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How to Meal Plan for Vacation

How to Meal Plan for Vacation

A few week’s ago, I took a girls’ trip to Sedona with two of my best friends. In the past, this would have been a great excuse to impulse buy, blow through my “budget,” and basically give myself free rein to spend, spend, spend. 

But not this time.

After selling our home to pay off all our debt, there’s no way I want to go back down that road. And I find that the number one thing we can do to keep our budget on-track is to meal plan. 

How to Meal Plan for Vacation


So when I planned this trip with my best friends, I told them from the get-go that I was on a budget and we’d need to eat at home as often as possible. They were all on the same page, so I spent some time meal planning. I want to share with you some tips for how to meal plan for vacation – it really is so simple, and will save you tons of money.

How to Meal Plan for Vacation

The beauty of traveling in this day and age is that you can rent an Airbnb and have your groceries delivered. THIS IS THE BEST. I remember traveling in years past (like 2012, ha) and having to make a big trip to Costco when we arrived at our destination to shop for groceries.

Here are some ways to make meal planning for a vacation a piece of cake.

Have groceries delivered!

Shopping for groceries when I arrive at my vacation spot is literally my vacation nightmare. I hate grocery shopping in my own town, at a store I know. I can’t think of anything more unpleasant than going on vacation and having to shop for groceries as soon as we arrive. OK, I can actually think of many things more unpleasant than that, but you get the idea. 

So, we planned out our dinners, made out list, and then ordered our groceries to be delivered (you usually have to do this within 24 hours of delivery, and of course availability will be determined by your destination).

We used Instacart. Some grocery stores have their own services, but Instacart worked for us because we could use it at a variety of stores (in our case, Safeway).

Plan around eating out.

How to Meal Plan for Vacation

We knew we’d want to eat lunch out on most days, and also planned for a couple of dinners out on the town. We planned around those meals. for most people, it’s not realistic to say you’re never going to eat out on vacation. Eating local is part of the adventure! So be super realistic with yourself here. It’s okay to eat out more often, if that works for you (and your budget)…just make sure to plan for it!

Plan easy-to-cook meals that make for great leftovers.

Some super easy dinners that can be eaten again, and/or double for lunches the following day (and that also travel well in case you want to take food with you the next day):

  • Spaghetti (most pasta dishes, actually, like this easy pasta salad – you can add a bagged salad to get those veggies in)
  • Sandwiches
  • Overnight oats (for breakfast – make a large batch and it will last for several days)
  • Pancakes (another great one because you can make large batches and eat for days, and also, pancakes)
  • Tacos (you can make a batch of all the ingredients and eat for days)
  • Hard-boiled eggs 
  • Soups (easy to make, and some can even be a complete meal…and you can make a huge batch)
  • Meatballs

When you’re deciding on meals, look for recipes that don’t use a lot of condiments…you don’t want to spend a lot stocking the pantry with a bunch of mayo and mustard that you’ll never finish and probably won’t be able to bring home with you.

How to Meal Plan for Vacation

Start with dinners.

If you’re planning breakfasts, lunches and dinners – start with dinner. Dinner recipes are easy to double (or more) and repurpose as leftovers and lunches, which makes it a lot easier to fill those meals in when you’re doing the meal plan.

Write it all down.

Write down your meal plan. Use it when you do your grocery shopping, and bring it with you. Have someone else look it over to make sure you’re not forgetting anything.

Of course, you can always swing by the store to grab something you forget…and depending on how long you’re staying and how many meals you plan on eating at your vacation home, you might need to make a store run to stock up on produce anyway. But the idea is to maximize travel time and reduce shopping and cooking time. Writing your menu down will really help!

You can download a free printable meal planning page here. The Meal Planner you see pictured in this post can be found here.


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[…] won’t go into too many details here because I have a whole post dedicated to meal planning for vacations that you can read here. I definitely recommend starting there if you’re new to meal planning for travel. In that […]

[…] space to spread out. We like to bring our own food when possible (here’s a whole post about how to meal plan when you travel – it can save you so much money!). The condo we stayed in had one bedroom, two bathrooms, a […]

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