By Russ and Tiña De Maris
With fuel prices shooting up like an oil field gusher, saving money where you can on the RV budget can make your trip last longer, or leave a few bucks for other attractions. Saving bones at the dining table can help. Nah! We don’t mean boiling up the chicken carcass for soup (but hey, it’s not a bad idea!).
Eating “in” can be a real money saver. After all, the cost of home-cooked foods is most always cheaper than you can buy in a restaurant. Still, even the seeming “laid back” fulltime lifestyle does have the occasional need for fast food. Here are some fast food items you can make in your own galley, stuff away in the freezer, and pull out on those occasions when you’re in a hurry – and still have it cheaper than at McDoogie’s.
Breakfast Sammies: Like the old Egg-McDoodle? Then snap up a package of English muffins, cheese of your choice, a package of sliced Canadian bacon, and a clutch of hen fruit. Fry up the egg, best to a fairly solid yolk consistency. Slip it in between the muffin halves, and add a slice of meat. Wrap ‘er up tight in plastic wrap. When you’ve got several completed, put them all in a freezer bag and stash away in the freezer. To reheat, we suggest you DON’T use “high power,” as it will make your muffin tough. We often use “defrost” to reheat bread-containing items.
Burrito-A-Go-Go: One of the male-side’s favorite luncheon items. First, cook a beef roast for dinner, and don’t oink out. Now put the leftover meat in a pan with added juice or water, add Mexican spices (oregano and cumin are really good), and slowly cook it until the meat falls apart. If your original roast had veggies, now’s the time to add them, chopped down to size. Lay out a good-sized tortilla and lay the meat and veggies in the middle. Fold the tortilla around the meat to blanket the goodies inside. Again, wrap individually in plastic wrap, and bag the whole thing before freezing. Reheat like you would the Breakfast Sammies. While corn tortillas taste better, the flour ones hold up better in this operation.
Does saving money mean forgoing restaurant fare? Not at all. While fast food can be cheap, it isn’t always best for the health. You can still visit mid-range rest-o-raunts at a fair price. Here are some tricks:
Partner up: Instead of ordering two full meals, find something you and your mate can agree on, order that and an appetizer and split it.
Do the Doggy Bag: Want a whole meal to yourself? Fine and dandy – but strategize your eating. Start with the veggies and starches and go slowly when you hit the meat. Oftentimes you can walk away with a leftover slab of whatever, great for making lunch in the next day or two. We like hitting the restaurants that offer a really great salad bar deal with an entree. Sizzler restaurants have a great deal for seniors. We hit the salad bar and browse well, then start on the main course. Invariably we’ll have a whole ‘nother meal in the styro carryout box when it’s time to hit the road.
Watch for Specials: Daily specials, lunch specials and early bird specials are often good portions at less expensive rates. With an RVer’s time flexibility, it’s not hard to get the early bird deals. Just as long as they’re not worms, it’s good by me.
Careful on the Beverages: Some places have inexpensive coffee, but most – whoa! If you can live without it, order ice water. We often do this, and find asking for a few lemon slices can make that normally bland (or chlorinated) restaurant water taste pretty good – especially when it saves nearly $5 on the tab between the two of us.
Good Fast Food? Sure you can still eat healthy in a fast food joint. One of the distaff’s favorites when traveling is to whip into a Wendy’s and order off their “value menu.” She picks out a side salad, a container of chili (cheese on the side) and a little bag of taco strips. For less than $4 she creates her own healthy “taco salad” that satisfies appetite, health and budget.