How to Eat Well & Spend Less During a Staycation

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A staycation can be a great way to enjoy a vacation without spending a lot of money. And if you plan your meals right, you can also eat well and spend less.

Later this summer our family is planning a staycation. We’re doing what I call a “luxury staycation” in that we’re going to stay at a hotel not terribly far away from home. It’s a vacation, but we’re staying in our neck of the woods.

This signifies in several ways:

  • the pressure’s off for packing everything. If I forget something, it’s not the end of the world to go home for it.
  • we know the general vicinity so we won’t feel totally like fish out of water.
  • we save time and travel money by not leaving the county.
  • it’s easier to pack food from home since it’s not traveling a long way.

During our staycation, we’ll have a small kitchen available to us so we can cook our own meals and not feel like we have to eat out — unless we want to.

Having a kitchen available is key to the relaxation portion of the trip. On one of our previous vacations out of town, we stayed at a hotel that did not serve breakfast, nor did it provide the connecting rooms we had requested. Eight people in one tiny room is a tight squeeze, even if we’re just hanging out. It doesn’t really lend itself to a relaxing meal “eaten in”.

Whether your staycation is away from home or literally in your own backyard, there are a number of things that you can do to make it still feel like a vacation when it comes to meal times. You can eat well and spend less even if you’re “on vacation”.

Here’s how:

1. Cook ahead.

Every day feels like a vacation (sort of) when you have freezer meals at the ready. If you do your cooking in advance and store your meals in the freezer or refrigerator, you’re ensuring the quality and flavors of your meals and saving yourself some work prior to serving. You’re also saving money in the process.

Meals that work well for this would be:

2. Serve no-cook meals

What’s better than cooking in advance? Not cooking at all! Last week I shared 10 No-Cook Suppers. These are easy to pull together and are just as filling as a real meal — without the hassle and mess.

They’re ideal for taking on the go, too. Pack the components away for a trip to the beach or a picnic at the park. Lounge by the pool and munch.

3. Splurge on your favorites.

A steak dinner with all the trimmings — that you cook yourself — is infinitely cheaper than taking the family to a steak house. Even buying a few convenience items can help you out. Plus, your meal will be more relaxing and probably cooked just the way you like it. If your favorite restaurant isn’t in the budget, make your favorites at home.

4. Enjoy some meals out.

We are a family that enjoys eating out. But, we can do it fairly economically. Our favorite In-N-Out burgers and fries costs us less than $25 for the family, even when we’re being extravagant with our order. Having a fun little treat makes the vacation more fun for all of us.

Looking for an eating tour of San Diego? Try some of these local great places that aren’t too pricey.

A staycation can be a great way to enjoy a vacation without spending a lot of money. And if you plan your meals right, you can also eat well and spend less.

This post is part of an ongoing series about how to eat well and spend less. Along with some fabulous foodies, organizers, and frugalistas, I’ve been bringing you suggestions on how to eat like a king without becoming a pauper to do it.

This month we’re sharing tips and tricks for eating well during the summertime. From staycations to potlucks to grilling salads to entertaining house guests, we’ve got you covered. Be sure to check out what the other ladies are sharing this week or browse their archives:

Have you ever had a staycation? How did you eat well and spend less?

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. These are some great ideas. We’re planning our first vacation in a couple of weeks with kids. My oldest is 41/2 but this will be our first time! We are staying in a house near the beach so we will have a kitchen. I’m planning on making a few things ahead, like lasagna, quiche, and enchiladas, and freezing them.
    I love your no cook meal ideas. Will be using those for sure!
    Thanks, Jessica!

    • Jessica Fisher says

      I think I’m also going to come up with some desperation dinners, those quick meals that are pantry stable. I need to stay out of the fast food lane this summer.

  2. We stopped at In-And-Out on our whirlwind roadtrip from Washington to California in one week with 5 kids and I was surprised to see that their prices haven’t gone up! What a fun splurge.

    • Jessica Fisher says

      They did go up a little bit over the last year. Something like a quarter per burger. But, not bad. We can stuff ourselves for less than $25 for 8 people, so it’s definitely a good value. And one of the best burgers on the planet.

  3. Bethany says

    Is that the point loma I.n.o.? We are at the one off the 163 nearly every sun after church. It’s our “tradition” and about the only time we eat out with our five littles. Would love to meet your beautiful family in person sometime. love your ideas and have followed your blog for awhile. Your recipes are great for our growing family… with a non-growing budget. 😉

    • Jessica Fisher says

      I think that’s actually from an INO farther up the coast. But, I am hoping to have a San Diego meetup sometime this summer. Watch the blog. Would love to meet you, too!

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