I spent several years of my life traveling every weekend. Most times my trips would be several hours one way with the return trip that same day. So, essentially I would need an entire days worth of food on the road. It was really important that I stayed in good shape – so just binging on junk was not an option. I also needed to spend as little money as possible. So cheap food ideas were a must for me.
I needed a way to still travel, have fun and still eat cheap.
I spent a lot of time thinking of all the possible cheap food ideas I could use when traveling. It took a little doing, some trial and error. But being the frugal kinda gal I am, I ended up with lots of tips and tricks for cheap food ideas to get my travel food as cheaply as possible.
The first of my cheap food ideas: If you will be needing food while traveling, make sure to PLAN AHEAD. This way you can get some food for traveling ready to take with you.
The first thing that I learned when traveling heavily and eating on a budget is it is ALL about planning. I would spend the day before leaving on a trip preparing travel snacks as well as full meals to take with me. Having this food to travel with me greatly cut down on the cost of stopping at fast food. It also allows you to eat WAY healthier. You get to choose the travel food you will be taking with you instead of being at the mercy of whatever greasy burger joint is on your route.
My go to cheap food idea for traveling is to make sure that you have enough food with you while you will be on the road.
Also, don’t forget travel snacks. Driving (or being a passenger) can get boring and lead to snacking. It is SO easy to grab chips or some other snack at a gas station when you fill your car up. But the prices at these places are CRAZY! You might as well throw your money out your car window! So, just get prepared and take your own snacks with you so you won’t be tempted. Plus, that way you can take healthier travel snacks like carrot sticks 😉
Going on a super long trip? You can still pack your own food!
Pack up a cooler or lunch bag with some ice or cold packs and stick your food for traveling in there. (Don’t forget to also bring something to drink and a travel cup!) By packing all of your own food you can also use all of your normal cheap food ideas and just take them with you.
Figuring out how to eat cheap on the road is not always as easy as just packing your own food. We have all had the experience of having to take a spur of the moment trip. Or perhaps you were so busy packing and preparing other stuff for your trip you just ran out of time to make your own travel food.
Never fear, I still have some cheap food ideas for you!
So, you are going to have to buy food on the road. Not the optimal thing, but it’s still totally possible to eat cheap on the road this way.
The first cheap food idea is to NEVER buy drinks at a fast food restaurant. They are SO expensive, it’s just not worth it. Ok, great, so to figure out how to eat cheap on the road I need to not drink for my whole trip? Now, I am not proposing that you don’t drink anything for your entire trip – I’m not THAT frugal or crazy 😉 This is one instance where you can buy something at a gas station when you stop to get gas.
But don’t get a single serving bottle of soda or water. Buy a flat of water (most gas stations have these) or a gallon jug. Or if you HAVE to have soda, get a 2 liter. Yes, these will be a bit more expensive than buying them (on sale or regular price) at the grocery store. However, it will be way more beverage for you at a much lower price than single serving.
The next cheap food idea for traveling (if you can’t pack your own food for travel) is to ASK when ordering what specials that fast food place has. Often times they will have some special going on that is not advertised and that is a good way to get a good deal on your meal. If they don’t have any specials, try to order off of the dollar menu. After all, you don’t need a drink (since you bought that elsewhere).
And, let’s be honest, even though that supersize value meal SEEMS like you need it – you don’t. The value size or dollar sized servings are much more reasonable in both price and calories.
As you can see, making a plan for how to eat cheap on the road can be pretty simple. But it may take thinking outside what you are use to.
I would be remiss to not mention that many fast food places also have coupons. So, another cheap food idea while traveling is to download the app for the fast food restaurant of your choice. Many times on their official apps they will offer coupons.
Or, sometimes, they will offer coupon handouts in their store so that is another idea on how to eat cheap on the road. Just keep whatever coupons you have in your car so you don’t even have to worry about remembering to pack them.
What cheap food ideas are your favorites for traveling?
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