The activity, hot weather, and entertainment factor of summertime can wreak havoc on one’s grocery budget. How can summer fun affect your food costs?
In summertime we venture out and about more often; we have more random schedules than the rest of the year; we tend to avoid hot kitchens and want someone else to do the cooking. And the justification factor of “it’s summertime,” can lead us to spend more than we might otherwise spend. Whether it’s the temptation of the drive-thru after a long day at the zoo or the high price of food at the baseball field, we can find ourselves spending more money on food than we do during the more hum-drum days of the year.
Furthermore, summer travel can take a big bite out of our funds. Between transportation and lodging costs, vacation spending can escalate before we know it. And eating out at restaurants and fast food joints will jack that bill even higher.
One way to offset these costs is to take freezer meals on the road with you.
Have Lasagna, Will Travel
Freezer meals have served me not only at home, but also away. When we go to the grandparents, I pack several meals to share during our visit. Not only does that make our visit less of an imposition on our family, but it also allows us to make the load a little lighter on Gramma, particularly when we arrive on Friday night and she’s fighting traffic to get home from work.
It’s been so fun to spend the afternoon with Grampa, pop a lasagna and garlic bread in the oven, toss a salad, and set a nice table for her to come home to. Even though I’m a guest, I get to pamper my hostess at least once during our visit.
I’ve even packed freezer meals on full vacations as well. A few months ago we took a trip to Mammoth. Since we had reserved a condo with a fully equipped kitchen, I grabbed an assortment of meals from my freezer and packed those in the cooler. Not only did we avoid wasting money on restaurant food we might not have liked, but we also saved a bundle of money. For the two days that we were away, we would have eaten six meals at a restaurant. This could have cost our family anywhere from $120 to $300.
Even if I had bought groceries at the local market, I would have paid a lot more for food than I would have at home. Packing food allowed me to tailor our meals to our tastes as well as our budget.
We’ve had too many bad tourist attraction meals over the years. And unfortunately, you don’t always get what you pay for. We ate like kings and didn’t feel guilty about it. Plus, the money we saved on food justified the little extra we paid for more deluxe accommodations, a pleasure I would gladly pay for again and again.
What Travels Well?
Wondering what you should pack on your next trip? Think about what’s quick, easy, and possibly a “one dish dinner.” You want to enjoy whatever it is you’re doing on vacation, so you probably don’t want to spend a lot of time preparing meals — unless, of course, that is what you love to do.
You may be limited on kitchen resources, depending on your accommodations, so choosing easy meals is a good call. And an “all-in-one” dinner can cover all your bases without a lot of work. Serving bread, fruit, and a salad on the side is easy to pull off wherever you roam. And don’t forget to hunt down some inexpensive snacks to make things a little more fun.
Here’s a list of make ahead and/or freezer friendly foods that have served us well over the years:
- Frozen Burritos
- Chihuahua Chili (serve with chips and grated cheese)
- Chicken-Bacon Sub
- Marinated Chicken to throw on the grill (if you have a bbq at your disposal)
- Fresh Basil and Garlic Chive Lasagne
- Cheese Enchiladas, Beans, and Rice
- Lawnmower Taco
- Pasta with Crockpot Red Sauce
This is an ongoing series about how to eat well and spend less. Along with some fabulous foodies, organizers, and frugalistas, I’ve been bringing you suggestions on how to eat like a king without becoming a pauper to do it. This month we’re discussing ways to make the most of summer travel, weather, and adventures — and still stay under budget.
You are going to love what the other girls have brought to the table:
:: Mandi gives some great suggestions on setting your kitchen to rights before you leave on a trip, so that when you come home, there’s a welcome and good eats waiting for you.
:: Shaina takes us out to the ballgame and shares tricks for eating well with crazy summer schedules.
:: Aimee rocks it with homemade convenience foods suitable for air travel, including a fabulous list of foods to pack and some tasty cookies to bake before you hit the road.
:: Tammy offers some cool suggestions for avoiding the heat of the kitchen — without hitting the closest fast food restaurant.
:: Katie shows us how to rough it and still eat well while camping.
:: Carrie posts techniques for seasonal stockpiling and how to make the best use of summer sales.