Make the Most of Your Vacation Rental Kitchen

Travel has changed a lot with the introduction of HomeAway.com, VRBO.com, airbnb.com as well as vacation clubs and timeshares. It is not uncommon for vacationers to have access to a full kitchen and even outdoor grill facilities. After transportation costs and lodging, food is one of the major expenses of a vacation. With some planning and creative packing you can make the most of your vacation rental kitchen, and eat better for less. 

Teal and Cream Floral Meal Planner Menu

Planning helps Make the Most of Your Vacation Rental Kitchen

I admit it. I am a planner. I often have plans A, B and C just in case things don’t go quite as expected. For me, a lot of the joy in travel is the preparation, the planning and the anticipation. Added bonuses of planning are that it leaves you more time to have fun since your itinerary is already set and cuts back on unnecessary costs. So how exactly do you plan a menu for your vacation?

Kitchen tools
Find out what tools you will have available.

First: Find out what sort of equipment will be available to you. It won’t do much good to plan meals that you won’t have the tools to prepare. Most vacation rentals have the basics: refrigerator, stove, oven, microwave and dishwasher. You can usually count on a basic set of pots and pans. If you are driving to your vacation residence, you may want to pack a crockpot, grill tools, and any other things you rely on when cooking at home. If you are flying to your destination, you can still save time and money with a menu plan and make the most of your vacation rental kitchen.Hint: Bring reusable grocery bags. Some destinations either charge for them or don’t provide them at all. You may also want to bring a soft sided cooler for packing picnic lunches. 

Second: Consider your schedule. If you are going to be out all day, plan a crockpot or quick fix meal. If you have a crockpot available, a little prep time in the morning means coming home to a dinner that is ready. If you don’t have a crockpot, consider marinating the meat in the morning to go on the grill or in the oven when you return in the evening. You can also chop and prepare any fruit or vegetables ahead of time so that all that is left is assembly. HInt: Bring baggies to store meat while it is marinating, veggies or fruit that you have cut or chopped ahead of time, or leftovers.  Rental units rarely come with storage containers for food. 

Plan which spices you will need and store them safely
Plan which spices you will need and store them safely

Third: Always bring salt and pepper. You know you will need them and won’t use them up. Other basics that I pack when I am driving are olive (or your favorite kind of) oil, butter, coffee, tea,  and sugar or sweetener of your choice. Next, settle on a flavor profile for the duration of your trip. You don’t want to try to pack spices and condiments for Asian, Italian and Mexican. Ideally you can pack 5 to 6 spices that can be combined in different ways to offer variety without having to bring the whole spice cabinet. I focus on spices initially because they are expensive to buy and you often only use a small amount. If you are flying, store the amount of each spice that you will need in snack size baggies. Make sure to then put the small baggies into on large one to prevent spillage and contain the aroma. I start by picking 3 of my favorite recipes, especially if they can be made ahead or are quick to fix. I focus on recipes with a smaller list of ingredients. Then I find recipes that have some of those same flavors.  Unless we are staying a week or more, I try to avoid making burgers. Everyone has their favorite toppings (Ketchup, Mayo, Mustard, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Pickles, Cheese…) and you rarely use them all up. I have included some of my go to meals and their recipes below.

Last: Remember that you are on vacation! Leave a day or 2 days open for dinners out or leftovers. Try to plan things that don’t require a lot of preparation in either time or dishes. If you are driving (or you are willing to check a cooler) bring frozen spaghetti sauce or soups with you.  Find out if there is a grocery nearby or even better yet, if there is a grocery delivery service. 

Summer Menu

breakfast: egg muffins   Skinnytaste 

                  overnight oatmeal

lunch: chicken salad    GimmeSomeOven

           shrimp tortellini salad    Skinnytaste

dinner: grilled flank steak   KaylynsKitchen

            fish tacos   SkinnyTaste

            sheet pan chicken   SkinnyTaste

Winter Menu

lunch: crock pot sloppy joes   MyRecipes

           Santa Fe Bean Soup   12Tomatoes

dinner: Chili   SkinnyTaste

            Salisbury Steak Meatballs   SkinnyTaste

1 Comment

  1. This is the best post EVER!!! Great recipes AND notes to self–plan ahead!

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