Sunday, August 16, 2015

Vacation Cooking Tips

Traveling with kids can be hard.  Traveling with two kids under 4, is hard.  For us, one of the hardest parts of extended travel is eating out.  Not only does it get hard to keep a toddler and preschooler content while confined for that long, but also more expensive and unhealthy compared to eating in.  So you can imagine how excited I was to rent a house instead of staying in a hotel this trip.  Sleeping arrangements were easier (everyone in their own bedroom), and having a full kitchen allowed us to make some of our own meals.  I even got to go grocery shopping at a Kroger on the island! (Yes, this excites me - I always like daydreaming about all the places I "could work.")  

The next challenge was how to stock a kitchen for a week without bringing everything.  Enter my label-obsessed, super-organized alter ego.  First, I planned our menu for the week, including built-in restaurant meals, since you have to try some of the local food down there.  A few of our plans changed along the way (like we decided not to make a day trip to Charleston since we'd spent enough time in the car) and we were able to easily adapt them, but all in all, this gave everyone an idea of what we would do that day.  Several meals, we opted for sandwiches/wraps, fruit, and pretzels, think picnic food.  It was cheap, relatively healthy, and easy to make/take if we wanted to eat on the go.  Of course, we also snuck in a few snacks - ice cream at Leopold's, coffee at Tybean, cookies from Byrd's - but this helped keep us on track. We even posted it to the fridge.

Next, I found all the recipes I wanted to make while down there (obviously, we had to splurge and make a peach pie and some peach sauce for our pancakes - it was vacation, after all!).  I printed everything out so it was all in one place, then measured out any ingredients that I could ahead of time (mostly dry ingredients).  I put all the pre-measured ingredients in a neatly labeled ziplock bag along with any remaining ingredients that needed to be added and cooking directions (it was so handy having that on there!).  Then I made a grocery list of the ingredients we wouldn't be bringing from home (things like milk, eggs, butter, yogurt, peaches, pie crust, etc.) so I'd be all ready to shop when we got there.  I brought some from home, too (condiments, cooking spray, applesauce).  The only thing I forgot was the oil for the pancakes, but I was able to substitute applesauce which made it healthier anyway.

All ready to go!  Packed in a reusable bag along with paper products 
and any kitchen essentials that wouldn't be provided at the house.
(notice how I even brought S/P/seasoning salt for the burgers?)

Here's a peak at our vacation cooking:

Whole Wheat Pancakes with Peach Sauce

Grilled Burgers and Chopped Salad
We bought a chopped salad kit that was perfect for a single meal.

The girls felt right at home.

Georgia Peach Pie
naptime baking with a glass of muscadine wine?
yes, please!

As a special treat the last night of our trip, we decided to have a "fancy dinner night."  We were debating which nice Savannah/Tybee Island restuarant we wanted to subject to our crazy kids when the idea hit me - we could order take out.  Same food, same menu, less stress.  We found a nice restuarant that was close, ordered three delicious southern-favorite dishes, and had a feast, all in the comfort of our vacation house.  Without disrupting everyone else's fancy dinner night with our tired, emotionally volitile children.  We LOVED it!  I would recommend that to anyone who's traveling or just wants a little stay-cation.

And there you have it, vacation cooking tips from a mama of two crazy kiddos!  A little planning makes all the difference. Happy travels!

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