See what our large family of 9 eats while we are on vacation! It may not be what you think!
We love to go on vacations! We have a large family of 9 and vacations can be REALLY pricey. This year, we took all of the kids on a cruise in January, and we weren’t really planning on going on another vacation, but my husband Ryan and I were getting antsy. We were feeling like it was time to get away from the daily distractions and pressures, but… we didn’t want to spend a lot and we didn’t really want to go camping like we normally enjoy because of the heat. Even though we have an air conditioned camper, it does not keep up in the summer time and we still bake.
This time, since we live about 3 hours away from Branson, Missouri, we thought we’d head over there. We found cheap lodging for a one week stay and there’s plenty of things we can do to entertain ourselves without spending a bunch of money! On this particular trip, we were planning to go to the Hollywood Wax Museum, Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors and the 5-D theater, Castle of Chaos. These are all at one location and you can buy a pass to attend all of their attractions or you can buy one at a time, if you don’t want to go to all of them. Mini Golf is also included if you buy the pass. The Hollywood Wax Museum did give us free tickets in exchange for telling you about it, but… it’s a no-brainer to tell you about it, as it was the absolute favorite of everyone on the trip!
I think Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors is probably my kids’ favorite part of that attraction, as they love getting lost and trying to find their way out again. The wax figures are pretty cool, too! We have so many pictures of them posing with the famous people they recognized!
And then, the 5-D Theater at the Castle of Chaos was a blast for most of us, although this little guy thought that it was scarier than he was expecting.
In addition to that, we went to the Dewey Short Nature Center, Shopping the outlet malls, Swimming at our Condo and on Tablerock Lake AND we went and visited College of the Ozarks, as my daughter just applied to attend the college. While we were there, we also visited their cool museum that had the Beverly Hillbillies car in it as well as a stuffed two headed cow that they had raised right there on their farm!
On this particular trip, we were also planning to move my son in to his new apartment, as he is just starting his final year of college before he graduates with his Bachelor’s degree. His college is about an hour and a half from Branson, so it wouldn’t be a bad trip to head over there in the middle of the week to move him in. But… we’d have to fill up our new (to us) trailer that we bought from the local school. Everybody probably thought that the band was traveling. LOL
How We Save Money on Food, While on Vacation
Yes, eating out on vacation is fun for sure, but we typically don’t want to eat up all of our vacation money on food. We tend to pick one or two big meals to splurge on (and this can cost around $100 for our family, just to go to the Breakfast Buffet, which is a family favorite).
- We cook our own food! We bring our slow cooker and Instant Pot and we utilize several skillet meals! Especially if we rent a house or condo, but we have been known to bring a slow cooker to our hotels, too. In Branson, we normally rent a 2 bedroom condo and we always have a refrigerator and a full kitchen, so it’s really simple to cook. Of course, we don’t want to cook anything too complicated, so we make sure to keep things super simple. I will share more about what we had on this particular trip below.
- We use Kids Eat Free Restaurants – We typically do our research ahead of time and figure out which restaurants in our area have Kids Eat Free. On this trip, we didn’t end up doing that, but we have done that so many times in the past so that we could go out for a delicious dinner. Usually different restaurants in town have that promotion on different days. Bob Evans in Branson, used to have this on Tuesday, I think.
- We sign up for emails and texts from our favorite restaurants. If you ever want a coupon sent to you, be sure to sign up on all of your favorite restaurants’ mailing lists. They are often texting or emailing you coupons. If you tend to vacation at the same time each year, they will send you email club anniversary coupons as well, to thank you for being a member for xx number of years.
- Sign up for birthday clubs, too. We often vacation around my birthday in September, so we try to make sure that any potential restaurants we may want to visit has been signed up for the birthday club. They will usually send you a free appetizer, entree or dessert, depending on the restaurant.
- Dollar Menus Anyone? On this particular trip, we utilized Wendy’s 4 for $4 deal, which was actually splurging a little for us at a fast food restaurant, but we’ve also been known to do 2 items off of the McDonald’s Dollar menu, bags of burgers from Braums and Happy Hours for cheap meals from places like Arby’s and Sonic.
- Sandwiches – If we know we’ll be gone for several hours during the day, we will try to pack sandwiches or even stop at a store and buy sandwich stuff and eat it in the parking lot.
- Dump & Go Freezer Meals – If you are feeling really adventures before you leave on your trip, you could make some Crockpot Freezer Meals or Dump & Go Instant Pot Meals.
What Do You Cook in Your Slow Cooker or Instant Pot While Vacationing?
We’ve been known to do a lot of different things, but these are some of my main standby meals for cooking when in a time crunch or when I don’t want to put out a lot of effort.
- Italian Chicken & Baked Potatoes
- BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
- Simple Skillet Taco Meat – or even Chicken Tacos
- Sloppy Joes (in skillet, Instant Pot or slow cooker)
Be sure to check out the video about our trip and all the food we ate while on our Branson Trip.
Tell me about how you save money on food, on vacation. I’m sure other people know some things that I don’t do… and we want to hear all about it! Leave a comment below!