You can often find me in the kitchen the day before we go on a trip. I am cooking and baking, preparing in advance what I would usually make over the course of several days for several meals. I have three children so I have to balance their needs with my kitchen goals, but my kitchen island is my base of operations for the day.
Before this kitchen work day, we decide what kinds of foods we would like to eat for each meal (not just dinner). I get several ideas to make a general framework of options rather than a strict schedule of what we will eat when. Then I make a thorough list detailing what I need to buy, what I need to prep, and the meal ideas themselves. List in hand, we make a grocery store run together.
The point of a vacation is to relax and savor time together as a family. And while I enjoy cooking, I do not want to be in the kitchen a lot when I am on vacation– I want to be splashing in the water with my kids and taking walks on the beach with my husband. Remembering this helps me to create those lists of what to buy and what to eat. I want fast, convenient food without sacrificing nutrition. I prefer not to eat out for a majority of our meals because it’s not easy on our stomachs nor our wallets to do so. At the same time I know that we will default to grabbing something out if what is available at “home” isn’t simple, fast, and appealing.
My motivation for vacation meal planning, and why I am willing to give up half a day or even a whole day in the kitchen before a trip, is this:
- feeding my family nutritious (and delicious) food while we are away
- enjoying time with my family instead of time the kitchen
- saving us money by limiting eating out
I am willing to spend the extra time in the kitchen and a little extra money at the store buying convenient foods because I know it will be worth it.
What I prepped before our trip:
- cookies (chocolate chip pecan)
- everything bagels
- pie dough (freeze)
- angel hair pasta (freeze)
- corn tortillas, to fry later for taco shells (freeze)
- flour tortillas (freeze)
Grocery items to buy/pack:
(*items we already had on hand)
- fresh fruit (apples, bananas, oranges, grapes)
- frozen fruit for smoothies*
- maple syrup*
- cheese (cheddar, parmesan*, feta*, and babybel)
- tortilla chips
- heavy cream
- fresh vegetables (brussells sprouts, cauliflower, snap peas, bell peppers, onions)
- vacuum packed sourdough bread loaves (one of my newest favorite finds at Costco!)
- snap pea crisps
So what meals does this list translate into? Below is a basic idea of our menu plan for the week. We also ate out a couple of times for dinner and for lunch.
- everything bagels, (usually as bagel sandwiches with egg and cheddar cheese on a buttered, toasted bagel), and green smoothies
- french toast and bacon (we bought a loaf of bread and bacon while we were here)
- veggie omelets and sourdough toast
- eggs and breakfast buffet (choice of leftover pancakes from home, leftover french toast, the last bagel, pie for the boys)
- eggs, bacon, and sourdough toast
I wanted food that could be prepared in a short amount of time when we got back from the beach.
- Hummus with carrot sticks, snap peas, and pita chips; green smoothies
- Avocado, spinach and cheese quesadillas; grapes; tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole
- salami, babybel cheese, snap pea crisps, grapes
- yogurt with fresh strawberries
- fresh fruit
- snap pea crisps
The goal was to enjoy lots of fresh seafood while we could!
- fish tacos and corn on the cob
- shrimp and scallops pasta primavera; strawberry rhubarb pie for dessert
- bratwurst with peppers and onions, roasted cauliflower and brussells sprouts, and garlic sourdough toast
- red drum (caught by my father-in-law!) and vegetable sides
Many women meal plan as a way to serve their families by saving money, by providing healthy food around the table, and by preventing the stress that can happen when you don’t know what to cook. Meal planning on vacation serves the same purpose.
No two families eat the same foods all the time. As wives and mothers we need to figure out what best serves our own families in the various seasons of life that we find ourselves in. I share this list to hopefully give encouragement that it can be done (to whatever degree you’re able) and to hopefully give you some ideas in case you are in a meal planning rut.
As always, take what you find helpful, feel free to ask any questions, and don’t worry about the rest!
I do not always plan our meals when we are at home with a normal schedule. In the future, though, I do hope to share more about what my current method is in keeping my kitchen stocked and ready to get healthy food on the table. I also hope to post soon about what our meal planning looks like when we go camping. It is similar in some aspects, but different at the same time since we don’t have a refrigerator and can only cook on our camp stove.