To start off our stay in Lakeland, we helped Anthony pick out some household needs at Lowe’s, and then went to Publix to buy groceries for the next few days.
Frugal tip: Home-cooked meals are often cheaper (& healthier) than restaurant meals. Also, just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you can’t cook. Not only is it more fun, but it is so much cheaper to cook with a group of people!
*Also, you can go to any grocery store that has good deals, but in our situation, Publix was a must-go — not only because it is the closet grocery store to Anthony, but also because Anthony works for the IT department at Publix Corporate.
When we got back to Anthony’s house, we finally took out the bikes that we had lugged all the way to Lakeland.
After a nice, hot bike ride, we headed to downtown Lakeland to enjoy some yummy pizza at Palace Pizza. The $2-3 slices are humongous and can fill you up in a second AND are delicious — I got a veggie pizza full of eggplant, peppers, onions, broccoli, tomatoes, cheese, marinara sauce….yum!
Afterwards, we went straight for the pool in Anthony’s neighborhood, thinking that today would be our only sunny day.
For dinner that night, we cooked chicken quesadillas with rice and beans. It was delicious and did not cost much at all — Anthony already had chicken, beans, and tortillas, and the rice and salsa was definitely not expensive at Publix.
After dinner, at about 10PM, we decided to take a last-minute trip to Orlando with Anthony and his friend, Brendan. The night scene is definitely poppin’ in Orlando, and we had a lot of fun for the few hours we were there, particularly at Saddle Up – All American Bar, where we fit in best with the country music and the no cover charge.
For our second morning in Lakeland, Anthony cooked us a nice breakfast of eggs, sausage and cinnamon rolls.
Frugal tip: If you have friends all over the country, go visit them! Pitch in with some food, money, etc and enjoy good company, a cheap/free place to stay and a great time.
During the day, we went to the beach at Anna Maria Island, where we first went to Publix for the chicken tender sub deal found on their Weekly Ad, and then headed off to enjoy our subs on the beach.
Frugal tip: Subs are almost always a good cheap, choice for the beach or any outdoors day, and even better when you find a sweet deal like this at Publix.
Although it started pouring almost as soon as we got to the beach, luckily, it stopped after five minutes and was sunny for the rest of the day.
Once we were all beached out, we went back to Anthony’s played monopoly and ate the frozen pizza we had got from Publix the first day.
Frugal tip: One of the cheapest ways to occupy your time is with board games – these are almost always a good time.
For our third day in Lakeland, Anthony was at work, so Matthew and I headed to Circle-B Bar Reserve, a nature reserve, where we saw wild alligators, birds, hogs and all the Lakeland wild life.
Frugal tip: In places like Lakeland, there are free things to do everywhere you go, especially if you’re outdoorsy. This nature reserve was super cool with all of its trails and wildlife, all of which kept us occupied for at least 3 hours (I didn’t want to leave) AND it was free.
For lunch, we ate the rest of our pizza from the last night and then headed to Sonny’s BBQ for my free birthday meal — a Big Deal — sliced turkey on garlic bread + mac & cheese + sweet tea — Matthew also got fries as a side, so this meal turned out to be only about $2!
Frugal tip: Check out my Birthday Rewards post to see a full list of restaurants that give free food when you sign up for their e-clubs.
At this point, it had started pouring outside, so we headed to a nice little coffee house called Black & Brew in downtown Lakeland to spoil ourselves with some great, not-so-cheap coffee — I got an iced caramel macchiato and Matthew got a caramel Americano — yum.
At the end of the day, we met back up with Anthony after work at his house and cooked dinner from our leftover beans, avocado and rice from our quesadillas the other night + shrimp that Anthony already had.
Frugal tip: Home-cooking also usually guarantees leftovers — cheap eats and/or new creations for the next day!
Despite some rain, we successfully avoided Tropical Storm Colin for the most part and had an overall great, relaxing, frugal trip to Lakeland.
Next Stop: New Orleans!