Ask the Homemaker: Vacation Meal Planning
Part 1: When you’ll have a rental with a full kitchen
Photo by Jim Kravitz under CC BY-SA 3.0
We’re going to the beach with the kids for a week and I’d like it to be more vacation than trip, but also want to save some time, money, and my hips. Do you have some ideas on vacation meal planning with easy, healthy meals?
Do I have ideas? I do! I do! Anyone who’s been on holiday for more than a few days knows that eating at restaurants gets old. Before you go you don’t believe that. The idea of having someone serve you and cook for you and clean up after you is so appealing, especially if you have wee ones.
Imagine a whole week of doing nothing in the kitchen but looking for a corkscrew to open that bottle of wine you’ve been saving for a special occasion! Ahhh! But after six or eight fast food or restaurant meals in a row you start to feel a little green around the gills.
Maybe a simple meal at your home away from home wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all. Plus doing vacation meal planning ahead of time will be a huge money, time, and calorie saver.
I’m here to save the day – and your sanity!
In part one of this series we’ll look at tips, ideas, and a meal plan for rentals that have a full kitchen.
Tip #1: Call ahead
It sucks to assume a “fully equipped kitchen” will include a pot big enough to boil half a box of pasta, and arrive to discover there is exactly one saucepan, nowhere near big enough for pasta. Call the owner or management company of your rental house and ask what’s in the kitchen.
Tip #2: PLAN
Vacation meal planning means exactly that: Plan your meals before you go, including ingredient lists. Decide what to make ahead or take with you and what makes more sense to buy at your destination.
Tip #3: Scope out supermarkets ahead of time
Do a Google search before you leave to find a full-service supermarket near your destination – one that isn’t primarily geared toward tourists. Buy some (or all) of your perishables there to save precious cooler space.
Tip #4: BYOB – Bring Your Own Breakfast
Make a favorite breakfast dish or two in bulk ahead of time to take with you. Oatmeal reheats surprisingly well, as do breakfast casserole muffins and frozen homemade pancakes. Scrambled eggs are very easy to prepare and clean up and you can really boost the nutrition by throwing in some of the prepped veggies you’ll be taking with you (more on that below!).
Tip #5: Prep your veggies before you go
It takes me for.ev.er to chop up vegetables and I despise doing it. You may not feel quite as strongly as I do about it, but you’ll save a lot of time in the kitchen by getting all those veggies washed and cut before you leave.
Tip #6: Remember the little things
Many rentals don’t provide paper towels, dish soap, or sponges (but keep her clean!), so play it safe and take your own. It’s a good idea to take your own leftovers containers as well. You may have some leftovers that will travel home well and provide a nice on-the-road snack or lunch. Before you go on vacation, make note of the little things you typically use. For example, if you like stevia in your coffee, make sure you take your own. Do you put hot sauce on everything? Take a bottle with you.
A sample vacation meal plan
I’ve put together a simple meal plan that assumes you’ll eat at your home-away-from-home 5 nights, eat out once and have leftovers once.
- Oatmeal, fruit
- Scrambled eggs, toast, fruit
- Power smoothie packets (if there is a blender there or you’re willing to take one)
- Breakfast casserole muffins, fruit
- Pancakes with maple syrup and peanut butter, fruit
- Breakfast sandwiches (made ahead and frozen), fruit
- yogurt with fruit, hard boiled eggs
You certainly don’t have to have a different breakfast every morning. Pre-made oatmeal keeps all week. I often make it in bulk at the beginning of the week and then reheat what we need, thinning it out with a bit of milk. The breakfast casserole muffins, breakfast sandwiches, and pancakes can be made ahead and frozen. A little time in the toaster oven or microwave and you’ll be on your way. Hard boiled eggs will also keep all week in the refrigerator and are great for breakfast, snacks or in a salad.
I know you do not want to be messing around in the kitchen in the middle of the day. Make lunch as simple as humanly possible. These are some ideas for no measuring, no fuss lunches.
- Sandwiches (whatever floats your boat!)
- Hummus with pita wedges and/or veggie sticks
- Corn Salad with Cilantro & Caramelized Onions (make ahead) and tortilla chips
- chef’s salad with prepped-ahead salad veggies
- Chicken salad (made ahead) and crackers
- Revved up Pasta Salad (Check this out for endless ideas!)
- Chicken Gyros, tzatziki, veggie tray
- Beef quesadillas, avocados, black beans
- Cobb Salad
- stovetop or grilled hot dogs, slaw, chips
In the next part of this vacation meal planning series we’ll look at ideas for using your slow cooker in a vacation rental with a limited kitchen.
Does it sound daunting to do your food prep ahead of time? How much planning would you be willing to do? Let me know in the comments!