it frozen and let it thaw somewhat in the fridge overnight) and it baked while I showered and got ready. Super easy!
*We felt better eating reasonably healthy foods compared to eating a lot of restaurant food.
*Taking several frozen items from the freezer kept everything nice and cold on the way. An organic frozen chicken bought on markdown(yes, I bargain shopped while on vacation!) at the only grocery store in town helped keep things cold on the way home.
*We saved  a lot of time and gasoline by eating most of our meals at the cabin. The cabin is a little drive from town/restaurants.
*I took some of my own basic cooking tools--can opener, paring knife, peeler, kitchen scissors. They have some things there but I like using my own. And you have them just in case...
*Loved using the little crockpot.
*Other than too many snacks, we ate most of what we'd brought so packing up again was easy and lighter(except for that chicken!).

What we may tweak in the future:
*Grilling the first night was a bit much. By the time we got there and then got back from the grocery store, it was starting to get dark. We discovered the grill didn't cook as fast as we expected so the steaks took a long time to cook!
*We ate  a lot of BBQ! While it all tasted good and we certainly didn't mind it, I think I'd shoot for a bit more variety next time.
*Way too many snacks! We hardly ate any of them as we weren't hungry in between meals much. But that's kinda hard to judge as next time we could eat all the same things and be starving!:-)
*Remember to take paper plates, ziploc bags and plastic wrap, if needed.
*The only grocery store in town has a terrible produce section. Bring produce from home next time!
*Bring our own sparkling cider from home. Grocery store had a very limited selection and nothing without HFCS.
*Plan for a picnic next time!

This worked out really well for us and helped us to stay within our cash budget. Of course, I love to cook, but really if things are kept simple, it's still possible to have a relaxing vacation while doing a lot of your own cooking.

Do you like to cook or eat out on vacation or do you do a combination?

**This post is part of Frugal Fridays over at Life As Mom! Where ironically, she's also talking about taking food with you to beat vacation costs!


tea said...

I like to eat out. There's something fun and special about it. It's part of the vacation to me. ..But I think it's a great idea to cook some or all of the meals. It's a great way to save money, and depending on the type of vacation it could work out great. It sounds like it worked out really great for you guys!! I would really like to try to make at least a little bit of our own food the next time we travel. thanks for sharing!! :)

That corgi :) said...

You did good to plan it like this and then to go back and reevaluate it after you cooked to see what you would change the next time! We usually eat out for all meals when we are on vacation, but I was just thinking if we do ever go on another vacation, that I would plan to bring some food with us to help cutback on expenses.

have a good weekend!


Anonymous said...

Usually on vacation we're staying in hotels with only a mini-fridge and a microwave. But we always take breakfast and lunch type stuff to eat. In June when we rented a cabin for 7 days, we only ate out one time and I really enjoyed preparing meals in our little cabin kitchen!

Katie said...

We definitely like to go to a grocery store and eat out as little as possible.

I have been wanting to commend you on your disciplined habits. I've noticed how disciplined you and your hubby are with your budget (not buying candy at that general store!) and with your eating habits (again not eating candy at that general store!). =) Not sure I would've had such discipline. I don't think I commented on a post in which you had mentioned you had lost several pounds (20?), but I was amazed! It seemed like you just announced you were beginning to eat differently! You truly are an inspiration to me! Great job!

Have a great weekend,

Kathryn D. Duke said...

good idea about freezing the breakfast casserole and taking it along. I would have never thought of that...great frugal ideas and thanks for always passing them along to us!!