There may come a day when we can eat out all the time on vacation… or there may not, because eating out is not just expensive but often unhealthy.
And yet, the point of my vacation is to do different things than I do at home. Like lie on the beach, ski, or explore a new city without spending all day making things from scratch and cleaning up after myself.
So, without further ado, here are my five steps to cook on vacation and still be on vacation.
- Eat breakfast in. Our staples are oats (generally affordable no matter where we go), which I will do as a big batch of cooked oatmeal at the beginning of our week, or I will bake into Baked Oatmeal, and then keep in the fridge until we’ve eaten it all. Some of the children don’t like oatmeal, though, and so I will splurge on cereals I won’t buy at home. (The non-oatmeal eaters think this is awesome.)
- Pack a lunch. If we’re going to be on the ski slopes, I will throw sandwiches and snacks in the backpack. We still buy (ridiculously expensive) drinks on top of the mountain, but at least I didn’t spend $60 on a lousy lunch for two.
- Or, eat lunch out. Lunch for six people can be more affordable than dinner for six people. And when some of my little people refuse to explore new foods on vacation, it doesn’t kill me pay for a lunch portion of mac & cheese the same way it does to pay for a “dinner” serving. (Okay, I’m lying. It still kills me to pay $8 for something that came out of a box that cost 99 cents.)
- Think ahead. I like to prepare ahead for a few meals. For example, I will bring a few recipe cards for simple meals (roasts in the crockpot, pork tenderloin that cooks quickly, or a crockpot Indian chicken dish). All three of those dishes have complex flavors that make me feel like I’m somewhere exotic and delicious. I didn’t prepare ahead, there’s no way I would buy 17 spices in tiny jars for one meal, only to throw them away at the end of a week… or try to stuff them in my luggage to bring home. (Don’t laugh. I’ve done it, much to the confusion of the TSA.) But I have all those spices at home, because these are regular meals in our rotation. So I throw the spices for the rub or for the crockpot into a little baggie, labeled with the recipe, and tuck it in my luggage. (It helps to make a note on my recipe card to show exactly which part is already included in the bag of spices. Otherwise: double cayenne, anyone?)
- Go out for dessert. Even a frozen pizza after a day at the beach is special when we walk to the ice cream shop afterwards.
Here are a few of my easy-exotic recipes that are easily made on vacation:
Crock Pot Butter Chicken (butter chicken is an Indian dish made with garam masala- no butter involved)
Island Pork Tenderloin (this one requires fresh garlic but was so worth it- my kids licked the plates.)
What are your go-to recipes for cooking easily on vacation?