Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Saving Money on Vacation Food

We have been blessed to be able to travel frequently this summer. My parents have several timeshare weeks and we have made full use of them this season. One HUGE benefit to timeshare accommodations are that each unit has a full kitchen. A full size stove, microwave, and refrigerator are standard in most units; they also supply a basic amount of dishes, flatware, cutlery, and assorted mixing bowls, etc. I was spending some time this afternoon preparing for another trip and thought I'd share how we handle the exorbitant expense of food while traveling.
  1. Take as much as possible from home with you. Whenever we drive, we always take a large cooler with cheese, lunch meat, butter, cream cheese, beer, wine, sour cream, yogurt, fresh fruit and veggies. We often make potato salad or pasta salad too for the week. Yes, the towns we travel too all have grocery stores. But, if I've shopped wisely in the weeks leading up to a vacation, I can take items purchased for pennies instead of spending full price once arriving.
  2. Do research on your destination and check out their local grocery ad online. Next week, we are traveling south to a locale with a Bi-Lo grocery store. We don't have a Bi-Lo local, but I have checked the ad and know what's on sale. If you go to a certain spot regularly, sign up for that store's rewards card. We've had a Bi-Lo card for several years and use it every time we travel.
  3. Now that you've checked out what's on sale where you are headed, you can plan a menu - just like at home. I am all for eating out a few times and treating yourself and your family. However, if you have a unit with a full kitchen, access to a grocery, and a bit of time each day - cook! Especially if your goal is to have fun, but not break the bank on a vacation.
  4. Logistics - make sure to take a large cooler with you for taking things and bringing them home. We have often come home with more than we left with. How? An amazing Farmer's Market and Fishmonger near one of our fave vacation spots. I have toted home a cooler full or corn, melon, and fish before (all separately and tightly wrapped, thank you very much!).
How does this work in real life? Let me share ... this is our laundry basket full 'o goodies for next week's beach trip:

In the basket - cereal, cereal bars, oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, cooking spray, peanut butter, jelly, taco seasoning mix, dry ingredients to make chocolate cupcakes, laundry soap, dish soap and dishwasher tabs, dryer sheets, a variety of plastic bags, our cups and water bottles, aluminum foil, ketchup, mayo, mustard, a sturdy kitchen knife, extra kitchen towels and washcloth ... so far!! I'll post a photo of the cooler and it's contents later.

There is no need to spend all of your vacation budget on food. Particularly when you are driving. Make a list, shop the deals, make a menu, and go - ENJOY - your vacation!!

This post is linked to : Works for Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family.

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