If you are like my family, you may have ditched small hotel rooms for the additional space provided in condos, villas, or houses. Nowadays, having a full kitchen and laundry room are my “must haves” when travelling with kids.
While eating out at restaurants is always a part of our trip, we usually minimize the dining out for a few special nights throughout the week. Not only is this cheaper, but sometimes it is just easier to eat at home when you have small kids. Long waits, broken crayons rolling off the table, and limited kids menus can get tiring after a few nights. Plus, it’s much healthier too cook your own food.
Cooking dinner on vacation can save time, money, and calories. This list provides 9 kid-friendly meal ideas you can make in your beach vacation rental.
What kid does not like spaghetti? My kids love spaghetti so much that Monday’s have now been dubbed “Spaghetti Monday.” I love making spaghetti because for a few dollars you can whip up a huge batch and feed a small army or have leftovers for the following day.
We usually do things very simple and buy a jar of pasta sauce and add to browned ground beef. Then, we pair it with some garlic bread and a simple salad. However, if jarred sauce is not your thing, you can always make your own sauce. In fact, many small beach towns have produce stands or farmers markets, so you may even be able to find fresh picked tomatoes for homemade sauce.
2. Taco Night
Another family favorite in our home, taco night is a win win for everyone and much cheaper than going out to a Mexican restaurant. Grab some ground meat and a seasoning packet (my favorite is McCormick Mild Taco Seasoning Mix), tortillas or taco shells, chips, cheese, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, and whatever else your family likes. You can even make loaded nachos if that’s your thing, and leftover meat can be used to make a breakfast burrito or a quick taco scramble.
3. Cheeseburger Sliders
Sliders served on Hawaiian rolls are super tasty, and you can make them inside on the stove or outside on the grill. Switch it up with fun sauces, different cheese, or marinate in teriyaki and grill pineapple to go on top. Add some chips or french fries, a salad, or even fresh corn on the cob.
4. Breakfast for Dinner
Who doesn’t love breakfast food? This is one of the meals that make my kids most excited, and the one most requested. Scramble some eggs, fry up some bacon, and grab an easy pancake mix at the store. Add a side of fresh fruit and yogurt, and you have yourself a full spread! Or, you can turn things up a notch and make one of the recipes below:
5. Homemade Pizza
Kids love making pizzas, and luckily most stores have all of the ingredients readily available for an easy DIY pizza night. Grab some refrigerated pizza dough, pizza sauce, shredded cheese, and the toppings of your choice. While the kids might just want cheese or pepperoni, the adults can experiment with fun and inventive pizza ideas such as the ones found here. This way, everyone is happy!
6. Garlic Butter Shrimp and Pasta
One of the best parts about going to the coast in my opinion is the availability of fresh local seafood. While many kids wrinkle their noses at fish and other shellfish, shrimp seems to be “mainstream” enough for even the pickiest eater to try. Garlic butter shrimp is simply delicious served over r pasta with a side of fresh, warm bread and vegies. Check out this sheet pan recipe for an easy method for making garlic butter shrimp.
7. Sandwich Night
Sandwich night does not have to be boring, and this is a perfect option for those nights where you are too tired to cook or go out. This turkey sandwich for a crowd recipe can be made ahead of time, and it only has a few ingredients. Buy a large loaf of bread, scoop out most of the inside to hollow it out, then load it up with turkey, cheese, and lettuce. The recipe calls for dijon mustard, but if you have picky eaters, you may have to change it up. You can even add in different meats like ham or salami or add some crunch with bacon. Serve with chips, fresh fruit, and some cut up raw veggies to make this a complete no-cook meal!
8. Grilled Chicken and Veggie Kabobs
Sometimes one of the worst parts about cooking is the prep work. In fact, many times it is the idea of prepping food that makes me throw in the towel and order a pizza. This recipe for chicken and veggie kabobs can be made ahead of time and frozen, then cooked on the grill without defrosting. How easy is that? Boil some rice pilaf while the food is grilling and you will have hit all 3 major food groups with barely any work.
9. One Pot Chicken Alfredo Pasta
If you are looking for a tasty meal that can be cooked in just one pot, then check out this One Skillet Chicken Alfredo Pasta recipe. There is no jar of sauce here, but the ingredients are very basic, and the recipe is easy. I love how this recipe provides some additional add-ins that can be thrown into the pot with the chicken and pasta. This would go well with some steamed broccoli or a light salad.
Bonus: Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches
What’s dinner without dessert? I love this recipe because it is super easy and you can cut this into any size sandwich you want. All you need is some refrigerated cookie dough, vanilla ice cream, and some basic kitchen supplies that most vacation rentals have on hand.
Making your own meals on vacation saves money, time, and (typically) calories. To save even more time, make sure to plan your meals and grocery shop in advance. Check out my 24 family beach vacation tips to save even more time and hassle.
What are your favorite meals to make on vacation? I would love to hear some of your vacation meal ideas in the comments below.
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