A week long trip has some similar issues for a longer trip.
- You really don't want to leave perishable foods in your fridge
- You really don't want to spend too much while you are out
The plan for a week long trip starts a week in advance, with: not buying too many fresh fruits and vegetables. The goal is to finish them all before you leave, and perhaps have some to pack up for the trip.
How to keep your budget low on a trip? Well, we PLANNED to stay at a condo which had a full kitchen. That's great! But there are other considerations.
First, you want to bring some foods with you. These are:
- Foods that you buy in bulk at home (which saves money): salt, pepper, spices, olive oil, butter, canned beans, PB&J. These are items that can be pricey if you just want to buy a small amount for a week-long trip. You may use it all up *eventually*, but the point is - if you already have olive oil purchased in bulk, why pay 2x as much per ounce for convenience?
- Snack foods for the car. If you are like me, you do NOT want to stop at McDonald's on the way. Sure, the hubby and kids are gonna eat there on this trip, no doubt. But I'm not. Also, the car trip is 9 hours long - aka 11 hours with kids. That means you'll need breakfast AND snacks on the road.
- Foods that are otherwise going to go bad. This is if you did not plan properly before you went. Most foods can be frozen, but not all.
Second, you want to compromise in areas that will make sense for you.
- Bottled salad dressing. I usually make my own, but for a trip I'll buy Goddess dressing. This has the double benefit of being a dip AND a dressing.
- Pre-made grocery store deli items. Think chicken fingers, or a roast chicken. Individually wrapped string cheese. Pre-cut veggies. Sure, it's more expensive than making it yourself, but cheaper than eating out. For some of these items, it makes TOTAL sense to use Google, and check out the grocery store fliers for the store nearest your vacation site. Example: I knew that asparagus was on sale here for $1.99 a pound, but is $3.99 a pound where we are headed. So, if you want asparagus, take it with you. Otherwise, eat something else!
Third, do a little bit of meal planning ahead of time.
- This trip would have involved lots of driving, 5-6 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. So for our family, that means: smoothies, cereal, bagels for breakfast. Sandwiches and salads for lunch. Fruit for snacks. And protein and vegetables for dinner.
- Err on the low side of food. Especially camping, I tend to buy too much. You can ALWAYS hit a store if you need more. So, plan your meals, and buy/ make/ take a little less than you think you will need.
- If you are going to buy a roast chicken, or cook a big pot of pasta, do it early in the week, not the day before you come home so you don't throw a bunch of food out.
In the end - the toddler got the stomach bug right before we were supposed to leave on the trip. He was feeling better after a couple of days, so we opted to head out. We made it 6 hours into the 9 hour drive, and spent the night in Vegas, where both boys proceeded to barf. So we came back home the next day, another really fun 6 hour drive.
In the end, most of the food I prepped got tossed.
We made multiple trips to the grocery store for toast (bread), saltines, applesauce, and Gatorade.
We did not eat Thanksgiving dinner. We all ate a bit of crackers and applesauce throughout the day, and even then my 9 year old barfed it all back up.
By the time any of us felt like eating, the food was a week old, and past it's prime.
In the end it was officially the worst vacation ever!