Living on a Budget

But I Was Traveling!

How many times have we all used this excuse for not eating well and spending money we don’t really have…

Sure, I agree. There are certain times and locations when eating the local fare is a must. I am a huge foodie. Delicious food is my weakness. However, when I am traveling for work, taking a trip cross-country, or simply just trying to save money, I do not indulge in this temptation. It is probably one of the quickest and most regretful ways I spend money.

Now, as I sit here stuck in Yakima, WA writing this post, I am sipping on my fav: an Iced Americano. I must indulge sometimes….

At any rate, yesterday involved a little prep work for this trip. I was going to need a total of 5 meals to get me through my work days. Yes, I get a per diem rate for food expenses while traveling, but PRO TIP: If you can avoid spending that money, it is more income! (Shh…don’t let the secret out)

How does one accomplish this?

Consider this: if you are working on a budget, you probably have a certain amount of money allotted for groceries. If you purchase groceries regularly, this money is pretty well accounted for. So is your food. If you eat the food you already budgeted to buy…that per diem pay is ALL PROFIT. (whaaaattt?)

So here’s what I do. We have 2 organic CSA boxes come to our house every other week, so my fridge is stocked with fresh produce. We also keep quick meals like canned tuna and eggs on hand.

  • 1) As soon as I have my hotel reservation, I see if there is a mini-fridge and microwave. This step is vital for storing food appropriately. It is even better if you can book your own travel accommodations, as you can find a hotel with a fridge.
  • 2) I find out if there is a hot breakfast buffet. No…not so I can prep for waffles. This set-up is all about eating healthy and saving money while on the road! Hotel breakfasts are not my favorite, but they usually have eggs, fruit and some type of meat. I know I can use these to supplement what I am bringing and they are free. Some places have yogurt and oatmeal as well. Also okay choices if you like these items. Beware, most of them will have excess sugar. I really try to avoid these, but in a pinch they are do-able.
  • 3) I make and pack easy meals, such as tuna salad, egg salad, raw fruits/veggies, and nuts. This does involve a bit of prep work.
  • 4) I pack up my cooler and head out- even if there is not a fridge, I pack my bigger cooler and just refresh the ice daily. It will work out just fine. Most hotels at least have a continental breakfast with a microwave they will let you use if you inquire

Here’s what I packed for my 5 meals this week:


2 Aidell’s Chicken Apple Sausages- $1.67

1 Cup Bubbies Sauerkraut- $2.50

2 Organic Fuji Apples, Costco- $1.38

1 Cup Almond Butter, Costco- $2.75

1 Organic Plum, Wildly Organic CSA- $1.50

4 Organic Carrots, Wildly Organic CSA- $1.70

1 serving Tuna Salad, 1 can Kirkland Brand SkipJack Canned Tuna, Costco- $2.00

1 serving Egg Salad, 4 Kirkland Organic Brown Eggs, Costco- $1.16

Homemade Mayo for Salads- $4.09

4 Cup container green leaf lettuce, Terra Organics CSA- $1.25

1 Cup cooked black beans (bought dried- cheaper and healthier)- $1.00

2 Organic Bananas, Costco- $0.54

2 Cups Mixed Nuts for snacking- $4.00

Total Spent: $25.54

That is about $5/meal of healthy, organic, whole30 eating. Amazing.

There is no excuse for not staying healthy and continuing your habits when on the road. Sure, these may not be the extravagant meals you eat at home, but they cover all the required nutrients and are easy to travel with. For me, this is the best option.

PROTIP 2: Hotel coffee isn’t the greatest. There are several alternatives to going out for coffee like I did.

  • Starbucks VIA packets
  • Pour over option. Just pack your own beans. You can brew hot water in the room through the coffee pot, or get hot water at the continental breakfast. Ready in minutes.
  • Cold option. Brew a large batch of coffee and throw it in the fridge night before you depart. Put it in a gallon traveling container and voila! Delicious cold-brew.

Traveling doesn’t have to kill our pocket-books. The best part of traveling for work is the per diem and premium pay. Why not use it to our advantage?

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