Apart from petrol, the main expense you will encounter when travelling is food. We can’t do without it. It’s a necessity of life, but it can get very expensive, especially when you are travelling.
As much as I like to spend a few dollars in the small towns we pass through, groceries in these places can sometimes be much pricier than in larger centres. This is largely due to the costs involved in getting the goods there and also the smaller buying power.
We also like to eat out occasionally, but to do that all the time becomes extremely expensive. This is not always a good option health wise either. So I have put together some tips for you on How to Save Money on Food When Travelling.
Now that we are on the road full time, meal planning is definitely our key to saving money on food. It also helps us use up every last bit, so there is rarely ever anything thrown out.
According to Foodwise, a national campaign run by not-for-profit group Do Something, Australians throw away a staggering $8 billion worth of food a year. That equates to 20% of the food they purchase or $1036 worth of food per average household. You can download and print our handy Camping Meal Planner HERE.
MAKE YOUR OWN LUNCHES
If you are travelling between places or out sight-seeing for the day it can often be tempting to stop at a coffee shop or bakery for lunch. We do this on occasion but it can cost anywhere between $15.00 and $30.00 for a couple of pies and a coffee or drinks.
So most of the time we make our own lunch. If we are travelling between locations, we just find somewhere to pull up and jump in the van and make something.
When we go on Day Trips I take a small picnic bag with us with plates, cutlery, a breadboard etc in it. As we have a fridge in the BT-50 we can take drinks, cold meat, salad stuff etc. with us.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
We all like to eat a variety of different foods. But sometimes making a lot of different dishes means buying a lot of different and sometimes expensive ingredients.
So we tend to keep our meals fairly simple. We make stir fry, spaghetti bolognaise or throw something on the BBQ and have salad or roast vegies with it. Brenden makes a great mixed salad that we also use on wraps for lunch.
For breakfasts we have cereal and fruit, toast or muffins. I will often make up a batch of savoury muffins which can be eaten for breakfast or a snack on the road.
There are so many ways you can use up leftovers.
- Brown bananas? Make Banana Bread
- Cooked sausages? Chop up and mix into an omelette.
- Vegies going soft? Grate or chop up and throw into Spaghetti Bol.
- Stale bread rolls? Turn into Garlic Bread.
REDUCE YOUR PORTION SIZES
This is one that I am sometimes guilty of. I eat way too much and then feel over full afterwards. By reducing your portion sizes just a little bit you can save a considerable amount of money over time. It is also much better for your overall health. Reducing your portion sizes will also help reduce food wastage because you won’t find yourself cooking as much.
This should also apply to those much loved nibbles that we all indulge in. You know the ones I’m talking about -chippies, biccies, cheese, dip. Again this is healthier for us. Especially if we are sitting in a car for long periods of time and not getting the exercise that we should be.
BUY FROM ROADSIDE STALLS
Keep an eye out whilst you are travelling, for roadside produce stalls. You will often find beautiful fresh produce straight out of the paddock for a fraction of the price of what it would cost you in a supermarket. And of course you will be putting a few extra dollars into a farmers pocket.
Local markets are also another great place to find fresh produce at reasonable prices. They are often a good place to source homemade jams and relishes at a fraction of the price. Plus you might be helping out a small business as well.
One of the hardest things when travelling is keeping your food fresh and cold. A portable fridge that runs off 12 volt power is a must if you have any hope of keeping food fresh. This is one of the main reasons why we chose a compressor fridge for our caravan.
If you can, pre-freeze all your meat before you go on a trip. This will help your fridge work more efficiently, especially if it is hot or humid. Obviously if you are travelling full time this is not always possible. But quite often, smaller local butchers will cryovac and freeze your meat for you.
If you do have bread or fresh produce avoid leaving it in the hot sun or in the car as this will make it go off more quickly. A couple of good quality plastic containers with tight fitting lids are essential for leftovers. The same applies to storing our pantry basics like flour and sugar.
We all know buying in bulk can be cheaper, but in a van you have both a storage issue and often heat to contend with. So buying only the quantity of an item that you need may turn out to be more economical in the long run as you will use it all before it can go off because of hot weather.
SUPERMARKET REWARDS PROGRAMS
Don’t underestimate the value you can get from utilising the Woolworths Rewards Program or Coles Flybuys. As an example with Woolies, when you sign up they will instantly give you 1000 points. 2000 points and you have $10.00 off your next shop. Check your emails and activate every single offer they send you.
For example, the other week I just had to spend $150.00 and I got a bonus 2000 points, plus I only needed to get a few more points to reach 2000 so I ended up with 4000 points or $20.00 off. It definitely does add up over the course of year. Brenden saves his points and has $160.00 banked for Christmas and he only does small shops so it is worth looking in to. As they say, ‘Every little bit helps!’
What other tips do you have for how to save money on food when travelling?