HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Packing Kitchenwares for Summer Beach House Rental

We're renting a beach house this summer. The place comes with basic kitchenware - plates, cutlery, a few pots and pans. I'm willing to "make do" for some things, but I will want to pack some stuff from my house that I am particular about.

I will definitely pack my good knives, cutting boards, a nonstick skillet, and coffeemaker and coffee grinder. What else should I plan to pack? I want everything to fit in one standard plastic tote - about the size of a recycling bin - so there's some control and for space in the car. Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. We take freezer bags wherever we go. Lots of uses.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DPGood

      Freezer bags indeed!!! Take to beach for snacks, leftovers, put cellphone in for beach, sunscreen, !
      Also- corkscrew, decent kitchen towels, paper plates

    2. A favorite spatula, tongs, colander, foil...

      1. My list would have been much longer until we rented a house on Lopez Island last summer that had almost everything (even a good knife!). What they were missing was a juicer. We use a lot of lemons and limes (salad dressings, marinades, etc) and they had nothing with which to extract the juice. I ended up using a table knife handle, which was okay, but it lemons are important to you, bring a reamer or juice squeezer.

        1. May I ask if this is an isolated location? or can you buy readily-available items? How long will you be there? How many people? Do you like to cook while you're at the beach? or are you more of a Crock Pot person?

          Each year we rent a beach house, in an isolated location, for one month and I pack a LOT of things. I'll be happy to give you my list but it would be silly if my needs do not mesh with yours. Personally, I would never want to be without my Le Creuset 5 qt Dutch oven and copper rondeau. More importantly, what do you consider important in your kitchen? Bring that.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Sherri

            Hi Sherri, I would LOVE to see your list!! Please post :)

            1. re: gainwisdom

              Sorry for the delay. One thing that I have found to be very helpful is to lay out all my small wares before packing and photographing them with my smartphone. Of course they become intermingled with the rental utensils during our stay and it is very easy for me to identify mine. It also helps to assure that I don't forget something.
              I should also tell you that I enjoy cooking at the beach. It is a grand part of my vacation to putter in the kitchen with all the doors standing wide open. My idea of hell would be to have to get dressed in real clothes and drive a very long way to eat. We'll often pack a sort-of picnic, take it down on the sand and watch the sunset while nibbling and sipping wine.

              We stay for one month, so this is not a quickie rental. Also, we drive which facilitates taking more than I would if I was shipping a box.

              My favorite three knives
              Large cutting board
              Copper rondeau
              LC Dutch oven
              Cast iron skillet
              Corningware casserole w/ lid
              Wooden utensils
              New can opener
              Oyster knives
              Chef's thermometer
              Kitchen tongs
              New potholders + new kitchen towels
              Nest of bowls
              Male & Female spoons
              1/2 sheet pans
              Peppermill + peppercorns
              Stick blender

              Since I mentioned this rental is a fair distance from 'civilization', I include some foodstuffs that I might not be able to find locally: dried porcini mushrooms, wheat berries, Parmesan cheese, frozen lamb shanks (dry ice), arborio rice, several cases of wines, my favorite herbs & spices, coffee beans, olive oil,

              This is off the top of my head. If I recall other essentials, I'll add to the list.

              1. re: Sherri

                Male and Female spoons was a new one for me, so I had to look it up :). What would we do without google...

                1. re: Sherri

                  THANK YOU, Sherri for your amazing & inspiring list ! Very impressed! :) (DGresh- I also had to google that as well) :)

            2. it'd be a looong summer if i didn't have at least one microplane with me. and pack the immersion/stick blender if you plan to puree anything. (i'd also bring my regular blender for smoothies/protein shakes, but that's because i'm nuts.)

              1 Reply
              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                The beach house we rented had a blender, and a food processor, as well as a microplane. They also had tons of fairly fresh spices and a bottle of respectable EVOO. It was truly astonishing.

              2. I've been living in a rented apartment in Guatemala for the past two months. I actually lugged a cast iron skillet with me, and I'm damned glad I did. I've cooked nearly everything in it: roasted chicken and vegetables, pan baked and broiled fresh fish, frittatas, potato galletes. I also brought my good kitchen shears: great for spatchcocking chicken and cutting up the carcasses for soups plus innumerable other little chores. I brought my Microplane grater and was happy to have it, although it turned out the apartment had a four-sided grater and I could have lived without it. Along with your knives, are you bringing a sharpener? I brought one of those little ceramic knife honers; weighs nothing and kept the edge on my good knives.

                What I put on the list to bring next time: a cheese plane, a wooden citrus reamer, tongs, and a vegetable peeler.

                What I bought while I was here: a strainer, because the colander that came with the apartment couldn't do the job I needed done, and a ceramic mortar and wooden pestle (cost less than $2.00 in the mercado) because I was making a lot of salsa picante and the supplied, not brought, blender was making mush of it.

                1. I understand the knives, there is nothing worse than trying to chop, slice, dice, trim, etc with a cheap knife that has trouble with butter let alone raw food. But you really need your own cutting boards? I can see bringing a non stick skillet, but not a great one. Do you have a pan/skillet that you use for everything? Are you willing to risk loosing or damaging it on your trip?

                  There is a rec room in our building that has the basics. When I use that room for cooking/entertaining i find i need to bring a very few things with me. A good knife, a corkscrew, a decent can opener (the one there is nasty) and a couple of spoons for mixing, stirring, serving. Oh, and a ton of paper plates, napkins, wooden chopsticks, and plasticware. But thats just me for casual entertaining. I know many in here would rather spend all summer washing dishes than eat off paper. In my home, I feel more or less the same.
                  Do you use your cuisinart, osterizer, juicer, or whatever for most meals? Is there something special you need for a particular meal you have planned? How much are you willing to make due with whats there? Pretty much everything beyond the knife is optional otherwise. I know when chefs travel to other kitchens, the ONE thing they bring is their knife set. Thats it. They make due with everything else.

                  Have a great time, and please let us know what you brought, what you left behind, and how you made due.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                    Three words: glass cutting board. I have been to many a rental that has glass cutting boards and one scratched-up teflon coated skillet. So yes, if driving, I would bring a cutting board or two and one cast iron skillet.

                  2. I agree that with what you are bringing. Take your wine opener!! So many times I've been in a bind by not having my wine opener. Also, take a good spatula and a wooden spoon. Depending how long you will be there, you should be able to make do with those items. If you don't have something you really need to make dinner one night, take that opportunity to go out to dinner at a good local restaurant, and try again another night. Relax and enjoy the beach.

                    1. Personally, I'd take a decent frying pan and heavy bottomed pot, a big mixing bowl, a metal strainer, my Chinese style rolling pin, a paring knife and larger knife, my Ikea grater combo, a micro plane, a vegetable peeler, a fish scaler, citrus juicer, stick blender, a metal strainer, a long handled wooden spoon, a plastic spatula, a measuring cup and measuring spoons, plus a set of the semi-disposable plastic containers for storing stuff in and a good corkscrew and can opener.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                        Wow. This seems like a LOT to haul along.

                        1. re: jmckee

                          I think it would fit in the size of container that the OP is looking at, and I'm assuming an extended stay. I like to cook, so for a few weeks at a beach house I'd have plans for the local market and some fresh seafood. :-)

                          When I travel on normal trips, I usually pack a small thin plastic cutting board, a folding knife, my usual knife/fork/folding chopsticks pack, and a corkscrew/can opener/bottle opener combination. That gives me enough to slice fruit, bread, cheese and cold meat, spread jams and peanut butter, open a cold beer or a nice bottle of wine. We had a recent trip to Chile. We got breakfast at the hotel, and they tend to have a huge meal at about 1 pm, so for dinner most nights we enjoyed fruit, bread, cheese, olives salami or pate.

                      2. I have yet to find a beach house that does not include a coffee maker. As long as standard drip coffee is OK with you, then no need to bring the whole maker. Good idea to bring the grinder though. You can call the rental agency to find out about small appliances - a lot of places will have blenders (due to the popularity of frozen cocktails among beach goers), and usually a toaster or toaster oven. Other small appliances are hit and miss.

                        I would bring a couple of good knives (for me, my santoku and a paring knife), but trust the house to have cutting boards. If not, cutting boards are cheap and available at most grocery stores. Beach house pots and pats are usually good for boiling water or heating sauces, but are often too flimsy for anything with high heat or drier cooking methods. Pick your most versatile pan and bring that.

                        Overall, I would pick the best/most versatile single piece of equipment in categories that are too expensive to buy a duplicate at the beach (knives, pots/pans). Other small utensils (can openers, cork screws) are usually provided, but if not they are relatively cheap and easy to find. At the end of the week, you can take them home, donate to a thrift store, or just leave at the beach house for the next guests.

                        1. I've made do in any number of beach houses with what they provide. In each case the "missing item" is different, and I just make do. If the non-stick skillet stinks, or isn't, I just use more butter. I just know that 10 to 1, the one item I DON'T pack is the one item the place is missing.

                          I do bring my own foil.plastic wrap, trash bags, etc. so that I can use them and feel zero guilt about bringing the leftovers home with me. Usually there are a bit of each of those there, but you don't want to be the person who cleans the house out, and you also don't want to be replenishing all of them and leaving them all behind.

                          1. For me, part of the fun of cooking at a kitchen away from home is to see how little you need to bring with you, and how adaptable and adventurous you can be with your kitchen techniques. Besides, I like how carefree it feels when my luggage is light.

                            That said, I also like to focus on bringing a few items that reminds me of "home". In addition to my knife, I would bring my stovetop coffee maker, a small cast iron pan, and my wooden spatula (that doubles as a mixing spoon, if need be). Then, I would try to visualize what foods I'll likely be enjoying at that location, and come up with a few more essential items. That way, there will probably still be plenty of space for the food ingredients that I will want to bring with me -- my favourite jams, spices, teas and coffees etc.

                            1. I go away to a different rented holiday house every summeer, and find that I can make do with most holiday house kitchen knifes, chopping boards etc by making do - if they din't have tongs, I use a fork etc etc. The only thing I find that most places don't have (and that there is no replacement for) are pans big enough to cook for a crowd (usually there are 10 - 12 of us) so I've taken to carting along my big frying pan, my big roasting pan and my big dutch oven - I find I can cook most stuff in these if all the holiday house supplies is a few crummy saucepans. Also is a good idea to take some staples like oil vinegar, spices, s&p etc so you don't have to buy them all again! Have fun!!

                              1. We only ever take three things when travelling - small cook's knife, small serrated edge knife, pepper grinder. We find that, with these, we can manage very easily with whatever else is provided in the house.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Harters

                                  Add soap, sponges and bleach (for cleaning plastic cutting boards) and you have our list. It's worked through several rentals.

                                2. I used to pack a lot. Now i just pack my Henckels santoku knife, a non-stick skillet (not even that this year, since we've rented the same house and it has a good one), pepper mill, cloth napkins, one rubber spatula, a medium whisk, towels, sponges, dish tabs.

                                  1. It depends how long I was going, but I'd probably just bring a good knife and my mincroplane and just wing the rest. How I eat/cook on vacation (especially at a beach house) is a lot different than how I eat at home.

                                    1. Thanks for the ideas, everyone. We are only going to Cape Cod for a week - neither a long-term nor remote area. We do plan to do most of the cooking either on the grill on in a lobster pot, but I intend to keep it simple. I think I will mostly prepare breakfast foods, salads and maybe some quick desserts.

                                      I kept mental note of what I've used this week, and I think I have settled on these items:

                                      I think a colander is a great idea - I am picky about mine.
                                      I also think I will bring a couple of small Pyrex dishes for many uses - cooking and marinating as well as providing something that meat and fish can sit in while in the fridge.
                                      Knives and cutting boards, plus the gadgets you recommended - peeler, microplane, pepper mill, citrus reamer, workhorse spoons and tongs.

                                      1. 12" Cast iron skillet.
                                        End of story.

                                        1. If you're making a list, keep that list with your packaging. Check it off when it goes in the box and then check it off as you pack to go home.
                                          It's misery to find (as I have) that I left my favorite small saute pan in Denver with a friend after I drove back east after a three week 'see the west' adventure.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: shallots

                                            Great suggestion! It is too easy to leave something behind.

                                            I'm very visual, so I use the camera on my cell phone and take a picture or two. Helpful for sweetie to have a better idea of what we are searching for!

                                          2. I bring my salad spinner (doubles as an extra bowl and as a colander), a chef knife, my favorite cooking fork, pepper mill, a deep roasting pan which doubles as a large casserole, coffee grinder, small mortar/pestle, meat thermometer and a timer (I don't wear a watch). I also bring the handiest book ever, Timing is Everything since I am terrible at remembering temps and times for dishes. I also bring a Swiss army knife and little flashlight.

                                            I'm forever watching the budget, so I bring a variety of seasonings in little ziplocks, transfer oils and vinegars to smaller containers, and try to anticipate what pricier ingredients I might need that I
                                            already have in my cupboard.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: meatn3

                                              That reminds me that I've learned to bring along my favorite cooking oil, and things like ketchup and mayo, that I don't use much at home but suit our simplified lunch menus at the beach. For a couple years I kept finding myself buying another bottle of ketchup every summer, when it's the kind of thing that I don't go through a bottle in a whole year at home.

                                            2. I like to bring spices/ salt & pepper/ cooking oil with me. You could always apply the backpacking principle of making a few spice mixes and then packing them in smaller containers.

                                              1. Sister has a rental place in WV mountains with a pretty well stocked kitchen. Has a LOT of things that came from clearing out our father's house after he died... blender, food processor, and other normal small appliances. She has a few decent knives... those "self-sharpening" ones that slide into a hold. Has a 40-50's vintage set of Revereware pots/pans... a few sauce pans, good sized skillet, pot big enough for chili, spaghetti, etc. When ya go there, main things you wanna take are FOOD items... closest supermarket is at least 20 miles away!

                                                NOW SIL's sister/husband have a nice place in Ocean City, NJ. VERY nice place, 2 blocks from beach, but woefully sad kitchen... IMNSHO!?! There's a toaster, microwave, and coffee-maker... that's it. Not a single SHARP knife in the place... they're afraid someone will cut themself?? Were a bit miffed when someone left comments in guest book about what SHOULD be added to the kitchen... like a blender and a BIG pot. I agree with guests... thhis is a shore house in the SUMMER... blender drinks... CRABS.

                                                1. You don't know what will be there and in what condition usually. We took a blender, small ice cream maker, blender and cake pan I knew I would need for a birthday. Other than that, I can live with average knives and pots. We made do, I just had no interest in hauling my whole kitchen there along with all the groceries we had. Fun though!!