Saving Money on Vacation Eating

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Spring Break dining doesn’t need to be expensive. There are plenty of ways to eat well without breaking the bank.

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I didn’t really plan a Spring break. I was going to skip it actually. I know that random stuff can happen at any moment that could throw our schedule off, so I didn’t have a plan.

As it turns out hubby is taking an extra long weekend with some vacation days and a state holiday. We also have a field trip on Monday, so voila! Instant Spring Break!

Obviously, ours is of the staycation variety, but nonetheless, we’re taking a break. And it’s needed.

On the eve of Papa’s first day home, our seven-year old said, “If Papa’s not going back to work until next week, we should be eating at restaurants!”

Ha! The kid knows how we operate, doesn’t he? I must confess, I just haven’t been able to keep up with the cooking load lately. I was wondering if it was legal to sneak in a freezer cooking session during vacation. Whaddya think?

Regardless, we’re taking a few days off the norm, hoping to go kite flying and ice skating. My parents are also coming down for a few days, so there’s plenty of fun to be had.

Here are some of the ways that I’m hoping we can save some money and still enjoy this break from the norm.

Mud and Worm Cupcakes

1. Eat FUN food at home.

The restaurant idea is quite tempting, and I’m sure we’ll be doing that throughout the weekend. But, it’s more fun to eat at home if there’s some fun food. I’m looking at cheeses and breads, yummy salads, homebaked cookies, and maybe some steaks on sale.

Even if I spend a little extra on groceries, that is still a savings compared to dining out and makes a staycation more fun. Even if your spring break takes you elsewhere, buying or packing portable “fun food” is a great way to save money on good eating.

2. Use coupons or other restaurant deals.

We have some BOGO coupons for kids meals at a local Chinese restaurant that expire this weekend. Now is a great time to use them! Also, another local restaurant is offering free breakfast sandwiches on Friday morning. Fun food without paying full pop – Yeah!

I don’t have the best luck with Groupon. Although we have discovered two local joints that we really like thanks to Groupon purchases, many of the other purchases have expired before we were able to use them. But, I like checking the “NOW Deals” especially when I know we’re going to be out and about. If you know you’re going to use them “now,” it’s a pretty safe bet.

3. Raid the pantry.

Our cupboard is looking pretty bare these days — I just can’t keep up with the consumption around here. They must all be having a growing spurt. But, even with a shortage of convenience items, I have a lot of baking ingredients on hand. So, we’ll be baking cookies, cakes, and cheesecake this weekend as well as popping lots of corn.

4. Pack food for amusements.

We’re heading out on a field trip on Monday. I know from experience at this zoo that food is pricey. So, I’ll be packing plenty of snacks as well as a lunch to avoid the high price of eating on site. We make a regular habit of this as well as packing snacks in the kids’ waist packs. It’s such a wonderful way to avoid, “Can we buy” syndrome.

For us, good eats on vacation are part of the experience. So, I’m looking forward to a great weekend. πŸ˜‰ And hopefully, it won’t be too pricey, either.

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  1. Baking is always on our list. I always have a box of some mix in the pantry. WAY cheaper than buying cupcakes. My son loves to help bake and who doesn’t love a sweet treat. Our stay cation is next week. Please let their be sunshine!

  2. Remember with Groupon, you may lose the sale deal, but you still can get credit for what you paid up to about a year after buying! πŸ™‚ It may not be the best deal, but at least you won’t totally waste your money.

    1. Good point. But, I think that only applies to more recent purchases. The ones that I bought last year that expired this year really did expire. πŸ™

  3. I’ve been afraid I might do the same with groupon, so i’ve yet to buy one. I do however, watch for their gift certificate sales. I usually spend $2-3 dollars for a $25 gift certificate which are usually good on a $35 meal. This spring break we also saved by being flexible on where we went. We wanted to be within 5 hours driving time. We thought Memphis might be nice, but good hotels were about $200 a night. We switched to Fayetteville and got a fabulous room for $89 a night. We also went to Texas. This was our splurge hotel as the kids came with us, so we knew food had to be cheap. We stocked the hotel fridge with breakfast and lunch and snack items. For dinners we researched trip advisor for cheap but fabulous restaurants. We got great gourmet pizza and classic texas eats, each night feeding our family of five for under $20.

  4. I don’t have the best luck with Groupon either. We always forget to use them! We try to eat at restaurants that have free kids meals on the weekends or Kid’s Night at Applebees

  5. Haha! Your seven-year-old’s conclusion is so great! Seems like good ideas to me. We’re going to try to stay in and eat rather than going out.

  6. We are staying close to home this week for Spring Break, but doing some cool stuff — making homemade pizzas and Big Blue Velvet Cupcakes to cheer the Cats on in the Final Four, going to see The Hunger Games (matinee), several craft projects with items we have on hand. We also have left plenty of free time to just have fun!

  7. We are heading out of town on Tuesday. Monday will find us cooking up snacks and making biscuits to eat in the car while driving. We love to eat out, but often find ourselves hungry in between meals. So homemade snacks to the rescue!

  8. Oh honey – I’m 4 1/2 months pregnant and your pictures made me so hungry I wanted to eat my arm. *Slobber*
    I’m linking up three and this is my first time. πŸ™‚ Thanks for hosting!
    I’m sharing about our $3,000 Wedding, a little information about Reverse Mortgages and the problems they can cause, and finally a post about how you can stay in budget by using a bartering system.

  9. We always pack snacks and lunches when we go to the zoo, amusement park, beach, etx. It’s unconscionable how much they charge for food at these places. And the healthy food is even more expensive!

    1. You’re right. Their prices do seem criminal. But, someone must pay them!

  10. Thank you for hosting! I posted several links from this past week. Two recipes and my first steps toward using homemade beauty products!

  11. I remember when my mom used to pack lunches for us when we went to the zoo or an amusement park or something. At the time I thought it was kind-of dorky but NOW I know how much money it saves and I realize my mom was pretty wise! πŸ™‚

    Thanks for hosting this link-up, I’ve just joined the past couple of times and like finding other blogs through the links as well.

    1. Once upon a time, I thought it was dorky, too. I wonder what my kids think….

  12. We spent Spring Break last week hanging out at Grandma’s house, using a bunch of free tokens to make a day out of Chuck E. Cheese and finding deals at Target since there isn’t one close to where we live. It wasn’t a fancy vacation but the boys had a great time and it was good to get away from the normal for one week.

  13. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to do a freezer cooking session on spring break. I do a lot of that kind of project when my husband is home to have my back with all the other household craziness! We’ll be having homemade treats for spring break, too. There are recipes (and ingredients) we only break out on special occasions.

  14. I definitely need another coffee this morning – I put my name instead of the name of my post, and it’s not like I’m new to this! I’m really sorry, number 18 should be entitled ‘Frugal Living’! I love your ideas for eating frugally during a staycation. I look forward to getting lots more frugal tips from the other posts. Thank you for hosting and have a lovely weekend!

  15. We have spring break next week; I’m planning on taking the kids to lots of museums. I received a VIP pass for local museums at a blogging event.

    I was also thinking about stopping by Trader Joe’s today and picking up some fun, healthy treats that I normally don’t buy like cookie butter.

    The only thing that can put a kink in our plans is a high fever that appears to be making the rounds. Ds15 already had it. Ds8 has it today. Hopefully, it won’t cause too much trouble ’cause we got places to go and things to do!

  16. Yes, we gravitate to fun foods for special events too. We’ve learned to make some restaurant-type foods and my husband loves to come home with some steaks or ribs and ‘eat out at home’. As you said, it’s expensive, but much cheaper than eating out!

    I’ve learned to have club soda and juice concentrates on hand so we can made an instant punch bowl.

    Yesterday Miss 14 wanted a snack so she made Mickey Mouse and valentine pancakes and whipped up a plum sauce to go with them. Yum!

    When my kids want to go out for supper, they usually end up making their own restaurant, complete with fancy foods, decorated tables, and menus.

    I posted about the Money-Saving Mom’s Budget. It has a wonderful holistic approach to financial prudence, and is practical besides.

  17. I haven’t planned a spring break. I figure whenever this new baby comes, we’ll be taking off then, so until then, we’ll keep going.

    The weather here has been wonderful, so as soon as the children get their schoolwork done, they’ve been off to play outside each day. My husband repaired our merry-go-round, so they’ve been having plenty of fun outside!

  18. Thanks so much for hosting this link-up! Today’s post is about how I almost took frugality too far.

    Thankfully, God showed me my ridiculousness (I was upset over a $5 purchase for a long-anticipated cupcake making party with the family!) and we had a wonderful weekend. $5 for an awesome day? That really was quite the bargain. Haha!

    1. Isn’t it funny the things we can flip about? I’ve had plenty of those moments.