Food is part of the experience.  When we travel to different cultures, we want our taste buds to go on vacation too.  We want to try the wine and the cheese and the bread and the dessert and all the things that this new place has to offer.  We also work really hard at home and we deserve a break from cooking and cleaning up.  Right?

Yes and no.

We love to eat out, but even on vacation, we try to eat out only a few times per week.  You can learn a lot about a culture by eating new foods and that’s the goal, right?  However, most locals aren’t eating out for every meal, and neither should you.  Try to eat more like a local and less like a tourist and you will learn more.

If I go to Paris and have a sit down meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner I am going to spend between 60 – 100 Euros per person per day.  The average family can’t afford to eat this way daily and the average kid can’t sit still for long meals several times per day.

My goal is to go on vacation more often.  I am willing to spend less money each time I go and travel to more places.  I’ve given you my solution to spending so much of our time and money eating.

Breakfast

Croissant in Paris

We usually stay in apartments when we travel and have the basics for preparing coffee.  Paying for coffee is a very silly waste of your vacation fund.  The only exception would be on transition days when you are arriving or leaving your destination.

When we travel by car, I will bake a batch of muffins or make deviled eggs before we leave and we eat that for breakfast.  When it’s not possible to bring items from home, we make hard boiled eggs or we fry a few eggs with some toast.  Most rented apartments will have basic kitchen equipment.  Eggs are a good choice because they are full of protein and other vitamins that fill little bellies until lunch.  Eggs can be found everywhere.

When we are in Europe, we do indulge in pastries for breakfast a few times per week because they are inexpensive and delicious.

Picnics

European picnic

Picnics save us every time.  Every. Time.  I love picnics because they are easy to put together and they are inexpensive.  As a Mom, I keep it as simple as possible and I really think that’s best.  You don’t need plates or any other dishes that need to be carried back home or washed, unless you have a vehicle and can throw them in there after your meal.  Paper towels work as a temporary plate and for wiping your mouth.

Keep it balanced.  A protein, a bread, a fruit, a vegetable, some crunch and some sweet.

In Europe we will purchase deli meat and each person gets a rolled up piece along with a torn off piece of baguette, a plum or apple, some cut up carrots or cucumbers or cherry tomatoes, some cubed cheese or chips and a small piece of dark chocolate.

In the US we will make deli meat sandwiches on sliced bread, an apple for each person, baby carrots and hummus and a cookie.

It takes me about 10 minutes to prep our picnic.  There is no cleanup and I’ve saved myself a lot of vacation fund money.  Make sure your kids are helping cut those veggies and preparing those sandwiches.

Dinner

Simple dinner

Take out or cook your own with smart shortcuts.

Many grocery stores have pre-made salads, sandwiches, fried chicken, soups and even Asian food.  Check out these options when you’re traveling.

Bakeries are another type of business to check when you are searching for unique foods in Europe and certain parts of the US.

Prague supermarket

Go into the grocery stores and see what type of spices and sauces you can cook with in your home base apartment.  Don’t be afraid to serve salad with each meal to eliminate having to cook a vegetable.  Even cut up raw veggies can be a side.

Sliced baguettes with butter make a nice carbohydrate side instead of fixing potatoes or rice or something that takes a lot of time.

You absolutely should eat out when you are on vacation, my point is that if I’m on a 9 week vacation, I can’t afford to eat out for every meal.  I wouldn’t want to either!  Most of the time, a home cooked meal with some special touches like fancy wine or specialty cheese can satisfy my desire for a vacation treat without breaking the vacation fund.

Do more with less money.