Menu Planning for Vacations

Vacation Meal on Table

Start your Vacation sooner!

As a Professional Organizer I tend to plan EVERYTHING! I have a packing list for clothes including things like strapless bras or specific jewelry. I research area attractions and make a plan for when we will go based on weather forecasts. And since we usually stay in a timeshare or vacation rental unit, I like to pre-plan our meals and make a grocery shopping list.

What we cook and eat while on vacation has changed over the years.  In the past when we had children with us, we made a larger breakfast and now we stick to lighter items like fruit and yogurt or an occasional pastry if I can find a local bakery.  If we go to the beach (our personal favorite), we plan to eat lunch onsite so we can go back and forth from the pool or beach.  Generally, we will stick with sandwiches and salads with veggies and chips and dip.  For dinners, we like to buy and cook local seafood, as well as going out to local restaurants (we try to support the local businesses and want to experience the culture through the food).

Here are some shopping tips for your next vacation:

·       Consider who you will be spending time with and any special diet needs (food allergies, or major dislikes). Be considerate of each other’s needs and be willing to try new foods and flavors.

·       Make a list of nonperishable basics-most AirBnB and Timeshares only provide an initial amount.   Include paper products (TP, Kleenex, paper towels, paper plates, napkins, plastic cups/K,F.S) storage (plastic wrap, foil, ziplock), cleaning (dish washing soap, laundry detergent) sugar/sweeteners/salt & pepper.  These are things you may want to bring from home.  Make a trip to your local Dollar Store and get small sizes of these and set up a plastic tub to load into the car when you head out.   If you are flying into your vacation destination, be sure these items are on your shopping list.

·       Check out your unit’s cooking utensils before heading to the store with your list—Look at the size of pots and pans, and available grills (charcoal or gas). On one of our family ski trips, we had to purchase a large pot in order to make the double batch of chili for everyone.  And if the grill is charcoal you will need to get pre-soaked charcoal to build the fire plus matches or lighter. You may want to adjust your menu if you find you don’t have a grill (hot dogs instead of hamburgers) or you may have to adjust your cooking method (broiling or high heat in the oven).

·       Pre-plan meals so that you can utilize items purchased multiple times. Rotisserie Chicken can be purchased and used for both Tex Mex (fajitas, quesadilla, tortilla soup) and Pasta Night (Carbonara, Alfredo) as well as topping a salad mix (Caesar, Club). Any leftover can be made into a chicken salad (lots of recipes and variety) and used for a light lunch or appetizers.

·       Purchase condiments (mustard, mayo, ketchup, salad dressings) in the smallest size possible to avoid throwing away leftovers at the end of your trip. Sometimes it is hard to find small sizes (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) and you may pay less for a bigger bottle. If you do have to buy the larger bottle, try to substitute and use when you can.

·       Purchase snack foods in the LARGEST containers if traveling with kids and teenagers.  The amount of snack items needed on a vacation is often underestimated!  Kids get hungry playing on the beach or skiing all day and everyone enjoys snacks during games or movies with the family in the evening.  Bag up any leftovers to take in the car for the drive home or put in your carry-on bags for snacking on the plane.

·       Plan for easy clean up (YOU’RE ON VACATION)!  Paper plates, plastic knives, forks, spoons, and cups means no one has to wash dishes.  Foil is great for lining baking sheets or using on the grill to steam veggies.  Plastic wrap or storage bags help to keep foods fresh in the refrigerator.  And if you are going to be using a crockpot, purchase the liners and just toss when you are done.

·       Final full day needs to be Use it Up Day.  Most units have a check out time of 10 am or at the very latest noon. You don’t want to try and eat up or throw away tons of food early in the morning.  Keep items that can be used for breakfast (milk, juices, fruit, bread items) or taken for snacks, but try to use up and clean out the rest of the food.  This will save time as you are packing up and getting ready to head out that final morning. If you have unopened items, you may be able to donate them—some of the Wyndham properties where we have stayed have a box in the main lobby for donations. If it is something you know you will use at home, you can always pack it in the suitcase with your clothes.

My best advice is to take some time before you go to do a little menu planning—and make a list of the items you know you will need (Coffee, cream, sugar, sweetener are always on our list!). Then look at when you know you will eat out and see if you need to make reservations or find out the best time to visit a local eatery. This way you can buy what you need, enjoy the local restaurants or favorite hangout, and not over buy or have to spend time going to the store every day for just a few items.

I have a customized shopping tool and menu suggestions that I am happy to share with you and help you get organized before your vacation. Contact me if you would like to check it out—less time in the store, and more time on the beach or on the slopes. And remember, all occasions are best when organized!!! And vacation is the best occasion.

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