Dear Aviva: I love your website and book. Have you put together a menu for family meals on vacation? Something for when you rent a house and want healthy, easy meals that don’t have so many novel ingredients that you have to buy a bunch of stuff you won’t use up? I don’t want to buy paprika just for 1 recipe for vacation, for example. Thanks for your help!
Kate Hall, Cheshire, CT
I was thrilled to learn that many Scramblers don’t completely abandon making family dinners while on vacation. While it’s a treat to splurge and go out for a few meals while vacationing, if you have access to a kitchen it can also be quieter and more relaxing sometimes to stay in and prepare dinner for the family—that is, if you have a plan (and a kitchen, of course).
Eating in a few nights also saves a lot of cash so that when your 10-year-old asks to go on that roller coaster again (and again!), you feel like you have a few extra dollars with which to indulge her.
Over the years, we’ve gotten lots of requests from members who would like easy recipes and menus to make meal prep in a vacation rental easier. We came up with a week of Six O’Clock Scramble recipes that your family can enjoy while on vacation without toting a ton of ingredients:
One strategy you can use to keep you from packing up your whole kitchen before departing for your trip is to create spice mixes you may need for a recipe and travel with them in plastic baggies or small containers.
Here are some more tips from other Scramblers:
Order Ahead: My time saver is I find a grocery store at my vacation spot where I can order the groceries online ahead of time and then pick it up when I arrive. Best invention ever.
Pack Ahead: Our goal on vacations is to keep eating out to one meal a day, so yes we cook. We try to stay in places with a kitchen or we camp. I can’t bring a lot of fresh food, but pack each meal in a labeled bag with what I need to buy to complete the meal once we arrive.
Stop and Shop: I meal plan and make a grocery list on the way there, and we do groceries upon arrival. We have a standard go-to list for breakfast, lunch, and snack food that we use for every trip, single night to week-long, and then we make dinner plans that differ depending on whether we’re camping or staying in a house/condo. We typically eat out one night of the trip.
Cook and Freeze: In the weeks before vacation cook several of your family’s favorite meals/casseroles in aluminum pans and freeze them until you are ready to go. They will be hard frozen and travel well in a cooler. When you get to your destination put them in the fridge or the freezer and defrost as needed. Freeze stuff weeks ahead so there is no last minute rush.
Grab and Go: Grab, go and clean up your own breakfasts and lunches: Granola, breakfast bars, cereal, milk, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, apples, bananas, sandwich thins, tortillas, peanut butter and jelly, cheese and other sandwich/ quesadilla fixings. I set out everything on a table and everyone fixes their own. The kids are in charge of cleaning it all up before heading out to the lake/beach to play. It works beautifully, and since everyone cleans up their own plates, there is no clean up for the moms.
Scramble subscriber Tammie K. of Maryland, wrote to tell me about her family’s approach to vacation meals:
Dear Aviva: We rented a house at the beach last week and had a wonderful vacation. On past beach trips, our eating consisted of many trips to the grocery store for miscellaneous things, a lot of restaurant time, and visits to the deli for sandwiches. This year, under the influence of The Scramble, I made a plan for the entire week—1 night out, 3 meals cooked by me, 2 cooked by my mother-in-law, and 1 night of leftovers. I purchased all of our food before the vacation and packed it in a cooler. I made your Maryland Crab Cakes, Sautéed Shrimp with Tomatoes and Lemon, and Seared Salmon with Lime Butter—they were delicious, quick, and looked great. We saved a ton of money and ate better than most of the restaurant fare. I just love the positive influence that The Scramble continues to have on me.
Does your family have a vacation meal tradition? I’d love to hear about it below or on The Scramble Facebook page, especially if it involves some home cooked meals.
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