Vacation Meal Planning: 5 Tips for Quick Meals and More Time for Fun

June 04, 2021 | Food Lion
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Fun in the sun, quality time with the people we love most and delicious food - three things we look forward to when getting ready to go on vacation. However, when it comes to preparing meals, no one wants to be in the kitchen too long when there is so much fun to be had and memories made. That’s why vacation meal planning is so important. When you take the time to plan, it’s easier to think things through and make smart choices.

Reading this blog is a great place to start! We have five tips for vacation meal planning all around quick and easy meals and ensuring you spend as much time as possible enjoying your vacation with family. Let’s dive in!

1. Make lunchtime easy with make-ahead dishes.

Corn dog cups on cutting board with serving cups of ketchup and mustard

While you’re having fun with your family, you don’t want to take too long of a break to make lunch, right? Make-ahead dishes are a fantastic solution to serve a tasty meal for your loved ones and get back to the fun in no time.

Sandwiches, especially ones with deli meat and cheese, are a great go-to and easy to put together the night before. Then, store them in the refrigerator and let your family members grab one when they’re ready for lunch. Just be sure to leave off any condiments, lettuce and tomato, so the bread doesn’t get soggy.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can be made the night before as well. All you need to do is spread peanut butter on both pieces of bread with the jelly in the middle. That simple trick will keep the bread from soaking up the jelly.

But, sandwiches aren’t the only vacation meal planning option for lunchtime. We have another recipe idea that’s a make-ahead version of corn dogs. Plus, they’re easy to bring along for picnics or in the cooler at the beach. Made with corn muffin mix, eggs, milk and hot dogs, plus ketchup and mustard for dipping, these Corn Dog Cups are easy to make and a deliciously fun dish to enjoy for lunch. Check out the full recipe here!

2. Choose one-skillet or sheet-pan recipes.

Sheet-Pan Chicken Fajitas, Soft Tortillas, Guacamole, Salsa, Sour Cream, Limes in serving bowls.

Let’s face it - when we’re on vacation, we may not always have access to a plentiful stash of pots and pans like we would in our kitchens at home. So, make sure to plan for that and choose recipes that use one or two cooking vessels. Not only will you not run out of pots, pans, etc., but it’ll also make mealtime preparation quick and easy.

For instance, our Sheet-Pan Chicken Fajitas recipe only requires a bowl to toss your vegetables and chicken with the seasonings and a sheet pan to cook everything in the oven. After five minutes of prep work and 25 additional for cooking, you’ll have a tasty, wholesome dinner for your family. And any leftovers can be enjoyed the next day for lunch, which makes this dish perfect for vacation meal planning.

3. Use ready-made ingredients for easy meals.

Bacon Breakfast in a Blanket Recipe

Our third tip for vacation meal planning is another way to ensure you have more time for fun and less time prepping in the kitchen. Using ready-made ingredients makes preparing meals super quick and easy. Think things like rotisserie or fried chicken and pre-cooked bacon. When you don’t have to cook the protein - just heat it, toss it, shred it or simply serve it with sides - that saves quite a bit of time.

Here are a handful of specific ideas:

  • Breakfast in a Blanket: Scramble some eggs, preheat the oven to 375℉, unroll some crescent roll dough and have pre-cooked bacon ready for an easy Breakfast in a Blanket recipe that will get the whole family ready for a fun-filled day. To assemble them, you’ll simply spoon the eggs on the wider end of each crescent roll, add bacon and cheese, then roll them up, place them on a baking sheet and cook for around 10 minutes. That’s all there is to this recipe! So easy, right? And that makes it perfect for your upcoming vacation. 
  • Rotisserie Chicken with a Twist: Whip up an easy sauce, like honey mustard or barbeque and spread over rotisserie chicken. Then, let it bake in the oven at 325℉ for three to five minutes. Serve with instant rice and steamed or sauteed vegetables for a tasty and balanced meal that’s ready in 10 minutes or less. 
  • Saucy Fried Chicken: Toss fried chicken pieces in buffalo, BBQ or a sweet Thai chili sauce to make this Southern staple stand out at the dinner table in a flavorful way. Then, for serving, cut up some carrots and celery with ranch or blue cheese dressing (like you would with traditional wings). Or, try roasting some potatoes and green beans or okra on a baking sheet in the oven at 425℉ with olive oil, salt and pepper until lightly browned and cooked through. Be sure to cut your potatoes small, so they cook as quickly as the other veggies. You could also par-boil your potatoes before roasting them to speed up the process.
BBQ Chicken Flatbread on cutting board with serving bowls with red onion and barbecue sauce
  • BBQ Chicken Flatbread: For this recipe, you’ll chop up some rotisserie chicken and add it to a pre-baked flatbread crust, along with BBQ sauce, red onion, cheddar and mozzarella cheese. Then, all you need to do to have this meal ready to enjoy is pop it in the oven to bake for 10 to 15 minutes. And if you want to have a vegetable for a side, a salad kit is the perfect quick and easy choice!

4. Get a meal catered.

Food Lion catering assortment on wooden table, sandwich tray, cookie and brownie tray, fruit tray, wings, salad, plates and utencils

Plan to have a meal catered by the local Food Lion team and leave the meal prep to us! What could make your vacation meal planning any easier? From breakfast pastries and fresh-cut fruit to fresh salads, sandwiches, crispy chicken and snacks, we offer several family-sized catering trays that are easy to carry and ready to enjoy with everything you need to feed your family. Just be sure to place your order at least 24 hours in advance so your breakfast, lunch or snack catering order will be ready when you are.

5. Choose pick-up for your grocery order.

Food Lion To Go associate bringing grocieres in shopping cart to customer car

Before you hit the road, check to see if the Food Lion closest to your destination offers grocery pick-up through Food Lion To Go. After all, you’ll have your vacation meal planning done, so why not save some time and schedule your pick-up for the day you’re coming into town? That way, all you’ll have to do is swing by Food Lion on the route to your vacation spot and you’ll have exactly what you need for the meals you’ve planned to enjoy.

We’ve now revealed five vacation meal planning tips to help you prepare for your trip and serve some delicious meals that don’t require too much time in the kitchen. That way, you can make the most of your vacation with your family. We hope you have a fun, memorable and safe trip!

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