Imagine. . . your family has just arrived at the summer vacation destination of your dreams. The vacation rental exceeds your expectations, the view is spectacular, and everyone is filled with anticipation for the days ahead. You take a minute to explore your new home away from home and smile as the children rush to claim their beds, the youngest screaming,"I call top bunk."
You spy the perfect spot of your own, a cozy corner outside with a view so perfect it looks photo-shopped. Just as your shoulders begin to fall from your ears and you feel the stress giving way to relaxation, the familiar voice beckons: "Mom! We're Hungry!"
I don't know about you, but I didn't have to stretch my imagination too far to recreate this scene. In fact, as a mother of four children, this vignette could have been – okay it was – ripped straight from the pages of our recent family vacation. Luckily, with just a little planning, a well-stocked pantry can help take the stress out of feeding your family on vacation.
One of the many advantages of a vacation rental is having a kitchen. For our family, it's a life-saver. The ability to cook our own meals is a major cost saver compared to eating out three meals per day (with a family of six!). And it's healthier, too. Consider these tips to help you spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying your family vacation.
Tips for Stocking your Vacation Rental Pantry
Ask the owners. One of the benefits of renting a vacation home is the ability to talk directly to owners in advance. At the top of my list of questions for the owner is their recommendation for local grocery stores and Farmer's Markets. I also ask random but essential questions like, "Do you keep coffee filters stocked?” And, “Is the grill gas or charcoal?" Talking to the property owners in advance is a key ingredient to planning your well-stocked pantry.
Have a menu plan and a list. Our travel plans include a menu plan and a shopping list. Whether we are traveling by plane or car, the grocery store is always our last stop before arriving at our vacation rental. Unless you happen to have a secret love for grocery stores, no one wants to spend time shopping on vacation. An organized list is critical for time and budget efficiency. And having a plan for meals, including when to eat out and what to cook at home, means less time in the kitchen.
Seek family input. Normally, I'm not a fan of too many cooks in the stew. Soliciting input from six family members can lead to one randomly filled grocery cart. But it’s vacation – where we tend to bend the rules and have fun. We typically plan for one or two favorite family suppers, and each person picks a favorite snack, breakfast and lunch item.
Plan your splurges. Vacation isn't the time to cut calories and count pennies. But, we try not to go overboard either. One of my splurges includes buying pre-chopped veggies and fruit. At home, I don't pay extra for this convenience, but on vacation? You betcha! Less time and stress in the kitchen is my kind of vacation. As for calorie splurges? Let's just say there is always chocolate within reach on our vacations. (Note the chocolate covered almonds in the suggested grocery list below)
Ready to go? Here's a grocery list from our recent family vacation for meal inspiration and to help you stock your pantry (printable version below). We ate breakfast at home every morning, as well as most lunches, plus two family suppers (including grilled chicken & vegetable kabobs and summer pasta tossed with shrimp, basil & cherry tomatoes).
Grocery List for Stocking Your Vacation Rental Pantry
- baby carrot sticks
- bell pepper
- cherry tomatoes
Meat & Fish
- chicken breasts
- sliced turkey
- whole wheat bagels
- whole wheat bread
- whole wheat pasta
- cream cheese
- parmesan cheese
- sliced Havarti cheese
Snacks, Desserts & Condiments
- chocolate covered almonds
- ground coffee
- ice cream sandwiches
- mixed nuts
- olive oil
- peanut butter
What vacation pantry essentials would you add to this list?
Download a printable grocery shopping list!