Any Mom knows that planning a vacation requires a LOT of work. We often feel like we need that vacation even more just from getting ready for it! It’s normal to want some time to relax once you and your family arrive at your destination. However, unless you plan to eat out for all of your meals, you’re still going to need to feed your tribe.
Our family recently went on a vacation and I’m sharing with you the meals and food prep ideas that I did to take a little off my plate, so to speak, while we were there.
On the Road
When we are going on a trip, I try to always have a cooler and some groceries for ready-made meals, whether they need to be eaten at a picnic area en route or at our final destination. It’s especially helpful if your lodging comes with a kitchen area, because this allows you to utilize a fridge and freezer and do the final prep work for your meal.
Here are some great choices for Homemade, Ready-Made, or minimal prep meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner for your next family getaway.
Peanut Butter and Banana Tortillas
For an easy, on the road type breakfast or lunch, a great option is Peanut Butter and Banana Tortillas (or in our case, we use sunbutter or almond butter for one of our children). They’re easy to make prior to, or the morning of, departure and you can wrap them individually in sandwich bags or tinfoil so they’re easy to pass out to everyone in the car. Put some chips or popcorn in individual snack bags if it’s lunch time, and some apple slices or grapes in another individual bag for each family member, and you’ve got a healthy “fast food” meal ready for everyone. Our family also loves Kind Bars, and they are a great alternative to sugary snack options.
Fruit and Yogurt Parfaits
This is one of my favorite things for breakfast because it’s yummy, easy and wholesome. I make ours with Organic Lactose Free Yogurt, mini Enjoy Life chips, Go Lean Crunch and whatever fresh fruit I have on hand such as sliced strawberries or blueberries (or both!)
Once you’re at your destination, pancakes can actually be a great option. They’re not too labor intensive if you buy a ready-made mix (which I’m all for when we’re out of town). Everyone in our family loves pancakes and I rarely ever (okay, never) make them at home, but when life is a bit slower paced, I don’t mind making a batch of these for our family breakfast. For our recent family vacation, I froze a couple packages of bacon ahead of time and put them in the cooler the morning that we left. They helped keep the food cold, and bacon, eggs and pancakes for breakfast was a great way to start a couple of our days.
Bacon and Egg Wraps
These are great for trips, and can be made and frozen individually ahead of time to make them last longer into your trip. As long as you have a microwave, grill, or open fire they will warm your belly right up first thing in the morning.
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 T butter
- 5 eggs
- 1 T milk
- ½ t. salt
- ¼ t. pepper
- 2 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
- ½ lb sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 4 (10 inch) flour tortillas
- Saute onion in butter until tender. In a bowl, beat the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour over onions in skillet. Sprinkle with cheese and bacon. Cook and stir gently over medium heat until the eggs are completely cooked. Spoon ½ cup of eggs down the center of each tortilla and fold the sides over the filling.
- Even when I’m not preparing for a trip, I like to make a big batch of these and freeze them for quick breakfasts. They will not disappoint.
More breakfast ideas:
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Toast and eggs
Lunch or Dinner Options:
Your Typical Sandwich Ideas (PB&J, sliced deli meat, etc.)
While I’m not a huge fan of PB&J, this was the perfect lunch to quickly pack up for a day away from our cabin while we went sightseeing.
Lettuce wraps are so good (these are my favorite!) and you can do all of the prep work ahead of time. For the inside part of your lettuce wrap, make it ahead of time and store in a Ziploc Bag. (For travel I omit the rice.) I like to use Romaine leaves for these and they actually did very well traveling in the cooler. There was only a tiny bit on the ends that I chose to throw away but other than that, they were perfect! I try not to use too many Ziploc bags on a regular basis, but when it comes to packing for a vacation they are great. After adding the food, I squeeze all of the air out of the bag and store it in the fridge until the day of departure, and then pop it into my ice-filled cooler.
Chicken Salad on Croissants
My husband’s grandma makes this recipe for most family get togethers, and everyone loves them! This is a ready-made meal I have used over and over again.
- 2 cans of shredded chicken
- 1/2 c. Mayo
- 3/4 c. Craisins
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1/2 c. chopped pecans
- 1/2 t. Lawry's dash of celery salt
- Mix together and serve on croissants.
- Make your chicken salad the day before you leave and put it in a Ziploc bag. Squeeze the air out and wrap the bag around itself for compact packing in your cooler. This is a yummy meal that is easily completed with chips, fruit or applesauce.
To make things easier on me once we arrived at our destination, I browned all of the beef ahead of time that I would need for our trip. Then I portioned it up into separate Ziploc bags, squeezed the air out, wrapped the bag around itself and froze them. (Be sure to salt and pepper your meat if that’s the way you like it.) By freezing the beef, it helped keep the food cold in our cooler, but it also let me save these meals for later in the week without having to worry that the food would spoil while waiting for its rotation in the meal plan. We had a freezer in our cabin, so I just transferred the beef to the freezer until the day before I needed them.
Taco Salad was super easy to prepare for my family while we were on vacation because I made the taco meat ahead of time and froze it. I then packed a can of black beans, an onion, a bag of Doritos and Romaine lettuce.
Beef and Vegetable Hash
- 2 lbs ground beef (seasoned with garlic powder)
- 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
- 4 large potatoes, sliced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Since my beef was already cooked, I defrosted it and then tossed the carrots, potatoes and onion into the pan, cooked them through and served.
On the Go Beef Casserole
For this recipe all you need is ground beef, frozen potato puffs, frozen corn, salt, pepper and cheddar cheese.
To make this meal, heat the beef through and add the frozen corn. While that is cooking, make your potato puffs in the oven. When everything is ready, add shredded cheese to the beef. When you are ready to serve, layer the potato puffs over the beef mixture.
More lunch and dinner ideas:
- Hotdogs, chips and canned baked beans
- Tuna over romaine with Italian dressing (I made the tuna ahead of time and placed it in a Ziploc bag)
- Chicken Caesar salad wraps (Grill your chicken ahead of time or purchase ready made grilled chicken and toss with lettuce and Caesar dressing. Wrap in tortillas)
- Homemade canned Applesauce
- Homemade canned fruit (peaches, cherries, pears)
- Carrot sticks (peeled and sliced ahead of time)
- Cucumber slices
- Chips and hummus
- Watermelon (we packed a whole watermelon and then sliced it up when we got to our destination)
- Blueberries (I washed these ahead of time and put them in a Ziploc bag. Made for great snacking in the car, and they were also a yummy edition to our pancakes and yogurt parfaits for breakfast)
- Strawberries (I left these in the store container and then washed as needed once we were at our destination)
- Hard-boiled Eggs
- Homemade trail mix
How We Did It
Packing all of this food was completely reasonable. I used one regular sized cooler, my large 31 Utility Tote and two paper grocery bags filled with groceries. While it did take extra work ahead of time to get everything ready, it was SO worth it once we were on vacation. I loved that I was able to serve my family healthy meals, save money and not spend all of my time in the kitchen.
Do you make homemade ready-meals ahead of time? If so, what are you favorite recipes?
This post contributed by Becky at Purposeful Homemaking