Let’s talk cooking on vacation, shall we? I’m a huge fan of it. Not only does it save money, but it also gives you greater control over your eats — meaning that you can eat healthier (or not — however you want to roll). And, I’ll go so far to say that it’s fun. I love to cook, and cooking on vacation is just another great way to relax — albeit in a new place.
The last few times I’ve traveled (to Hermann and Paso!), I’ve rented our own little cottage with a full kitchen through VRBO or Airbnb for exactly these reasons. Plus, I swear the beds are comfier and you get so much more room — with more of a “home” feel for pretty much the same cost as a hotel. Often times, the places we’ve stayed at are as scenic if not more scenic than anywhere else we visit on that trip. Just look at the cuteness we had in Hermann — complete with a barn, pond, grill and view!
Through my time traveling at said places, I’ve learned a few things to make cooking on vacation not only easier and enjoyable, but also more delicious. Here are my top tips if you’re travelling to a spot that has a kitchen!
9 Tips for Cooking on Vacation
1. Shop and plan before you go if you can. Since it was just a three-hour-ish drive to Hermann, Missouri, before we left, we made a trip to TJ’s and filled our cooler up with healthy eats. We figured we’d need food for two breakfasts, a picnic (more on that in a bit), snacks and two dinners. If you’re flying, you can still stock up on your fave healthy snacks so that you have them on hand when hunger strikes.
2. Splurge on the convenience items. While I’m not one to spend extra money on pre-cut veggies and pre-seasoned meats normally at the grocery store, when I’m on vacation, I am all for it. It makes cooking easier, faster and, most importantly, it makes it feel kind of special. At TJ’s we bought a pre-cut mix of mushrooms, asparagus and onions that made for a fabulous side dish, along with salmon that was seasoned and already on a cedar plank. Brilliant for grilling, TJ’s. BRILLIANT.
3. Use leftovers. We made two massive baked potatoes one night — which were way too big to eat. So guess what ended up on the plate again for dinner the next night? Hooray for leftovers!
4. Find the local grocery store. We were lucky enough to have a grill on the property, but there was no charcoal. That’s why it’s important to find a grocery store that’s close to where you’re staying. No matter how well packed you are, there’s a good chance you might need to run out and get something. (And, while every place I’ve ever rented has had a kitchen that’s stocked pretty well with basic cooking gear, you never know when you might need to pick up some salt, pepper or oil — or even a cooking utensil or two.)
5. Bring a special bottle. Vacation is a time for celebrating, and there’s no better way to celebrate in my opinion than with a good bottle of wine. For our trip to Hermann, we brought this bottle from Paso. In celebration of this (Go, Moose!).
6. Start every day with a hearty, protein-rich breakfast. There’s nothing quite like getting up, seeing the sun rise, and having a good warm breakfast to start your day feeling awesome. It’s fantastic fuel for your vacation day ahead!
7. Pack a picnic. A big filling breakfast also allows you to go a little lighter for lunch. And packing a picnic is such a swell way to lunch! We usually gather up a bottle of wine, some cucumber slices, copious amounts of cheese, prosciutto and apple and — boom — you have a make-your-own lunch. All you gotta do is find a beautiful spot to picnic.
8. Bring instant coffee — just in case. Must. Have. Coffee. And although most places you rent will have it, it’s never a bad idea to bring some instant coffee of your own or scout a local coffee shop out just in case.
9. Relax. Vacation is about seeing and experiencing new things, but it’s also about chilling the heck out. So don’t stress about cooking the perfect meal or even following all of these tips. Kick back, relax … and just be.
Do you like to cook when you’re on vacay? I swear, dishes are so much less cumbersome to do with a view! —Jenn