Road Trip Food

Or click bait title - How I saved $475 with this road trip meal plan!

We recently got back from a 8 day trip to the Okanagan with a stop in Kamloops for a wedding. My food planning goal was to eat well and avoid fast food dining and focus our eating out budget to eating at a couple nice restaurants. It's still vacation after all and eating out is a fun part of that. We just wanted to focus that enjoyment to local restaurants.  Overall we did pretty well, only stopping once for Tim Horton's coffee, once to McDonald's for lunch and final dinner at Boston Pizza on the last leg of our journey. So some of the old stand-bys did win out while travelling. I keep hoping to have fun picnics in beautiful parks, but our travel days recently have either been smoke filled or rainy!

Total Restaurant Spending:$292

Tim Hortons : $4 (coffee)
McDonalds: $10 (ice cream)
Lunch at Canada Day: $40
Jammery: $78 (Breakfast)
The Train Station: $88 (Dinner)
McDonalds: $40 (lunch)
Boston Pizza: $32 (dinner)

Total Grocery Spending: $163
Note this is much higher than our normal at home spend for this year where I've been averaging around $125/week with less restaurant meals.

Trip food: $120 (including a few snacks we don't usually have on hand: candy, cookies, chips, microwave popcorn. Vacation means special treats!)
Grocery snacks: $12
Lunch on the road: $24
A few missing items: $7

So total with my planning was $455 for the week

Had we done restaurants the whole time it would have cost us around $30-40 for breakfast, $40 for each lunch (fast food) and $90 for each dinner (sit down restaurant). Fortunately most hotels/motels we stayed at offered free breakfasts. There was only one didn't so that would have given us a restaurant budget of 2 breakfasts, 8 lunches and 6 dinners (we had two events with dinner provided) for a total of: $930 had we not brought any food. I do think most people buy some snacks and easy lunches or breakfasts while travelling, but I wanted to makes sure we all enjoyed the food we had. Food is really important on any holiday so I didn't want us to feel like we were suffering eating sandwiches or bowls of cereal in the hotel rooms every day.

So I may do a bit more prep than the average person food-wise before leaving, but it feels like a win eating good healthy food rather than grease filled restaurant fare we might fall on as the amount we've spent increases. Especially for the kids, as the kid's menu is devoid of any vegetables regardless on what restaurant we choose. Next goal, weaning the kids off chicken nugget or cheese pizza restaurant meals.

I figure my prep and planning saved us about $475 for about 4 hours of work.


Main prep I did:
For this Chicken Mango Salad I grated the carrots and pre-made the vinaigrette
For the Greek Pasta Salad, loosely based off this Greek Tortellini Salad  I made the dressing, cooked some rotini pasta, chopped purple onions and portioned out some feta cheese. The rest was cut and assembled when we ate it.
Pre-made some pulled pork and froze it to it would last an extra day while defrosting and keeping the cooler cold. 
Pre-made Chicken and Tzaziki sauce for the Chicken Pitas
Made some banana bread

For the Spinach Salad I cooked the bacon, made the dressing and hard boiled the eggs. Unfortunately I made too much food so never got this recipe in time and had to throw out most of it. Same for the batch of spaghetti noodles I made. 

Also didn't end up making tacos, but no food was wasted as I had planned to buy the ingredients on the road and make in the instant pot. 

Prepped food ready for the cooler

Road Kitchen

Yes I brought my Instant Pot to let me do a bit more elaborate cooking should we need it. Ended up using it twice, once to cook veggies for the kids and once to make spaghetti and sauce. After getting home I did read that some hotels prohibit cooking in the rooms so use caution and obey the rules. I didn't see any signs where we stayed and I was very careful to keep things clean. That is also why I have my washing bucket. With it, I don't need to wash dishes directly in the hotel sink. It gives me more space if sink is really shallow, and I can dump the dirty dish water down the toilet and not block the sink with food stuffs. Above all I think it's important to be considerate and leave the room clean.  


Day 1: I packed this lunch for us to eat at a nice picnic spot. Initially had planned for Jasper, but ended up only making it to Hinton by lunch time so ate at the visitor's centre under a covered table. It was also cold and rainy so McDonald's was very tempting and would have been consumed had I not prepared this in advance. 

For Dinner we ate the chicken pitas.

Day 2: Hotel breakfast, Greek Pasta Salad for lunch and dinner at my cousin's

Day 3:Had fruit, yogurt and banana bread for breakfast, leftover pitas and sandwiches. Dinner was the wedding. 

Day 4: Breakfast was fruit and yogurt again, Out for lunch, pulled pork for dinner with veggies and salad. 

Pulled pork dinner for the kids with some carrots and broccoli I cooked in the instant pot, mango on the side

Our pulled pork with the Chicken Mango Salad (minus the chicken) as we didn't end up buying one on the road. 

 Day 5: Hotel breakfast, snack plates for lunch (sausage, cheese, crackers, veggies and hummus), pulled pork again for dinner. I did make a bit too much of this for the trip. I could have left half at home and froze it.

Day 6: Jammery for breakfast  as the hotel breakfast left a little to be desired and this restaurant had been recommended.  Lunch was not the healthiest, but the fresh fruit was yummy.
 For dinner we went out to another restaurant called the Train Station. It was a lovely Pub in kelowna.

Day 7 we started our trip home and had hotel breakfast, McDonalds for lunch as it was raining and decided to keep the snack plate for the next day. For Dinner I made spaghetti in the Instant Pot, cooking the noodles right in it for 9 minutes with a quick release after making up the sauce.

Day 8: Was our final travel day heading home. We had the hotel breakfast, remaining food for a snack plate (sausage, cheese, crackers, veggies and hummus) at lunch and stopped for pizza at Boston Pizza. 

So despite my over planning leading to a bit of food wastage, we did pretty well. I'll eventually get down exactly how much we need for a few days and balance picking up more food as we need it to avoid throwing it out. Next time I'll only plan for about 3 days worth of food and plan to buy more on the road so we are not losing food due to spoilage or hotel fridges failing. We did have a few frozen cucumbers that got tossed. I think I'm definitely getting closer to our ideal road trip food plan. 

Here's hoping that this post inspires you to make a couple extra meals or parts of a meal to take with you on the road. Happy Trails!


Popular posts from this blog

Favourite Pattern Series: Jalie 3355

Sewing Plan update - I love my dress!

Two-Weeks in... We're surviving and it's getting a little better