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For many families road trips are a great way to not only spend quality time together, but to save money on their vacation. When traveling by car instead of by air, there are a lot of obstacles toward savings that many overlook. Food budget is one of those and this list of Frugal Meals On The Road is a great resource to help you be able to feed your family on a budget while traveling.
FRUGAL MEALS ON THE ROAD
BRING FOOD FROM HOME:
Packing a cooler with drinks and items like fresh fruit, vegetables and yogurt is a great way to save on the road. A fruit cup at a restaurant or fast food chain can cost up to $4. You can spend $4 for 1-2 cantaloupes in your local market and have 6-10 servings depending on size. Shopping your own pantry for snacks like crackers, string cheese, nuts, popcorn and granola is a great savings for breakfast and even sides to on the go sandwiches, etc.
GO TO THE GROCERY STORE INSTEAD OF FAST FOOD:
Check your route and GPS for grocery stores along the way. This is especially handy if you are traveling in areas that have the same chains you have at home, giving you the chance to use rewards cards while on the road. Pick up fresh fruit, deli sandwiches or rotisserie chickens at the grocery store for half the price of going into a restaurant and healthier than fast food.
AVOID CONVENIENCE STORE FOOD/SNACKS:
Not only are these traps full of bad foods and empty calories, they can quickly drain your budget. Rather than let the kids roam the gas station looking at cookies & candy – make quick trips to bathrooms and come back to the car where snacks are already packed in advance. While eating healthy on the road may be a goal, make sure to pack a handful of treats to surprise the kids with when you have to say no at a gas station along the way.
USE TRUCK STOP MICROWAVES:
Almost every truck stop on the road will have a microwave available for use. While many of these locations will require you to make a purchase, that doesn’t mean you have to purchase their food to heat in the microwave. You can buy gas, pick up more water or a special drink treat or even a package of gum and bring in your own healthy meals you have packed in your cooler ahead of time. And for the germ phobics out there, simply pack a box of sanitizing wipes to make a quick wipe down of the microwave before you heat up your meal.
KICK THE SNACK HABIT:
While this is likely the toughest time to do so, most of the unnecessary expenses on the road come from snacks and food along the way. Make an effort to limit snacks to only fresh fruit 2-3 times a day between meals instead of the steady stream of snacking that often happens in the car.
CHECK FOR LOCAL COUPONS:
Whether you plan ahead and buy an Entertainment Book full of coupons, or check out Groupon, Living Social & Amazon Local for great deals on meals – don’t go without a plan for discounted meals at local restaurants. Many offers are BOGO or % Off certain amounts spent. These give you the chance to enjoy tasty local fare without breaking the bank.
The most important part to enjoying frugal meals on the road is planning ahead. It most certainly doesn’t mean you will have to eat only Ramen noodles and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. It simply means a bit of organization and planning go a long way toward keeping your family happily fed and your wallet in check while on the road.