Hooks for Cooks™

The Vacation Kitchen

July 4th, 2009

The Vacation Kitchen?? Is there such a thing? Should there even be such a thing? Afterall, vacations are supposed to bring relief from the daily grind

bradys-oystersWell, as a mother of three children, I learned early on that there is indeed a need for the vacation kitchen. More than ten years ago, my husband and I realized that staying in hotels and feeding our kids hotel food for six or seven days simply wouldn’t suffice.

The kids would declare the meatballs too spicy or the fish too greasy. They’d often try to eat what had been served, but they’d get a stomach ache later, they’d be irritable, or they’d be hungry by 9 pm.

As time evolved, we shifted our vacation approach. The need for real food while on the road was one of the reasons we purchased our Aerolite travel trailer. The kitchen has a fridge, stove, oven and microwave. It has been indispensable, and I’m proud to report that I have repeatedly cranked out family friendly meals in remote locations such as Alaska’s Denali National Park and the Kenai Peninsula. While navigating extreme terrain on the Alaska Canada Highway, I served dinners and snacks in Canada’s Yukon Territory and Northern British Columbia.

When we leave our trailer at home and venture elsewhere via plane, I try to get accommodations with even the smallest kitchen. While touring Washington, DC last summer, the children and I stayed at the Embassy Suites Convention Center. Even though the buffet breakfast was served and included in the price, the small fridge and microwave in the room were critical for storing organic yogurts and supplies for our brown bag lunches.

During our trip to London last February, the children and I stayed at the Dolphin House Apartments. Our two bedroom two bath flat was perfect and the kitchen was indispensable for making breakfast and heating up some of the outstanding high quality reasonably priced takeaway dinners I found at Waitrose.

Admittedly, I don’t always love to cook while on holiday but I also realize it’s a necessity. And, I’ve learned that it can go a long way in keeping the peace. So, watch for future “Vacation Kitchen” posts here on Hooks for Cooks. I’ll be drawing on my current and past Vacation Kitchen experiences. In the meantime, consider these tips:

1. Book a house, condo or apartment with a kitchen. Or at least try to find a place with a small efficiency kitchen that includes a fridge and microwave. For starters checkout out Homeaway or Vacation Rental by Owner

2. If you are taking a road trip, bring a cooler filled with homemade sandwiches, waters, juices, fruits or whatever. It’s a better alternative than fast food.

3. Locate the local grocery stores FAST. If you have a GPS with a shopping feature, rely on that to pinpoint various grocers. At the store, survey the readymade meals, which can often be very high quality. I don ‘t use these meals when I am home, but I’ve learned they are a great affordable option while on vacation.

4. If there are farm stands, try to get some locally grown fruits for snacks. If there’s a good fish store, check it out. A local shellfish grower who sells directly from the tidelands outside his door? Don’t just go, ask questions and take pictures too.

5. Bring a few favorites from home. I always encourage my kids to try local and regional specialties, but sometimes a familiar food from home helps, especially when the kids are jetlagged. When we went to England for two weeks, I packed their favorite ramen, granola bars and smoked almonds.

5. At the end of your trip, calculate how much you saved by eating in rather than dining out. I did this at the end of our two week trip to England. While there we had two pub lunches and one pub dinner. By shopping at the grocery store, packing picnics and eating in at other times, I tallied that we saved nearly $3000 based on the cost of the other three modest meals.

Tomorrow: From Campground Cookery to Condo Cuisine

3 Responses to “The Vacation Kitchen”

  1. Alison Mulhern

    Melissa,
    Vacation food is critical for our family too! I think back to a family vacation in the Bahamas and my mother’s cooler which travelled from the US– roasts and all! My aunt from Niagara Falls, NY used to arrive at our summer vacations on Long Island with sausages and once again the family roast in tow! My younger sister has encouraged me to ” pack ahead” when we go to Florida…. Off to Trader Joes before we go— fresh mozzarella to go with those beautiful Florida tomatoes that never leave the state, creamy goat cheeses, homemade bar-b-que, tacos and spaghetti. The true meaning of make ahead has never been sweeter than after a day on the beach as I am heating up one of our travel tested, family treats.. thanks for sharing your family travels!

  2. Hooks for Cooks™ » Blog Archive » Seattle-A Cook’s Paradise

    [...] but they can give you a true taste of Seattle. And, they are a great resource for stocking your Vacation Kitchen, whether that kitchen happens to be in a rented RV, a hotel room, a backpack, a house or even the [...]

  3. Agnes

    I like the way you write! Nice blog.

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