Take Food With You on Vacation

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Last week I mentioned how one of the best ways we saved money on our vacation was to bring our own food. Mammoth Lakes has only one grocery store. And during the busy season, there’s reportedly a very long line at said grocery store. I did a lot of shopping before we left.

And since I didn’t want to do a lot of cooking on vacation, I also did a lot of cooking before we left.

Needless to say, I was ready for a vacation!

At one point during all the pre-departure craziness, I remember praying that it would all be worth it. Would I be glad that I had worked hard to pack healthy dinners and fun snacks for our five days in the mountains? Would it be worth the time to organize and pack, making sure that we still had room for the kids after I’d packed food to feed eight people for five days? Would it save us money in the long run?

It was totally worth it. Especially when I saw this in a little fishing shop on the lake shore:

For those of you who can’t quite make out the price tag, it says: $14.99

Fifteen bucks for a box of graham crackers?! I could buy ten at home for that price. Woe is the man (or woman) who doesn’t plan ahead for smores in the wilderness! They also sold chocolate bars for $1 a piece, and marshmallows for $5. I think you could cook up a batch of smores for about $25.

We laughed quite a lot on that one.

Yes, Virginia, it is worth it to pack in your own food.

Check out this very old (and unpolished) vlog of mine for a representation of how you can pack fun vacation food without breaking the bank. Forgive my bed head and bad math.

Whether you are camping in the Sierras, visiting a ski resort, or just going to your local zoo, it typically is more economical for you to bring your own food. If you watch the sales and use coupons, so much the better!

Share your money saving ideas with us today!

About Jessica Fisher

I believe you can get great meals on the table -- and still keep that pretty smile on your face.

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  1. AllieZirkle says

    $25 s’mores!?!? Now they better be some memory making kind of s’mores!

    I’m going out of town for the weekend (solo!) and am so used to packing for our large family, it feels strange to not have fruit snacks and juice packs in tow LOL

  2. The real question I have is: Do your children enjoy Camembert? Mine like the middle but not the outside. It took me over 6 months in France before I could eat the rind. I like it all now, thought the inside is stil the best!

    • Jessica Fisher says

      I don’t usually buy Camembert. It’s Brie for us. Most, but not all of the kids, like it.

      And I’ve never told them that you could cut off the rind. LOL Unless we’re baking it, of course. I figure they’re learning the true French way.

      I have had to give the lesson that you CAN’T chop off the point. Tres gauche.

      • Good for you! I like Brie, too.

        We’ve been having a discussion about the many varieties of blue cheese this week. None of them want to try any! I’m not a fan of any of them myself, or I would probably have had them try some 🙂 But they all love Feta! And my son’s favorite is Emmenthal (of course you can only get Swiss emmethal here; thre is a different taste between Swiss and French, and it was the one cheese that was chacnged in both countries. I like both versions! They also all love Gruyere.

  3. Oh my WORD… $15 graham crackers? Suddenly our tiny little Connecticut market looks downright reasonable in their pricing. 😉

    • When you mentioend buying ahead, I though, why not buy at the grocery store when you get there? I remember my parents would do this for us on trips to the beach.

      And then you mentioned the prices, and now I know why!

  4. Yes, it almost always pays to think ahead, and to work ahead.

    We had a very expensive summer, even though we did all the money-saving we could, (including packing our own food) and we’re still paying for attending that family reunion …. YUK!

    Although it was worth it, and we needed to attend, I wish that we had somehow managed to do it without going into debt.

    Annie Kate

  5. The prices sound very much like our trip to Yellowstone. We were shocked at the prices at the little town groceries around the park. I was so glad we packed food. Even though we flew into the area we stopped at a grocery a couple hours away and broke out the coupon binder. Within an hour we had food and treats for four days with enough money left in the budget to have one game dinner in the park.

  6. We take a lot of our food along on vacations too. It does require some pre-planning, but I’m not stressing over money spent on food while we are on vacation.

    Thanks for the linky.

  7. Susie E says

    Sometimes being prepared is priceless. I’ve always stocked each car in our family with bottled water, granola bars and energy bars. My daughter did the same when she got out into the real world after college. Not long ago she was caught in an epic two hour traffic jam on the freeway on her way home from work. She was between exits and couldn’t get off. She said it was wonderful to have access to water and snacks. One of her less prepared co-workers said she was digging old cheerios out of her child’s car seat before they got moving again!

  8. Thanks for hosting! I posted a video on dehydrating apples along with cooking ideas for all of those apple chips.

  9. Good morning, Thanks for hosting. I wanted to share a homemade protein cookie recipe. Though not super cheap to make they are at a fraction of the cost of store bought ones! and don’t have all that fake junk and chemicals in them:)

  10. Yes, I couldn’t agree more. On our vacations we learned quick we needed to shop outside of national parks. (we go for weeks and can’t carry everything).

    It is almost as expensive in a few parks (Acadia, Yellowstone and Banff for sure) to cook than to eat out… and eating out is expensive there too.


  11. That is great to prepare for vacation, so nice and organized and anything to avoid those exorbitant prices! Phew! One word of warning. Once we brought too much stuff and it crowded the car…It made us crazy! lol We found Branson has very reasonable grocery stores. A good thing to do homework on indeed. : )

  12. what could be more econimical than a crock pot full of chili? Makes a great dinner for those busy fall days and lots of leftovers! Thanks for hosting!!

  13. Melinda P says

    I think I almost passed out at the price tags. At the very least, I got a little woozy.

  14. Thank you for hosting! My first time visiting and I’ll definitely be back. So many great low-cost ideas.

  15. I remember growing up, we would always take a vacation right after Christmas…so we had homemade turkey salad sandwiches for our daily outings. Mom may have done it because it was frugal, but I thought it was a great treat!

  16. We do what we call our European Lunch for Ren Faire, where we get good cheese, salami or some other easy-to-munch meat, a loaf of bread, and whatever fruit and veggies look good that morning. It saves us a TON on food, especially since (for the SoCal Faire at least) we usually get passes and are there for several weekends.

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