Going on a beach vacation for the cook in the family can be a juggling act. You want to feed your family healthy meals, you don’t want to eat out every meal and you want your prep time to be fast so you can enjoy the beach with everyone else.
My simple beach menus along with my super packing tricks will have you back on the beach splashing around with your family in no time. If you are like me, you don't want to blow all of your vacation money on going out to eat either but you don't want to be a slave to the kitchen either. Who cares how fancy your condo kitchen is, you'd rather be at the beach with your family. Buying expensive pre-made frozen meals at expensive beach grocery store prices isn't the solution either. So what is the solution?
Click here for my YouTube video on more packing tips.
Planning and Low Expectations
Knowing what to pack and planning a few meals can make a huge difference. Much like my Simple Beach Packing post, less is more! I don't plan meals for the whole week, keeping in mind that we will be going out a couple of times and then there is the occasional, "hey let's order a pizza tonight" I don't cook every night. This means planning 3-4 days of menus for our family is all I need to do. However, if you are like my friend Betsy who vacations with several families, you might want to plan more meals.
Strategically packing a small cooler and an 18 gal plastic tub is all you need to make your cooking time at the beach fly and save you from eating out every meal. In my small cooler I pack several quart size bags of pre-cooked meats, frozen flat, that I have prepare at home before our trip. Cooking, packaging and freezing just three entrees such as grilled fajita chicken, sliced seasoned pork loin, and taco meat will launch a number of dishes for your week at the beach. Quesadillas with fajita chicken, pork loin sandwiches, nachos with taco meat are just a few dishes you can prepare in a jiffy.
We like certain items that we cannot find in our beach town, so we make sure to pack these items. Also, the place where we stay for the week does not provide certain things like oil, salt, pepper, laundry detergent, extra paper towels, dish detergent & Old Bay Seasoning just to name a few, so we pack those things as well. I have gotten very good at packing it all in a plastic tub.
It’s amazing what you can fit into an 18 gal tub if you get creative and think outside the box (literally). Carefully re-packing mac & cheese into small baggies, snacks into smaller containers or consolidating can save you from several trips to the beach market. This will not only work with food items but works well for a weeks worth of laundry detergent or any item not supplied at your vacation rental.
In the tub I pack non-perishables:
Pasta, oil, dried fruit, favorite cereal, paper goods, spices, peanut butter, syrup, nuts, condiments, muffin mix, and so much more. Like I said, our condo doesn't provide us with a week's worth of supplies, so we pack as much of those items as well.
In a small cooler I pack frozen items that have been pre-made(by me) the week before and frozen flat in quart size bags.
I also bring alone other items that will keep me out of the grocery stores until mid week.
I pack grilled Chicken, taco meat, sliced and seasoned pork loin, soups, and sauces. If you have more room add these frozen items as well, deli meats, butter, dips, cookie dough and burgers (such as Bubba burgers) repackaged out of BOX! Most of these items can all fit in quart size baggies and frozen flat.
Here is this year's vacation menu:
Pasta with chicken and Alfredo sauce (pre-made sauce)
Burgers with sliced homegrown tomatoes
Annie's Mac and cheese with a side of steamed broccoli (a family favorite)
Soup & Garlic Bread
Chicken Quesadillas (I like mine with a bit of Texas Caviar too)
Sub sandwiches with deli meats and cheese
THE OTHER NIGHTS
We buy fresh seafood one night to steam or bake and serve it with roadside produce red potatoes and/or corn on cob. This might happen more than one night for lunch or supper. :)
Chips and Texas caviar or home-made salsa is our "take to the beach for a quick snack" while we catch the last bit of our sunsets.
YO YO nights (you are on your own) & eat everything in sight night- usually the night before we leave we clear everything out of the pantry or refrigerator and have it for dinner/snack
We like to make a pit stop along the way for fruit and fresh veggies to go with our meals for the week.
You can't help but go to the store to pick up a few things like eggs, milk, or fresh breads. But with the items packed from home, I am not in a desperate state. And I don't have to spend vacation time fighting the crowds when I really want to be sticking my toes in the sand.
I hope this makes you think before your next vacation and plan some meals to make your life easier at the beach or cabin. What are some staples that you like take to the beach?
I will be writing a post on making a list for this year's vacation tub, so make sure to hit the follow button at the top, so you don't miss the post. If you are interested in connecting with Corine check out her new PODCAST called RISING STORIES. Subscribe here.