Easiest Way to Save Money on Vacation: Hit the Grocery Store!

Written By: Justin Urich
Last Updated: April 11th, 2022

Grocery shopping on vacation

Grocery shopping on vacation can save you hundreds of dollars.

I know…when you arrive in Myrtle Beach, the last place you want to go is the grocery store. (Hello, the beach is calling!)

But what if I told you that a trip to the grocery store could save you hundreds of dollars over the course of a week’s vacation?

See, here’s the thing. If you don’t go to the grocery store, you’ll have to eat out for all of your meals. And between breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any snacks, that can get expensive in a hurry. For instance, even a fast food meal for my family of six usually costs around $30. For a conservative estimate, multiply that by three meals a day, and I’m spending $90, for a total of $630 over the course of a week.


Considering I can easily feed my family for $200/week by eating in, a trip to the grocery store is totally worth it.

If you were staying in a hotel, you’d have no choice but to eat out for most of your meals. But since you’re staying in a condo or maybe even a beach home, you’ve got a fridge and a fully-equipped kitchen – you’ll save lots of money by taking advantage of that!

Here are some tips to help you make your vacation grocery shopping manageable and cost-effective.

Make a plan and a grocery list before you get to the beach.

Unless you live super close to the beach, you’ll be in the car for a while, right? So, unless you’re the driver (!), use some of that time to plan our your meals for the week and to make a grocery list.

Tip: Keep your plan simple. You don’t want to be spending hours in the kitchen on vacation, so opt for quick and easy meals.

Shop shortly after you arrive.

After a long drive, I’m anxious to get out of the car and get settled in at the condo, but we’ve often found that’s it’s easier just to bite the bullet and get the shopping. You’re not really going to feel like shopping later on, and the longer you put it off, the more meals you’ll have to eat out. Often we unpack the car, head out to do the grocery shopping, and then come back and throw a few frozen pizzas into the oven for dinner.

Tip: The Bi-Lo in Myrtle Beach is our favorite grocery store. It’s clean, bright, not overwhelmingly huge, and if you try to buy mostly sale or private label items, you won’t be spending more than you’d spend at WalMart.

Buy breakfast and lunch foods.

Simple cereal breakfast

Cold cereal makes a great, easy breakfast.

Breakfast and lunch are simpler affairs than dinner, generally speaking, so they’re easy to eat at the condo. If you buy nothing else, at least get breakfast and lunch groceries. Cereal, eggs, fruit, and milk make for quick breakfasts, and for lunch, you can buy a bunch of sandwich supplies and call it good (Bonus: sandwiches are great for packing up to take out to the beach.)

Speaking of which….

Buy snacks/portable food.

Presumably, you won’t be spending your whole week in the condo, so you’ll want some food that you can take with you. Bring snacks out to the beach so that you won’t need to buy food from beach vendors. And pack some snacks when you head out to shop or play some mini golf so that you won’t need to buy food while you’re out.

Don’t forget grilling supplies.

Beachfront grills

Beachfront grilling offers a beautiful view!

If you were lucky enough to rent a condo or beach house with outdoor grills, remember to buy charcoal and matches at the grocery store. Sure, they’re an extra expense, but there’s nothing quite like beachfront grilling, and it’ll be a heck of a lot cheaper than a restaurant meal.

As you can see, by doing a little planning and by making a stop at the grocery store, you can keep your belly full on vacation without emptying your bank account.

What are your favorite ways to save money on vacation by shopping at the grocery store?