Over Spring break, we took my in-laws on a trip to the coast. The trip was part of our Christmas gift to them (gifts of experience are for grown-ups too). They had to drive their own car (we don’t have room for two more), but we were taking care of everything else.
If you know how we do road trips, then you know we don’t do fast food and eating out. One of the great things about Airbnb is that it’s easy and affordable to find somewhere with a kitchen! When you’re staying in a place with a kitchen, you can really cut down on the food costs for your trip by cooking instead of eating out!
Because cooking for eight might seem like a daunting task to some (while an everyday occurrence to others), I thought you might enjoy seeing what we ate and how we made it simple, delicious, and frugal!
I’ll start with the menu, then I’ll share the notes on the recipes, logistics, preparations, and tips.
Breakfast (at home before leaving)
- Egg Salad sandwiches on dinner rolls
- Carrot sticks
- Soft Tacos/Burritos
- Whole wheat pancakes with syrup, blackberry syrup
- Scrambled eggs
- Carrot sticks
- Apple slices
- Granola Bars
- Hawaiian Haystacks
- Banana Bread
- Fruit salad
- PBJs, Egg salad sandwiches
- Cuties, apple slices
- Granola bars
Dinner (at home after our return)
- leftovers from trip (there were plenty)
Egg Salad Sandwiches
I made two and a half dozen hard boiled eggs to make into egg salad. This was more than enough, so we ended up having it for lunch both the first and third day.
Making egg salad is easy peasy is you have an egg slicer like this. My kids enjoy peeling eggs, so I put them to work peeling the hard boiled eggs. I rinse them off, then slice them in two or three directions with my slicer. In a large bowl I mix them with some mayonnaise and mustard (fun fact: egg salad and deviled eggs are the only time you’ll ever find me enjoying mayonnaise or mustard), along with some salt and pepper until it tastes right. Some people add relish, but as you may have guessed, I’m not a big fan of condiments so I don’t go there.
The egg salad fit perfectly in a 5lb cottage cheese container from Sam’s Club. The tall container fit nicely in the cooler.
I bought a bag of 36 dinner rolls at Sam’s Club the day before the trip. When we’re picnicking (rather than sitting at a table), I find that rolls are better than bread when it comes to keeping the egg salad contained on the sandwich.
I love how easy these little guys are to peel! They’re juicy, delicious, and my kids love them! They’ve been on sale for about $1/pound lately. I brought a 5 pound box of Cuties with us on the trip.
I actually cut carrot sticks, as it’s cheaper than buying baby carrots. In order to keep them fresh, I put them in water in the bowl that I store them it. For our trip, I put the carrots in a gallon-size freezer bag with some water in it.
I pre-made and froze about 2 pounds of taco meat (ground beef and onions browned with taco seasoning), which was more than enough. I also had a couple of cans of refried beans that we warmed up at dinner time.
I chopped all of the toppings ahead of time and put them into my favorite containers to bring along (and serve from). We had tomatoes, homemade guacamole, green onions, cheese, lettuce, and sour cream. The lettuce was the only thing I didn’t chop ahead of time.
Our salad was a build-your-own kind. In addition to the tomatoes, cheese, and green onions available for the tacos, we had raisins, croutons, and salad dressing for the salad. We used two or three romaine hearts for the lettuce, which we washed and chopped at dinner time.
We brought along our griddle which I love because it’s big, convenient, and easy to clean. I brought along 6 cups of my homemade whole wheat pancake mix, which made more than enough pancakes work our group (I always prefer to have extra than not have enough). The mix takes eggs and milk, so I planned to bring those too.
For toppings I brought both regular syrup, homemade blackberry syrup, and homemade applesauce. We made some applesauce the week before and froze it instead of canning it, so it was a great addition to keeping other food cold in the cooler.
We scrambled about two and a half dozen eggs, then melted some shredded cheese on top. That was plenty. We even had leftovers, which never happens with scrambled eggs!
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
While my husband made the pancakes and eggs, I got the lunch food ready to bring with us for the day’s adventures. I made enough sandwiches for everyone to have two (we have big eaters). I used store-bought bread (the yummy, medium-priced kind) so I stacked the sandwiches up right back into the bread bags (no sandwich bags necessary).
I cut up about eight apples worth of apples slices and put them into a gallon-size freezer bag to bring with us.
One of my favorite dinners for a crowd is Hawaiian Haystacks. I brought along the rice cooker (one of my all-time favorite kitchen appliances) and 6 cups of rice. The rice cooker has a delay timer, so I set it to be ready when we got back from our outings.
As with the tacos, I pre-cut all of the toppings for our haystacks before leaving home. We had tomatoes, cheese, green onions, raisins, pineapple tidbits, crunchies (chow mein noodles), and chicken sauce. I made the sauce in the crock pot before our trip and froze it. Warming up the sauce was the only thing required to prepare dinner that night!
Before our trip, I made four loaves of banana bread to bring with us. That was more that enough for the third day’s breakfast, so we enjoyed the rest after our trip. Banana bread makes a great snack too.
The night before our trip I made a big fruit salad with cantaloupe, strawberries, apples, mandarins, and pineapple tidbits. I like to dice the fruits quite small so that each bite is a delicious combination of fruit (instead of just picking up a single piece of fruit for each bite). It also makes it easier for the kids to manage with a spoon. I pour the whole can of pineapple in (juice and all) because the citrus juice keeps the apples from browning. I put the fruit salad into gallon-size freezer bags so that it would fit nicely in the cooler. I filled two bags half full and then double bagged them both just to be safe.
This one is self-explanatory because I brought store-bought granola bars. I planned one per person per day, so I brought 24. I got Nature Valley fruit and dark chocolate bars, which I found for a great price at Grocery Outlet!
General Tips and Tricks
I like to freeze whatever I can so that it stays colder for longer in the cooler. I don’t have to add any ice to the cooler because I have enough frozen things to keep the cool things cool for the entire trip.
Bring along your own plates and silverware if you aren’t sure if your host’s kitchen includes them. We’ve stayed at some Airbnb places that have a completely stocked kitchen and others that were much more sparse.
My biggest advice is to do as much of the prep work as you can ahead of time, that way your vacation still feels like a vacation!
There you have it! That’s how we plan food for a trip around here. Quick, easy, and yummy!
How about you?
- What tips and tricks do you have for packing food for a trip?