Frugal Living | The Grocery Game

10 Foods and Drinks To Pack For A Theme Park Visit

theme park foods to pack a lunch


Our family went on a mini road-trip to a popular Ontario theme park but we did with money-savings in mind.

You have to think frugally or a day-trip with two or three kids could cost your budget into the hundreds of dollars.

Before heading out we packed food and drinks because paying $6.00 for a pop just wasn’t in the budget for our family.

Six dollars is almost as horrifying as the cost of a pack of cigarettes smashing the budget at $17.50 a pack now.

No, I did not start up smoking again but it’s just a silly comparison.

Summer Food Budget

You may find that going on day trips in the summer with or with-out kids may increase your food budget because you pack a lunch.

If you save spending money for eating out in your travel fund that’s great although not everyone does this. 

Think about how much more fun you could have saving the money and bringing your own food and drinks instead?

I know that sounds VERY FRUGAL but we rarely if ever buy food from local attractions because the price is a rip-off.

Yes, it is and you know it.

No, one should have to pay almost $6 for a large pop when that could get you a case of 24 cans.

Consider these day trips as if they are a camping excursion but without sleeping over.

You have to consider everything to pack from chairs, umbrellas, toys, sports equipment, sunscreen, sunglasses to sun hats, health and beauty supplies, towels, extra clothes, batteries along with food and drink in a cooler.

Pack A Theme Park Lunch With These Simple Tips

The last thing you want to do for a day trip is pack a lunch but what we’ve learned from visiting local attractions  and parks in Ontario is that it’s in your best interest financially.

The cost of food is not only rising at the grocery store but if you reach into your pocket for convenience just about anywhere you can expect to pay even more.

I’m not just talking fast-food, food trucks, cafeterias, restaurants I’m digging deeper into family festivities and day trips with the family where you are already paying a high price-tag for admission.

Paying to entertain your family doesn’t have to be expensive and going to theme parks is not a need it’s a want but something we choose to do for little guy as long as our budget permits it.

Many of you frugal savers will make your way to local theme parks or other attractions in and around your local area but before you go it’s important to learn the FAQ’s and most of all pack food and drinks before you go.

Summer Family Get-aways

It’s summer and time to be outside for our family which means we make frequent visits to local parks, beaches, nature trails, hiking trails, local farms with play centres, Ontario parks and splash pads in our area.

Apart from free outdoor activities and summer festivals and fairs we also like to take the family on adventures at some of the top theme parks and Zoo’s in Ontario.

Now that our little guy is a bit bigger we thought we’d give the theme park another shot this year.

Back when he was two years old we took him to Wonderland last-minute with friends who invited us and that didn’t work out so well.

As first time parents sometimes you learn what works and doesn’t work for your children.

Our son did not have patience back then and waiting in line on a hot summer day wasn’t his idea of fun.

Although he loved the animal attractions the rides just didn’t do it for him.

We didn’t make our way to the splash park because of his grumpy mood and decided we’d wait until he was older until we visited again.

BINGEMANS BIG SPLASHWhat we did do for our visit to the theme park of all amusement parks in Ontario is bring a packed lunch which included lots of snacks and drinks.

Personally, as parents we should have done our research before we left to learn more about the theme park but we didn’t.

This was our first real adventure as a family so it was more of a learning experience than anything and it paid off just recently after a trip to Bingemans in Kitchener, Ontario.

Some of the best theme parks in our area were far too big for our little guy so we went looking outside of the Toronto area for a water theme park that our family could enjoy.

Bingemans seemed like it would be perfect and the website boasted an indoor play centre, Splash park, Diggerland and arcade along with a bowling alley and restaurant.

It is a kids theme park built for family fun including the adults.

The thing about theme park restaurants is you will pay big money to eat there whether it is a franchise or not.

A couple of beers later and a few minutes watching the Soccer match in between our theme park visit cost me $15.

That was my splurge for the day but we did frugal our way through discount Bingemans tickets from Groupon for the kids.

The 43% savings was a welcome surprise where we only paid $19.95 for the entire day  at the water theme park instead of $34.95.

There were shocking costs involved with Bingemans although I was not surprised. For one, the Excavation Station by Diggerland was so expensive that we bypassed it altogether.

The charge to use one of the machines for the kids run at $8 for 2 short minutes which seems excessive but an attendant has to come out specific for this.

There were NO line-ups for this new attraction likely because of the extra costs.

The arcade prices are outrageous but luckily we had 2 hour Playdium arcade cards complements of my sister-in-law which provided lots of fun for the entire family.

The multi-level play structure is another cost coming in at $10.95 per child for the day and $4.95 under 2 yrs of age. Adults are complementary with a paid child.

There is also rock climbing, ropes course and Ball-o-city which is a foam ball blasting station available for a Power Pass price of $20.95 for the day which includes the play structure.


The fun never ends with a FunworX Yearly Pass. Includes unlimited access to our three story Play Structure for just $199.00 (plus HST). This is a savings of over 50% OFF the regular retail price of $359.40. You have the option to pay the full cost upfront, or a first payment of $59.87 (34.00 initial fee + $25.87 in HST) and monthly payments of just $15.00 for the remaining 11 months.

If getting a yearly pass makes sense for you budget and family lifestyle then most certainly entertain the idea but for us one or two visits is more than enough during the season.

There are SO many things to do in Ontario in the summer we don’t like to limit ourselves besides there are lots of free road trips and parks to visit as well.

Either way each theme park, amusement park, park, farm, splash pad, festival and so on all require us to pack food and drinks.

YES, we do enjoy some of the local food and drink attractions when the budget permits but we do more sharing than anything.

A recent lunch stop at a food truck for Indian food was going to cost me close to $20 for a curry, ouch.

I opted to wait until I got home to eat instead but the smells were tempting.

10 Theme Parks And Amusement Parks Near Me

List of 10 theme parks popular in Ontario for families.

  1. Wonderland
  2. MarineLand
  3. Centreville Amusement Park Toronto
  4. Fallsview Indoor Water Park Niagara
  5. Wet n Wild Brampton
  6. Bingemans Big Splash /FunWorx/Diggerland
  7. Calypso Park Waterpark
  8. Toronto Zoo Splash Island
  9. Legoland Discovery Centre
  10. Storybook Gardens London

Best Foods and Drinks To Pack- Theme Park/Zoo/Farm/Hike/Amusement Park

After securing our discount theme park tickets to Bingemans the next thought that popped into our heads was FOOD and Drink.

Can you take food into Bingemans?

Thankfully after reading the FAQ’s on the website we were informed that yes we could pack a cooler with lunch, snacks and drinks to enjoy at the park. Yay, so what did we pack?

We brought a large cooler filled with ice-packs to keep everything cold that both families prepared for the theme park visit. 

Our aim was to keep it simple and bring foods that required a small paper plate, forks, napkins and wipes.

We always bring wipes wherever we go just in case we need to clean areas along with our hands and mouth before and after eating.

  • Bottled water
  • Milk for our son
  • Apple juice for our son
  • Dried sausage pepperettes
  • Ham and cheese stuffed pita bread (gluten-free)
  • Peanut Butter sandwiches
  • Egg salad and Tuna Salad with tortilla wraps on the side
  • Container of sliced cheddar cheese
  • Cold homemade pizza slices
  • Gold Fish Cheese crackers
  • Mixed nuts
  • Container of pickles
  • Container of chopped veggies and homemade guacamole and taco dip
  • Red and Green Grapes, Strawberries and watermelon chunks
  • Whisps (keto cheese snack)
  • Homemade Chocolate chip banana brownies

Below are the pizzas we made before we went to the theme park.

They were SO GOOD.

homemade pizza 2018

This was enough food, snacks and drinks to feed all of us for the afternoon until we went home for a BBQ dinner.

There were plenty of eating areas around the theme park which made it simple to take a break and then come back for more fun.

Had we not gone prepared for the afternoon at the theme park we could have added another $50 for food and drink and then some.

Whether you are going to a theme park or taking a small day trip this summer consider packing a lunch, drinks and snacks to bring along with you.

Check with the facility first if you are allowed to do so although some might only allow you to eat outside the facility like at Wonderland which is fine.

For picnics outside of the theme park zone just enjoy the day exploring the outdoors and forget about the extra costs of eating out and convenience foods along the way.

No line-ups and no extra money being spent.

That leaves more time to spend with your family and more money to put towards your next adventure!

Our entire day of fun cost us around $100 for the family not including the food we packed although we didn’t buy anything special outside of our weekly grocery shopping.

Discussion: What are some of your favourite foods to bring to a theme park or other summer destination day trip?

Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear about your experiences.

July 2018 Grocery Game Challenge

Join the 2018 Grocery Game Challenge (GGC) but before you do you must read The Grocery Game Challenge Rules and Print the 2018 Schedule which includes new prizes!

Free Money Saving Tools 2018

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.

You can download the FREE Canadian Budget Binder Budget Spreadsheet in Excel It’s FREE! We use it to budget and in large part a reason we could pay our mortgage off in 5 years, check it out!

Free Money Saving Downloads are awesome lists created to get us on track working 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 2018

Everything you want to know about grocery shopping in Canada is packed into this amazing FREE grocery shopping guide that has taken 6 years to create.

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.

2018 Grocery Shop Results

Yearly grocery budget for two + 1 Toddler 2018: $3600 or $300/month (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 or that you would like to track on your own)

  • Total Grocery Budget for this Month: $300
  • Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $300-$13.63=$286.37
  • Total Gift Cards used to date: $0
  • Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
  • Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
  • PC Optimum Points to Spend: 3,200,000
  • Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0

Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)

  • Zweet -$0
  • Checkout51- $1.50

Our Grocery Shop This Week

Costco Canada

  • Asiago $17.79
  • Triple Brie $8.99
  • 4 x Whipping Cream $4.10 each
  • 4 x 10% Cream $1.95 each
  • Pepperettes $12.99
  • Salami 3 x 250g $10.99
  • 3 x cucumbers seedless $2.79
  • Baby Dills Bick $5.49
  • Grape Tomatoes $5.99

Total Out-of-Pocket $89.23

Low Carb Canada

  • 3 x Lily’s Chocolate Chips sugar-free $8.99 each
  • 1 x Maple Grove sugar-free syrup $5.29
  • 1 x Joseph’s bakery Flax, Oat Bran and Whole Wheat Lavash Bread $3.49
  • Grok Crunchy Cheese snacks Aged Cheese $5.49 each *testing so we can make our own
  • Bulletproof Ghee Grass Fed $31.99

Total out-of-pocket $82.85- $7.49 (stockpile chocolate chips) = $74.93

Zehrs Canada

  • Seeded Watermelon $7.99
  • Philadelphia Cream Cheese $2.99
  • Black Diamond Old Cheddar $4.48
  • Unsweetened Almond Milk Breeze $3.99
  • Green Leaf lettuce $2.49
  • Chicken Legs $7.49
  • Chicken Drumsticks $5.00
  • Snow Peas $3.29-50% $1.65

Total Out-of-Pocket $36.08

Note: All totals below already have tax factored into them.

  • Total to spend this month : $300.00
  • Stockpile budget 2018 : $25.00/month
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $25.00
  • Christmas Reserve Fund : $35/month $245 Saved
  • Total coupons used this week: $0
  • Total coupons used to date: $1
  • Total in-store discounts this week: $1.65
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $118.19
  • Total spent this week: $200.24
  • Total spent so far this month: $12
  • Total over/Under spend this shop: $212.24
  • Total left to spend for the month: $75.76
  • Total Spent To Date 2018: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $323.04+Feb $169.42+March $228.70 + April $337.84+ May $275.79 + June $271.88 +July $+August $+September $+ October $+ November $ + December $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

Well we did spend more than we had anticipated but we were planning a theme park day trip and wanted to make sure we had snacks and food to bring with us.

It looks like the next couple of shopping weeks will be thin  but we have more than enough to get us by.

I’m guessing just fruits, veg and milk will be priority for the rest of our July shopping.

Have a great week everyone.


2018 Coupons and Coupon Apps

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.

Related: Are coupon apps taking over the paper coupons?

If you notice I’m missing a valuable link please message me and I’ll add it 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!!

Where can I find Canadian Coupons 2018?

Plus check out these other hidden areas online to get more coupons!!

If any of the links below don’t open properly please report them to my email address or use comment form.

Grocery Game Challenge 2018 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 to reflect changes for the 2018 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 prize payout?- I’ve changed the prize to yearly so I’ll be tracking everyone’s shop and draw accordingly for larger prize payouts.
  • When does the Grocery Game close each month? Ideally you would want to have all your shops in by the end of the month for review in order to make improvements for the next.
  • Does your Grocery Budget include health and beauty and laundry products?: No, our Grocery Budget does not include such items as shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap etc.

Update: As of 2014 we no longer included such items in our grocery budget so we could see our actual food numbers at the end of the year in order to plan accordingly.

  • 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 that mailed coupons to households has gotten involved with the addition of a new mobile 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.
  • Some of these coupons have an expiry date and others no expiry date so be sure to check.
  • 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.

If you’ve just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2018 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

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 2018!


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One Comment

  1. JUNE – Week #2 of 4- July 9-15, 2018


    •Total Grocery Budgeted For Year: $190.00 x 12 = $2,280.00 for 2 adults



    I love this time of year…the tomatoes are so nice and juicy!


    I shopped a little this week, but we really didn’t need all that much. I expect next week’s shopping will be more substantial.



    No Frills – Maple Ridge – Larry’s Card

    6 Roma Tomatoes $0.88/lb =1.42
    3 Zucchini $0.88/lb = $1.51
    2 bunches radishes $0.97
    4 Schneider’s Jumbo Wieners @ $2.88 ea

    Total Summer Reserve: $3.90
    Total Re-Stocking Reserve: $11.52

    ** Earned 0 PC Optimum Points on this shop for Larry **
    ** USED $0.00 in Rain Check Coupons **
    ** SAVED $0.00 Loyalty Savings on this shop **


    Save On Foods – Maple Ridge –

    2 cases Lemon-Lemon @ $3.99 ea = $8.94
    Tax $0.41

    Total Re-Stocking Reserve: $9.35

    ** Earned 8 MORE Points on this shop **
    ** SAVED $0.00 in Rain Check Coupons **
    ** SAVED $0.00 Loyalty Savings on this shop **






    •Total Loyalty Card Price Reductions This Year: $238.06

    •Total Coupons/Rain Checks Used This Year: $0.00

    •Total Price Match Savings Used This Year: $0.00

    •Total More Points Earned This Year: 11035 Points

    •Total Air Miles Earned This Year: 397 Air Miles

    •Total PC Optimum Points Earned This Year: 12,900 Points



    $ 1,330.00 Grocery Budget JAN-JULY


    ($ 1,171.44) Actual CASH SPENT



    $ 126.87 Freezer Re-Stocking Fund
    $ 267.59 Holiday Season Fund + $270 PC Optimum Points ($230 Mary + $40 Larry) + $10 Dream Air Miles
    = $532.59
    $ 755.34 Summer Season Fund
    $ 494.93 US Shopping Reserve
    $ 147.92 GGC Savings Reserve
    $ 0.00 Points Redeemed Reserve

    OUR CURRENT TOTAL UNUSED RESERVES ARE $1,792.65. This means the 1,761.30 that we carried forward from 2017 PLUS AN ADDITIONAL $921.39 that we have added in 2018, LESS $890.04 that we have drawn out for use in 2018.


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