August 6, 2012

Vacation Organization ~ Part 1 ~ Meal Planning

Once again I’m scrambling to create a packing list, prepare food, and plan for the long car ride for our vacation. I decided to reflect on everything and create some ways help me be better organized.
The first thing I did was create a Vacation binder. I made a packing list, a food list, a kitchen list (I’ll explain more later), a list for places to visit along the way, and a list for places to visit at our actual destination.
  • The packing list is pretty self explanatory. It’s a checklist with a section for me, one for each kid, one for electronics, and one for miscellaneous. (I figure my husband can pack himself)
  • The food list is a check list with a section for meals to make, meals to bring, snacks to make, snacks to bring, and miscellaneous. Since we usually try to get a room with at least a kitchenette if not a full kitchen I need to be prepared with plenty of food so we can limit eating out.
  • The kitchen list is various kitchen items we may need such as a steamer, a slow cooker, pots, pans, utensils, etc. A lot of this isn’t always necessary as the kitchen usually comes stocked but it’s a good reference in case I need it.
  • For the last two lists I have to google the route we’re taking and look for fun things we may want to see or do along the way (like Superman in Metropolis, IL) or once we get to our destination. It’s handy to have the website, costs, and phone numbers ready to go.
  • In the back of the binder I’ve also included each recipe that I like to make ahead of time and bring. That way I don’t have to search through all my recipes to find the ones that freeze and travel well. Some examples of recipes I use are creamy chicken taquitos, cheesy burritos, pizza rolls, pretzel bites, and peppery chicken pita wraps.  I also bake chocolate chip cookies ahead of time and freeze them in quart size bags. I usually start cooking a couple weeks ahead of time and try to make 1-2 recipes a day to freeze.
As this is a work in progress since this is the first vacation I’ve used the binder for I’ve had to modify and edit my lists. Once I was happy I printed them out and put them in sheet protectors so that I could use a wet erase marker. This way the lists can be used over and over.
We’ll have a couple of rubbermaid tubs full of snack stuff that doesn’t need to stay cold, a larger cooler for the freezer meals, and a smaller cooler that will be accessible while we’re driving. 
How do you plan meals on vacation?

Part 2 - Packing
Part 3 - Entertaining the kids
Part 4 - Update


  1. Well, I kind of had an informal list in my head, but now that I've read YOUR plan-I'll be mirroring yours-it's brilliant!! We've got a long road trip planned in August so your tips will be invaluable! Thanks for sharing them!

    1. Thanks! I updated the post to show parts 2 (Packing), 3 (Entertaining the Kids), and 4 (Update). Be sure to check them out.

  2. I know when you have children (minor ages)this is important. I do remember those days when we traveled with our children that I would take along snacks and something to drink. I would have rathered packed sandwiches and beverages and snacks then eat in some restaurants but dear hubby didn't want to do that, he felt it wasted too much time "picnicking". We were fotunate enough that he earned enough for us to always take nice vacations but for about 30 years, we spent most of our vacations vising my elderly parents. We would end up buying food when we got there, because Mama and Daddy didn't eat what we were used to eating and wouldn't buy anything other than what they normally ate. We'd go out for the evening and come back and Mama would have helped herself to our snacks or sodas or say they didn't have that in her store when that's exactly where we had bought it. Her eyes and brain were trained to only buy the same foods they always eat. She never owned a cookbook or knew how to fix anything special or different.

    You are a very organized person and I admire your skills.

    1. Thanks so much! I much prefer making my own food to wasting so much time driving to restaurants and waiting. Plus, I can control what we eat better. We try very hard to avoid GMO, high fructose, and msg.