My husband, Tom and I recently took a 3-day trip to Nashville. It was super last-minute which meant we really had to stick to a budget that wouldn’t break the bank. While our food and drinks budget allowed for a little wiggle room, our aim was $100 per day. Some days were more, some days were less and we ultimately stayed under budget and had an amazing time! Now I’m breaking down for you how you and your partner can plan a foodie tour in Nashville even when sticking to a limited budget!
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Planning your vacation budget
It’s no secret that we used to be terrible about planning our vacation budget. We either relied on last-minute money I made after photographing a wedding or just put it all on a credit card. Now, we are debt-free and only use credit cards for hacking.
Now, without either of these things, we travel more than ever after freeing up over $40,000 per year and planning automatic savings! This is a method I swear by and believe anyone can do with a little planning! Learn more about increasing your travel budget.
Ok, as much as I believe in increasing your travel fund as much as possible, let’s dive into the tips and strategies you can use to still enjoy Nashville’s food on a budget.
Plan your meals
Just like it’s beneficial to plan out your meals at home, the same goes for Nashville. If you have an idea of what restaurants you’re wanting to try out, you can plan a lot smarter.
Planning your meals ahead of time allows you to:
- Find other affordable/free things in that same area
- Check out the menu ahead of time
- Get an idea of a budget to set for that meal
Plan a mini-budget for each meal
Before heading to any restaurant, I wanted to get an idea of the pricing so that we would be sure to stick to our budget. Then, I would plan a mini-budget based on that particular restaurant.
Our first meal in Nashville was at Milk and Honey and I set our budget limit for $30 (we spent $35 with tip).
Try for brunch
Another great tip that allowed us to stick to our meal plan goals for Nashville was aiming for a “brunch” rather than a breakfast. We are early risers by nature, so that meant instead of eating at 7 am, we started our day a little slower and aimed more for a 10 am breakfast time.
Doing this helped us feel more sustained throughout the day and allowed us to maybe just share an app for a mid-day snack.
We caught an 11 am brunch at Fido (a pet store converted into a coffee shop — I promise, it’s cleaner than it sounds)! By doing this we were able to hold off on eating again until around 3.
Go big or…think smaller
You know what they say, “Go big or go home.” Well, I say, “Go big or just think way smaller.”
If we didn’t start our day with a big, hearty breakfast, (like we did with Milk and Honey), then we’d try to keep our meal budget smaller by thinking a little smaller.
Like most couples traveling to Nashville, we desperately wanted to get in on the hype surrounding the donuts with 5 Daughters Bakery. With coffee, 2 big donuts, and 2 mini donuts, we came in at $22 for breakfast expenses.
Keeping our brunch budget a little smaller allowed for more wiggle room later on in our budget — and we were still 110% satisfied with our meal!
Opt for shareable meals
One of the most common things I heard about the food in Nashville was that the food sizes were definitely shareable! While we tried to space out our meals more, one awesome option is to have more foodie experiences in more places by sharing meals!
As a couple, it can definitely be fun to try the same meal and chat a bit about it. What did you like, what didn’t you like…you could even do a Lady and the Tramp share-a-noodle kind of kiss if you want. Except, it’s Nashville so it would be more like chewing on the same fried chicken. Which isn’t quite as sexy.
The one place we went to and quickly realized had shareable portions was Blake Shelton’s bar, Ole Red. Check out some other share-worthy places in Nashville.
Because of our massive portions (we were super hungry after waiting for a table), we definitely spent more than we had to on this meal and weren’t able to finish it all.
Skip the drinks (for now)
Whenever we would try a new foodie recommended place, most of the time we would opt out of drinks (besides coffee). Doing this allowed us to enjoy Nashville foods and then enjoy a bar, distillery or winery as well.
By spacing out our food and drinks we were able to experience more places while still sticking to our $100 a day budget.
One of our favorite drink-only options was definitely the Ole Smoky Tennesse Moonshine Distillery with YEEHAW Brewing Company. I had never tried moonshine before (crazy, I know) and Tom always loves a good brewery.
The cost of trying 10 (very, very small) shots of moonshine and a cup of beer was only $10! Tom was able to sample 4 beers for $10 as well.
We wound up staying and eating at the White Duck Taco Shop that was also set up in the same building. BUT, this experience could definitely be a great environment to kick back with a drink before heading out to explore more of Nashville.
Keep track of your spending
One of the best things I did to help us stick to our Nashville food budget was to record what we spent. I shared in my Instagram stories and it really helped hold me accountable.
While you don’t have to share publicly like me, I highly recommend just jotting down your purchases so you don’t let any spending get away from you! If you want to see our full Nashville spending budget, click here.
If you want more help staying on track with your budget (including your vacation budget) snag my Fun Sized Budget Bundle that has printouts designed to help you succeed with your budget, savings, spending, and debt payoff!
More travel posts you’ll love:
- 10 US Travel Destinations That No One is Talking About
- 30 Healthy Meals to Make in a Hotel While You Travel
- How to Save Money for Travel When You’re Broke