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It’s summer and that means it’s vacation time! Amirite?! Though living in Chicago I’d really like to start taking a tropical vacation in the middle of winter. But that’s a topic for another day. Today I wanted to share the three meal planning mistakes I made before and after my vacation and how you can avoid them.
Last week I was lucky enough to go on an Alaskan cruise with my Grandma and sister Lexy. We had a great time! Alaska is now the most beautiful state I’ve ever been to. It was truly a bucket list trip. My husband and daughters stayed home and I made sure to prep the house with easy meals they could have while I was gone. However, I made three mistakes that I want you to avoid if you’re taking a trip this summer. It will save you time and money!
Use Up What You Have on Hand
A couple weeks prior to leaving for my trip, I wish I had done a big freezer and pantry clean-out to use up the odds and ends we have on hand. First of all because transitions such as trips, moving or back-to-school time are great times to declutter your kitchen. Using up the odds and ends helps reset your kitchen.
Second of all, it helps save money that can be used for vacation. If you eat up the meat, beans and rice lurking in the freezer and pantry you can cut your grocery budget down for the week and use that money for your trip. It’s a win-win!
Here are some meal ideas for your odds and ends:
- ▪ Leftover frozen veggies can be made into a big batch of vegetable soup. I found 5 bags of open frozen vegetables in my freezer that each had less than a cup in them. They’re perfect for a veggie soup.
- ▪ Rice and beans can be made into vegetarian burritos. Cuook them up in a sow cooker or even at the same time in the Instant Pot, add them to tortillas with some cheese and salsa and you have a filling dinner the whole family will love.
- ▪ Pasta can be cooked and made into a huge pasta salad. Add whatever veggies you have in the fridge, the half bottle of Italian dressing in the door and the can of black olives leftover from Christmas. Serve with a rotisserie chicken for a perfect weeknight meal.
Freeze The Things You Can’t Use Up
When I returned from my trip, I threw out three packages of mushrooms, one bag of spinach and a package of chicken thighs that had gone bad. I REALLY hate throwing away food and I was kicking myself for not freezing it before I left.
Do yourself a favor and go through your fridge the night before you leave and freeze anything that you can. Raw meats can always be frozen. Just double wrap them in wax and aluminum foil. The mushrooms I could have sauteed first and then frozen for my breakfast scrambles and the spinach can be frozen as is for smoothies. Or if you prefer to be more organized, you can blend it up in a little water and pour into ice cube trays. Once frozen you can store them in a zip-top storage container for smoothies.
You can also freeze leftovers! I love freezing single portions of leftovers to have fir lunch at a later date. Sometimes your family has had their fill of a soup or casserole that you made a bug batch of and there might be one to two more portions left. Don’t throw this away! Casseroles can be wrapped in parchment paper and then placed in a zipped-top storage container or wrapped in aluminum foil. Soups, chilis and stews can be frozen in a pint-size mason jar.
Make a Simple Meal Plan For The First Week Back After Vacation
When you pull into your driveway on a Sunday night, the last thing you are thinking about is what you’re going to make for dinner the upcoming week. Between unloading the car, getting the kids ready for bed and even thinking about unpacking is exhausting. I mean, it take us a good hour just to plug all the chargers and electronics back in when we get home. This is why I highly recommend making a very simple meal plan for the first week back before you leave for your trip.
Trust me, I’m a chicken with my head cut off the days leading up to vacation. There’s so much to pack and organize and make lists for. But I promise if you take 15 minutes to write a basic meal plan and grocery list, you will feel such a huge relief when you get home. If you order your grocery delivery ahead of time, you’re and even bigger rock star!
Here are some really easy meal ideas for your first week back:
- ▪ Wraps. Fancier than sandwiches but just as easy. Grab some chips or a bagged salad to go along side and call it a day. Here’s my favorite Turkey Club Wrap for inspiration.
- ▪ Breakfast for dinner. Whip up some scrambled eggs, toast and fruit and call it a day. This is a meal your kids will definitely gobble up!
- ▪ Ravioli Lasagna, as long as it’s not too hot to turn the oven on. This one literally gets throw together in a casserole dish. Plus, it makes a ton of leftovers!
- ▪ Rotisserie chicken, stove top stuffing and a bag of frozen veggies. Is it gourmet? No. Will everyone love it? Yes.
- ▪ Pulled Chicken Sliders. This chicken is so delicious and easy to make. Grab a bagged salad and sweet potato chips to serve on the side.
- ▪ Trader Joe’s Mandarin Chicken, steamed rice and broccoli. This is a favorite in my house and it couldn’t be easier.
Taran is a self-proclaimed undomestic mom. She thrives as a stay-at-home-mom by consistently carving out time for herself and practicing realistic self-care. As a busy mom of 3, she knows that if mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy! With a focus on how SAHMs can carve out time for themselves everyday, she teaches fellow SAHMs how they can do the same.