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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Saving Money on Meals on Traveling Days

This is nothing new, but I am grateful that I was able to make some advance preparations before a very long day this past Saturday. This was the day of the burial service for my FIL, which was held out-of-state. I knew that the day would be long, and therefore, I spent a good part of Friday preparing all of our meals for Saturday. We brought our breakfast and lunch with us in the car, and had a dinner ready to be heated when we walked back in our own door, late in the evening. It all worked out well. With the exception of a package of English muffins, I made all of our meals with what we had on hand.

For breakfast, I made breakfast sandwiches, using eggs, the last 2 patties of sausage, turkey bacon, cheese, and English muffins. I chopped the cooked sausage and turkey bacon and added both to the eggs, cooked omelet style (not scrambled in the pan), so as to divvy up the breakfast meat between 4 sandwiches. I wrapped the sandwiches individually; then, in the morning we heated them just before leaving, to eat on the drive down. With the breakfast sandwiches, we had tangerines, coffee, and juice.

For a midday meal, one of my daughters helped me put together a substantial lunch for all of us, which included sandwiches, apples, celery sticks, crackers, raisins, peanuts, and cookies. And finally, for dinner, I had made pizza from scratch on Friday. So I simply doubled the recipe and made 2 pizzas. It was just after 8 PM when we walked back in the door after a grueling drive, so I sliced and heated the pizza and served with juice for a quick dinner.

Preparing all of our meals in advance saved time (no stopping at restaurants along the way*, or once back in town) and money (I figure we saved about $35 by packing all of our own food).

I add the * as we did make one stop just before getting back on the highway to come home. The cemetery did not have bathroom facilities available, and we wanted to use clean restrooms before getting on the road and eating our lunches in the car. So, we stopped at McDonalds. Using the app on my daughter's phone, we bought a medium-sized order of fries for $1 (no tax, as this was in Oregon) after using their restrooms. We also received free cups of water to drink in the car along with our packed-lunch.

My usual immediate thought, when planning for such a long day, is to plan to eat lunch out and pick up a quick dinner as we drive back into town. On this blog, we have talked a lot about bringing our own food and beverages with us for long days in the car. I am often inspired by all of you and your efforts to save some money by preparing in advance. For this occasion, I used you all as my inspiration to make these meal preparations z day ahead, so our family could save both time and money. My sincere thanks to all of you for inspiring me to do better!


  1. My condolences to your family, Lili.

    I'm glad that you had time to prepare for the long day-trip, because we've found that enough time to do this type of prep not only saves money, but also often saves stress. It feels good to know that you're not at the mercy of finding a good food option at a good time, or that traffic could leave you stuck somewhere at mealtime, delaying it further adding stress to a stressful day.

    Having dinner also planned and prepared really is a wonderful additional blessing. You knew you'd be physically and emotionally tired, and need a good hot meal right away.

    I'm glad that the day went as smoothly as possible, and you had your own healthy, tasty food to sustain you along the way.

    Take care! Sara

  2. Lili, I'm sorry for your loss, it's never easy, is it? I lost my mother a week before Christmas.

    It amazes me how organized you are, your family is lucky to have you.


    1. Oh Shelby, I am so sorry for your loss. My prayers are with you this evening.

  3. Oh my goodness, I don't know if I would have had the mental energy to plan meals as well as you did. It's one thing to prepare ahead for a trip, but another thing altogether in a more urgent situation such as you had. I agree with Sara that having food on hand does help prevent stress, especially if you don't really know where/when you can stop for food (I tend to get "hangry" ...). Kudos to you.

    1. Thank you, Kris. It was a real help to have meals and snacks with us.

  4. Wow, that's a very long drive RT from Seattle to Oregon, at least 400 miles if I remember correctly when we made a similar drive in the 80s. I don't think I could have planned meals fot the road, that had time constraints, but I guess that is why you felt safer planning ahead. You are our inspiration to do what always seems too difficult, and therefore pushes the bar higher for us all. On a sad note, my dad passed away in October last year. It was completely unexpected. The day seemed surreal and I am still having a hard time believing he is gone.


    1. I am so sorry for your loss, YHF. I didn't know this. I will keep you in my prayers.

  5. You helped you and your family not have to think about where and what to eat on a day with it's hard to think about anything except the person who has passed. A blessing for everyone.

    1. Thank you or your kind words, live and learn.

  6. Lili,

    You are THE FRUGAL QUEEN in my book. No one does it better than you. I think we all learn FROM you and instead of you learning from us!

    Today is one year since my SIL passed away. It hardly feels like a year already because I remember the day so clearly in my mind.


    1. Alice, I don't think I knew that about your SIL. I am so sorry for your loss.


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