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How We Saved Over $400 on Vacation Meals

I'm super excited to share our meals and how we saved well over $400 during our vacation!

**Check with your hotel to learn what appliances are/are not allowed. These meals can all be made in the microwave if a skillet cannot be used.**

Originally, we had booked two standard rooms at Cabana Bay Beach Resort. When they offered us a great upgrade deal, we changed to a tower family suite with a kitchenette.  This ended up offering us a huge savings by allowing me to prepare 5 breakfasts, 4 dinners, and some snacks in our room.  The grands ate a few breakfasts and 3 dinners with us, so we were feeding 7-9 people at an average of $15.55 per meal!  (That's $1.73-$2.22 per person!) Big thanks to Trader Joe's for providing such high-quality, quick-prep foods!  (No, this isn't an ad or sponsored blog!)

First of all, if there is any debate about the size of these "mini" fridges at Cabana Bay Beach, see this photo and notice the gallon of milk in the background. These are certainly bigger than most hotel mini-fridges we've seen.  While this fridge has no freezer, we stacked all of our frozen items together in the very back and our last dinner was still partially frozen after 3 full days. This fridge would not keep something like ice cream or popsicles frozen.

I bought Dawn trial size for $1 at Dollar Tree and purchased some Trader Joe's kitchen cloths. These cloths ended up being a fantastic purchase. I think I'll start using them at home, too.

Wanting to cook dinners with more than a microwave, I searched Craigslist for electric skillets and found the perfect one (pictured below) for $3!  With this, I was able to stir-fry, cook pancakes and eggs, and toast bagels.  You could also make grilled cheese or all kinds of other meals with this small appliance. 

In addition to these meals, we had turkey, lunch bread, PB&J, Joe's O's, TJ's frozen mac and cheese, and a few other items for snacks, all included in the price breakdown I mentioned.

We had 2 fridges, but didn't need them both!
These items helped me keep everything clean.
The first morning, we had bagels, cream cheese, and smoked salmon. This smoked salmon was amazing!  We had milk and Midnight Moo so the boys could have chocolate milk every morning.  It also ended up being a good snack for the rest of the family. Dinner on the first night was Broccoli and Kale Slaw Salad and Beef and Broccoli stir-fry.
Bagels and lox
Beef and Broccoli with Broccoli and Kale Slaw
The next morning, we scrambled some eggs and ate more bagels. Most mornings, the boys ate Corn Flakes cereal with milk.  For dinner, we had this delicious Pulled Beef Brisket on thin bread, Dill Pickle Kettle Chips, and cheese for whomever wanted it.

Dill Pickle Kettle Chips were the perfect side for the Beef Brisket

Breakfast on day three was more of the same: cereal, bagels, and/or eggs. Everyone likes different things, so we all ate what we preferred.  For dinner, we made this Shiitake Mushroom Chicken stir-fry that ended up being a hit with everyone.

Friday morning, we made buttermilk pancakes. This mix from Trader Joe's requires one egg and one cup of water per batch, so it is super easy. (Trader Joe's sells ready-made frozen pancakes, too, if you can't cook your own.)

You can't beat Trader Joe's $1.19 eggs!

Grass-fed butter makes everything better. 
I forgot to buy syrup, but the diner downstairs had some for us!

My pancake helper.
What I brought from home:
can opener
cutting board
plastic mixing bowl
2 knives
metal spatula
rubber spatula
Trader Joe's reusable rags
dish soap
cafe press
paper plates and bowls (Did not need these! They provide!)

What Cabana Bay provided in their kitchenette:
hot and cold cups
plastic utensils
coffee maker and all the condiments needed
I will write a full review of Cabana Bay Beach Resort, but let me say here that we thoroughly enjoyed our stay!


  1. Hello Sarah,
    I don´t quite know how to start this. My name is Talisa, I’m a 21-year-old student currently studying at university to become a sign language interpreter here in Germany. During my research for a paper I have to hand in in one of my seminars (the seminar is called “deaf between disability and empowerment”) I came across your blog. Since my topic for the paper actually is “adoption”, I was wondering if you would be willing to let me interview you via Email on how the whole adoption process worked out for you. I know that it’s a lot to ask and that you basically already wrote down everything in your blog (which I´m sadly not allowed to use a single word from due to university regulations) and if you don´t have the time or just don´t want to answer any of my questions that´s also totally fine. Even if `m never gonna hear from you again, I´d like to tell you how amazing I think your family is.
    All the best from Germany!


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