How to Spend Less Time in the Kitchen on Vacation

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I love to cook and experiment with new recipes. As much as I love to cook, I do not like cooking on vacation. When I am on vacation, I want to take a break from our normal daily routine. I prefer to spend more time relaxing than spending a lot of time in the kitchen cooking and washing dishes. Unfortunately, long waits, crowded restaurants and expensive meals do not mix well with my three small kids and our budget.

We also travel on a budget making eating in a restaurant for every meal unaffordable. We have realized that food costs are a large part of our vacation expenses no matter where we travel. Because we are committed to vacationing within our established budget, it requires some home cooked meals while we vacation. Home cooked meals are possible for us, because we only vacation to places that includes a kitchen.

I learned a trick from my mother that has saved us time and money when we travel. She taught me to cook and freeze several meals to take with us on vacations. About a month prior to vacation, I determine at least four meals that we will have on our trip. As the month proceeds, I incorporate those meals into our regular meal planning, but double the quantity. There is no excess time spent cooking, the excess is frozen for vacation and multiple meals are made out of one meal. We only travel by car and frozen meat packed together in a cooler stays mostly frozen.

Here are some of our favorite vacation meals:

Grilled meats: Any grilled meat makes a great freezer meal. We typically grill burgers, marinated chicken thighs, hot dogs and brats. When freezing, make sure to place a piece of wax paper between each piece of meat to prevent them from sticking together and freeze the amount you expect to eat for one meal. Grilled meat makes a great frozen meal because it can be heated up straight from the freezer in a matter of minutes. It is best reheated in a stovetop pan with some water on medium heat until heated through. We pair with our favorite toppings and easy sides.

Salsa chicken: Cook chicken breasts in a crockpot or an instant pot with a jar of salsa. Shred and freeze. Defrost and heat by microwave or stove top for tacos, fajitas, nachos or quesadillas.

Pulled porkCook a pork butt with your favorite method and recipe. The pork freezes beautifully and will easily heat up on the stovetop in a matter of minutes for a delicious meal.

Lasagna: The classic meal is easily frozen and baked with no mess on vacation.

Chili or Taco Soup: Both are great for vacations where colder temperatures are expected. Both freeze well and are quickly reheated on the stove top or in the microwave.

Pre-marinated Meat: A lot of stores are now offering pre-marinated un-cooked meats in their meat department. If there is no time to prepare, pre-marinated meats also make for an easy quick meal. Buy, place them in the freezer, defrost and cook according to the package instructions.


Writer Bio: Summer Bolte


I spend most of my time and days with my three kids, husband and dog. My kids frequently play near me as I garden, cook, DIY and volunteer. My most unusual paying job has to be feeding fruit flies in a research lab, and my most fullfilling job was being an oncology nurse for seven years.  

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