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    Inexpensive and Nutritious Meals for your Family Vacation

    By Deborah Crawford     

    Food is a major vacation expense and it can be difficult to eat nutritiously on the road. But, with a little creativity and planning, you can save money and feed your family without resorting to cheap junk food three times a day.

    When choosing where to stay, look for a place that comes with a kitchen, mini-kitchen or at least a small refrigerator. A condo is one such choice. Also, many extended-stay hotels come with full kitchens, and they do rent rooms for short-term stays. Most of them also offer hot breakfast included with the room rate, and some offer an evening reception with snacks. Also, many hotels offer free breakfast these daysóask when making your reservation. Some are basic Continental breakfasts, others offer full hot breakfasts. With breakfast at a fast food place costing at least $4 per person, you can save quite a lot of money if you donít have to pay extra for breakfast.

    Once you reach your location, find out exactly what is in your room, and then make a trip to the local supermarket. If your room doesnít have a refrigerator, you can usually pick up a Styrofoam cooler for just a few dollars. These come in handy for chilling drinks, as ice is usually free in hotels. Typically, sodas, juice and bottled water are way overpriced if you buy then from the hotelís vending machines. For food safety, do not store milk or other perishables in a cooler. If you donít have a refrigerator, purchase and use perishable items (meat, milk, etc.) daily. Sometimes, you can rent a refrigerator from the hotel for a nominal daily cost, and sometimes they are included at no additional cost.

    At the supermarket, you can pick up some disposable plates, bowls, flatware, and napkins, too, or if you have a supply at home, bring them with you. Then, grab a box of cereal, a small container of milk and fruit for inexpensive, nutritious breakfasts. Muffins or whole grain breads are another quick breakfast idea. Again, replenish the milk daily unless you can refrigerate it. If there is a coffee maker in your room, you can heat water to use for making instant oatmeal, too.

    For lunches and snacks, organic peanut butter is a good choice that you could store in a cooler. Deli sandwich meat and tortillas plus some lettuce and cheese make great roll-ups! String cheese and fruit make an inexpensive and easy snack. Most kids love baby carrots and you can get them almost anywhere, with a small container of dip. Donít forget nuts. If your children are old enough to eat nuts and do not have allergies to nuts, they make a great protein source.

    For dinners, most supermarkets sell rotisserie chickens and if thereís a salad bar, you can fill in the rest of the meal with salad, fruit, and veggies. Larger supermarkets will also have a hot food bar where they sell various entrees far cheaper than restaurants.

    Plus, if your room has a microwave oven, you can prepare frozen entrees, popcorn, soup, and so on. In fact, there are many microwavable options these days. The Country Crock side dishes are quite good in a pinch.

    Of course, you want to experience the local cuisine, and you are on vacation, so be sure to plan for a few meals out. Ask the hotel desk staff or concierge for recommendations. They usually know the best places to eat. You can also save money by going to expensive restaurants for lunch instead of dinner. And, donít forget to ask for coupons. Many restaurants and attractions will drop off coupons at hotels to give to their guests, or you can find them online.

    And, of course, you can have pizza delivered to your room for about the same as it would cost anywhereóconsider a relaxing evening at the pool followed by pizza & TV. Fruit for dessert would be a healthy addition to this meal.

    Assuming a bare-minimum cost of $30 per person, per day for three meals at restaurants, you can enjoy substantial savings by creatively preparing some of your own meals. Plus, it is hard to get a decent amount of fruits, veggies and whole grains at restaurants so even if you decide to eat out for each meal, work in some nutritious snack options.

    Written by Deborah CrawfordRate this article:

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