Vacation Meal Planning


For many, vacation is full of enjoying the local food culture and frequenting restaurants.  I get that.  You’re on vacation and you want a break from being in the kitchen.  Furthermore, you like to experience the local food fare.  While that is all well and good for some, eating at restaurants even while on vacation is not a possibility for others.  For various reasons, ranging from dietary restrictions to budget restraints, vacationers are confined to the kitchen.

In our allergy home, we try to refrain from eating at restaurants as much as possible for both of the reasons mentioned above.  Of course, the #1 reason we stay away from restaurants is because of the dangers that lurk everywhere (and we have experienced hospitalization while on vacation because of anaphylactic reaction).  We also live within the confines of a very strict budget.  It’s much cheaper to cook for a family of 5, than eat out.  We typically have the convenience of a full kitchen in our vacation spots, so this makes a huge difference.

Eating in while on vacation isn’t simple, though.  Sure it would be so much easier to pull up to any ol’ restaurant, pick something appealing from the menu, eat, pay, and leave the clean-up to someone else.  The alternative requires planning ahead and taking along much of your food.  Furthermore, you may be confined by your available work space.  The biggest goal, in my opinion, is to make the meals as simple as possible so that you don’t spend a lot of money at the grocery store on extra ingredients, like oil and spices.

For these reasons, I have listed some suggested meals that are allergy-friendly, simple, as well as travel (in a car) & cost-effective.  For each meal, I have also included a “bring” and “buy” list.  (There may be some disagreement here on what people have the room to pack and what they’d rather buy.)  Essentially, I am sharing with you my vacation meal planning list for a 1 week vacation.

Vacation Day 1:  Traveling to vacation location.  Pack suitable food to eat in the car or along the roadside.  You can view the list I posted last week of Allergy-Friendly Travel Foods.

Vacation Day 2:  Beans & Rice (with or without sausage)

  • Bring:  precooked dried black beans from the freezer, rice, homemade barbecue sauce, olive oil
  • Buy:  sausage, onion, bell pepper, garlic, canned beans (optional)

Vacation Day 3:  Crunchy Chicken Tenders (I need to share this recipe with you soon.), Sauteed Zucchini, Fruit

  • Bring:  homemade barbecue sauce, red hot sauce, rice, oil, ketchup, garlic salt, pepper, kosher salt
  • Buy:  chicken, zucchini, fruit

Vacation Day 4:  Night Out (We have a family vacation house that we enjoy every summer. We have been able to scoop out all the local food establishments.  There is one multi-generation fish joint that we enjoy one time during the week.  The girls and I enjoy their fried white fish or salmon, while my husband and son are safe to enjoy their smoked fish.  It’s a little pricey, but a nice little treat one night.)  If there is not a restaurant that everyone in your family can safely enjoy, you have the option of bringing along an allergy-safe meal for the person.  Perhaps you can even do take-out.  We have done this numerous times for my son, who we absolutely take no risk in restaurants.

Vacation Day 5: Spaghetti

  • Bring:  gluten-free pasta and/or regular wheat pasta, Italian spices
  • Buy:  tomato sauce, desired meat and/or vegetables, parmesian cheese (if allowed)

Vacation Day 6:  Refrigerator Round-up (i.e., clean out all the leftovers from the week — waste not, want not)

Vacation Day 7:  Travel Day – Plan ahead on your refrigerator round-up to have travel foods available for the ride home.

Optional Day:  Pulled BBQ Pork – It’s good to be prepared with an alternative meal planned, just in case.

  • Bring:  Homemade BBQ Sauce (at least for us as it does not contain corn syrup), kosher salt, black pepper
  • Buy:  boneless pork loin

You can see here that our cooking is very simple and I do not feel overwhelmed at all.  A few extras to note.

  • Lunch:  We eat similar lunches that we eat at home — tuna, almond butter & jelly, hummus, chips, salsa, fruit, allowed hot dogs, etc.
  • Breakfast:  Along with a canister of oats, I bake some breakfast foods to take along:  Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, Homemade Granola
  • Dessert:  My husband has requested that we take our ice cream maker to enjoy dairy-free ice cream.  I also make a double batch of Grandma’s Oatmeal Cookies.


None of the food is particularly extravagant, but we’re not really going on vacation to eat (although a foodie vacation sounds fabulous).  Rather, we go to enjoy family and the beautiful outdoors.

What “stay-at-home” meals do you usually enjoy while on vacation?

Shared at Better Moms Monday and Meal Plan Monday.

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4 Responses to Vacation Meal Planning

  1. Thanks so much for the post! We are going to the beach for the very first time for multiple night. It will be the first time we have our food allergic son along. Plus, it’s the first time my husband has been away from home and staying in a hotel since his food allergies were diagnosed almost a year ago. So…..these recipes and tips came at the perfect time. I booked a hotel that has a full kitchen…and I was just sitting here thinking about what I should bring/make. Thanks for the ideas!~

    • Cook says:


      I’m so glad to hear from you. I was just thinking the other day that I hadn’t seen you around lately. Busy times, I know.

      I’m glad that this list is helpful to you. The key is simplicity, without losing the need for safety/health, budget-friendly, and of course, delicious!

      Have a wonderful vacation! How very fun!!!!


  2. Angela says:

    What a great idea! We don’t deal with food allergies, but I still appreciate the ideas. I’ve only convinced my hubby to bring along food once during a mini-vaca, and I think we were both surprised at how well it worked.

  3. Brittany says:

    Thanks for sharing! We are actually on vacation right now and at first I had struggled trying to think what to do for meals since our food allergic son cannot eat out at restaurants and I ended up planning simple meals and bringing stuff from home just like you suggested.

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