Friday, October 18, 2013

Vacation on the Cheap: Orlando 2013 - Meal & Snack Ideas

Welcome back to my Vacation on the Cheap Series! I hope that you have been following along and gathering some ideas that you can use on your next vacation.

Today’s topic is food! Yummy! Food can be one of the biggest, if not the biggest cost when vacationing. A family can spend anywhere from $30 for some mediocre chicken strips that have been sitting under warming lights for 5 hours, all the way up to several HUNDRED dollars for a sit-down meal with a certain princess in her castle. That’s just per meal! Over the course of several days one could easily go bankrupt.

This is not to say that you should skip on food and dining experiences that you believe to be worth the money. Like I’ve mentioned before, we do NOT skip on the Dole Whips. (If you’ve had one, you know why I keep mentioning this!) We have several character meals that we really want to do, but have yet to save the money for. When it becomes a priority, I’m sure we’ll figure out a way to save that money.

Figure out what your food priorities are and save for those. Get creative in areas where you know you could save money. We’ve already discussed finding a hotel with a kitchen, free breakfast, a mini-fridge and/or a microwave. Now we’re going to talk about specific ideas for each of those situations, and a few ideas for when you can’t find a hotel with any of those things.

No matter where you stay, do as much as you can before leaving home. If you are striving for a “real food” diet, make snacks such as homemade goldfish crackers rather than buying them. Homemade baked goods will add a special touch to your brown bag lunch. Strive to include treats that will set your lunch apart from run-of-the-mill kids meals so that no one feels deprived. Don’t forget lots of fruits & vegetables to keep it healthy!

*Please note that these are suggestions, and I have not personally tried every recipe*

The No-Frills Hotel
*Many items will need to be kept cold. Use discretion when choosing items to bring based on how much space your cooler has, number of days items will remain in cooler, and if they must be kept very cold or only cool*
Oatmeal (packets)– use hot water from the coffee maker or the tap
Muffins - these are really yummy & what we took with us; I also added blueberries to some of them
Cereal – keep milk in the cooler
*Don’t forget the fruit!

Lunch & Dinner
Homemade lunchables -meat, cheese, crackers
Pasta salad (recipe coming soon!)
Sandwiches or Wraps: meat, pb&j, cream cheese & jelly, cream cheese & ham, Nutella & banana, egg salad, tuna salad (could be made with avocado, it's yummy!) - could also be served on bagel or with crackers
*I would highly recommend wraps because of their portability. No squished bread!*
Layered salads - in plastic jars because glass may not be permitted
California Taco Salad (recipe coming soon!)
Tortellini salad (recipe coming soon!)

Snacks & Desserts
Granola bars
Hard-boiled eggs
Hummus & veggies
Peanut butter in bottom of jar with celery - could add raisins
Rice crispy bars/brown rice bars (recipe coming soon!)
Banana, pumpkin or zucchini bread (one or more recipes coming soon!)
Fruit cups (could make your own!)
Trail mix
Fruit with Nutella or other dip
Cheese wedges or sticks
Mixed nuts

Hotel with a Mini-Fridge and Microwave
(Including all of the above suggestions)

Sausage Pancake Bites – made at home, kept in fridge & reheated
Waffles - made at home with maple syrup in mix & reheated
Mini sausages in biscuits – made at home & reheated

*If you can find these really cool slow cooker liners, you can use your crock-pot to make delicious food for you while you are sleeping or out enjoying the sites!


Lunch & Dinner
Buffalo or BBQ chicken wraps – keep sauce on side until eating time
Pasties – a tasty hand-held meat pie, referred to as a hand pie or empanada in other parts of the country (recipe coming soon!)
Chicken, pork, or steak skewers with microwavable rice
Biscuit meatballs with marinara dipping sauce
Black & Blue Salad - mixed greens with thinly sliced steak, blue cheese & blue cheese dressing

Again, you can use your slow cooker for these meals:
Crock pot Meatballs – party (recipe coming soon!), buffalo chicken, meatball subs (recipe coming soon!)

Snacks & Desserts
Popcorn – take advantage of the microwave; try the paper bag method of popping to avoid nasty chemicals!
Fruit salad


Hotel with Kitchen
(Including all of the above suggestions)

Whatever you like to eat at home! (Okay, so I've never made those yummy looking caramel pecan cinnamon rolls, but they're on my short list! Anybody else try these yet?)

Lunch & Dinner
Taco salad to go – layered seasoned beef, beans, olives, chopped  veggies, cheese, lettuce in a lidded bowl (or plastic jars) pack sour cream, salsa & chips on the side
Chicken taco salad – mixed greens diced chicken, shredded cheese, beans, and tomatoes with yogurt/salsa mix on side
Sesame noodles- I double the sauce for these noodles!
Quesadilla strips with yogurt/sour cream, guacamole & salsa on side
Hamburgers & Hot Dogs
Snacks & Desserts
Smoothies (freeze in freezer jam jars, or those cool reusable smoothie pop thingies)
Jell-o cubes or jell-o w/ fruit (can pour right into lunch containers to set up overnight)
Deviled eggs
Fruit salad

This is just a sampling of ideas that I’ve culled from my own recipes, recipes from family and friends, and that wealth of information known as Pinterest! I’m sure that you probably have recipes in your repertoire that could be used to save you money on vacation as well. If you’re serious about saving money on vacation food, take the time to make lists of meals that you think your family would enjoy, which will be easy to transport & prepare. Make sure you share your ideas here with the rest of us!

Miss a "Vacation on the Cheap" Post? Find them here:
Part 1 - Itinerary & Menu
Part 2 - Tips & FREE Things to Do at Disney
Part 3 - Tips for Saving on Food

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase anything through one of the links, you will be supporting our home school! Thank you!

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