The Van Plan was originally posted a few years ago but with spring in full swing I thought it was a good time to repost it. Also, everyone is watching the pocketbook, so I hope this helps you save. We have loved it and when I don't use it - I regret it. [Image]So to prevent the unnecessary eating out while we are running around to all these activities, I institutedThe Van Plan. (I hear na na na na na na na - VAN PLAN! Like the bat-Man theme song in my head) While riding with Jennifer a couple years ago I noticed she had a playmate cooler with drinks in the van for us to drink for the afternoon's drive (just diet sodas for cryin' out loud.) She has since told me she takes a cooler almost everyday they run around -so "props" to Jen C for this idea! I miss you : ( T[Image]he Van Planincludes a couple small soft side coolers. One is stocked with drinks and I need only to add the ice packs - it stays in the van unless it needs stocking. The other is inside it's for sandwiches and cold snacks like grapes, go-gurts and cheese sticks. I bought the Wonder Bread sandwich containers because sandwiches in ziploc baggies always get soggy and mushy if they are in the cooler for very long. I went with soft small coolers and two instead of one so we could leave the drinks in the van and only change out the ice packs. Also, so we wouldn't be digging through the food to get to drinks on the bottom and making a mess of the cooler. I bought the inexpensive plastic canisters too to keep the snacks so I wouldn't have bags without clips, bags torn open lengthwise etc. These are also easy to clean, dishwasher safe. I bought the 3 drawer cabinet too. Drawer 1 has raisins in single serving boxes, a large container of peanuts, a large canister of pretzels. Drawer 2 has peanut butter crackers, cheese and crackers, chex (generic) mix. [Image] Drawer 3 has tissues, plastic plates, paper towels, our first-aid kit, bug spray, sunscreen and hand sanitizer. I added a small trash can as well that is not pictured. Stocking the van on active days has been added to the kid's chore list. The Van Plan snacks have been added to the shopping list as well. I absolutely LOVE this plan. Apples, carrots, grapes crackers, cheese and lots of healthy snacks as opposed to fast food! Saving serious money every month and time saved on car trips - all good. So dollars and cents (from my actual receipts). The drawer was $9.00 on sale. Wonder Bread Boxes - $1.57 each (I got 8 because there are 5 of us and I'll send them with dad in his lunch too) Canisters - $1.88 each (I got 5) Coolers - $8.84 each (I got 2) Carton of refreezable ice cubes $2.50. Blue ice packs - 94 cents each (I got 2) So the "system" cost about $43.00 or maybe two visits for us to the drive-thru. It cost less than $15.00 to fully stock it once from Aldi, of course, which includes water and juice boxes. I bought extras and stored them in the downstairs pantry, it should be stocked for a month or more now :) I estimate the kids and I were purchasing food and snacks out last spring during our busy days to the tune of...about $120 a month or more. Yikes! This would be drinks, vending, ice cream, pizza and food for the 4 of us only 6-7 per month. There were months it was worse. I think I can stock the van for about $30 a month. That adds up in the savings account and hopefully will come OFF my hips. I would love to hear any other ideas you you might have for saving money in this area, please leave them in the comments for everyone to see :) With the addition of my business I have added to the Van Plan - a set of Linkity cards which I use for word games, word association and to practice parts of speech. I have one of each type of chat ring, Qrazy Quandries, and Take Your Pick. These are great for story telling, journal entries and to keep the bigger fish from eating the little ones when the patience runs out. Also in the Van Plan is a first aid kit, changes of clothes, a couple jackets, and an umbrella.
Also, now I don't leave home without my coupon binder! Blessings, Robin