Thursday, July 5, 2012

Menu-Planning for Vacation: Take-It-Easy Suppers

Whether your family spent the day splashing in the pool, hiking, or building sandcastles, they're probably all "starving" by suppertime.  They need something hearty (and hopefully somewhat nutritious) to fill them up, and you need that something to be quick and easy...after all, it IS vacation!  Whether you're camping, staying in a cabin, or relaxing in a condo, kitchen time should be minimal, right?

So, what's for supper?  The following meal ideas come from my master list of camping food...and many of the ideas originally came from my mom.  Some of these meals can be made ahead at home, some require 5 minutes (or less) of kitchen time while on vacation, and others take 20 minutes or so.  I mix and match from this list every time we go on vacation, picking a few meals from each "time and effort category".
  • burgers, chips or easy pasta salad 
    • don't forget to pack the buns and toppings
  • hotdogs and/or brats, chips or easy side salad
    • remember the buns and condiments
    • cook the brats/hotdogs over a campfire or on the grill
  • tacos
    • precook and freeze your taco meat
    • remember tortillas or taco shells, salsa, sour cream, cheese, lettuce, tomato, etc
  • marinated, grilled chicken, boxed potatoes, and Iowa Corn
    • make this marinade before you leave home, or just use Italian dressing as your marinade
    • if you're using fresh chicken, trim and prep it at home, and freeze it right in the marinade
    • remember the milk, margarine, and anything else you need for those boxed potatoes
    • throw the corn ingredients into the crockpot right after lunch, and it will be ready at suppertime.  If you don't want to pack your crockpot, cook the corn on the stovetop on low for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
    • grill up some extra chicken for chicken wraps, or to throw into pasta salad later in the week.
  • chicken wraps, chips or easy side salad
    • use leftover grilled chicken, or if you don't have any of that, chop up breaded chicken patties or nuggets
    • remember the tortillas, lettuce, tomato, cheese, dressing, and anything else you want to load into a wrap
  • Club Quesadillas
    • if you like to cook a hearty breakfast, throw some extra bacon on the griddle and save it for this recipe.
    • make the dipping sauce before you leave home
  • marinated, grilled pork, packaged, flavored rice, and fresh, canned or frozen vegetable OR easy lettuce salad
    • Uncle Ben's boxed wild rice is delicious, or you can buy rice in a package/envelope in flavors like Chicken Herb and Cheddar Broccoli
    • cut your pork chops at home (or use store-bought chops) and freeze them in the marinade
  • spaghetti, garlic toast or breadsticks
    • make the Spaghetti Sauce at home and freeze it.  Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop. 
    • use thawed, store-bought garlic bread and cook it on the grill.  You can either cook it directly on the grate or cover the grate with foil, depending on how crispy you like your garlic bread.
    • make breadsticks at home and freeze them.  Reheat 10-12 seconds per breadstick in the microwave, or allow to thaw on a paper towel-covered plate.
    • don't forget to pack the spaghetti noodles
  • Dinty Moore Beef Stew over instant rice
    • you can warm up the beef stew in the microwave or on the stovetop
    • use "boil-in-bag" rice for even easier clean-up
  • pizza hobo pies over the fire
    • don't forget the bread, margarine and/or cooking spray, pizza sauce, shredded cheese, pepperoni, and any vegetable toppings you want to include
    • use leftover sauteed mushrooms from these burgers, or just use canned
    • pre-chop and freeze onion and/or green pepper if desired
    • try ham or cooked sausage instead of pepperoni
  • Pork Barbeque, chips or easy side salad
    • remember the buns!
    • make the Pork Barbeque at home and freeze it.  It can be warmed up in the microwave or on the stovetop.
  • marinated, grilled steak, boiled redskin potatoes, and fresh, canned, or frozen vegetable
    • use the marinade for grilled mushrooms (make it before you leave home), or pick up a bottle of prepared marinade...there are so many delicious varieties available at the grocery store.
    • cook extra potatoes so that you have some left to make breakfast potatoes the next day!
  • Island Chicken Sandwiches
    • if you don't have an oven available to broil the cheese-topped sandwiches, try setting them on a foil-covered grill for a few minutes.  The chicken is already cooked (on the stovetop), so you just need the cheese to melt.
    • you can make the sauce for these sandwiches at home and store it in the fridge
  • Easy Ravioli Bake
    • this can be made at home and frozen, or if there is no oven available at your location, it can be cooked in the crockpot (check out the comments on this recipe)
  • Easy Pork Dinner
    • this recipe requires you to take your crockpot, but you can literally have it started in 5 minutes.
    • use instant mashed potatoes to save time, or if you don't like instant, try boiled redskins...just mash with a fork at the table.  No peeling required!
    • don't fuss with making gravy, but instead just use the juices directly from the crockpot
  • Italian Macaroni and Cheese, Italian Stuffed Shells, Chicken Spaghetti, or any other meal that freezes well.  Serve with grilled garlic toast.
    • if you don't have an oven available, this isn't an option for you...but if you will have an oven at your location, it's totally worth it to make a casserole or two ahead!
    • make any of these at home the week before and put them in the freezer.
  • Taco Soup
    • Soup and summer vacation don't seem to go together until you have a rainy day at the campground!
    • This soup freezes well, so you can make it at home and thaw it when you're ready to use it.  BUT, it also comes together quickly, so you can make it on vacation and not spend too much time cooking.
  • Cheater Chicken Parmesan Dinner
    • Dinner from a package, a packet, and a can't get any easier than this! 
    • If you don't have an oven available in which to bake the chicken patties, they can be warmed up on the grill.
  • Restaurant-Style Grilled Sandwiches
    • These sandwiches are a great way to use up those "bits and pieces" leftovers at the end of the week! 
Find more tips for easy and delicious vacation food here.

What are your favorite vacation meals?  Do you have any tips for quick, easy, and hearty suppers?

1 comment:

  1. I guess this tip is NOT for supper...BUT we still have to eat breakfast, right?? We don't really "camp" either, we "cottage", but that doesn't mean that I want to be stuck in the cottage making meals. So prep is VERY important. My tip is for prepping muffins at home. Take a plastic gallon size ziplock bag and put the dry ingredients in, then take a sharpie marker and write what "wet" ingredients you will need on the bag AND the cooking directions, then pack it. A little work at home,makes for a nice smooth easy breakfast away. (IF you have an oven!) OH, be sure to remember to pack those "wet" ingredients! Also, when I have a salad on the menu that requires a from scratch dressing, I make that at home and store it in a clean peanut butter container,they are great and do not leak. Then all you need to do is cut up the fresh stuff and give it the dressing a good shake and salad it served! Enjoying the "camping" posts, even helpful when cooking at home! Never hurts to be prepared!