Friday, October 12, 2012

Food...a big vacation expense?

Planning what to eat on our trip didn’t take as long as planning the trip, but it wasn’t as much fun either!  I started early…looking for sales at the grocery stores that we frequent.  It was especially nice that we took our trip right after a holiday…so, the “treats” for the holiday where on sale!  I picked up quite a few “treats” from many different stores!  Probably more sugar than we would normally eat in two weeks, but it is our vacation after all!  Other than that, I started thinking of things that would pack into zip lock bags easily, especially for the children.  Goldfish crackers and Cheetos came to mind.  I thought that these were good ideas for packing because they don’t seem to break as easily and turn into a crumby mess like some other snack type foods.  BUT, after the fact, I saw that the Cheetos were not the greatest idea.  I don’t eat Cheetos too much…and I forget about how that cheese stuff comes off and makes your hands all orange and gross looking.  So, we had to make sure that the kids had clean-up materials readily available when snacking on Cheetos.  Therefore, I would NOT recommend packing Cheetos because they are just too messy when you want to have a relaxing vacation! 

We also packed the already mixed peanut butter and jelly.  I bought several jars!  We bought bread before we started, and then picked some up in different towns that we stopped in when we ran out.  It turned out to be an easy way to get lunches for all of us.  Was it as yummy as the food cooking on the train smelled?  Absolutely NOT, but it did keep us all fed and happy.  So, MOST days, our lunch, and sometimes our supper was PB & J sandwiches with some chips or popcorn (already popped variety).  We also packed several bottles of water, but they did not last long.  Everyone seemed to be thirsty all of the time!  Most of our drinks were bought on the train after our supply of water ran out!  I had also packed Hi-C boxes for the children...several packages of they had something "fun" to drink as we traveled as well.
(This picture was taken in the "dining car."  While you didn't HAVE to go there to eat (we had little pull down tables at our seats on the train), it was easier for us when we all wanted to eat together.  It is a bit blurry, but you can see some of the snacks that the kids are enjoying!)
I also bought some Granola bars, breakfast pastries, and other “easy” things for us to have for breakfasts.  We had nuts and trail mix. We had snack crackers…the kind with peanut butter or cheese spread in them. We also had the little cups of pudding…and I packed plastic spoons. I also brought along plastic knives since we were making so many PB & J sandwiches!  I also purchased a few boxes of the fruit flavored gummy snacks.  We all like those!  We packed a lot of these “little” things in backpacks.  All five of us had a backpack that we carried.  The kids were able to pull something out of their backpacks (after getting permission) and feed themselves without help from Mom and Dad.  Convenience was definitely KEY!  We did not bring a cooler because we didn’t want that added weight to have to carry…so we had to make our food choices wisely…things that would keep without being cold.
I have mentioned food on the train a couple of times, so I want to touch on that a little. They serve a nice breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day…  They will announce what they are having quite a bit in advance, and then come around to ask who wants to eat and what time you want to eat.  We never took advantage of this because it was just too expensive for a family of five!  During one of our segments, though, we were given a complimentary meal due to the train being delayed by several hours.  It was very good food!  My children even ate more of theirs than I expected!  So, I am sure that all of the food that they serve tastes great…but if you are traveling with your family, it will cost you quite a bit.  However, there is a little “diner” downstairs.  This area has some microwaveable foods…small pizzas, hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, etc.  We did try this out a few times.  It was less expensive, and gave us a break from the PB&J that did become quite “boring” after a while.
My next post in this series will go into other MUST HAVE things that we either packed and were very glad that we did, or wished that we had! 

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