CONSUMER

How to Save on Food During Your Family Vacation

Jul 19, 2018, 5:29 PM | Updated: Feb 13, 2023, 1:32 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — You shouldn’t skimp on experience during summer vacation but you shouldn’t go broke either. And one area that can add up fast is food.

It’s also an area many families forget to include in their vacation budget.

“Food is something you really don’t think about but somebody has to, because you got to eat, right?” said Carson Smith, an Idaho resident vacationing in Utah. “We try to plan ahead and keep food with us so we don’t spend more eating out.”

A recent survey by ValuePenguin found food chews up about 27 percent of the cost of an average American vacation. The good news: there are ways you can save a lot on food.

“The first place to start is to have a plan,” said Shandra Madsen.

She runs the grocery comparison service Deals to Meals, and she is a frequent road tripper.

SET A BUDGET

Her first piece of advice: set a realistic budget.

“You need to know how much you’re going to spend on your groceries or food throughout the vacation,” Madsen explained.

Madsen researches her destination and planned stops during a road trip. She’ll look up restaurant menus to see where she can stay within her budget.

CHOOSING THE HOTEL

The Madsens are a family of seven, so they look for lodging that has a fridge and microwave.

“You want to have somewhere that can keep your food cold. A small fridge is fine,” she said. “Also, a microwave, something you can warm up meals in can save you a lot of money.”

No microwave? Take an electric skillet, slow cooker or even an Instant Pot with you on vacation.

“We’ve always been able to find somewhere that you can cook in the room,” Madsen said.

“Kids Eat Free” are three words you can also look for when choosing a hotel. Marriott, Holiday Inn and other chains offer free meals for kids that could lead to big savings.

BRING YOUR OWN FOOD

The Madsen family also brings their own food on their trips.

On her way to KSL Broadcast House, she bought a trunk load of food for $80.

“For the same price it would have taken to take the family out for one night we could feed them for several days,” Madsen said.

The financial website Cheapism, recently calculated the cost for a family of four to dine out at $56 including tip. If that family skips dining out just one meal a day during a five-day trip, they will save $280. Skipping two restaurant meals each day brings the savings to $580 for the trip.

“Take a little time to go through the grocery store ads. Find websites to help you find what’s on sale and then stock up on those items and bring them along with you on vacation to save the most money,” said Madsen.

STOCK UP ON SNACKS

For road trip snacking, avoid the pricey convenience store.

Instead, load up on treats, chips, soft drinks and other snacks before you go. Madsen says now is a great time to buy.

“All of those favorite snack items are always on sale in the months of July and August,” said Madsen. “So if you stock up and buy extra you’ll have some for the rest of the year or whenever you go on vacation.”

Tobias Bradford and his family lives overseas but spends one or two months in Utah during summers where they make a number of road trips.

They also buy groceries and snacks from the major supermarkets and warehouse clubs and prepare their meals along the way.

“How much do you really want to spend on food?” Bradford asked. “The more you can conserve money in those areas, the more you have to spend on other activities that will bring your family together.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Consumer

(Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)...

Associated Press

Toyota recalls 280,000 pickups and SUVs because transmissions can deliver power even when in neutral

The recall is to fix a transmission problem that can let the vehicles creep forward while in neutral.

16 hours ago

A sunset spectacle featuring two mitten-shaped rock formations crosses Monument Valley Tribal Park ...

Michael Phillis, Associated Press

Native American tribes gain new authority to stop unwanted hydropower projects

The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has rejected several proposed hydropower projects on the largest Native American reservation in the U.S. The commission has also created a policy that essentially gives tribes early veto power over such projects.

18 hours ago

New Jersey Devils goaltender Akira Schmid, front left, makes a save in front of New York Rangers ri...

Lindsay Aerts

Bill to raise SLC tax for NHL stadium funding advances, SLC leaders supportive

Over the last two days the Utah legislature has unveiled two major plans to help finance major league sports stadiums. On Thursday a Senate committee advanced the plan to fund the National Hockey League stadium and a “sports and entertainment” district downtown, which includes a sales tax increase of up to .5% in Salt Lake City.

2 days ago

Henry Barlow inside his cattle processing plant...

Alex Cabrero

‘We are going to feed American beef to the Americans’: Meat packing plant to open in Richfield

A new cattle processing plant in central Utah is expected to improve the state's food supply chain.

2 days ago

Matt Gephardt, journalists, looks as paper with a woman...

Matt Gephardt and Cimaron Neugebauer

Get Gephardt: Ticketmaster seizes back purchased seats

Imagine buying tickets to a show, then having the seller refuse to give them to you. That’s what happened to a Utah woman, when she got a refund she didn’t ask for.

3 days ago

Joe Biden...

Katie Lobosco, CNN

Nearly 153,000 people will get email that their student loan debt is canceled

Nearly 153,000 student loan borrowers currently enrolled in a new repayment plan launched by the Biden administration are expected to get an email Wednesday notifying them that their remaining federal student loan debt will be canceled, totaling about $1.2 billion.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

How to Save on Food During Your Family Vacation