Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Plan and Pack Your Meals for a Cheaper and Allergy-Free Vacation! (Great Wolf Lodge Vacation - Part 2 - Dinner)

Packing your own meals and snacks saves money versus restaurants and impulse munchies purchases, offers healthier choices, and caters to food allergies, intolerances, or lifestyle choices.
Ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you I'm crap at time-management and advance planning. But for our 2-day (one-night) vacation to Great Wolf Lodge, I needed a meal plan. We'd be eating four to five meals away from home, which adds up if you're eating at a restaurant each time. Plus options can be fairly limited for food intolerances or lifestyle choices (kosher, vegan, etc,) or non-existent if you have cross-contamination issues like with an allergy or Celiacs.

In order to accommodate gluten-free for the girls and me (plus meat and dairy-free for me,) I mapped out our meals and brought everything we'd need. I didn't need a checklist for snacks, since I was able to pretty much look in the snack cupboard and grab a few packages to toss into our food tote. But for the meals, I got out an actual piece of paper and left space to map out a plan for each meal we'd need - lunch on the way down, dinner that night, breakfast the next morning (got a deal on the breakfast buffet when we'd booked our stay - and I verified they had gluten-free options,) plus lunch the next day. I wasn't sure if we'd be staying late enough to need dinner again the second day, but we'd lose access to the room fridge at 11am, so I didn't want to pack extra stuff that would spoil in the car. I figured we could eat any non-perishable leftovers, or find a restaurant.

Planned ahead to pack all the food, snacks, and supplies we'd need for a food-intolerance-friendly vacation!
I packed our road-trip lunches for the drive down before we got in the car, and packed enough extra "dishes" (EasyLunchboxes,) silicone divider cups, and reusable cutlery for another meal, in case I wasn't able to wash our lunch dishes before dinner.

I planned to utilize leftovers for dinner that night, since we'd have the fridge to store them during the day (and my cooler bag with an ice pack on the drive down.) Plus they wouldn't be sitting around in the fridge at home an extra few days!

I also packed all the foods on my meal plan (and even accounted for their usual bedtime snack of apple slices! I know right? It's like I was possessed by someone who actually knows what they're doing!) I condensed as much as I could into an EasyLunchbox, so we'd have it available to use as well if needed. Plus non-dairy milk for the toddler, and So Delicious chocolate coconut milk boxes for portable drink options, in addition to our water bottles.

I also brought along some plastic grocery bags to take home dirty dishes, and for our bound-to-be-wet bathing suits. Washable cloth "wet bags" work great for this too, but I only have one, and I couldn't find it. One thing I would recommend is to bring a little bottle of dish soap. The hotel's free shampoo and body wash aren't exactly the tastiest of soap options...

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Dinner for the Girls
Leftover GF "fish fish," leftover potato and sweet potato tots, mustard and ketchup,
leftover GF macaroni and cheese, kale chips
Z wasn't interested in fish until she watched an episode of Charlie and Lola where Lola is a picky eater and won't eat anything. They called fish sticks "fish fingers" and suddenly Z was gonzo to try some. So any breaded fish item was cut into strips and called fish fingers, to get her to eat it. Well, when I was looking for gluten-free options, I couldn't resist the little fishie ones. But I couldn't exactly call them fish fingers, now could I? So we call them "fish fish." I know. We're really creative with the names.
On the flip side though, after watching that episode, she went from loving tomatoes to "I will never, ever eat a tomato." And they gave away our parenting "trick" by having Charlie change all the food names to get Lola excited about them. So now Z won't fall for that anymore. Jerks.

Since I only needed ketchup and mustard for this one meal, I pre-packed some for the girls in our Mini Dippers, rather than bring the whole bottles.

Hubby and I had some gross leftovers (it was just a boring and bland dish I'd made, and the teriyaki sauce I'd dumped in before leaving the house did nothing to improve it.) Then supplemented with some guacamole and [gross oily cheap] tortilla chips. [Hubby is now banned from buying tortilla chips.] He was chomping at the bit for any excuse to go down to the restaurant and order himself something else, but I stood firm. We had food. No need to buy overpriced resort restaurant food just because he didn't like what was on offer. (He managed to thwart me the next day and bought himself and Z a junky lunch while I sat in the car with a napping toddler. "I didn't know where the lunches were..." They were in the bag with the bathing suits and towels. That he had with him in the water park...! I'm sure he looked real hard for them...)

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  1. Great ideas! I am impressed with your planning & packing.

  2. I hadn't thought about packing a lunch for vacation, but that definitely makes sense! Whether it's work, school, or travel, you can definitely save some money and stay healthier!


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