Our friends at One Good Thing by Jillee asked me to write a guest post about ways I save money on our vacation food budgets. We are excited to be giving away two FREE membership to Deals to Meals as well as a $50 Walmart gift card to help you with your upcoming vacations. Visit her blog HERE to enter to win, or leave a comment on this blog and we will also enter you to win. Thanks and good luck!

Summer is in full swing and here at Deals to Meals we are excited to help all of you save money on your vacation food
budgets. If you are like my family, we love to vacation! With a family of 7
however, the food portion of our vacations can sometimes price our trips
out of our reach. Besides the hotel costs, the food expenses can be the next
highest cost of a trip. I am excited to share several tips that will help you
cut your vacation food budget in half (or more) and help you save money so you
can do all of the fun things you are hoping to do this summer.

1-Know your food budget before you go on vacation. If you don’t have
an idea of what you want to spend on food, it is easy to over spend. Food can
add up quickly and be a hefty part of your total vacation cost. Know what you
can afford and how much you want to spend, and try to stick to those figures.
Knowing your budget will help you determine where and what you should and
shouldn’t eat during the week.

1-Have a food budget before you go on your vacation. If you don’t
have an idea of what you want to spend on food, it is easy to way over
spend. Food can add up quickly and be a hefty part of your total
vacation cost. Know what you can afford and how much you want to spend
and try to stick to those figures. Knowing your budget will help you determine where you should and shouldn’t eat.

2-Do some research and have a plan before you leave. Before going on your
trip do a little research and put together a plan of where you will be eating
for each meal (whether in the hotel or out to eat). Find what food options are
in the areas you will be visiting and find places to go that have discount
coupons or specials. By simply doing a Google search you can find discounts on many
of your favorite places to eat. An example of this is restaurant.com where you
can get up to 50% off many restaurants in the areas you will be visiting. Whether
you are eating out each meal or cooking from your hotel it is good to know
where you are going and know a rough estimate of how much you will be spending
on food.

(Using Deals to Meals we got ten days of groceries for our family’s vacation for under $165!)

3-Stock up on snacks, treats and vacation items throughout the year when
they go on sale.
Many times people do their last minute vacation shopping
right before they leave on their trip. They buy snacks, treats, chips, fruit
drinks, soda, crackers, fruit snacks, etc. and find they have to pay full price
for these ‘vacation’ items. These items are great to keep kids quiet and happy
while traveling, but can break the bank if you pay full price. The best time to
stock up on these snack items are the first and last week in July (as well as
the week of Thanksgiving). These are the times when snack items go on sale for
their lowest prices. Instead of buying one box of crackers, stock up and buy
several so you can keep them in your own ‘grocery store’ in your pantry, and
have them on hand for several months to come. Having bought these items on sale
can save big throughout the rest of the year. If you have not had time to stock
up, remember to check Deals to Meals before
you go shopping to find the best deals in your area.
                               

4- Plan your vacation around the ability to make homemade meals where you
will be staying.
Families,
depending on the size, can easily spend anywhere from $30-$100 on
one meal. This can add up quickly if you are needing to eat out three meals a
day. That can be as much as $100-$250 a day spent just on food, depending where
you choose to eat. Could you eat at Taco Bell for less, yes, but who wants fast
food three times a day? So, the better option is to find ways to eat homemade
meals where you will be staying. Whether you are sleeping in a hotel, a rented
home/cabin, camping in the outdoors, or in a condo, you can easily cook
homemade meals and cut your food budget in half.

My family has made nearly 20 week long trips to Disneyland (I know, my
husband is a Mickey-fanatic). In the beginning we were spending nearly $800 on
food for a week at Disneyland. Food in Disneyland is not cheap and with a
family of 7 eating outside the park wasn’t a great option either. We found we
could eat homemade breakfasts, lunch, and dinner meals from our own hotel and
spent less than $150 for the entire week. How did we do it? Here are a few tips
of how to cook simple meals and save hundreds of dollars for the week.

a. Book a hotel with a microwave
and/or a mini fridge.
If they offer free ice, you could even do without a
fridge. Many times a hotel with a mini kitchen or microwave is only a few extra
dollars a night but can save you big on your food budget. Having a microwave
can make meal prep easy in your hotel.

b. Bring the right tools. When I
travel and plan on cooking in our hotel there are a few must-haves that make it
much easier for me. I always bring an electric skillet. Not a flat griddle, but
the skillets with the two inch sides. It is amazing what you can cook or warm
up in these skillets. I can cook nearly every breakfast, lunch and dinner
recipe I want between a microwave and a skillet. The skillet can be easily
packed and is large enough to cook food for a large family of 7 like my own. It
is also smart to bring paper products, plastic utensils, a kitchen scrubber,
paper towels, and a small container of dish soap to make clean up a cinch.

c. Choose the right hotel (or accommodations)
that allow you to prepare homemade meals in your room(s).
Booking a hotel
with a continental breakfast is not always the least expensive way to go. Most
of us can eat a pretty simple breakfast and be fine (toast, bagels, cereal,
fruit, yogurt, etc.). Many times the hotels that offer the free breakfast will
charge you more than it would cost for your family to eat your own breakfast in
the hotel room. If you can find a hotel with a reasonable continental breakfast
and the price is not more than you could feed your own family breakfast then
that is a good option.
Below are several meal options for breakfast, lunch and dinner that are easy
to prepare and serve in a hurry. If you are flying to your destination you
could easily make a quick shopping trip for some of these meals to make in your
hotel without a lot of effort. Preparing homemade meals and serving in your
hotel will save $100’s on your vacation budget.

BREAKFAST MEALS:
*Cereal
and milk
*Bagels,
cream cheese and fruit
*Yogurt
and granola
*Pancakes
(can be cooked on an electric skillet brought from home)–bring a box mix or
put the dry ingredients for a homemade pancake mix in a Ziploc bag and bring
the wet ingredients separate.
*Eggs
(can be fried on an electric skillet or in the microwave)–add some cheese and
hashbrowns and you could make breakfast burritos without a lot of effort.

LUNCH MEALS:
Lunch
meals are easy to pack and can be brought around easily on the road as you are
traveling. You can feed a family a healthy lunch for under $10, where as going
out for lunch (even at a fast food chain) would cost most families over
$25-$40. Here are a few of my favorite lunch options that can be brought from
home. Add a bag of chips, some veggies or fruit and you have a complete meal at
a low price.
*PB&J
sandwiches
*Lunchmeat
sandwiches (Monte
Cristo’s
, Cubans,
deli sandwiches, etc.)
*Tunafish
sandwiches
*Simple
Salads (Rumbi’s, Golden Gate Chicken Salad, Sesame Salad, etc.)

 
DINNER MEALS:
Here
are a few of my favorite simple dinner meals I pack from home when going on an
extended vacation. One time saving tip is to make a few of these meals 1-2
weeks prior to your vacation. Double the recipe and eat one batch for dinner
the week you make them and then freeze the second half for your vacation. It
takes a little more thought and prep, but makes cooking on the vacation simple
and hassle free.
*Tacos
(cook up the taco meat ahead of time, freeze and warm in the microwave or
skillet for a quick meal). Pack along shredded cheese, salsa, lettuce and taco
shells and you have a quick and inexpensive dinner. I usually bring extra taco
meat and serve the rest in a taco salad later in the week (just bring more
lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, ranch dressing, chips and a can of kidney beans).
*Soups
or Stews
–soups can easily be made ahead of time and frozen for your
vacation. Warm up in the microwave and serve with store bought rolls for a
quick dinner. If you are in a hurry you could even just use canned soups or
stews.
*Shredded
BBQ Pork Sandwiches-
-crock pot a large pork loin, shred and freeze the meat
for your vacation. Frozen pork thaws perfectly. You can add some bbq sauce for
a nice sandwich or serve in a burrito as a wrap. Serve with fresh fruit and
chips and you won’t be dissapointed.
*Shredded
Pork Tacos
or Carne
Asada Tacos
-these tacos are one of my favorite are simple to make on the
go. Just cook and shred the pork ahead of time and all you have to pack is some
salsa, corn tortillas and cheese. Make these tacos on your skillet to melt the
cheese and you have a simple dinner.
*Quesadillas
or grilled cheese sandwiches
are simple and inexpensive to make. Add some
refried beans to the quesadillas to help fill your family up or some ham to
your grilled cheese for extra flavor.
*Breakfast
for dinner
is another simple approach to dinner. A good old’ pancake dinner
never hurt anyone for dinner and is much less expensive to make than most
meat-heavy dinners.
*Potato
Bar
-this is simple to make away from home if you just microwave the
potatoes and cut up the toppings ahead of time at home. When ready to serve
just open up the potatoes, place the toppings on top and you have a dinner
ready in just a few minutes.
*BLT Sandwiches-Buy the precooked
bacon that can be warmed in the microwave, throw on a piece of toast with
lettuce and tomatoes and dinner is done! Serve with a side pasta salad made
from home or a store bought salad to share

If you don’t have room to pack all of the ingredients for these meals, I
often pack the frozen meat and dairy items (usually the most expensive parts to
a recipe) in our cooler and then shop for the produce and bread at a grocery
store on vacation. With a membership to Deals to Meals you can login to our
website anywhere in the U.S. and know what the best grocery deals are in your
area.

ENTER TO WIN:
TWO DEALS TO MEALS MEMBERSHIPS & $50
WALMART GIFT CARD!
We want to help a couple of you save on your
vacation grocery budget, so we are giving away a FREE 12 month membership to
Deals to Meals and a $50 Walmart/Sam’s Club gift card.  The second winner will win a 6 month
membership to Deals to Meals.
At Deals to Meals we help you save $100’s on
your grocery budget every month by telling you where the best grocery deals are
in your area. We then take those best deals and turn them into a weekly menu
planner helping you save even more money and time. Visit our blog for delicious
and homemade recipes your whole family is sure to love!
Tell us One Good Thing by Jillee sent you and
you will get a FREE 2 week trial to see how much Deals to Meals can save you!
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