Tag Archives: family holiday

Meal Planning Monday – Self Catering Special

By the time you read this I’ll be back home after a self catering holiday in Devon and Cornwall with another family. Hopefully it was a roaring success and hopefully the sun even joined us for a day or two. With two families (four adults, three children and one dog) to cater for, organisational me got into gear and set about meal planning.

With it being a holiday there will be some eating out, but to cut costs and so all of the adults could enjoy a drink or two with dinner, we’d planned four nights of dining at the cottage. I will cook for two nights and my friend Liz will cook on two other nights. Each couple will have a date night, where the other couple babysits, something I’m looking forward to!

To make life easier, I’ve ordered a big shop from Sainsbury’s which will be delivered when we arrive. The full list of what we ordered is below (I do love a nosey at other people’s shopping, don’t you). Here is our self catering menu for the week…

Meal Planning Monday - Self Catering Special

As you can see, there are some good, hearty family meals planned, some treats and some non-cooking nights for those of us who are kitchen slaves at home!

Here’s our self catering holiday shopping list. We are planning on taking a few things with us and buying a few more things once we’re there, but this should get us started! In the meantime, do you have any tips for self catering?

Self catering shopping list!

Diced Beef
Skinless & Boneless Haddock Fillets
Chicken Breast Fillets
Chocolate Mini Rolls
Quaker Oat So Simple Porridge, Sweet Cinnamon Flavour
British Mature Cheddar Cheese
Kenco Millicano Americano Instant Coffee
San Miguel Lager
Lurpak Unsalted Spreadable
Fairy Non-Bio Capsules
Yorkshire Everyday Tea Bags
Peperami Mini Original
Quorn Meat Free Mince
Full Flavour Cheddar Cheese
Paneer Cheese
Tender Green Veg Medley
Jacob’s Biscuits For Cheese Crackers
Sacla Organic Basil Pesto
Baby sweetcorn
Peanut Butter Smooth
Orange Squash, No Added Sugar
Free Range Mixed Weight Eggs x15
Magnum Mini Ice Cream, Classic, Almond & White
Wildlife Strawberry & Peach Fromage Frais
Geeta’s Mango Chutney
Frozen Summer Fruits
Garlic & Coriander Mini Naan
Plain Naan
Quorn Escalopes
Lemons & Limes
Low Fat Natural Yogurt
Sunflower Oil
Fresh Packed Coriander
Quaker Oat So Simple Porridge, Golden Syrup Flavour
Double Cream
Ice Cubes 2kg
Hovis Medium Sliced Best of Both Bread
Baked Beans
Baby Potatoes
Reduced Fat Mayonnaise
Cheddar & Spring Onion Crisps
Diet Indian Tonic Water
Vanilla Ice Cream
Pear Quarters, In Natural Juice
Santa Maria Latin American Kitchen Garlic & Herb Soft Tortillas
Popchips Barbeque Crisps
Fairtrade Bananas
Little Gem Lettuce
Large Onions
Wholemeal Muffins
Raspberry Jam, Seedless
Medium Sliced Wholemeal Bread
Crumpets
Batter Mix
Fromage Frais, Basics
Whole Cucumber
Marmalade Medium Cut
Sweetcorn, tinned
Red Kidney Beans
Gravy Granules
Winalot Complete With Beef
Rainbow Ice Lollies
West Country Semi-Skimmed Milk

5 helpful hints to cut the cost of your family holiday

Going on a family holiday can be quite an experience, and a world apart from trips you might have made before you had kids. There’ll be a whole lot of laughs, a whole lot of checking up on the little one(s), perhaps a complication or two along the way, and plenty of joy too.

Of course, the added bodies among the travelling party will have one other important impact – the cost of your family holiday will be a good deal higher. It obviously depends how young your children are, and costs for toddlers will be a whole lot less than those for older children. But with things inevitably becoming more expensive, it is all the more important to find ways to get the most bang for your buck, without negatively impacting on the levels of fun and enjoyment.

Here are 5 helpful hints to cut the cost of your family holiday…

Give tours a miss
They’re convenient, they’re all organised for you, and they’re often trumpeted as the ‘only way to see (insert name of destination)’. However, tours like these also tend to have a hefty mark-up on them too, and with an entire family to pay for, it really can get expensive. So rather plan your own trips and excursions. There are even peer-to-peer websites around whereby you can get locals to show you around for a fraction of the price. Chances are, the experience will be more authentic that way too.

Be a proper local
Doing as the locals do is an excellent way to save money, and avoid being caught out by tourist traps. This way you can avoid overpriced eateries, activities and tours, and immerse yourself in local markets and culture too. The best thing to do is to mingle with the locals, make some friends, and find out what the best things to do are. Just put yourself out there – and chances are the whole family will make some great friends along the way too.

Get clever with accommodation
It isn’t a universal truth, but hotels really aren’t likely to be the best way to go as a family. True, there are some good package and all-inclusive deals out there, but booking through Airbnb, or similar websites can save you a truck load compared to booking two hotel rooms. It also tends to be more conducive for family activities and eating too. With a kitchen facility of your own, you can eat what you want and when you want; and you’ll probably get some great inside information about the city or town from your host too.

Get familiar with your destination
The last thing you want is to regularly end up lost in a destination city with no idea where you are, and where to go. The kids will get restless, the stress levels will rise, and invariably an expensive taxi ride will be the default method of getting you from A to B. So put in a bit of time beforehand to familiarise yourself with where you’re going, and download some navigational apps like Pocket Earth to your phone. Getting around by public transport and/or walking really can save a chunk of budget.

Budget carefully
Again, you don’t want to scrutinise every penny to the point that you no longer even enjoy your family holiday. It’s a break you all no doubt need, and it’s important to make the most of it. But plan ahead with a daily budget, taking into account all planned an unplanned excursions, and try stick to it. And if you’re using finance in order to fund the holiday, that’s okay too. But be sure to shop around on price comparison sites for the best-value loans you can find, with repayments that suit you. You don’t want a cloud of expensive debt hanging over you while having fun with your loved ones.

5 helpful hints to cut the cost of your family holiday

= This is a guest post =

Travel: Essential family holiday packing & travel tips

A straw poll of my friends tells me that most of them will be taking a family holiday this year. During the winter months, I can’t think of a better time of the year to jet off for a winter sun break; warm your bones and enjoy some time away from the hectic festivities. A summer family holiday can come in all shapes and sizes. We like to hire a cottage in Cornwall for a few weeks, or hop on a plane for some guaranteed sunshine. 

Sadly, I often think that trying to grab a break away with the family can feel like more trouble than it’s worth. By the time I’ve done all the washing and sorted out all the things you need to pack, I’m almost entirely fed up with the idea of going away.

Travel: Packing & travel tips for your family holiday

Whether you’re going near or far, here are my top tips for packing and also keeping your kids entertained on planes, trains and automobiles.

Packing for your family holiday – 

1. Keep a packing list on your computer, the things you always need to take, clothes, underwear, hairbrush etc. print it off and use it each time you go away as a check-list.

2. Travel light, or as light as you can. If there is a washing machine available you can plan to do a wash or two while you’re away. Yes it’s a domestic chore but I’d rather wash than pack half of my wardrobe.

3. Check the weather forecast before you go, it won’t be 100% accurate, but you’ll have an idea of what kind of weather to expect and consequently what kind of clothes you’ll need to pack.

4. Wherever you go in the world they will most likely have shops there. So it’s not the end of the world if you forget to pack toothpaste!

5. Don’t forget to bring a few of your child’s favourite things to help them settle. A book, a toy, a puzzle and their favourite snuggly for bedtime!

Entertaining kids on a journey –

If you’re in your own car then it’s often easier. You have your own space and you don’t have to worry so much about disturbing other passengers. We’re big fans of audiobooks and CDs for the car so we can have a family sing along. Planning a “spotting game” is always good. Ticking off when you see a bus, a lorry, a smoking chimney, that kind of thing. When all of your efforts are exhausted, we break out the portable DVD player. Nearly 2 hours of battery life and a pair of headphones are enough to restore tranquillity to the car.

Trains and planes are good for quiet games, such as the Shopping List game from Orchard Toys, Dobble or even Snap! If the kids are old enough some quiet time reading their favourite book can be good. 

Whilst we do try and generally limit screentime; playing a game on a tablet, smartphone or hand-held gaming device could be a good way to wile away a bit of a long journey. Plus it will give you a break from endless games of I-Spy and Snap!

Travel is always a great learning experience for children no matter what age they are. Talking to them about where you are going and why, as well as what you might see or do there.

Getting the kids involved and invested in the planning of day trips and things to do whilst you are there is a great idea. It can help minimise whining if they’ve had to plan it. Showing them pictures of the famous landmarks in the area and maps of where you are going is good fun. Talking about currency and what the exchange rate is are all fantastic things to do. These not only get them prepared for their holiday but can also help to develop a whole range of skills and knowledge for later on.

Travel: Packing & travel tips for your family holiday

Are you going away this year? What are your plans? What are your family holiday packing essentials? 

Family Travel: September in Center Parcs

It was my birthday on September 5th, so we decided to sneak away for a family weekend and a little celebration of my increasing age. We went to Center Parcs – Whinfell in Cumbria from Friday to Monday and had a lovely, lovely time. We even managed to do it on a bit of a budget too!

It’s so easy at Center Parcs to overload yourself with activities, but we were all in need of a restful break. We decided to dial down the busyness and focus on chilling out and being together. So that’s what we did.

Family Travel: September in Center Parcs

We arrived mid afternoon on the Friday (my birthday), unpacked and went to the Subtropical Paradise, otherwise known as the swimming pool. It was great to get in the water, and because we went in quite late at around 5pm it wasn’t hugely busy. We enjoyed the rapids and the waves for a bit, then went to relax in the baby pool while the small boy poured buckets of water over us.

After swimming, we headed back to our lodge, had some pasta for tea, sang Happy Birthday to me and settled down for the evening. We were all exhausted so it was early to bed for us all.

Saturday we’d arranged a free morning. The boys went to the playground while I read my book in peace and quiet for a bit. Later we all went swimming (swimming is free, so we did this a lot), then back to the lodge for a picnic lunch on the patio (any food eaten outdoors is a picnic to us, the small boy is obsessed with picnics). After lunch we trundled off to see the rangers and enjoy the pre-booked Mammal Magic session.

Family Travel: September in Center Parcs

Ranger Richard is lovely, really knowledgable and great with the kids. He brought round a number of animals to stroke and learn a bit more about. It sounds like his house is a bit of a menagerie. We met a polecat, a rat, a hedgehog, an Australian sugar glider and a husky. The hedgehog and the husky were our favourites.

After giving our hands a good scrub we popped to the pub for a quick pint before wandering over to Hucks in the village centre for our pre-booked tea. Hucks serve American Style food. We’d been four years ago when I was pregnant and if I’m honest we weren’t that impressed, but decided to give it another go. The food was much better, we shared a tasty spinach and cheese dip to start; and then himself had a burger and I had veggie fajitas. The small boy ate from the kids buffet. It wasn’t gourmet food, it is what it is and it was okay. We would go again on our next visit.

Family Travel: September in Center Parcs

Sunday was the day I was most looking forward to. We had a relaxing morning drinking coffee in bed and watching cartoons on TV. Then we headed off to the playground to burn off some energy. We had lunch in Dexters which is a burger bar next to the Subtropical Paradise; then the small boy and I wandered over to the soft play area while the big boy swanned off to the spa for a spot of pampering.

We’d booked the small boy into the crèche to go to a chocolate party for three hours. This was so we could go to the spa together for a treat. For complex organisational reasons we were only together in the spa for 90 minutes. We each had three hours in there, moving from steam room to steam room, swimming in the lovely outdoor pool, enjoying the saunas, resting on the waterbeds, enjoying some serious relaxation.

I adore the Aqua Sana spa at Center Parcs, I was steamed to perfection by the time I left. My skin was glowing and smooth and I felt fantastic. I could do with a spa session like that on a regular basis!

The small boy had had a brilliant time at the chocolate party. He’d been sent away with a box of goodies and an apron he’d decorated himself. He’d had a good time and so had we, it was win-win. The Center Parcs creche is really good, there are lots of activity sessions to choose from and they are well looked after.

It’d been another busy day for us all, exhausted but happy we all had a really excellent nights sleep.

Monday arrived and it was time for us to leave Center Parcs. We packed up and went for one last play in the playground. We had one last swim and one last picnic lunch by the lake in the sunshine. All told it was a fantastically restful weekend. We were sad to leave but I know that we’ll be back again really soon. There’s already talk of a spa day.

Family Travel: September in Center Parcs

Read about our visit to Winter Wonderland at Whinfell