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Vacation cooking - need suggestions

OK, Family of 5 (grandma, parents, 2 teenagers), all diverse tastes, ages, etc. going to vacation condo for a week. We are hoping NOT to do much cooking, but can't afford too many $200 meals out. Other than boring steak and roasted chicken, what suggestions do you have? We will probably cook dinner about 3-4 times, all breakfasts and lunches where people can "graze" as they move from beach to pool. Remember, we are renting a condo, so have no idea what kitchen set up will be like and probably won't be too many spices, seasonings around. We will be at the beach, so fresh seafood will be a novelty. Perhaps some Chowhound recipes a la Sandra Lee's semi homemade cooking line? Please include recipes & ingredients. Don't eat pork, sweet potatoes, green peppers Thai or Indian food (very picky children!), TIA.

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  1. Diane... I've made these stromboli several times, I usually make them at the beginning of the week and then take them for my lunch throughout the week. http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip... They are really easy, and you could actually make them ahead of time and then warm them up or eat at room temperature once you got there. I do all kinds of different fillings, usually whatever I have in the fridge. I'm sure the kids would love them, especially if you geared some of the fillings toward them!

    1. We just got back from the beach, and we did most of our cooking at home, mainly because it's too much work to get off the beach, get cleaned up, and then go out. We've used this system a bunch of times: Make a list and stop at the nearest grocery store, either on the way or take a short foray out once you've scoped out the lay of the land. We get the meat for however long we'll be there for B.L, and D., i.e. bacon, sausages, lunch stuff, hot dogs, brats, steaks, chix, hamburger; in short, whatever your family wants. We also get in the cheese, produce, eggs, butter and so forth. We rely on seafood markets and farm stands for the local stuff and try to eat as much local produce and fish as we can, depending on where we're going. We grill as much as possible. I bring with me an iron skillet, steak knives, my good knives, garlic salt, EVOO and balsamic. I also bring staples from home: tuna, coffee, marinara, pasta, wine, liquor whatever I think we might use. I love to cook and pride myself on doing it well, but this is vacation, so we try to keep it simple. Most meals are grilled, with an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. Hope this helps.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sudiepav

        sudiepav- We do the same thing. I posted before I saw your reply, but good fresh food, and keeping it simple works great to feed a crowd on vacation. We usually make a trip to BJ's before we leave, and buy the rice, pasta, snacks, p aper products, etc. Then we do a big order when we get there- this year our first trip to the store cost os $612.00! WE are lucky that the place we rent are well ewuipped with cooking utensils, so we only need to bring our oils and spices.
        I too, find it fun to cook for everyone, and this year the kids got involved. On our taco night, the teens prepared all the fixings for chicken and beef tacos. Great fun.

      2. Baked pasta was a Tahoe favorite. Make pasta, and either make marinara or buy your favorite sauce in a jar. Pick two kinds of cheese (cheddar and mozarella work well, Sargento's is fine for this) and start layering as you would a lasagna. Top off with cheese, and put in the fridge until you're ready to bake. Somehow, it's easier than lasagna and fancier than spaghetti out of a can. It's an easy dish for anyone to help with, and it can be kept warm in the oven if people are coming and going. Add vegetables to make it a more complete meal, and eat cold leftovers for breakfast (or mix a spoonful into two beaten eggs and make an omelet).

        1. Just got back from a trip myself. Two big hits: Kitchen Clam bake from The Barefoot Contessa cookbook. If you want to cut down on costs you can skip the lobster and go with mussels, clams and shrimp.
          http://barefootcontessa.com/summer_06...

          Soft tacos - for the adults (and seafood kids) grilled snapper(any mild whitefish will do) with a little lime and pepper, pulled chicken (leftover from another nights roast) shredded cabbage, lettuce,grilled peppers and onions as 'toppings'. Salsa, Guacamole and chipotle aoili on the side.

          1. Just got back from a week long vaction on the Outer BAnks with the family. There were 18 of us in our house, and cousins had another house with 8.
            We ate all of our meals at home, just easier logistically. Some items we cooked:
            One night we had make your own tacos, with rice and corn
            One night we had grilled steak, chicken and fish
            Hot dogs and burgers for the first night.
            Pasta, with homemade meat sauce, garlic bread ans salad
            WE always had fresh vegatables on hand to throw on the grill. And each day, after we came back from the beach, we made a vegatable/dip platter for the kids to much on by the pool while dinner was prepared.
            When we first arrived, made potato salad, chicken salad, pasta salad and egg salad. Bought cold cuts, rolls and bread for lunches.
            I am an early riser, so I would get up in the am, nake scrambled eggs, pancakes and bacon. WE brought lots of disposable aluminum pans, and I would throw the cooked food in the pans, and pop in the oven. Nice hot breakfast as people woke up.
            We also had special treats- one of the SIL made her meatballs on night, and another made clam chowder.
            WIth a little planning, it is fun. We usually started cooking at around 5, and had dinner on the table by six most nights. And boy, the food tastes great after enjoying the beach/pool all day.
            We brought our own spices, but the kitchen we had was VERY well equipped- we had three dishwashers, two ovens, 5 cook tops, micowave and two refrigerators- along with lots of pots and pans. The only thing we had to but was a basting brush for the BBQ sauce.
            Enjoy- we do this vacation every two years, and always have a great time.

            1 Reply
            1. re: macca

              Great thread. Thanks for the tips!

              We are planning our second big family vacation. Last year worked out okay, but we clearly had a lot to learn about stocking the kitchen.

              Thankfully, my sister did a great job stocking teen-friendly foods. Single serve mac'n cheese, granola bars, slim jims, popsicles, trail mix etc.

              For the adults, we need to make some improvements. The menu ended up being dominated by camping food, which wasn't really necessary since we had a full kitchen at our dispoal.

              (The main-kitchen planner is not a foodie, but the rest of the crew is.... )

              For next time.. I want to plan a balance of classic summer dishes, and interesting foodie meals.

              Making basics ahead of time and stocking the fridge with pre-made salads is a great idea. That way, there is always something available for fussy eaters.

              Thanks