As I’m currently on my mini-retirement, I noticed that we were eating out a lot when we were in Nicaragua. It’s incredibly easy to go out to eat in countries where the food is so cheap.
We’re trying to keep the budget around $1000 per month, which seems just enough to get around and do everything we want to do.
One thing we do to keep costs low when we’re in areas that are more touristy and thus more expensive: cook.
Food can be a huge expense, whether you’re on vacation or not. I’m good with watching my food expenses when I’m at home, where I spend under $70 per month on groceries.
We’re always looking for a hostel or hotel with a kitchen.
Here are some quick easy meal ideas that you can make when you’re on vacation. This is for you if you’re trying to save money on vacation, or you’re looking for tasty at-home date night ideas
Cheap Easy Meal Ideas On Vacation
1. Classico: Rice Chicken Beans
The classical thing they eat in Central and South America are rice, chicken, and beans.
Mostly what we’re doing if we’re cooking ourselves is skipping the chicken and adding in different kinds of beans.
You just need rice you like, different kinds of beans, and some flavor to put into it.
I mostly put black beans, peas, bell pepper, and onion. To give it some flavor, it depends on what you have available at the moment.
Whenever we’re traveling, we mostly don’t take a lot of spices with us. What can be a great solution is just to get bouillon cubes and use that to make your food tastier.
I find it works perfectly if you add a bouillon cube when you cook the rice. That way the flavor really gets into the food, which is what we want!
If you’re really hungry: bake some eggs and serve that on the side. That works really well to fill you up!
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I LOVE the taste of quesadillas and I could eat them all day every day. They’re easy and cheap to make, checking all the boxes of a meal. Especially if you want easy meal ideas for vacation, this is for you!
Tortillas are cheap and come in packages of 10-15, so one package is sufficient to eat multiple days of dinner from.
Get a large package of cheese that is available. If you’re traveling you probably don’t have a lot of choices. BUT if you do happen to run into some good cheese, I recommend mozzarella or queso blanco.
On top of that, you can add enchilada sauce (or spiced tomato sauce), jalapenos, black beans, and avocado to get the real deal.
One thing I love is to get the canned beans, they are ready-to-go straight out of the can and you can put them on top of your food. That’s it.
So you put a little bit of oil in a pan to warm the tortillas on both sides. Add the tomato sauce and the cheese to the tortilla. Then put black beans on the melting cheese, put some jalapenos on it, and eat it with some slices of avocado.
JUM! This is absolutely one of my favorite meal ideas for vacation, it’s so quick and easy to prepare. And of course, they are delicious.
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3. Breakfast Burrito
I don’t like to limit myself. That it’s called a breakfast burrito doesn’t necessarily mean that you can only eat it for breakfast. What about the rest of the day? It’s so good, you can eat it for any meal!
I love flour tortillas! Put anything you like in them and you’ll make them delicious. My theory is: if you put all the things you like together, how can that not be good?
I like to put some eggs, tomato, and beans in my breakfast burrito. I bake the tomato and the eggs. When all that is done I add the beans.
If I have cheese, I’ll add some on top of sho!
I love how you can just add anything that you want in this baby, fold it up and eat it. I’ve eaten it multiple times for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
If you are really hungry, you can add rice or tuna. Of course, you can add anything else that you want!
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4. Make Your Own Guacamole
The great thing if you’re on holiday in Central or South America, is that they have the BEST avocados. I eat as many avocados as I can.
You can get good avocados everywhere in the world nowadays, so this is something that you can even make when you go on a camping trip in Europe.
Everything you need is ripe avocados, a small tomato, chili, and lime juice.
Peel the avocado, mash it, and mix it with the other ingredients. Just make sure that the tomato is diced small.
If you’re done, add salt and pepper to taste.
You can eat it on toast, with tortilla chips, corn chips, basically everything you can think of! You can also eat it with any of the other recipes on the list.
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5. Fish Tacos
This one you can make within 10 minutes, maximum.
Shortly warm your tortillas in the pan. Get some sour cream and put it on the tortillas. Put some fish on top. In my case, it’s often tuna, but it can be something else like sardines, mackerel, or salmon.
On top of that, you can put chopped onion, chopped cilantro, and some lime.
If you’re feeling it, you can combine the fish tacos with guacamole. I can guarantee you it’s the best!
And of course, don’t forget the hot sauce!
More Meal Ideas For Vacation?
I am sure that it depends on where you are on holiday, what you will prepare for dinner. When you’re in Asia you’ll make other things compared to when you’re in Central America.
In summary, my favorite meal ideas for vacation at this moment are:
- Rice, chicken, and beans
- Breakfast burrito
- Fish tacos
You’ll see that is slightly themed toward Central American or Mexican food, surprise surprise.
I hope that you have some ideas now to save money on food when you’re on vacation
What do you eat on vacation?
Founder of Spark Nomad, Radical FIRE, Journalist
- Expertise: Personal finance and travel content
- Education: Bachelor of Economics at Radboud University, Master in Finance at Radboud University, Minor in Economics at Chapman University.
- Over 200 articles, essays, and short stories published across the web.
Experience: Marjolein Dilven is a journalist and founder of Spark Nomad, a travel platform, and Radical FIRE, a personal finance platform. Marjolein has a finance and economics background with a master’s in Finance. She has quit her job to travel the world, documenting her travels on Spark Nomad to help people plan their travels. Marjolein Dilven has written for publications like MSN, Associated Press, CNBC, Town News syndicate, and more.