Save Money on Food During Vacation

Save Money on Food During Vacation

It’s that time of year again! To load up you and your family into the car to drive to the annual family vacation! Maybe for you it’s the beach, mountains, lake or river, but whatever it is, it’s good ole’ quality time with the whole family. In preparation for my own family vacation, I’ve put together a list of ways to save money on food during vacation.

Before you go: 

save money on food during vacation
Empty your fridge!
  1. Eat up your fridge. Take inventory – if you’ve read any of my blog posts, this is pretty much where I always start! The goal is to use up as much as possible in your fridge, (see meal prep 101). Do this step about a week before your trip and if you must do a grocery run the week before, make sure you will be using up all perishable items before leaving. Consider getting smaller sizes of milk, eggs, etc. Theres nothing worse than getting home from a vacation and having a fridge full of smelly, old food! 
  2. Prioritize using up food that will spoil/expire while you’re gone. Primary fresh fruits and vegetables, proteins, dairy, etc. 
  3. Freeze perishable food items that you are unable to use while you are gone.
save money on food during vacation, apple in car
Car Snacks!
  1. Consider bringing food with you. Are you going somewhere where you can cook? Or do you need some snacks for the car? Bringing snacks in the car can reduce the number of stops and ultimately allow you to get to your destination faster! 
  2. Consider preparing a freezer meal (or two) for your return. As I reference in my food spending triggers post, coming back from a vacation is stressful. Between the hours traveling and thinking about what you have coming up on your to do list. Having a solid stash of freezer meals can help get you through those first few days when you’re getting settled without ordering greasy, expensive meals. Eating on a dime has some good freezer meal recipes. 
  3. Look up your restaurant options at your vacation destination and consider making reservations, looking for deal nights or coupons. Look up social media spots on “where the locals eat.” This will allow you to skip the fancy touristy spot that’s overpriced and find the spot that has a taco Tuesday special. 

On your way there:

  1. When going grocery shopping at your destination. If it is a high touristy area, consider doing your grocery shopping an hour out of your destination. You’re more likely to get better prices. I’ve found grocery stores that are on our route and ordered online for online pickup and made a quick pit stop while they brought it to our car. This also reduces that crazy grocery shopping trip in the beginning of your trip and more time for doing vacationy things! (See Grocery Tips post for more ways to save while at the grocery store). 

You’ve arrived: 

  1. If you are traveling with a group of families/couples, consider having a different family “in charge” of purchasing ingredients and making dinner each night. We do this on our family vacations. Not only does it cut down on the cost of us eating out, but it also allows for maximized relaxation time with only having one or two nights of dinner duty. 
beach picnic, save money on food during vacation
Beach Picnic
  1. Doing a beach vacay? Packing a beach picnic is a great way to save money on food during vacation. It also just happens that everything tastes better on the beach :). 
  2. Consider not centering activities around meals. It’s vacation, you want to do fun things, but that doesn’t mean going out to dinner every night as your “thing to do.” Go mini-golfing one afternoon or evening. Getting ice cream at the local ice cream shop after dinner. Walking down to the boardwalk for some fun rides or games. 

Most Americans only get one or two vacations a year so definitely let loose and have fun! Using strategies will help you maximize your fun and relaxation while saving money on food during vacation. Most of all, enjoy your time with family and eat good food!