Author Topic: Sticking to food budget on vacation  (Read 1490 times)

finallyfrugal

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Sticking to food budget on vacation
« on: February 14, 2017, 07:59:06 PM »
Hi Fellow Mustachians!
I am new to this forum and as the username states, I am finally embracing frugality. We have always spent like crazy on food, justifying it because it was all healthy/quality stuff. But as you know it all adds up. In January we set a budget of $600, but spent $685 on groceries alone and another $145 on eating out. (This is actually an improvement over our past spending!) We are a family of 2 adults, one 4 year old who eats more than me.

So we decided to get serious for February. I planned our meals, did a bunch of research, compared prices and only shopped at Costco and Aldi and we are at $350 for the month and don't need to buy much else - maybe another gallon of milk! Hooray!

So here is my conundrum:
I have plenty of food in my pantry,fridge/freezer to get us to the end of the month, but we will be flying to CA for the last week of Feb and the first week of March. We will be house-sitting and dog-sitting for a friend, so we have access to a kitchen. I am thinking about packing my dry goods (rice, beans, coffee, oatmeal, flour, sugar, etc) just so I don't have to buy more of certain things. Is this crazy? It feels a little crazy to pack groceries into my luggage. Of course there are grocery stores there! I have caught the frugal bug hard and I don't want to spend more money on food that we have already, even though it is inevitable since I can't bring 2 weeks of food or many perishables on a plane.

So any tips on not overbuying groceries on vacation? Or your craziest packing food stories for plane flights? I know we are planning to visit a couple of restaurants, and we are setting a budget for that and will be mindful when ordering. I feel like my internal spending pendulum has swung in the direction of SPEND NOTHING and my hubby thinks I am taking things too far -- this is supposed to be a fun vacation to see friends in an area where we used to live.

Tips? Thoughts? Suggestions?
Thank you in advance for your guidance!
« Last Edit: March 23, 2019, 09:34:22 AM by finallyfrugal »

AZDude

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Re: Sticking to food budget on vacation
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2017, 08:14:12 PM »
I would usually just factor in eating out into the vacation budget, but two weeks is too long to do that. Flying with a bunch of food in your baggage seems strange. Especially if it is non-perishable stuff that will easily last the two weeks you are gone. Just buy more when you get there and then average out Feb/March budgets to get a more precise idea of your spending.

redbird

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Re: Sticking to food budget on vacation
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2017, 08:30:04 PM »
I've never brought food with me on vacations unless it's specifically a camping trip or long car trip, where I'd need food for obvious reasons.

What I do is try to stay somewhere that has at least some bare minimal kitchen if possible. If you're staying in a hotel room, try to get one with a mini-fridge and a microwave at minimum. Then you go grocery shopping at a local grocery store. Sure, it's hard to use those dry goods that you're talking about. But you know what I get by on a lot during vacations? Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Those are very cheap, the supplies can be picked up very easily so you don't have to pack them in advance, and you can take them with you on your journeys outside the hotel room. PB&J can sit in a backpack all day long, without refrigeration and even in warm temperatures, and be plenty tasty when you're ready for it. But you'd be surprised at what kinds of food you can make with just a microwave and/or hot water heated up with a coffee pot.

I do spend more on food while vacationing than I do at home. Part of it is the fact that I do still allow for eating out a few times. But I still keep my food spending quite low because of not eating out much and trying to make as much as I can myself.

sparkytheop

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Re: Sticking to food budget on vacation
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2017, 10:44:33 PM »
One thing to consider-- will you have to pay checked luggage fees?  If so, I would not waste money to pack food, and would aim for traveling carry-on only.  Since you'll stay at a house, I assume you'll be able to do your laundry as needed.

With access to a kitchen, you'll be able to cook your own foods, so I would just stick to buying at less expensive grocery stores and markets when you are there.  Buy what is in season, and on sale.  If you season your food a lot at home, take some of the spices/seasonings with you so you don't have to buy any of those, since they can really add up, especially if you're buying a small amount.  I sometimes take food when I travel, but that's so I don't have to eat out alone or worry about grocery shopping for more than perishables.  However, when flying, I only fly with food on the return trip--stuff I can't get at home, especially when I travel overseas, things more like teas, coffees, and chocolates.  I have sugar cubes from Poland in my cupboard, because we bought a box when we were there to use for coffee/tea in our room.

finallyfrugal

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Re: Sticking to food budget on vacation
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2017, 08:23:22 AM »
Thanks so much for the feedback!

I will have a free checked bag, so I could be a frugal weirdo and bring a bunch of food, but I also realize that I can borrow spices, flour, sugar from my friend's house if it is just a bit here and there.

So I'll make a shopping list and plan out our meals at home and meals out, and keep it simple.

Thanks for letting me talk it out here!

« Last Edit: March 23, 2019, 09:34:42 AM by finallyfrugal »

Gerard

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Re: Sticking to food budget on vacation
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2017, 08:49:38 PM »
And one of the great things about California is that there are big cheap supermarkets aimed at Mexican and Asian folks, which means lots of things that you can buy and use up (produce, fresh or fresh-seasoned meats, noodles, tortillas). After my last week in a place with a kitchen, I managed to go through everything I'd bought except 2 tablespoons of mole and a half a pound of key limes.