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. This TravelingMom, a culinary school grad, shares her 3 favorite easy dinner recipes, with fourth easy and healthy meal idea from celebrity chef Art Smith. The prep is quick and clean up is easy.
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.
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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.
Brown Rice Salad
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! 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 Cheft 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.”
Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
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.
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 Tips for Easy Meals on Vacation
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!
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!