Planning meals on holiday

15 July, 2020

Vacation is also a time for planning meals, isn't it? I'd rather say less meal planning and more freedom. Let me give you two real-life examples:

We're at the beach in the middle of the afternoon and I hear the family next to me wondering what they're going to eat for dinner. They are hesitating between going back to the canteen or going to the grocery store, which is 15 minutes from the campground.

One day at an outdoor activity park I listen to a group discuss their dinner options. Some want pizza and some want chicken. The choice seems difficult because many had already ordered pizza or chicken the day before.

In both cases, I didn't envy them at all. non-planning meals. On my side, at the campground beach, I had planned the meals for the week and groceries accordingly. I knew that I could stay at the beach until 4:30 pm and then go back to the cottage and start my zucchini and shrimp pasta. A sunny dish that ended this beautiful day beautifully. On the outdoor day, I had planned a quick meal, easy to set up on the way back.

All this to say that meals don't take a vacation, and if you don't want to double your food budget by eating only in restaurants, some planning is required. It'll even give you peace of mind.

How do you plan meals on vacation?

If you're going away for a weekend, I suggest planning everything in advance and grocery shopping accordingly. If it's possible to prepare food in advance as well, you'll enjoy it even more. For example, after a long day on the road, a good meal ready to put in the oven (for example a lasagna) when you arrive at the cottage while you take your luggage out, that's happiness. Same thing for camping. A chili to heat on the gas stove after you set up the tent is very practical!

A weekend menu is not that difficult to plan. Here's something to inspire you:

Friday: Meals to be reheated

Saturday noon: cold lunch (at the beach or on a hike)

Saturday evening: bbq (marinated meat, pre-cut vegetables, garlic bread)

Sunday: eggs, bread, bacon (brunch style)

Sunday evening: bbq (papillotte) or one pot pasta

A one-week menu does not have to be planned in its entirety. The important thing is to have a good base to prepare meals quickly without having to go to the grocery store.

Examples of basics to have on hand:

Cans of tuna

Legume tins

Pasta Sauce


Meat or sandwich filling

Firm Tofu

Frozen meat already marinated

It is supplemented with pre-cut fruits and vegetables, bread, a box of cereals, milk, snacks and a special snack or dessert (chips, cookies, marshmallows).

Don't forget the snacks

With young children, and even teenagers, snacks should not be overlooked and should be supportive enough to allow meals to be spaced out as needed.

Like the school year, there should be one snack in the morning, one in the afternoon and probably one in the evening since children go to bed later.

This is the time to integrate the gourmet route of the place you are visiting with food. Think about eating local. Here are a few ideas:

A pastry from the local bakery...

Strawberry, blueberry or raspberry casings from the farmer's market

A cheese from the local cheese dairy to be enjoyed on the picnic table while watching the cows in the field

Ice cream from the local dairy bar.

A milkshake or hot chocolate from the café in the city you are visiting.

An ice cream treat from the beach vendor.

These examples not only help fill the hunger but also create wonderful memories. Of course, they won't arrive 3 times a day, so you still need to stock up on snacks.

During the school year, in order to save money and limit packaging, I prioritize homemade snacks. But for the holidays, individual formats are hard to beat.

Without refrigeration

Soft bars

Compote in a bag

Pita bread

Dried fruits: grapes, cranberries, dates, figs, etc.

Walnuts: pecans, almonds, grenoble

Seeds: sunflower, pumpkin

Dry Cereals: Cheerios, Shreddies

Small Soy Beverage


Mixture of fruits and nuts



In an icebox


Hummus style spread

Milk and soy beverage


Seasonal fruits


Soft-boiled eggs

Snacks and meals on the road or in the car

On long car trips, it is often very convenient to have a snack in the car. There are a few things to consider:

Beware of choking:

Until the age of 4 years, hard, round foods can pose a choking hazard. Especially since in the car you cannot observe your child and act quickly in case of an accident. It is therefore more prudent to choose snacks that have soft or tender textures and to avoid nuts and raw vegetables in the car.

Keep children occupied:

Snacking is meant to satisfy hunger. It should be eaten once between meals. Snacking all the way through is busy but does not satisfy hunger. It is therefore preferable for parents to keep the snack close by and distribute it at the scheduled time. Snack bags are very practical in these circumstances.

Lunch time

It is very convenient to prepare a lunch for a long day of traveling. Not only will you save money, but you'll be free to stop at any time without being dependent on the food stops you come across. All you need is a bathroom! It's also a good time for the kids to stretch their legs. It's best to try to keep meal times stable, especially for young children. They react less well to hunger, becoming irritable and in a bad mood.

My favourite stops:

By the seaside or the river

In a municipal park (with or without play modules)

In a rest stop

In a village to eat our lunch on a picnic table but also to walk along the main street and buy bread and local food.

Meals on holiday, as well as the choice of activities, create extraordinary memories. All it takes is a little planning and the chore will no longer be a chore.