How to Meal Plan for Vacation
How to Meal Plan for Vacation
Are you preparing for a family vacation, a weekend trip, or some extended travel adventures?
Are you wondering what in the world to do about your food?
Meal planning for everyday life is one thing, but meal planning when you’ll be away from home is different. After all, you don’t have your own kitchen and all its contents to fall back on.
So what’s a girl bound for travel to do?
The best way to meal plan for a trip is to answer these questions as you prepare and create a plan to fit them.
As you make your plan, don’t forget to grab your free Meal Planning Toolkit to write everything down and stay organized!
>>To catch the video where I talk about these tips, click the video below!
Okay, now let’s get into the questions to help you clarify your plan!
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WHERE ARE YOU GOING/staying?
Are you going to visit friends? Are you going camping in a tent? Are you traveling to a new country or state?
Are you staying with friends? Are you staying in a hotel, a hostel, an Airbnb home, or a tent?
The kind of place you’re staying matters because it affects the amenities and space available to you.
If you’re staying with friends, you might have access to a full kitchen, but you’ll likely also have to share space with said friends. You also might want to spend less time cooking when you get there because you’ll want to spend more of your time with your friends.
HOW LONG WILL YOU BE THERE?
Are you staying for just a weekend, or are you trying to make a plan for a week or more?
The length of time obviously affects the amount of food you’ll have to make for your trip and the amount of space you’ll have to devote to the food you pack.
Pro tip: It can be really helpful to make larger batches of fewer things instead of smaller batches of a wider variety of things so you can cut down on prep time and on storage space. It’s a lot faster to make a big batch of stir fry or pasta than to make three different dishes— and it takes up less space!
WHO ARE YOU GOING WITH?
How many people are you traveling with or meeting up with? That affects the size of the batches you’ll be making if you’re sharing food. It also might mean some potluck-style meals or meals you’re not responsible for at all. Make room for those meals on your plan, too.
Make sure you consider dietary restrictions and preferences here, too. Most people are good about working around their own diets, but considering others’ needs and doing your best to work with them goes a long way in building relationships, whether you’re the host or the guest!
It’s also important to communicate with the other people you’re traveling with or visiting so you don’t double up on food or miss anything. If you’re having a taco night, you can divide up the ingredients. Or you can divide up the different meals entirely and take turns making the food. It’s a great way of sharing the workload!
HOW ARE YOU GETTING THERE?
Are you traveling by car? By bus? By train? By plane?
The way you travel (and the number of people you’re traveling with) can determine the amount of space you have to pack your food, and therefore, the amount of food you can bring.
I’ve flown places and been limited to a backpack of non-refrigerated snack foods.
I’ve also driven places where I’ve had the freedom to pack an entire cooler plus a bag of dry goods to cover all my food needs.
It helps to know this ahead of time so you can prepare accordingly. It would be frustrating to not have enough room for all the food you’ve worked to make.
HOW WILL YOU PACK THE FOOD?
It can help to practice fitting your food in your storage containers (like the bags and coolers) to make sure you know it will fit. I’d hate for you to be packing up the car the morning of your trip only to find out that the cooler was too small, but there’s not room in the car for a bigger one!
WHAT CAN YOU MAKE AHEAD OF TIME?
This is one of my favorite tips for meal planning for travel. Considering how you’re traveling and what your destination is, what can you make ahead of time?
It’s important to consider which things will keep longer than others and how you’ll need to store your food.
For instance, I’m making and packing some muffins for breakfasts for a trip with my family, but I know that they don’t keep for more than a few days unless I can freeze them. So I’m planning on making them the night before we leave so they have the longest shelf life possible, and I’m planning on eating them the first few days to ensure they’re as fresh as can be. But I’m packing frozen smoothies (in pouches like these) to enjoy later in the week because they keep longer.
Other things you can make a few days ahead of time: granola, trail mix, roasted chickpeas, oatmeal packets.
Things you could make a day ahead of time: stir fry, pasta, soup, burgers.
Make sure you make a list of things to pack, too! Include both the premade food you need to just grab (along with any toppings, condiments, etc) and ingredients for things you’ll need to make when you reach your destination.
It’s also helpful to remember that this is a plan. It’s not written in stone. It’s a starting place, a guide. You can adjust and adapt it as necessary. It’s more a tool to make sure you’re planning and prepping the right amount of food and packing it however you need to (freezing things, etc) than an actual plan for what you’ll eat when. That can be more flexible, so give yourself and your people some grace!
I hope you feel more prepared for your trip now! Let me know what you’re planning on taking on your next trip!