It is possible to spend a lot of money on food on any vacation, and Hawaii is no exception, but it’s really not necessary. Even families can cut corners like locals.

The problem is there are so many wonderful places to eat in Hawaii that it is really tempting to try one after another. If you have the money and the inclination, Hawaii is a foodie paradise. But let’s pretend you’d like to limit how much you spend on food and you have children. Here are several solutions.

(1) You probably don’t take your family out to dinner in a restaurant every evening at home. On vacation, you can limit the damage to your budget by deciding which restaurant or cuisine you really want to try and building it into the itinerary. If you know you have a great dinner scheduled, it’s easier to have a light breakfast and lunch.

(2) Many Hawaii hotels offer a free breakfast or at least coffee and pastries or fruit. If yours does not, purchase breakfast food and keep it in your hotel room. If you go to the coffee shop, it’s just too easy to add a few items for the kids at a premium price. When my daughter and granddaughter visited recently, I bought the small, inpidual boxes of cereal for their morning munchies.

(3) Portions in Hawaii are fairly large. At lunch, split an entree with your little ones. Most places don’t mind sharing, or if they have a plate charge it’s less than another meal. Another possibility is to see if you can order off the children’s menu. Big City Diner lets adults order from the child’s menu for an extra dollar. The children’s meal sizes are about right for me.

(4) Make a trip to a grocery store one of your first stops. Although there are convenience stores near, or inside, every hotel, you pay for the convenience. (You wouldn’t spend a week’s food budget at 7-11 back home.) We took the shopping trolley to Ala Moana and stocked up at the Foodland grocery store there, getting food bars, crackers, sandwich supplies, etc. Many grocery items are more expensive in Hawaii than on the mainland so we looked for local products and sales.

Our goal was to spend money on eating out when it was a special experience, but not to over-pay for routine meals. I had my daughter keep track of expenses and she spent no more on food while in Hawaii than she would have at home.


  1. This is great advice, my wife, my two kids 19 and 21, guess their not kids anymore, and my mother-in-law, who’s just beat Stage Four Breast Cancer, are coming to Kona at the end of this month for five days and then on to Maui for five more and we have already thought about this and were going to stop at Costco and get most of our food items and fish as well and then were going to use the barbacue that’s on each of the property’s and were bringing our own spices as a way to save as well. Its fun eating out and if you go online you’ll find a lot of places that are considered cheap eats and most are really good.

  2. Great idea, also look for farmers markets you can get some great bargains and also plate lunch, you can half a roasted chicken, w/rice/mac salad/greens for 4.50, which can easily be shared with 2 people

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