When it comes to really blowing the budget, the 2 areas that are the biggest culprits, (at least for us), are fuel and food.
With the fuel there’s not much that you can do (you have to get home after all), except to make sure that you have figured fuel mileage accurately, and have correctly anticipated the number of miles that you’re actually going to travel (but that’s for another post).
With food, however, even though there is a lot of room to over-spend (especially if you go out often), but here there are always ways to compensate and cut back.
Organizing and meal planning is all about options and I’ll be sharing ideas and recipes for you if you enjoy cooking while on the road and want to spend time with it, as well as quick and easy ideas if you just need to ‘fill a void’ on a busy day.
I will also be sharing recipes and ideas that fit into the ‘phases’ of your trip. If you bring most of your food from home, you’ll really need to plan so that things don’t go bad, but you’ll save a lot of money! Here’s the plan that I use:
A). Respect the Phase of your trip that you are in:
- Phase 1 (Days 1-4): Serve things that you have packed that are raw and/or initially frozen (chicken, steaks, veggies etc…)
- Phase 2 (Days 5-7): Serve things that are precooked and initially frozen (precooked hamburger for tacos, marinated chicken etc..).
- Phase 3 (Days 8-12): Serve things that come in boxes, cans or that your butcher has freeze-dried or dehydrated. Even if you don’t choose to use ‘Phase 3’ meals, it’s nice to have a few options on hand in case your trip went over-budget and you want to compensate, or, if you got stuck overnight in the middle of Oklahoma with no stores or restaurants in sight (again-that is another post!).
- Phase 4 (Days 13-end of trip): Hit the grocery store.
B). Know the next day’s plan:
*I usually pre-plan all meals as I design the itinerary before the start of the trip. That way I can plan best and make the most use of leftovers. (For instance, an evening’s grilled Ham steak can make great leftovers for cold sandwiches on the road the next day).
*Obviously, each day on a road trip is unique and it’s important to have an assortment of meals ideas for the details surrounding each meal.
Here’s what I mean:
For Breakfast you might have time to sleep in, make a full breakfast and have time for clean up. You’ll probably choose pancakes and bacon and juice. You might, however be tearing down camp and hitting the road early, so you don’t have time to cook and wash dishes, etc. Then you might choose pre-made (nutritious) breakfast cookies and some beef jerky.
You get the idea…….
*Recipes & Meal Ideas will come with meal detail specifics. Here are the Blogs in this Category that you will find:
1). BREAKFASTS ON THE GO
2). QUICK BREAKFASTS AT CAMP
3). LEISURELY BREAKFASTS AT CAMP
4). PICNIC LUNCHES ON THE ROAD
5). LUNCHES AT CAMP
6). LEISURELY SUPPERS AT CAMP
7). LATE ARRIVAL CAMP SUPPERS
8). SNACKS, DESSERTS & MISC
9). HACKS FOR MEALS AND MEAL PLANNING
There will be lots of recipes and meal prep ideas and hacks as we go, so stay with me! Everything I share will be tested on the road – so you don’t need to worry if those online ideas will really work.
Another important thing regarding meal planning is to pre-decide how you are going to handle your food budget. Personally, I am one who plans every meal and only goes out if the food is an excursion in itself (who can go to Chicago and not have Chicago dogs on Navy Pier; go to NYC and not eat in Little Italy; or not have Chinese food from Chinatown in San Francisco?). I also plan on fast food for the road on the last day going home, because we’re on the road all day and there’s no food left that’s good anyway. I budget for those meals out and stick to a very strict meal plan, as other than the exceptions mentioned, food is not why I travel.
You however, might be completely different! We have friends who are serious ‘foodies’ and their reason for traveling IS the food, so they eat out strategically nearly every meal and budget accordingly. We also have friends that feel that keeping a strict food budget is like saying that they are not financially comfortable enough to not have to worry about the cost of eating out on vacation, and don’t keep track at all. Most people though, fall into the middle somewhere or just sort of ‘wing it’. It’s vital that you determine where you fall on the scale and how much you are planning to spend on food. However you plan, just make sure that you don’t come back with regrets or feeling like you won’t be taking another trip again any time soon because it cost so much more than you had anticipated!
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!
I’d Love your input! Please share tested recipes, ideas, hints and hacks that have worked for you (and include photos if you’d like). These blogs are ongoing and will be updated regularly.