Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- Save Money and Unwind at the End of a Vacation Day
- 1. Chef Art Smith's Brown Rice Salad
- 2. Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
- 3. Tacos!
- 4. Foil Pack Hobo Dinner
- 5. Pseudo- Parmesan (Tofu Parmigiana)
- 6. Flannel Hash
- 7. Pseudo- Persian (Khoresh-e Qeymeh)
- 8. Wannabe Tom Kha Gai Soup
- 9. The Best Pasta Alfredo Ever
- 10. Rice and Beans
With gas hovering near $5 a gallon, you might be looking to save some money on your 2022 family vacation. Cooking one or more meals is something to consider. If you’re staying in a vacation rental, a suite hotel, VRBO property or RV, you’ll have access to a kitchen. Here are 10 easy recipes including one from celebrity chef Art Smith, plus shopping lists and tips for cooking on the road.
Cooking is the new “it” thing to do on vacation. In RVs, vacation homes and rented condos with full kitchens, TravelingMoms will be looking for easy meals to cook on vacation. TravelingMom Allison Taylor, a culinary school grad, shares her three favorite easy dinner recipes, with a fourth easy and healthy meal idea from celebrity chef Art Smith. The prep is quick and clean up is easy.
And we’ve added six more from TravelingMom Nasreen Stump for a total of 10. You’ll definitely find one or more that even the pickiest eaters will enjoy. Read on for the recipes, prep tips and shopping lists.
Save Money and Unwind at the End of a Vacation Day
To some people, vacation means never having to say “I cooked.” Not me. I attended culinary school and had aspirations of becoming a famous chef. Didn’t happen. Still, my culinary training has served me well. I can look in a practically bare pantry and come up with something for dinner. Going on vacation is no exception.
Assuming you have booked a place with a kitchen, such as an Airbnb apartment, a resort rental or a house-swap, you’ll have a kitchen. It will have different pots and pans, but you can still cook in it.
My family and I like to eat in for a portion of our vacation. After a long day out with the kids, the last thing I want to do is take them to a restaurant. When my kids are done for the day they are DONE. Sitting in a restaurant and waiting for food is the last thing I want to do. If a few dishes need to be done at the end of a meal to keep my sanity intact, then pass the dish soap.
Below I list three of my favorite go-to easy recipes while we are on vacation. But first, here’s a recipe from celebrity chef Art Smith!
1. Chef Art Smith’s Brown Rice Salad
For this, you’ll want to shop the local farmer’s market to pick up fresh cucumbers, celery, peppers and tomatoes. And bring along your favorite sharp knife so you can chop through those veggies as easily as Chef Art does.
Could you chop those veggies in a food processor? Sure. But Chef Art says “nothing delicious is hurried.” Chopping by hand “makes sure your family really feels the love.”
2. Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
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This flavorful easy dinner recipe is easy to throw together and can feed the whole family. Skip takeout and enjoy this refreshing salad recipe at home.
- 2 Chicken Breasts
- 1 box Penne Pasta
- Head of Romaine Lettuce
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Caesar Dressing
- Grated Parmesan Cheese
- Cook chicken (I use a grill but on vacation, it may be necessary to saute) let cool and cut into cubes.
- While your chicken is cooling, cook the penne according to the directions on the box, drain and rinse with cold water.
- Slice cherry tomatoes in half.
- Toss all of the ingredients together with the dressing (use your own judgment on the amount of the dressing) and top with the croutons.
TravelingMom Tip: If you are making ahead, don’t mix the lettuce in until right before time to serve, otherwise it will wilt.
You will need a medium-size stockpot to boil the water for pasta, a frying pan to cook the chicken (unless you have access to a grill), a colander, and a large bowl to toss the salad together.
Before you say “my kids won’t eat that,” let me tell you – I once thought the same thing! Then one night, I just decided to give it a shot and I was shocked that my kids ate the salad…and liked it! This Italian inspired dish is one of our favorites.
This is a common weeknight dinner while home. Why not enjoy it on vacation, too? Mexican food is always a crowd-pleaser and a quick dinner when you’re short on time or just wiped out from a day of fun.
- Ground Beef or Chicken ( my family of 4 uses 1 lb on taco night)
- 1 package of Taco Seasoning
- Black Beans or Refried Beans (if desired)
- Shredded Lettuce
- Diced Fresh Tomatoes
- Avocado (optional)
- Shredded Cheese of your choice
- Tortillas or Crispy Taco Shells
- Brown ground beef or chicken. After the meat is cooked thoroughly, add the taco seasoning. In the microwave or on the stovetop (whichever is available).
- Shred the lettuce, dice the tomatoes.
- Put the desired components into your shells and serve!
You will need a skillet for browning the meat, a saucepan or microwave-safe bowl for heating the beans, a cutting board and knife. You can use these same ingredients to make nachos or quesadillas.
4. Foil Pack Hobo Dinner
The ingredients for this dinner idea can vary wildly. I recommend finding a farmers market in the area and picking up some goodies for this weeknight meal. It’s comfort food wrapped in foil!
- Veggies (whatever vegetables are in season or your kids will eat works for this) I have used zucchini, squash, carrots, onions, asparagus, red peppers or green bell peppers, white or sweet potatoes and green beans. You can even add jalapenos for some extra heat!)
- Meat (chicken thighs or breast, beef, pork chops, shrimp and salmon fillets or other fish all work really well.)
- Olive Oil
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
- Cut pieces of aluminum foil 17 inches long (or so), one per person.
- Slice veggies, and then toss in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Divide the veggies among the foil sheets, placing the veggies in the center of the foil.
- Brush the meat of your choice with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Once you have your foil assembled, fold the sides together to create a seal. Place all of the foil packets on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 mins.
You will need aluminum foil, a cutting board, a sheet pan or casserole dish and a knife for this recipe. A side kale salad goes great with this dish. It’s an easy meal to cook that is both filling and delicious!
Read More: Recipes that Travel Well
More Easy Vacation Meal Recipes
TravelingMom Nasreen Stump is queen of the road trip. Traveling to see her family in the northeast from her home in Texas with kids in tow, means nights – and dinners – on the road. Nasreen’s tips, particularly her spice trick, are epic. Read on for lessons learned, a shopping list to cover six vacation nights and recipes.
Prep in Advance
If you are driving to your destination, pack a cooler with pre-made food that is easy to pop in and out of your vacation rental and grab for lunch or even a snack. Some of the foods we like to prepare ahead of time: chicken salad, tuna salad, frozen baked spaghetti or lasagna. These are perfect for easy weeknight dinners while on vacation!
Use What’s on Hand
As a mom who travels frequently with my family we have some tried and true (and cheap) meals that you can make utilizing the small array of pots and pans in your hotel room. All meals listed use the stovetop only, as most hotels do not have ovens. I’ve got you covered for all six nights of the average family vacation.
What to Bring from Home
I travel with spices. It may be a little lame, but it’s a huge money saver on the road. Cooking in hotels is easy. Buying spices to give everything flavor is expensive. I use a pill container & keep a few teaspoons of each spice on hand. If you do buy spices on the road try to buy them in the bulk section so you only pay for what you need. You can usually find salt and pepper in the breakfast area of your hotel. Spices need for the below recipes are- oregano (3 tsp), red pepper flakes (4 tsp), ground rosemary (1 tsp), salt (4 tsp), pepper (4 tsp), nutmeg (1/2 tsp), paprika (1 tsp), turmeric (1/2 tsp), cardamom (1/2 tsp), cumin (1/2 tsp), cinnamon (1/4 tsp)
1 box Success Boil in Bag Rice
Small container sour cream
Bag of Shredded Mexican Cheese
Can of Corn
Can of Black Beans
Can of Chickpeas
Can of Tomato Sauce (16 oz)
2 1/2 lb small potatoes
1 small onion
1/3 lb tofu (if there is a bulk local version available the recipe will come out much better! I love VT Soy and strive to use their tofu. )
1/2 cup white wine (If you are staying at a suite style hotel they usually have a complimentary meal M-F with wine. Try to snag a glass. Otherwise, buy a bottle (it doesn’t need to be fancy) and drink the leftover!)
Bunch of Basil
1/2 dozen eggs
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Olive oil, small bottle
Pasta Sauce, 1 jar
Mozzarella Balls, small container
1 box pasta, your choice of shape (16 oz)
1 stick butter
8 oz heavy cream
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
garlic, 1 clove
1 large bag microwave steamable broccoli
1 can diced beets
1 package of bacon
1 lb frozen small shrimp
1 box Organic Imagine Corn & Lemongrass soup (trust me this is the winner in the flavor category- but aim for something Thai-ish if you can’t find it)
1 box mushrooms
1 bunch parsley
5. Pseudo- Parmesan (Tofu Parmigiana)
The night before: Drain tofu (1/3 lb) and thinly slice into slabs. Place back into empty container or into a bowl. Add a drizzle of olive oil, 1/2 c white wine, a pinch of red pepper flakes, a pinch of salt, a 1/2 tsp of pepper, 10 basil leaves and 1 tsp ground rosemary. Make sure that tofu is submerge. Place in fridge overnight to marinate.
That day: Wash 1 lb potatoes and start them boiling. In a large skillet, place 2 TBS or so of olive oil and heat over low. Beat one egg in a bowl and set aside. Place 1/2 c breadcrumbs on a plate. Take the tofu from the fridge, piece by piece place tofu in egg then coat in breadcrumbs. Place in oil pan and fry slowly until golden brown. Remove tofu to plate and rinse skillet. After rinsing pour 16 oz jar of pasta sauce into the skillet and start heating on low heat. Place all basil leaves from the marinade into the pasta sauce. Heat slowly. Add tofu back in placing 3 pieces of sliced mozzarella balls onto each piece. Quarter remaining mozzarella. Drain poatoes & cut large ones in half. Toss in pan with mozzarella, 2 TBS olive oil, and additional shredded basil from bunch. Dish into bowls & serve topped with tofu and sauce.
6. Flannel Hash
A New England classic, red flannel hash is popular anytime of day. This hearty dish makes a great dinner! Dice 1 lb potatoes and put into large pot to boil for ten minutes. Take out the bacon and chop dice. In a saucepan, fry bacon and drain off excess fat. To bacon add- 1 can diced beets, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 1/4 cup chopped parsley and 1 tsp red pepper flakes. Drain potatoes and add to saucepan with beets. Cook on medium-heat, stirring regularly to avoid sticking. In another saucepan, add 1 TBS olive oil and fry your remaining 5 eggs. Serve hash in bowls topped with a fried egg (grown ups in our family get two).
7. Pseudo- Persian (Khoresh-e Qeymeh)
I love to celebrate my culture but the time consuming cooking led me to this quick knock-off for weeknights. The kids love it and it satisfies in under a half hour. Wash and chop a 1/2 lb of potatoes into matchsticks. Fry in 2 TBS olive oil and set aside on a plate once they are golden brown. In a pan boil one of the large Success Rice Boil in Bags (or 2 small ones). Chop your onion and saute until golden brown in 1 TBS of olive oil. Add the 16 oz can of tomato sauce, the can of chickpeas, 1/2 tsp cardomom, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, and 1/2 tsp turmeric. Squeeze the juice from 1/2 a lime into the sauce. Cook until heated through. Serve rice with chickpea sauce and topped with french fried potatoes.
8. Wannabe Tom Kha Gai Soup
This is one of my families favorite dishes. It couldn’t be easier and it mimics a dish we all love to order in Thai restaurants. If your kids don’t like shrimp it can be made with chicken or tofu. Use the shrimp with tails on to save time, then just put out a bowl for everyone to throw their tails into as they eat their way through the soup. Chop 2 carrots into rounds. Slice mushrooms. In a saucepan, melt 2 TBS butter and add the bag of frozen shrimp. Squeeze the juice of one lime over the shrimp. Let them cook on medium until tender when squeezed. Add in the mushrooms and carrots. Add 1 tsp red pepper flakes and a tsp of salt. Once the carrots are tender add in the Imagine Corn & Lemongrass soup (comes in a 16 oz box). The soup has the coconut flavors of a traditional Tom Kha Gai. Heat through and serve. Cut up the remaining 1/2 lime into wedges for each bowl. Easy and delicious!
9. The Best Pasta Alfredo Ever
Serve this rich and creamy dish to your family on the road. In a saucepan, melt 6 TBS butter. Saute 1 clove minced garlic in the butter until golden. Stir in 8 oz of heavy cream, 3/4 c grated parmesan cheese, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes. Stir consistently while cooking over medium heat. In a large pan, boil the box of pasta. In the microwave, cook bag of microwave broccoli according to package instructions. Drain pasta. Add broccoli and alfredo sauce into pasta. Mix and serve immediately.
10. Rice and Beans
You’ve reached the last night of your vacation and you deserve a little comfort food as you pack and prepare to return to the real world. In a large pan boil 1 Large Success Rice Boil in Bag (or 2 small ones). Drain a can of black beans and rinse several times. Put black beans into saucepan along with the can of corn, 1 tsp red pepper flakes, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. Heat. Once rice is done cooking add it to the beans & corn. Serve topped with shredded mexican cheese and sour cream.
Happy Cooking! What are your favorite meals to make on the road? We’d love to hear in the comments below the easy dinner ideas that work well for your family when you decide to cook on vacation! Do you cook specialty meals that are carb or gluten-free, vegan or keto-friendly? Share your recipes with us on Instagram and tag us @travelingmom!