Food is the quickest way to blow your family vacation budget, and it’s also the easiest way to save money. Consider the cost of a family of four at mid-range restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and you can easily spend $200 a day. But savvy shoppers know how to cut that number dramatically, and it all starts with a trip to the grocery store.
Start your week by stocking up on food and drinks to fill the fridge and by planning a couple of meals a day in the room. Paradise Resort’s fully equipped kitchen suites allow guests to prepare their own meals and save significant funds that can be better spent at area attractions, shops and entertainment venues. Here are five expert tips for filling the fridge and pantry and saving precious dollars during your Myrtle Beach vacation:
- Make a list: You can get away with a quick trip to the corner grocery back home, but you only want to make one trip to avoid wasting your valuable vacation time at the store. Some items you can purchase at home and bring along on the trip, but perishable goods, like milk, meats, eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables, require at least one visit to a local store, preferably at the start of the week. Get input from all members of the family about what type of foods they would like for vacation and map out a game plan for the number of days and meals you will have in the room.
- Breakfast: The most important meal of the day is also the easiest to shop for. Besides, the sun is rising over the ocean and everyone is eager to get to the beach. Buy boxes of cereal, pop tarts, breakfast bars for the kids, and bagels, cream cheese, fresh fruits and pastries for adults for easy grab-and-go meals. Pick up some bacon and eggs if you feel like making a bigger breakfast but most visitors are content to eat something quick and easy for their first meal. Don’t forget to grab some juice and milk.
- Lunch: The middle meal can serve a dual purpose for vacationers. One, the heat of the day is a good time to take a break from the beach and enjoy some shade and air conditioning. Two, and this is especially true after a grab-and-go breakfast, all that playing and swimming can work up a real appetite. The cheap and easy route is to stock up on bread, meat, cheese and condiments for sandwiches, along with chips, salads. For a more substantive lunch, pick up the ingredients for a simple dish like spaghetti or tacos. Try to get your kids to drink water or sports drinks for proper hydration.
- Dinner: OK, so a big part of a Myrtle Beach vacation is dining out at one of the many great seafood restaurants. And with the money you save by having breakfast and lunch at the hotel you can afford to splurge a little bit for one meal. But guests on a tight budget can save money and put together a family dinner night. Visit the local seafood market for some fresh shrimp and boil it up in some Old Bay and beer, Hit the farmer’s market for some fresh corn on the cob or red potatoes and turn it into a Lowcountry boil.
- Snacks: This may be the most important part of your grocery trip since vacationing kids tend to snack throughout the day and late at night. Cookies, chips, crackers and cheeses are sure-fire favorites, and popcorn is perfect for taking advantage of the free DVD rentals for Paradise guests with a family movie night. Instead of taking the family out for late-night ice cream, invest in a half gallon at the grocery store for about the cost of a single scoop at the ice cream parlor. It all adds up to an affordable family vacation that lets you spend your hard-earned money on the things you really want.