Family, restaurant, vacation

To Cook or Not to Cook While on Vacation

So you’ve rented your vacation home and it comes with a fully equipped kitchen. Then the dilemma starts. Should we eat in and cook all our own meals? Or should we eat out and discovery the local restaurants? There is no correct answer to these questions because every family is different. But I can share some experiences I’ve had while traveling with just my husband and also with the whole family.

If you’re traveling with your family you need to consider the cost of eating out. After ordering an appetizer, individual entrees, a few drinks and desserts, at the end of the dinner you may be looking at a tab of over $100 for a family of four. Seven days of eating like this really adds up. I do think it’s important to try a few local restaurants during your stay. Afterall, you’d be crazy not to try the fresh seafood while visiting the Gulf Coast at some point on your visit. There have been trips I’ve taken with just my husband when we ate out every meal. Those are the vacations when I truly want to relax and not worry with the cooking and clean up.

When we have rented vacation homes or condos with a fully equipped kitchen, I do try to take advantage of this as much as possible.

  • Plan your meals well in advance before leaving for your trip. MAKE  LISTS!!!! You’ll need two separate lists. One list will be the dishes and the recipes that go with them. The second list will be your grocery list. I always try to take as much of the dried food with me from home. For example, if I’m making chili I know that the recipe calls for canned tomatoes and chili beans. If these are items that I already have on hand, I pack them up and take them with us. If there’s a recipe that will call for a cup of flour, I’ll go ahead and measure that out into a plastic sandwich bag and bring it from home. That way I’m not buying a 5 pound bag of flour while on my trip just to use 1 cup of it. I also may shop at my hometown market before the trip to gather all the other dry items I may use in the condo. This helps cut down on the time spent grocery shopping on my vacation.
  • I use my second grocery list for the market nearest my vacation home. On this list I have all my cold, frozen and fresh products.
  • There are food markets that offer grocery pick up or delivery to your condo. I know the Wal-Mart in Gulf Shores, Alabama offers the grocery pick up. If you are able to arrange a pick up plan with them, that’s one less thing you have to worry about when you arrive to your vacation town. Let them do the shopping for you. And it’s a free service. Do your research on these markets before you leave your home. This could pay off and save you lots of time.
  • We typically always eat breakfast in our condo everyday. There are those mornings we wake up to bacon, eggs and pancakes. On days that we need to leave the condo to head out to our activities quickly, it’s usually a cereal or Eggo day. By eating breakfast in the condo  you’ve saved between $30-$40 per day.
  • Lunches in our condos are usually sandwiches and chips. Peanut butter works great too. The best part of staying in a beach condo is that you can take your lunch with you to the beach and have a picnic right on the sand. Eating lunch from your condo will save you $50-$60 per day.
  • Dinner time!!!!  I just got one word that makes all the difference when planning meals on your vacation. CROCK POT!!!!!!!!!  Honestly, I’ve never stayed in a vacation home or condo that provided a crock pot for us. I’ve always brought mine from home. It’s the best thing. I can throw in our dinner in the morning after breakfast, turn it on low and allow it to cook the entire day. I’ve made beef pot roast and potatoes, lasagna, taco soup, French dip sandwiches and cube steak, just to name a few. Then we typically have enough leftovers for lunches the next day. Clean up with the crockpot is easy too. Most of them allow the stoneware to be removed and can be placed in the dishwasher. Voila!!! Clean up is done. By choosing to dine in for dinner, you’ve saved over $100 per day.
  • Snacks!!  Keep fresh fruit handy for snacking. Or if you are craving a little something sweet, refrigerated cookie dough is your friend. All you have to do is pop them out on a cookie pan, bake as directed on the package. And you have fresh-baked cookies. When your family smells those cooking baking, you’ll be their hero for sure.

Have fun and plan for as much or little cooking as you want to take on while on Vacation. A good mix of eating in and exploring the local top restaurants works best for our trips. Always find and try something new and enjoy the local favorites.

Comment any thoughts and suggestion!

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