(Very special thanks to my friend Jennifer for stopping by today to share a guest post with us. She is one of the most organized and frugal friends that I have. So, enjoy her creativity as you read today).
My husband Fred is the senior pastor of a Southern Baptist church.
Each summer our denomination has a convention in a different city. Fred tries to attend and the boys and I tag along sometimes.
Traveling with three growing boys is a strain on the eating out budget for sure. Is it just me or are they not always, ALWAYS hungry?!?
While planning our trip I tried something new this time. I packed most of our food, I selected a hotel with free breakfast and I packed a crockpot. I love a good plan, so I actually got giddy when then all of this started coming together.
At some point during our trip I may or may not have texted my friend with this at the end, “Saving money is the new cool.” And I meant it.
In an effort to save even more money I made some homemade treats before we left and wrapped them up:
Honey Nut Power Bars
Peanut Butter Honey Bars
After I made our menu plan for the week I headed to the store to buy groceries.
(This is like normal and just came out of the grocery budget.)
I packed it all up and included a few extra things like a can opener, a dish towel, paper plates, plastic utensils and some dishwashing liquid.
Laundry baskets of food
(Don’t be jealous of all my healthy food. And don’t think for one minute that those two cans of Pringles made it past the first 5 hours! PS-I ate none of them. I’m serious.)
We headed out right after Sunday morning church, and this is what our lunch looked like.
Who says eating out of a cooler has to be boring sandwiches all the time?!? Not that I can’t take down a peanut butter jelly sandwich like a boss.
Our picnic in the car
I packed ingredients for turkey sandwiches, peanut butter sandwiches, and chicken tacos, plus my crockpot. Yes, I did. (Check with your hotel before using your crockpot. Some have policies about “cooking” in your room. I am not a rule breaker so I checked and was told it was fine.)
I also brought homemade chicken salad, hot dogs, carrots, lettuce, broccoli, strawberries, grapes, string cheese, bananas, chips and cheese dip and more.
By my calculations we save about $30-40 every time we don’t eat out.
By eating out of our “kitchen” we have saved over $300, plus the food was better/more nutritious and our boys were full. Well, they were full for at least an hour, which is really good these days. Who could resist this dinner?!?
Picture of chicken tacos
We have even gotten the boys in on the games as well.
You see the only way we get them to come with us to these conventions is to bait them with something fun at the end.
This year we tagged on a trip to Kings Island. Since we are going during the week, an admission ticket is $20 off the weekend price, which makes it around $42 a ticket. We’ve told them that every time we eat at the hotel we save money. Each time we don’t eat out essentially we are “buying” a ticket to Kings Island. It makes it more tangible for them.
When we finished dinner Monday night Clayton threw his garbage away and said, “Well, that was good, AND we just got another ticket to Kings Island.” Yes, yes we did.
Here are the guys smiling and approving my plan!
Our boys sitting on the couch eating.
Will I do this again? Absolutely!
Will I do this on every trip? Probably so!
It was awesome and successful all the way around.
Our trip did not revolve around eating out. (Not that an occasional meal at a restaurant can’t be memory making.)
It revolved around being together and making memories. We got to go to COSI (Center of Science and Industry) in Columbus, the Lego Store and to Kings Island Amusement Park.
Winning all the way around!
What about you?
Do you travel with food?
I’d love to hear some of your ideas on what you pack.
Because saving money is the “new cool” people!
Jennifer Shackelford is the author of chaos2peace.com. Her desire is to encourage women to live lives of peace by living simple, honest and authentic lives centered around Jesus. She and her husband, Fred, have three boys and live in Memphis where they serve at Ellendale Baptist Church.
You can connect with Jennifer:
~ On her website – HERE.
~ On Facebook – HERE.
~ On Pinterest – HERE.
~ On Twitter – HERE.
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© Melanie Redd and Ministry of Hope, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Melanie Redd and Ministry of Hope with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.