How to Meal Prep for a Vacation
Planning a vacation is no small feat, and planning what to eat while on vacation can take nearly as much time and research as it does to pull the whole trip together. When it comes to cooking while on an extended stay at a rental property, Airbnb, or family vacation home, take into account the foods that you can travel with, the ingredients that you can buy on location, and the equipment that you should tote along with you to keep life feeling easy-breezy. After all, we are talking about vacation.
Before You Leave Home
Because you need to be in the mindset of meal prepping, it would be wise to find out what the setup of your short-term kitchen is going to be (if you already don’t know). Maybe you will be limited to a stovetop, and not have access to an oven, or you will have to work with a mini refrigerator. Whatever the case may be, you will need to go ahead and prepare yourself for what you will have to work with.
The Best Appliances and Tools to Pack
There are a few key kitchen appliances and tools that you should pack and take along with you to your vacation home. A slow cooker or Instant Pot will do wonders for you, as these set-it-and-forget-it appliances make cooking as hassle-free as it gets. A sharp knife is another essential tool to bring with to you. Chances are, the knives provided in your rental aren’t going to be of the highest quality or sharpness. Therefore, wrap up your favorite chef’s knife (using a clean towel) and cutting board, and bring them with you. I’d also to make a strong case for carrying your cast-iron skillet (only if you are driving, not flying, to your destination). I know, I know… it’s heavy; but this ultra-versatile pan is perfect for virtually any stovetop task—breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
WATCH: How to Make Pineapple Slaw
What Ingredients to Bring
If you are very particular about your spices, as I am, pack a few zip-top bags filled with your favorite all-purpose seasonings. I tend to take sea salt, black peppercorns with a grinder, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder. With those staples, I can flavor my food without feeling as if I need my entire spice rack.
Purchasing meats and produce is dependent on if you are traveling by car rather than air. If driving, pack your cooler with both dry ice and regular ice to ensure that your food items remain cold over an extended period of time. Items such as a pork shoulder, beef chuck roast, and chicken thighs are excellent proteins to prepare in your slow cooker to make for family meals with versatile leftovers. And honestly, if you’re really on top of your prep game, you could even prepare some of these dishes ahead before skipping town and store them in freezer-safe, zip-top bags to dish out as you need them. Other easy make-ahead dishes such as meatballs, chili, and roasted chicken make for simple, satisfying meals that are easy to prep in big batches to eat on for a few days.
If you are traveling to the coast for a beach vacation, you most likely will have access to fresh seafood at local seafood markets, so definitely take advantage. Our Slow Cooker Shrimp Boil is the perfect beach getaway meal to make for the family on such an occasion.
When it comes to the produce, you can bring a few items along with you, but it’s often easier to simply shop for fresh fruits and veggies once you reach your destination. Sturdy vegetables such as corn, squash, carrots, onion, and potatoes can withstand traveling. However, more delicate veggies such as tomatoes and leafy greens could potentially be crushed in transport. Don’t forget that canned goods are always handy to round out a meal. Canned baked beans, peas, black beans, and tuna can help keep simple vacation meals manageable.
All in all, the very fact that you can gather your family to travel to a relaxing location for more than a couple of days is a victory in and of itself. And these vacation prepping tips, you can make the next battle—figuring out how to feed them without driving yourself nuts—a small one.