See I told you, this would help!
- SC = Store Coupon
- MC = Manufacturer Coupon
- SS = Smart Source
- RMN = Retail Me Not
- PG = Proctor and Gamble
- WYB = When You Buy
- B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
- .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
- .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
- EXP = Expiration Date
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One of the most important things in life to me is time with with my family. I’m very much an experiences mom and love whenever we can plan a trip to make new memories and see new places. Travel feels like a splurge, but it really doesn’t have to be!! One of my best tips for saving when traveling is to create a vacation meal plan the same way we would at home. You need to eat at home and on vacation, so with a meal plan your vacation food budget doesn’t have to be any more than you would have spent at home!
Most people hear “meal plan” and immediately feel like eating out and fun things were just taken away. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat out; just plan when you will eat out and have a plan for every other meal so you aren’t tempted to eat out more. If you’re staying in a place with a full kitchen (which I highly recommend), then you can save a ton of money by cooking in. But that doesn’t mean you have to eat beans and rice all week. We splurge a little on vacation since we’re saving so much on not eating out for most meals.
Unlike other meal plans, I am truly just giving you a glimpse into our meal plan. I doubt it would work for you to totally copy mine, so I made you a template you can print out and fill in with your own meals, as well as a planning page to work through before you start filling in meals. Read on to see how to make a vacation meal plan (and find out what we’re eating!).
Creating A Vacation Meal Plan
To begin, here are the printables I made so you can work through the process of making a meal plan. The first printable is a planning page where you can jot down your family’s requests, any special meals you’re planning, activities that you plan to do, and then anything else you need that might not be part of a particular recipe.
The other printable is the actual meal plan. Here you can fill in the days in the first column (e.g. Day 1: Sunday) and then cross off any days or meals that aren’t part of your vacation.
Now I’ll share the step-by-step method to saving money on food by making a vacation meal plan.
Write out all the meal times you need to plan
I also like to plan the meal right before we leave on vacation through the meal we’ll have at home once we get back. This way we aren’t tempted to eat out because we’re coming home to an empty kitchen!
Note any times you won’t need to plan a meal
Note any times when you won’t be cooking – will you be eating out on the road? Will you do something one day and plan to pick up food while you’re out? Mark that down so you know you don’t have to worry about those days. This is where you can jot down planned activities on the meal plan page, too.
Decide what meals you want to make
Take into account your family’s requests as well as other considerations. Are there any meals that you need to be easier than others? (For example, maybe you’re going to be up early for an activity and it would be easy to take muffins along with you for breakfast instead of planning for eggs and bacon.) Think of meals that don’t use a lot of dishes and that don’t require a lot of active cooking time when you have to be in the kitchen.
I also love to plan meals that require the same ingredients so I can cook once and save some for another meal. Save time and save on clean up!
Fill in all your meals
In addition to breakfast, lunch, and dinner, don’t forget snacks!
Make a list of ingredients for meals and snacks
Make a list of the ingredients you need for your meal plan and divide the ingredients and equipment into two lists: one list of stuff you can bring from home; one list of stuff that will be at your destination or that you want. This will save you from needing to buy pantry items that you only need a little bit of. Also consider packing meat and other expensive items in a cooler to take with you, as many grocery stores in tourist towns tend to be more expensive.
Take the plan with you but be flexible
Make sure you take your meal plan with you when you go! And feel free to mix it up and make changes if something comes up when you get there. Your meal plan is meant to serve you!
Here are the details of our trip: We’ll be gone a total of 6 days, we’re celebrating a birthday while we’re there, and we’re planning to eat out a few times as a special treat. I asked our kids and my husband if there was anything special they wanted to eat and wrote those down on the planning page. This was our final meal plan.
Although I’m not providing a meal plan with links since I doubt anyone wants to copy this exact meal plan, I am happy to share links to some of the recipes I’m planning to use!
- Easy Homemade Pizza bread
- Macaroni salad
- Copycat Waffle House Hashbrown bowls
- Seafood salad
- Raspberry Cheesecake Trifle
- Sausage gravy and biscuits
- Chicken salad
Do you have any favorite meals you like to make on vacation? Let us know in the comments!
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