How we saved $300 a day while on vacation

During our holiday vacation to Florida, we stayed at a vacation condo with a full kitchen. Because we have traveled to this resort on several previous occasions, we were comfortable with the kitchen amenities. We also knew where the local grocery store was located and what to expect. As I’ve mentioned before, I enjoy cooking and don’t mind doing so on vacation. In fact, I often prefer dining in to going out on vacation. 

With that in mind, we planned to cook most of our meals at the resort. In a previous post, I talked about the importance of planning when cooking at a vacation condo. It is tricky to stock a kitchen entirely from scratch and to be able to prepare delicious meals. Before we departed, we made a grocery list and a daily meal plan.

Our weekly menu included:

Breakfast: Eggs, bacon, frozen potatoes (we preferred tater tots)

Lunch: Deli sandwiches with turkey or ham; swiss or colby jack cheese


  • Burgers with fries
  • Fried chicken with homemade mac and cheese and sauteed green beans
  • Grilled ribeye with mac and cheese, garlic roasted broccoli and sauteed mushrooms
  • Steak tacos with guacamole

We purchased chips, salsa, baby carrots, cucumber, hummus and ice cream bars as snacks. The total includes champagne, orange juice, hard seltzer, red wine, mojito ingredients, and beer.

All in, our groceries totaled about $350. This covered three adults for the majority of the trip. Despite our best intentions and efforts, we still had considerable leftovers. Fortunately, we were able to drop off most of our unused food with Mr. Vine’s parents so little went to waste. 

For simplicity, I’m dividing the total by 7 days and 3 people, even though one of us was present for about 5 of the days. The daily per person total is $17. A single drink on South Beach would have cost around the same price. So, even though we spent more than we needed to, we got great value as compared with dining in restaurants. 

Each vacation where we buy groceries presents learning opportunities. The biggest lesson I learned from this trip was to buy less meat. I don’t know why I thought we needed so much. In retrospect, it offends my desire for sustainability that we bought so much of it. In the future, I’ll buy about half the meat I think we need. Other purchases, like snacks and drinks turned out to be about right. 

As usual, the semi-homemade dinners were the biggest hits. Buying grocery store fried chicken and making the sides, for example, went well. Burgers were also a big hit. More complicated recipes, like the red wine steak sauce I cobbled together at the last minute, were less successful. Creatively repurposing leftovers, like leftover ribeye with breakfast (steak and eggs) on our last morning when we were low on bacon, is a big part of the fun of cooking on vacation. 

We ate out only twice, plus a trip to a gourmet donut shop. Eating at the condo was nice because we were able to enjoy relaxing days on the beach. We had high hopes for more al fresco dining, but it was very windy while we were there. We also appreciated packing a few drinks for the afternoons we spent lounging on the beach. 

Do you cook on vacation? Why or why not? If you cook, what are your favorite tips or go-to recipes? 

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