Ideas for vacation rental cooking
Renting a vacation house with friends for a week and want to plan ahead in regards to meals. What are some of your favorite easy meals to make while on vacation? So far I'm planning on making ahead of time a big batch of granola and also mixing up in a ziplock the dry ingredients for pancakes. Of course we'll grill. Does anyone have any other ideas?
My family often goes on trips together and rent vacation houses. My mom's brothers and sisters, their spouses and all their kids go too (ages range from 3 -16). Sometimes I join them but sometimes I don't.
What we usually do for food depends on where. When we went to Tahoe during winter we had the following:
-a big rice cooker that almost always had rice in there ready to eat (we're chinese, can you tell?)
-a big pot of asian stew.
- pasta dinner night with choice of a meat/tomato sauce or chicken alfredo, with garlic bread, salad, etc.
- lots of fresh fruit available all day for snacks
- breakfast was eggs and toast, baked muffins, coffee, juice, cereal.
- I made a couple batches of cookie dough and brought it frozen so that we had fresh baked cookies, coffee and hot chocolate at night.
For vegas, when its hot out, we try to bring the following:
- breakfast foods are probably the same as above. One of us might make pancakes or something, but we've got so many people, it might take too long.
- big salads and all different fixings for sandwiches for lunch. (as always with kids, we have chips and other various snacks available)
- dinners are usually rice, grilled meat of some sort, salad. If I go, I'll make some more "American" type foods. We'll crank up the airconditioning and I'll roast a couple of things in the oven, make baked potatoes, etc. I like being able to make large quantity items that don't require a lot of attention because there's so many of us.
At the end of the day, the important thing is to enjoy your trip. Have fun!
We do this every year and have lots of survival strategies. As other posters have mentioned - if you can, bring your own knives. I also bring my own corkscrew, zester, grater (nothing worse than a dull grater), and kitchen shears. Sometimes I bring kitchen linens too.
For food I bring things that I don't want to have to buy in large containers and schlep home. I usually make up a basic vinaigrette and take that with me. Making up pancake mix ahead is a great idea - I do that and also the dry ingredients for cobbler topping or oven pancake. I write down what wet ingredients I need on a small piece of paper and stick it in the bag with the dry ingredients.
If you're driving and you're picky about ingredients then you might want to bring more food products. We eat organic and carry a lot of things with us because some areas where we have stayed don't have the selection of things we want. Other times we know we can pick up what we need and carry less. Basics we always use are: diced tomatoes (pasta sauce or fish stew), pasta, couscous (it's fast and makes an easy summer side dish when you dress it up), garlic (I hate dry old soft neck supermarket garlic), good juice and basic spices. We also bring small jars of any liquor we need as mixers ;)
Our vacation meals are usually simple - fish (we're almost always by the sea), chicken, pasta, quesadillas and lots of fresh vegetables. I never bring recipes so it has to be things I can wing. Hope this helps and that you have a good time!
I just did a similar trip in the Bahamas -- And to add to the mix there were 8 of us. One Kosher, one Vegetarian, and three serious carnivores.
I did a lot of grilling, we pretty much lived on "chicken around the world" -- Fajitas one day, Tandoori the next, etc. It was much easier to just make sides in the kitchen and let the meat get dealt with outside.
I liked having good marinades, it meant that I could make them up whenever I had time (I usually get up early) and I wasn't stuck in the kitchen as long when it came time to cook.
Some excellent pasta sauce can make a good impression even though it is easy to make once you are there.
I would focus on make-ahead, and as someone else mentioned, simplest possible prep. I also would bring my own knife if I could.
I heard of someone who bought the little pill-a-day boxes and filled them up every summer with spices for vacation.
When we are at a rental we always cook fajitas or tacos or chilequilles.
The key considerations for us are: poor cooking equipment, so choose things that don't absolutely require heavy pans - we certainly don't braise for instance. In fact, if we are driving and have room we bring a large skillet and chef knife. Spices are an issue, so we either bring our own spice mixes in ziplocs for whatever we are planning to make, or plan on buying premade sauces and such - which bring me to the last consideration - availability of food. If there we won't have access to the premade things we like then we will plan on cooking more from scratch, or if there isn't the produce that we like, then we will plan other alternatives, etc.
Depending on how many people you're dealing with and their preferences, these Asian Home Gourmet spice packets are very good, no chemicals or artificial flavors...all you do is add meat or tofu. What is so nice is that you don't have to lug 47 spice containers with you for your vacation. They'd work for 4-6 people but probably not for more than that, and it would break up the monotony of grilling all week long or if it rains and you cannot grill out: