Hi friends! I hope your week is going well! It’s Wednesday which means just one thing over here- it’s time for What I Ate Wednesday, of course!
This week I am combining WIAW with a few tips and tricks for eating (relatively) healthy and cheap on vacation. Before we left for last week’s vacation, I was really worried about the food situation. I had visions of eating out at restaurants for every single meal, leading to problems for both my wallet and my waste line.
Luckily I headed into the vacation with a solid food plan, and I think we wound up doing pretty well! Today I’d like to share my plan with all of you in case you worry about what to eat on vacation too.
As always, thanks to Jenn for hosting the WIAW linkup!
1. Scope out your hotel room. As soon as we would arrive at a hotel, I would immediately scope out our room to see what we were working with kitchen-wise. We were lucky that both our hotels in Park City and Jackson Hole (recap to come!) came with somewhat equipped kitchens. Our hotel in Bryce Canyon had no kitchen at all, but we were only there for one night, so it wasn’t a big deal.
If you are traveling with a large number of people and are worried about what to eat, getting a hotel room with a kitchen is a huge help! Both of our hotel room kitchens included a refrigerator, oven, stove, microwave, pots, pans, plates, silverware, glassware, and a few cooking utensils. Before figuring out what to eat for the week, I had to make sure we had what we needed, and price out anything extra we might need (for example, our hotel in Park City had a grill, but I had to check to make sure there were tongs, spatulas, etc.).
Completing a full inventory is so important; no one wants to be the one mid-way through cooking only to realize you forgot tinfoil, salt, or olive oil!
2. Plan a menu, & make a list. Once I knew what we had to work with, I went about planning a menu for our meals during our vacation. Based on our vacation plans, I knew we would realistically only be able to cook a couple dinners in our room, but I also knew that we would need a whole lot of quick hotel-room breakfasts and packable lunches.
I wound up using one of the hotel pads of paper and a pen to plan out what we were likely to eat each day, and from there I did the math for how much bread, lunch meat, chicken, veggies, etc. we would need for 5 people for about 9 days. It was a lot! I’m so used to cooking for just Fabio and myself, and I was amazed at how much food we needed for all of us.
I then turned our menu into a grocery list, and made sure to add things like a disposable cooler (7/11 has great styrofoam ones which we used) and ziploc bags for packing lunches.
3. Hit the store! Our first morning in Park City, Fabio and I woke up before anyone else to get our shopping done. We took the rental car over to the nearest shopping area and split our shopping between Whole Foods and another grocery store called Smith’s. Here’s what we bought:
- Fruit: apples, bananas, grapes, mixed berries
- Vegetables: asparagus, sweet potatoes, potatoes
- Meat: chicken breasts, burger patties, lunch meat, bacon
- Dairy: American cheese (for burgers), pepperjack cheese (for sandwiches), butter, eggs
- Bread: whole wheat sandwich bread (3 loaves), burger buns
- Cooking supplies: tin foil, Ziploc bags, styrofoam cooler, charcoal (for the grill)
- Pre-made foods: Whole Food’s brussels sprouts & kale salad, pancake mix
- Dressings and oils: olive oil, mustard, mayo, chicken marinade, syrup
- Snacks/other: Annie’s organic snack mix, kettle cooked chips, pickles
All in all it wasn’t that cheap, but when we did the math we found our supplies would give us enough meals for more than half the trip, with each meal costing less than $6 per person. Not too shabby!
4. Start cooking. Armed with our groceries, Fabio and I then started cooking for the group! Fabio was largely in charge of breakfast, and made us delicious bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches.
We would usually tag-team lunch and pack sandwiches for everyone, along with grapes and chips/the Annie’s snack mix.
Then when it was time for dinner, Fabio would cook the meat (we used the hotel’s grill both nights) and I would cook the veggies!
One night we had cheeseburgers with sweet potato wedges and kale/burssels sprouts salad…
And the other night we had grilled marinated chicken with asparagus, roasted potatoes, and kale/burssels sporouts salad.
Quick tip: we didn’t feel like spending money on spices we would use twice and throw away, so the first night I made dinner using only the small salt and pepper shakers provided by the hotel. The next day we made friends with a waiter where we stopped for happy hour, and after explaining our situation to him I kindly asked if he could spare any of the spices from the kitchen. He said it would be no problem at all, and returned with little containers of garlic powder, basil, cayenne pepper, and oregano. It was perfect!!
Cooking for my family was a lot of fun, and it was the perfect way to enjoy a cheaper, home-made meal away from home.
5. When eating out, be smart. When planning our menu, I knew there would be many nights where we would have to eat at restaurants because we’d be too far from the hotel around dinnertime (and, obviously, you want to explore new places to eat sometimes!!). When this happened, I did my best to order what I wanted while still keeping an eye on price and nutrition.
One night we went to a pizza place, and I got a pizza with a artichoke hearts and arugula. This was great because a) I was eating pizza- totally delicious pizza in fact, b) I got at least a couple veggies in, and avoided the greasy meat-topped pizzas and c) I had leftovers for the next day! Win!
Another night I got fish tacos which were topped with a ton of veggies, leaving me both full and satisfied.
6. Don’t stress. When in doubt, remember you’re on vacation and enjoy yourself! 🙂
That is probably my favorite tip right there 😉
Question of the day: How do you eat healthy and cheaply on vacation?