Vacation Meal Prepping 101 | Easy Food Ideas for Trips

By Samantha Fann

Repeat after me: Hi, my name is (insert your name), and I am a vacation meal planner. Even if you don't believe those words yet, hear me out. With just a few tips and tricks up your sleeve, you and your family will be craving a beautiful dinner in your Wyndham Vacation Rental and opting out of the drive thru.

Vacation Meal Prep Ideas

Get Inspired

In my experience, inspiration is the key to successful meal planning, whether on vacation or at home. Find recipes that get you excited to get in the kitchen and make something beautiful, or you may find an excuse not to cook. Take some vacation inspiration too, and cook something somewhat local.

We're always posting recipes sure to get you inspired for your upcoming vacation. If you're anything like me, you probably have a Pinterest account full of meal inspiration that is severely underused. This is a great tool to get your ideas organized and in one central location. Make a Vacation Meal Planning board, and put those pins to good use!

Shop Your Pantry First

It's no secret that meal planning is a serious money saver. Once you've curated a list of ingredients you'll need, check out what your home's pantry has to offer. Bringing your own ingredients to your vacation rental will save time and energy. This simple step will shorten the grocery list and lengthen your budget.

You probably already have travel-friendly foods such as grains, pasta, rice, flour and sugar in your pantry. These travel-friendly ingredients are shelf-stable, easy to transport and can potentially work into more than one of your planned menu options.

Simple is Best

This tip may seem like an obvious one, but once those inspiration juices start flowing, you may or may not find yourself planning a fantastic five-course meal for each night. Now if that's something you're excited to tackle, don't let me stop you. In fact, I'd love an invitation! However, if a complex meal is a bit out of your comfort zone, make it easy on yourself. New, easy recipes will impress all the same.

Sheet pan and one pot recipes can be your best friend when it comes to cooking on vacation. Through our trials and errors, I've found the best recipes often have the fewest and simplest ingredients. A five-ingredient meal can be equally as satisfying as a five-course meal, and it’s a lot easier on your wallet.

Have Fun with It

If you can remember to keep things fun, vacation meal planning will never feel like a chore. You can assign each night its own culinary theme (I.E. Taco Night, Burger Night, etc.), or even involve the whole family by having each person pick a dish or two they'd like to prepare. Leave a few things like vegetables and sides up to chance, and choose from your destination's seasonal options. This is a great way to try what different areas of the country and world have to offer.

I hope these tips already have you feeling more confident in your vacation meal planning abilities. To help you get started, be sure to download our free printable meal planner and shopping list.

Is there a favorite meal of yours that you'd like to see made in five ingredients or less? Leave your suggestions in the comments below, and you may see your suggestions featured on a future post.


Samantha Fann is a freelance writer, photographer and content creator for her and her husband's shared passion project, 'How I Met My Dinner.'