First there is fitness on the road…Then there is the food. Most people who beat feet to a vacation destination with children in tow know the appeal of buying meals out. There’s less to take with you, no prep, and you can just sit back and relax while someone else does all the hard work. Besides, you can still eat healthy eating out, can’t you? Sure you can, if you are careful, but lets be real here for a minute. I mean, yes, the grilled fish and wild rice is only 800 cal, but first off, that is still far too many calories for a single meal. Secondly, you know what you really ordered was that western bacon burger… and no, substituting regular fries for sweet potato fries does not make it healthy.
Last year we went with good intentions to eat in and spend less, and boy did we fall short. We bought burgers from Frosty’s. They have phenomenal veggie burgers, but, with five kids, any trip out is a pricy one and even a veggie burger loses it’s credibility as a healthy meal when paired with french fries and milkshakes. wait, there’s more. We also got lunch and ice cream at Bassetts, not to mention more ice cream at Buckaroo Chocolates (in our defense we were there a whole week), coffee almost every morning at Graeagle Mill Works and one breakfast at the little coffee stand by the pond. And then there was date night at the Grizzly Grill. Over the course of 21 meals we ate out far too much, not to even mention the ice cream, s’mores, brownies… you get the point. It was wild!
In addition to unplanned eating out, there was the shopping. They have the cutest little downtown area where every shop is its own adorable stand alone building. You can walk from one end downtown to the other in minutes, which we did many a time. It was hard not to pick up a thing or two at several of the shops. We could literally have been the embodiment of a travel guide magazine for Graeagle… we did it all! But we also spent a lot of not-so-budgeted money.
Yes, we bought that sling shot… and that pair of jammy shorts for Mommy, because, I mean, coffee.
That was last year. Our solution this year to all our previous pitfalls was to plan before we leave what we are going to eat and how we are going to spend (the two seem inextricably linked). After sitting down and planning everything out, all that was left was the really hard part: sticking with it. This trip to Graeagle we planned in one eat-out that we knew would be irresistible and that made sticking to our plan easier because it was realistic. That, of course, was the annual Pancake Breakfast at the Graeagle Fire Department.
I must admit in the heat of the afternoon on the second day, we did break down and buy the kids ice cream from Buckaroo Chocolates, but our self control was greatly improved from last year. Both the pancakes and ice cream were treats and alleviated any sense that we were stifling our inner treat monsters so I don’t feel too guilty.
Other than those two splurges, all our meals were pre-planned and done in the RV. I consider that a huge win! So here is the breakdown:
Breakfast was oatmeal with fruit, nuts, and local honey. Simple. Easy. Cheap. HEALTHY. The kids love frozen mixed berries so we sacrificed a bit of our freezer space for a bag. Also on the breakfast (oatmeal) buffet: almonds, dried cranberries, canned peaches, honey, and granola to-go packs. One breakfast was the pancake breakfast which broke up the monotony of oatmeal every day.
For lunches we broke out veggies, fruit and sandwiches. We had carrots, cucumber, and peppers all pre-cut to save space in the fridge and prep time. We did run out of some veggies after so much snacking so Daddy did a quick trip into town to replenish. Next time: MORE VEGGIES!
Dinners were the most difficult to plan, but we were able to think of RV-friendly meals that the kids all love. We had spaghetti with veggie pasta the first night to make dinner easy after setting up. Also on the dinner menu were vegetarian hobo stew, grilled chicken and asparagus, and veggie burgers.
We also brought two personal watermelons, apples, and oranges, which we kept in baskets to save space in the refrigerator and to allow easy access for hungry kids. NO crackers, chips, cereal, or other sneaky processed foods. All in all, the kids ate well, ate healthy, and enjoyed a few treats.
We did far less window shopping, preferring to stick to the lakes and trails, so we spent a grand total of ZERO extra dollars on pleasantries. It was easy because we came prepared with lots of stuff for the kids to do and avoided walking around the tempting store shelves. I am not saying buying things on vacation is bad, but for us, it was not an option this trip. There was nothing we needed and we reminded ourselves of the fact as we perused shelves of delicious homemade jams and adorable pajama sets. Perhaps there will be times where we do splurge on a t-shirt or stuffed animal, but we plan to make it our goal to consider such expenses in advance and give each of us a spending budget.
All-in-all I am really proud of the progress we made between this trip and our previous. We were motivated, we planned in advance, and we (except for that one ice cream splurge) stuck to it. We may not be successful every time, but, wait, yes WE WILL because we will not give ourselves the option. Budgeting, healthy eating, and fitness should all be an on-going way of life, not something you do during the week and let fly to the winds on the weekends or on vacation. So now we’ve got it figured out: the new Magee Family Vacation Game Plan!