NOT EVERYONE WHO STAYS AT A HOTEL IS ON VACATION.
Why would you want to grocery shop when you stay in a hotel? Many reasons actually so I thought it would be a great idea to come up with a list of foods you could bring to a hotel to help cut costs.
One thing you will learn quickly is that food and drink cost mega bucks when staying at a hotel. On the other hand the hotel you stay at might have no amenities to offer you apart from a complimentary cup of coffee. Whether you stay in a 5-Star hotel or a budget hotel they both come with pros and cons one being the quality and price.
You might think that making meals in your hotel room is a waste of time especially if you are on holidays but what if you’re not? Some people have temporary stays for weeks and months at a time in a hotel for various reasons. Maybe you have one week left of University and your room rental expired. Instead of driving back and forth every day as it would take hours you decide to rent a hotel room for the week.
Hotels are filled with people who need a place to lay their head at night
It’s not always about fun when staying in a hotel but either way you have to eat or at least should eat. Coming up with food ideas that you can make in the hotel room rather than ordering room service or visiting the hotel restaurant takes some smart planning.
If you have kids in tow finding foods you can prepare and eat for cheap in your hotel room might be easier than slipping out to eat especially if you have no vehicle. Just because I said cheap doesn’t mean you have to skimp on the healthy foods. I’m comparing grocery food vs. hotel food so anything is cheaper. Even if you go to the local grocery store wherever you are staying and load up on fresh gourmet meals you will still save more money than had you eaten out. Plus… no tip.
Depending on the hotel you stay at you may be offered breakfast, lunch or dinner as a courtesy. You may even get your paid hotel food at a discounted rate if you stay with the hotel. Other hotels have nothing but a small kitchenette possibly with a toaster, kettle and mini-fridge. Others have nothing at all but a coffee pot on a table with instant coffee and tea bags. It’s the worst coffee and tea in the world but when you’re desperate it tastes like the best you’ve ever had. Ha! If the room doesn’t offer a glistening toaster ask if there is one available for use in the hotel food area for guests.
You do get what you pay for when you stay at a hotel so don’t rent a room with high expectations especially if it’s called Dodgy Hotel. In a ritzy hotel you may plan to dine on the club floor included with your gold package stay or use your credit card rewards points. Every hotel is different.
Even in a cheap hotel you might have to pay to have room service if it is available at all. A cheap hotel is anything under $100 a night without last-minute deals, discounts etc. Their continental breakfast might consist of horrible black coffee and packaged muffins to go.
Last-minute hotel deals
If you’re a frugal hotel shopper and get find a last-minute hotel deal you may get lucky and score the 5-Star perks with 2-Star pricing. That’s my kind of deal but you have to be ready for them as they go fast from sites such as Travelocity.ca (not affiliate).
Any time you are searching for a hotel to stay in always read the reviews. You’ll get a better sense of how you will be treated as a customer and what their stay was like.
Prepare for your hotel stay
If you have any hotels nearby where you live don’t be shy to pop in and ask the hotel manager if you could have a small tour around. This is a great time to ask questions and for tips on renting a hotel room and food ideas. Every hotel is different so the answers aren’t going to be standard across the board but you’ll get a sense of how a hotel works just by visiting and doing your research.
Make your way into three types of hotels so you get a good idea of what you are looking for. Depending on where you are travelling you can also see if the hotel offers a virtual tour online that you can check out ahead of time. In the mean-time I’d pass by a;
- 5-Star hotel
- Quality hotel
- Budget hotel
Each one of these types of accommodations come with different price tags, hotel design and layout and options. Don’t forget to ask about high season and the best rooms in-house along with what’s all included. Don’t be shy to ask if the room has a refrigerator and freezer along with the size. This will help you determine how much food you can bring from home. Find out what will cost you extra, mainly food and drink is what I’d be worried about.
Whatever you do don’t bring your own kitchen appliances unless you are permitted to. That means no rice-cooker, crock-pot or other appliances that weren’t furnished by the hotel. There will be a fire code in place and you don’t want to find out the hard way that you shouldn’t have done that. If you get the appliance thumbs up by the hotel manager pack up your slow-cooker, rice cooker and toaster all of which would bring you huge savings for your hotel food budget.
Food News: If you can bake a cake with a light-bulb you can cook a meal in a rice cooker. You can prepare lots of food cooking in a rice-cooker from boiling, to heating up food. The rice cooker is comparable to a small pot with an element that you can steam, boil or even fry food in. Ah ha, smart thinking. Generally when we use our slow cooker we make rice and toss in other bits on top and it all cooks together.
The budget motel stay
I remember our trip to Tobermory and we stayed in a budget motel with an empty mini fridge, 2-cup coffee pot and access to a rusty barbeque if needed. Oh, if we needed a microwave that was outside on a table by the front office. Ya it was a cheap motel but the room was clean and there was no food included, not even breakfast.
Again, you get what you pay for. We didn’t plan the motel stay so that was our first mistake. Second we should have paid the extra money to stay in a hotel up the road if we wanted at least a 3 or 4-Star stay with hotel breakfast.
When Mrs. CBB and I made a trip to Niagara Falls we enjoyed our upgraded suit for free with a Jacuzzi and kitchenette that we didn’t use as I was ill. While I was in bed Mrs. CBB went ahead and had a look around the hotel restaurants and decided to have a drink at the bar. Not only did her drink cost her well over $10 but she left a tip because the place was pretty dead and the bartender was super friendly.
She decided to order food from the restaurant since I was sick and she told me that I didn’t want to see the bill. That only means that we could have purchased a weeks worth of groceries but we were enjoying our one day stay. Could we have avoided going to Subway for lunch $25 or buying snacks and appetizers at Casino Niagara? Sure if you want to cut costs and stick to a travel budget. When you’re out opt for the cheaper menu items if you know you will go back to your hotel to eat.
Drinks in the mini bar
Two words, Stay Away. If you want to pay premium prices for the mini bar then be my guest but you’re better off going to the liquor store and stocking up to bring to your hotel room. While you’re out buying booze don’t forget to buy your pop, juice and any other necessities such as cups.
Every time you go to the front desk or even down the hallway on your hotel floor there probably is an ice-machine and a snack vending machine. This machine is a gold mine to the hotel because for many customers who don’t plan and bring snacks the snack machine gets attacked. You will pay a higher price for your snacks from the machine likely 2 to 3 times higher than what you’d pay at the grocery store or convenience store.
Bring along chips, crackers and cheese, peanut butter, jelly, fruits, nuts and dried fruit, popcorn etc. A huge savings on snacks will go along way for your hotel food budget.
Bed and Breakfast or Airbnb
Even if you splurge on a lovely bed and breakfast stay you only get the bed and a homemade breakfast in the morning. If you get lucky you’ll find a bed, breakfast, lunch and dinner which will cover all of your bases however if you are travelling the last thing you will want to do is keep trekking back to your hotel or bed and breakfast for meal time. It’s different if you are on a resort but not when you are planning a holiday with accommodations.
Airbnb accommodations are also a great alternative where you have to purchase groceries to cook saving you money. Typically your Airbnb will come fully stocked with a kitchen and all appliances.
Hotel Food Ideas
If the hotel you choose to stay at doesn’t offer you any food past breakfast but you don’t want to spend money eating out every night for dinner there are foods you can bring and eat in your room. Everyone likes different foods but for the person who loves to eat everything this list of 10 hotel foods you can fix in your room are worth noting.
Fill a cooler with ice and stock up on beverages and any other foods you want to keep on ice if there is no freezer or refrigerator in your hotel room. Even if you plan to eat out one meal every day of your stay see if you can find local restaurants offering deals or those that have coupons you can use. Personally I would plan to eat out and a bigger meal at lunch as it’s cheaper than dinner.
Beverage Ideas- Protein Powder, Milk, Cream, Coffee, Tea, Juice, Pop, Water, Tomato Juice etc.
Condiments- Whatever you can’t get from the front desk or kitchen. (Ask ahead of time if they have condiments such as jam, creamers, sweetener, ketchup, mustard etc.
- Instant Oatmeal/Cereal/Granola Bars
- Homemade muffins, squares and cookies
- Deli Meat, Cheese, bread, butter
- Veggie bags cut up fresh
- Eggs if there is a microwave
- Pre-cook bacon and other meats at home and put in a container to re-heat
- Snacks- Chips, Chocolate, Chips, Chocolate, Chips, Chocolate, Fruit etc.
- Ramen Noodles – use the coffee pot to drip a pot of water for your noodles and instant oatmeal
- Potatoes for the microwave with butter
- Hotdogs or pre-cooked sausages (you could probably sling a few in the coffee pot add water and let them heat in the pot or microwave if available. Use your slow cooker or rice cooker if allowed and you bring them.
- If there is a BBQ you can bring corn to roast and any other vegetables that you can wash and peel in the room.
- Angel Hair or Spagettini pasta to cook in microwave (if you plan to use a microwave to cook or a BBQ pack your own bowls and utensils to use as well).
- Make Ahead meals at home that were frozen and need to be microwaved- Meatballs, casseroles, lasagna, pizza having a hotel fridge is ideal with these foods. One of my favourites is my pasta fritata with sausage which is an all-in-one meal that you can eat hot or cold. You get your pasta, eggs, sausage and cheese.
- Mac n Cheese made in the coffee pot
- Cream Cheese and Bagels
- Fried chicken or other foods that you can eat cold or at room temperature.
- Pack tortilla wraps and stuff them with just about anything (sometimes I just eat them as they are)
- Rotisserie chicken from grocery store
- Pre-made Hard-boiled eggs or eggs you can microwave if available.
- Cans of tuna (and a can opener)
- Canned foods that you don’t need to heat or that you can heat
If you are on vacation consider how much food you are bringing as it will take up space in your vehicle as well the time and agenda you are working with. There’s no point packing lots of food if you don’t plan to be in your hotel room until the end of the night or into the wee hours of the morning.
Not everyone has a big budget for travel or hotel stays but when you can save in one area you can splurge in others. Alternatively you can forget everything I’ve said above and just order in, eat out and relax.
I’d love to hear what foods you’ve made in a hotel room to save money on lunches and dinners while you were on holiday. Please share your comments below. Was it worth it being frugal or should you have went all the way and just eaten out?
January Grocery Game Challenge
Join in the 2017 Grocery Game Challenge (GGC) fun and post your grocery shop in the comment section of each GGC blog post. Here are The Grocery Game Challenge rules to get you started and where you’ll also find a link for the 2017 GGC schedule. Please feel free to download, save and even print the schedule.
New monthly prize: See the Grocery Game Rules
January 2017 Blog Posts:
- 15 Ways To Save Money On Food In 2017– Last GGC post for 2016
- How to Cost Control Your Food Budget: Welcome to the Grocery Game Challenge 2017 #1
- How to Curb The Fast Food Temptation After Grocery Shopping #2
- 15 Grocery Savings You May Be Missing At The Pharmacy #3
Free Money Saving Tools 2017
Click, Save and Print. It’s that easy!
This is the budget that brought us to debt freedom back in 2013 and now I’m offering to all of you for FREE. We still use this budget every month as it helps us to see our overall financial picture.
Free Money Saving Downloads are awesome lists that were created to get us on track to work towards reaching our budgeting goals and now we are sharing them with you.
Get organized with a FREE freezer inventory, meal plan, shopping list, price comparison list and much more all for FREE.
CLICK HERE to download all the free lists and even our family budget spreadsheet. So many free resources at your fingertips.
Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide 2017
The Ultimate Grocery Shopping guide is ongoing with new informative money-saving posts added every month.
Even if you don’t live in Canada there are some amazing budget saving tips that will help put you on the path to more savings at the supermarket.
Share this guide with your friends and tell them about Canadian Budget Binder especially if they are struggling with their grocery budget.
The time is NOW to get started saving money on groceries so please enjoy the many money-saving posts in the The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.
2017 Grocery Shop Results
Yearly grocery budget for two + 1 Toddler 2017: $3120 or $260/mth
(The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $300/year or $25/month.
Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings)
- Total Grocery Budget for this Month: $260
- Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $260
- Total Gift Cards used to date: $0
- Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
- Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
- PC Points Plus Earned to date: 410,000
- Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0
- Shoppers Optimum: Just under 850,000 Optimum points (I will update this twice a year) $1500 worth of free stuff.
Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)
- Zweet to cash out : $18.25
- Checkout51 to cash out : $22.00
Our Grocery Shop This Week
Shoppers Drug Mart
- 2 x 4L 2% Milk Sealtest $4.27
- 6 x Neilsen 10% Cream 500ml $1.50 each
- 2 dozen eggs $1.99
- Bacon $3.99 sale
Total Out-Of-Pocket $25.51 plus 4000 bonus optimum points for spending $20 on food
- Total to spend this month : $260
- Stockpile budget 2016 : $25.00
- Stockpile budget used this month: $
- Total coupons used this week: $0
- Total coupons used to date: $0
- Total in-store discounts this week: $
- Total in-store discounts to date: $49.66
- Total spent this week: $25.31
- Total spent so far this month: $231.06
- Total over/Under spend this shop:
- Total over/Under spend for the month: over
- Total left to spend for the month: $29.14
- Total Spent To Date 2017: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $0
Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)
As you may have read I’ve been very ill the past few days so this week grocery shopping was a quick in and out at Shoppers Drug Mart. Coincidentally I was there picking up prescriptions, cough drops and cough syrup. The one stop shop is worth it during these moments of sickness. If we pick anything else up I’ll post it next week but we should be fine. Not a bad start to January I suppose minus the illness.
How was your shopping month?
Coupons and Coupon Apps 2017
Here are some great places you can find Canadian Coupons! These are your latest Checkout 51 offers which you can use to help save money. We’re finding less and less coupons in the stores these days. What are your thoughts? Are coupon apps taking over the paper coupons?
If you notice I’m missing a valuable link please message me and I’ll get it added to the savings list below.
Sign up for the Nielsen Canada Home Scan Program and you can earn rewards points fast to redeem for awesome products or gift cards. I did this in the UK and loved it!!
Plus check out these other hidden areas online to get more coupons!!
If any of these links are broken please report them to me.
- Healthy Essentials Printable Coupons (Johnson and Johnson)
- Danone Coupons Get up to $25 in coupons
- Clorox Coupons Sign up to print coupons in the Clorox family which include Greenworks, Glad etc.
- Kraft Canada Sign up and receive recipes and coupons by email
- MySavings.com Printable Smart Source Coupons
- Walmart Canada Printable Coupons
- Proctor and Gamble PandG Sign up for printable coupons
- Hidden Coupon Portals You Should know about – I found this over at Save a Loonie and you’ll want to sign up for notifications and check out the site so you get notified every time a hidden coupon is available from Save.ca, Brandsaver, Smart Source etc.
Grocery Game Challenge 2017 FAQ’s
- Grocery Game Challenge RULES: Read the rules first and if you have any questions email me or comment on this post with your question and someone will answer you as soon as possible. The rules have been updated for the 2017 challenge year.
- Do I have to be Canadian to post my Grocery Shop?: No, you don’t have to be Canadian to post your shops. We have fans who post their grocery shop who live all over the world.
- What is the monthly prize and who can claim it?- The monthly prize is a $10-$20-$50 PC Loblaws Gift Card and for our out of country friends it’s $CDN via PayPal. Please see GGC rules.
- When does the Grocery Game close each month?: The Grocery Game Challenge closes at midnight of the last Sunday of the last post for the month but you will still get a ballot when you post your shops even if they are late but I encourage you to stay on schedule. If you choose to post monthly or bi-weekly you will only get 1 ballot for that shop. It’s a proven fact the minute we stop doing something that is scheduled that we end up forgetting to do it altogether. Don’t let that be you! You can post your shops all month-long.
- Does your Grocery Budget include health and beauty and laundry products?: No, our Grocery Budget includes such items as shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap etc. As of 2014-2015 we no longer include such items in our grocery budget so we can see actual food numbers at the end of the year in order to plan accordingly our budget.
- Do you stockpile food? We don’t mind stockpiling items that won’t be affected by expiry dates or have long expiry dates but not so much food any longer as we found we weren’t eating it fast enough. Stockpiling is still great and just one way to help cut your budget to save money if you do find items that you can buy in bulk at a sale price.
- Canadian Coupons:Where can I find Canadian Coupons?: Here are your latest Checkout 51 offers that you can use to help you save money in the Grocery Game Challenge. There are many great Canadian Couponing websites online that share weekly coupon match-ups so you can plan your grocery list.
- Best Coupon Apps: Coupons are slowly fading with mobile coupon apps being the big rave these days. Just recently the popular coupon site Save.ca that mailed coupons to households has gotten involved with the addition of a new mobile Save.ca app joining forces with the many other coupon apps available. If you find an app that I don’t talk about please let me know as they are always being added and I’d like to review them.
- What is the Best Flyer App- We use Flipp on our Iphone so if you wan to have all your flyers in one spot download Flipp from the Apple Store or get it on Google Play.
- What is an FPC?: An FPC is a free product coupon which means you can get a free product as described on the coupon.
- What is GGC?– The Grocery Game Challenge of course!
- How Do I Know what stores accept coupons?: If you are not sure it’s always best to call the store and ask.
- How Do I Grocery Shop?: I can tell you about grocery shopping and what we do in terms of shopping to save money and how it works for us. There are no wrong or right answers, just smart choices.
Nobody is perfect, heck we struggle with this part of our budget like many people do. This is why the grocery game challenge was created back in 2012 and is one of the most popular hang out spots for people who want to save money on groceries in Canada.
If you’ve just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2017 get ready to look at your grocery budget by learning…
- Where you are spending money
- How much money you are spending
- How much money you are saving every month
If you want to learn everything I know about grocery shopping in Canada check out my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide! It’s FREE!
If you know a topic that should be discussed send me an email. If I use your topic I will put your name in a draw for a prize at the end of the year.
You’ve made a wise decision to take control of your grocery budget now show me your shops and let’s get saving!
Welcome to The Grocery Game Challenge 2017!
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