A Guide to Cooking Great Food on Vacation

We recently returned from a week-long cabin vacation with *17* family members, including 7 children.

Feed us!
Feed us!

Not a crowd you’d want to drag to a restaurant, so we cooked everything in two small cabin kitchens. It can be done!

My sister, making cooking for 17 look easy.

A few tips:

  • Plan before you leave home – Arrive at the grocery store in that vacation town with a plan. If possible, think ahead about (1) what you want to make, (2) any ingredients that would be easier to bring than buy, and (3) a shopping list for when you get there.

    The meal plan. Don’t leave home without it.
  • But leave room for spontaneity – Staying 7 days? Don’t plan more than 5 dinners. Maybe even less will suit you. Give yourself the flexibility to check out a restaurant or try something you see at a local market.
  • Remember to bring any recipes in the plan – If they’re in a cookbook, snap a quick picture with your phone.
  • Buy less food than you think you will need – When staying a week or more in a new kitchen, it’s easy to overestimate how much you think you’ll need. If the store isn’t too far, buy just 3-4 days worth of food at a time. The last thing you want is to pack a bunch of food home or worse, throw it out.

5 Crowd-Pleasing Healthy Vacation Meals

  • This plus chicken = Kickin' Chicken.
    This plus chicken = Kickin’ Chicken.

    Kickin’ Chicken – One of the easiest chicken dishes out there and SO good. Mix a bottle (350mL) of light peanut sauce with a cup of salsa in a 13×9″ baking dish and add about 2 1/4 lbs chicken (breasts or thighs). Make sure all of the pieces are completely covered. Bake at 400F for 40-45 min (thighs), 35-40 min (breasts). Serve over quinoa or another whole grain with a big pile of vegetables (the sauce goes well with leafy greens like kale or swiss chard). Enjoy! Adapted from the Looneyspoons cookbook. Note: You might want to pick up a bottle of peanut sauce before you leave home. Not always easy to find in vacation towns. We like this Blue Menu Memories of Szechwan sauce from Superstore/Loblaws/Extra Foods.

  • Super Fast Black Bean Quesadillas – A vegetarian favourite with the kids, we often put these out for lunch with cherry tomatoes and other raw veggies on the side. Make lots, they disappear quickly! Recipe from savvymom.ca
  • Chili-Rubbed Salmon – The recipe suggests pan-frying the salmon, but it works just as well on the grill. You can use the spice rub for any other fish too, or chicken or pork, for that matter. Pair with a salad or grilled veggies. Recipe from realsimple.comNote: I often mix up the spice rub at home and take it in a zip-lock bag. It’s just 1- 1/2 tablespoons chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  • Arugula Pasta Salad – From Mark Bittman’s fun list of 101 Simple Salads for the Season. “Mix lots of arugula with somewhat less cold whole wheat penne, lemon zest, olive oil and Parmesan. The idea is an arugula salad with pasta, not a pasta salad with arugula.” (That’s it. You can follow the link for the other 100 salads, but that’s the full recipe.) As above, pair with grilled meat or have on it’s own as a light vegetarian meal.)

Homemade food is generally a lot better for you than restaurant food, and with a little planning, you can fuel up and be back enjoying the great outdoors in no time. Enjoy! IMG_6956

Have a comment? We’d love to hear from you on our Facebook page.

If you need more quick meal ideas that you can make on vacation, take a peek at my What to cook when you don’t feel like cooking and Budget-friendly meals for when you *really* don’t feel like cooking.

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