The Meal Planner

Our family just got back from a three day vacation with extended family in the mountains.  Freakin' gorgeous!  The mountains are truly breath taking and had me continually in awe of the Creator and His creation.  

Before we went, I needed some smart meal planning for this trip. My mother in law had suggested we be prepared to eat out, but we just couldn't justify the expense especially when we had access to a full kitchen.  Instead I made a meal plan, grocery shopped, and packed everything into coolers.   I decided to prep all our meals before we left so that when we got there we could enjoy our outings and quickly throw dinner in the oven when we got home.  

The day before we left I spent 2.5 hours preparing all our meals for three days, took a break, and then spent another 2 hours in the afternoon baking muffins for snacks and bread for breakfast.  Here was my meal plan for our 3-day mountain vacation in a condo:

Lunch - Bombay Sloppy Joes with Spinach Salad
Supper - Beef and Bean Chimichangas with Salad

Breakfast - toast, eggs, yogurt, and strawberries
Lunch - Sandwiches, Hummus with Pitas, Veggies with Dip and Wildberry Muffins (this was our picnic on the mountain)
Supper - Italian Sausage Soup with Buns 

Breakfast - toast, eggs, yogurt, and strawberries
Lunch - Sandwiches and Leftover Chimichangas

I doubled all the recipes to feed 5 adults and 4 children and we had a ton of food!  It was amazing to just quickly heat up the soup on the stove, or toss the tray of pre-made chimichangas in the oven, or heat up the sloppy joes and serve them up on buns.  Everybody's bellies were happy, it took hardly any time at all, and the cost was about $20 per adult to eat like a king for three days!  Much better (and cheaper) than fast food or expensive tourist restaurants.

My criteria when choosing recipes were to think about:
1) One pot (or one pan) meals
2) Inexpensive, yet tastes incredible
3) Things that would travel well and would be self-contained once we got there (ie: things that don't need a lot of condiments or add ons which would take up more room in the coolers)
4) Heat up easily

I definitely got that out of the meals I chose to make!  I'll post them here with their pictures, along with a few more that I think would have also been good to pre-make and take with us:

I also made a batch of Taco Rice and used that in the filling to make the meat and beans stretch farther. I ended up with about 18 chimichangas which fed all of us for supper one night and lunch the next day with a few leftovers for the drive home.

 Make the soup and let it cool down, then pour into jars to travel to your destination.  DO NOT add the spinach until right before you serve it. 

These are fantastic and everyone always raves.  Easy enough to heat up and serve on buns.

If I could have found pork shoulder roast on sale I totally was going to bring this! On your prep day, you need only throw everything in the slow cooker and let it cook.  Make the avocado cream fresh right before you serve it just by mashing with a fork instead of a food processor.

Another dish where your slow cooker does all the work on prep day.  This is a nice mild curry sure to please everyone's palettes.

This is similar to a chili but I find chili to be so boring and predictable.  This is a great one-pot meal that throws a little somethin' somethin' unexpected at you.

This is another easy hot sandwich that you need only heat up the meatballs and serve it up on some buns or sub rolls with cheese.

All of these dishes are great ideas for you if you are going away on holidays to a cabin or condo, whether in summer or the dead of winter.  But don't forget about snacks!  Those were some of the best things we had while we were hiking up the mountain to the waterfall or picnicking beside the lake.  

Wildberry Muffins

Other great snacks were:
  • Veggies with dip (easy to precut on your prep day and put into vegetable bags)
  • Fresh fruit

What a fantastic trip we had with fantastic food to boot!  Do you meal plan for family vacations?  What other sorts of one-pot dinners would you make?

Stumble Upon Toolbar
3 Responses
  1. Tina Miles Says:

    Most of our vacations are to visit my husband's family. With 4 siblings, if everyone comes out it can be a large gathering. We've taken to each taking a meal and cooking it/cleaning up so one person isn't stuck in the kitchen. With usually about 10 adults and about 15 kids, it needs to be something that can easily be modified for tastes/food allergies (two in the family are dairy free) and now some are going into all organic/whole foods eating. Its been interesting, I find myself looking all year for good ideas! :) I end up doing things like a taco bar or a "stack" meal so people can pick what they want to put on--the only problem with that is all the chopping that has to happen the day of the meal. This year my SIL is making the main and we're all dealing with the sides. I'm not sure if this is easier or harder! The good news is they live on a farm that is a CSA so I have my pick (literally) of lots of fresh organic veggies, so I have fun using those as much as possible.

  2. Wow, that would be challenging Tina! Great idea making meals that everyone can put together and modify to their own tastes. I was so lucky I didn't have allergies or picky eaters to deal with. You sound like you are dealing with the problem perfectly!

    Along the same lines as a taco bar, why don't you employ the same method with your sides? Maybe build your own stuffed potatoes. You could have baked potatoes with lots of different toppings like chili, cheese, sour cream, bacon, green onions, caramelized onions, steamed broccoli, etc.

    You could also do a salad bar: maybe find some delicious homemade salad dressings and put out all kinds of chopped lettuce, fresh veggies, berries, nuts, croutons, etc.

    Could be tasty!

  3. Qirana Says:

    Trip Planner Treat yourself to the perfect Christmas break in one of our excellent Trip Adviso