With a large family, traveling requires a bit more planning and meals are a big part of that. We almost always stay somewhere that has a kitchen. It not only allows us to save a lot of money in terms of not eating out, it also cuts the stress level down. Eating out with a lot of kids is not my idea of relaxing!
Before leaving home, I meal plan for the vacation and write out a grocery list so that as soon as we get to our destination, I can go shopping and get settled in. I pack a few things from home such as spices to cut down on costs and try to plan somewhat around what is seasonal or what the location we are going to is known for.
There are certain meals that make it into every one of our vacation meal plans because they are easy to make and sure to be a hit with my family.
For me, food is a big part of a vacation, so it’s important that we eat well. I don’t want to eat peanut butter and jam sandwiches and KD on my holiday! I also find that if we just eat easy food (read junk), I don’t feel well and that puts a damper on the time away too.
One of our sons is gluten free, so that is something I also have to take into consideration even when we are away.
The vacation meal plan that I am sharing with you today is from a recent vacation that we took to Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. It’s the third time we had stayed at this particular place which made planning much easier as I knew which kitchen utensils the condo rentals came with and what local grocery stores to shop at. I had also discovered on previous trips some locally made cheeses that I knew I wanted to incorporate into some of our meals. I also knew we wanted to have at least one meal with fresh seafood since we were on the ocean.
Since it’s also supposed to be my vacation too (!), I try to plan so that I can do some of the prep work for future meals when I already have out the tools and ingredients to save myself time.
I also plan the easiest meals for the first and last day and I use some of the prep work for meals for our snacks as well.
Oatmeal, toast or cereal
Toasted BLTA sandwiches (bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado)
- cook extra bacon for the Cobb Salad on Day 3
- wash extra lettuce for the souvlaki pitas on Day 2 and for the hamburgers on Day 3
Spaghetti (regular noodles and gluten free)
Oatmeal, toast or cereal
To make these, you will need to first make tzatziki. You can also buy it pre-made, but it’s very simple to make and so fresh tasting! You then cut a pita in half and open it to create a pita pocket. Inside, put lettuce, tzatziki, crumbled or cubed feta cheese, sliced purple onion, and sliced tomato. They are delicious!
- slice extra purple onions for Cobb salad on Day 3
BBQ chicken, roasted asparagus, baked potatoes, and vegetable packets (this particular time, I put red pepper, sweet potato, zucchini, yellow squash, and purple onion in the veggie packets)
To make the veggie packets, cut the vegetables into large chunks. Lay them on tin foil. Add a few slices of butter and salt and pepper and seal the foil. Cook in the oven or on the BBQ until they are as soft as you like them to be. Use what’s in season or what you have.
- cut extra veggies for the quesadillas on Day 4
Omelettes and breakfast potatoes made with the leftover baked potatoes
Hamburgers, raw veggies
Bacon, eggs, hash browns
Cajun chicken quesadillas with guacamole
Coat a few boneless, skinless chicken breasts in cajun spice. Fry them up in olive oil and cubed them. On flour tortillas, add the chicken cubes, grated cheese, chopped red peppers, chopped tomatoes, chopped onion, and sliced jalapeños.
- make extra guacamole for snacks or to have with nachos on Day 6
BBQ ribs, baked potatoes with all the fixin’s, corn on the cob, grilled garlic bread
- make extra bacon bits and sliced green onions for Nachos on Day 6
I know that ribs are expensive, but they are a fraction of the cost of what feeding our large family in a restaurant would be. Having a splurge meal like ribs or steak while on vacation helps us stick to our plan of eating in as often as we can.
cereal or oatmeal and bananas
Leftovers or sandwiches
My sister-in-law Deanne’s Paleo Breakfast (eggs scrambled with sautéed onions and garlic, topped with parmesan cheese, cubed avocado and salsa)
hot dogs for the kids + grilled Brie, bacon and granny smith apple sandwiches on rye bread for the adults
Salmon (fresh caught, bought from a local fishery), wild mushroom rice (Uncle Ben’s!) and Greek Salad
cereal or oatmeal
Hash browns, fried eggs topped with local cheese and bacon
Macaroni and cheese for the kids and Nachos for the adults
- pitas with tzatziki
- meat and cheese
- salsa, guacamole and chips
Of course, there will still be times on vacation when you do eat out. For those times, try using some of our tried and true methods to save money in restaurants with your family.
This particular vacation, we were actually there for 9 days, but there was one night where our friends watched our kids and they ordered in pizza while The Husband and I were able to go out on a lovely date and eat things that made my foodie heart content. There was also a day of cleaning out the fridge and eating whatever we could find.
- pack sandwich bags, tin foil and large resealable bags
- bring more expensive spice blends and salt and pepper from home to save money
- do some recon ahead of time to find a grocery store that is near where you will be staying but has good prices. The prices right at resorts or campgrounds tend to be inflated.
What meals do you make when you go on vacation?
Hello Sharla, love all the tips, we do some of them already…also one big helper is packing the slow cooker and making some meals in there while we are out having fun… our favorite meals in the slow cooker while on vacation is chicken stew, spaguetti, and roast beef.
Sharla Kostelyk says
Those are great suggestions. I often bring my slow cooker camping with us and do things like pulled pork or chili. Sometimes I even bring freezer meals in bags in the cooler and throw them into the slow cooker (recipes like chili, soups, BBQ shredded chicken). I don’t know why I’ve never thought to do roast before but I will add that to this summer’s list!