Meals, snacks and drinks can really add up during those days away from home. While food is one of the most expensive areas of a vacation budget, here are some tips and ideas to help keep those costs down.

Planning a family vacation this summer? Meals, snacks and drinks can really add up during those days away from home. While food is one of the most expensive areas of a vacation budget, I have some tips and ideas to help keep those costs down.

Plan ahead

Will you be eating out?  Preparing your meals in the hotel?  By having an idea of what you intend to do about the meals on your vacation, you have to opportunity to plan ahead by researching restaurants, grocery stores within walking distance, and even compile a meal plan if you’re cooking in!

Use those daily deal sites

Sign up for the email list for your vacation destination on daily deal sites like Groupon, WagJag, and Living Social.  Keep an eye open for deals featuring restaurants you may enjoy eating at.  Might as well get a deal if you’ll be eating out anyways!

Be a local

By simply asking locals where the best place to grab an affordable meal is, they’ll most likely point you in the direction of a fantastic, hole in the wall restaurant that will give you more bang for your buck.  Stay away from those tourist traps!

Entertainment coupon books

Order the Entertainment coupon book for your vacation destination.  Not only are there tons of coupons for discounted meals, you’ll find coupons for local attractions and shopping. 🙂

Search out restaurants where Kids eat free

I have a list available on Simply Frugal where Kids Eat Free in Canada that might be worth checking out.  Or visit MyKidsEatFree.com for a huge list of restaurants in the United States!

Stop in at the local tourist bureau

Stop in at the local tourist bureau and peruse the brochures they have available because you might find some great coupons inside!  Most likely, the staff on hand will gladly point you in the direction of money saving coupons and even help you find affordable eating options.

Stay at a hotel that offers free breakfast

My husband and I love staying at hotels that offer free breakfast.  It’s so nice to walk down, grab from the variety they have available, then get on with our day!  When we’re on vacation, we like to eat a big breakfast so that we can skip lunch, which helps to keep our food budget lower.

Pack a cooler full of food

If you’re road tripping, bring along a cooler full of food.  Buns, meat, fruit, vegetables and snacks are all great things to have readily available in case you come across the perfect picnic location.  Consider freezing some milk to use as an ice pack.  You can then use it the next day for cereal!

Hit up the local grocery store

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, hit up a local grocery store to stock up on snacks, drinks and simple meals.  Even if you intend on eating out at restaurants, by incorporating a few grocery store meals, you’ll be saving a bundle.

Bring a slow cooker

If you can, consider bringing along a slow cooker.  Put something together in the morning, head out sight seeing for the day, then arrive back at the hotel with dinner already made!

Meal plan

If your intention is to not eat out at restaurants while you’re vacationing, create a meal plan before you leave home that will help take the stress out of deciding what to eat.  Keep it simple and allow for some leftovers.

Buy pre-made meals

Once again, if you have access to a kitchen, consider purchasing pre-made meals.  While this is more expensive then cooking from scratch, you’ll still save quite a bit of money if you take this route.

Now it’s your turn, how do you save money on food while you’re on vacation?