As good as it was, by the morning of day 5 I was ready to go back home.
I feel like we are sort of "trained" to expect and need a summer vacation, to both recuperate and try new things. My first year in the workforce was so depressing because I realized that there was no such thing as a free vacation anymore. It's now a decision: time off vs. working hours--a.k.a $$$. IS NOTHING FREE?!? :)
But here I am another year later: I'm practically bored with the free time I allowed myself. Who would've thought...
One thing about this trip that I would be lying if I said I didn't kind of love was planning out and making our groups' meals. It was an exciting challenge, and I was finally getting to cook for others! (Do any other single-dwellers ever get tired of making fun stuff just for yourself?)
|PB&J Parfait on the Beach|
For 8 meals serving 4 people, I spent a total of $112 on groceries once we got down there, and probably about $30 on food I prepped at home before leaving. Thats about $4.50 a meal per person, and we weren't just eating junk! Here are some steps and guidelines I took to make this possible!
- Make list of meals for each night and have it "approved" by attendees. So what I really did was make a list of what I wanted to eat and then tried to fine-tune it to what I knew all the boys would eat. (This essentially meant I had meat and vegetarian versions of almost every meal.) My final menu included the below.
- Breakfast: Sausage biscuits & scrambled eggs; Pancakes, bacon & hash browns; Greek yogurt parfaits & cereal
- Lunch: Chicken tenders; Grilled ham & cheese sandwiches; dinner leftovers
- Dinner: Spaghetti with green beans & garlic bread; Taco night; Hot dogs/BBQ shrimp kabobs, macaroni & cheese with broccoli
- Break list down into the ingredients needed. I took each meal in the above menu and sub-bulleted out any and all the ingredients and tools needed for them--think everything from how you plan to cook the meal (oven, grill, pan?) to condiments like salt/pepper.
- Review bullets; eliminate repeated and unnecessary items. Do we really need steaks for the grill, or are burgers/hot dogs enough? How about tortillas, when we already have bread and hard shells on the list? I'm already buying cheese for the macaroni, so I can use it for the tacos too. See, already three items crossed out!
- Sort by "what you need to buy" and "what you can bring from home". As one girl in a group of men, there are things that I really want to eat and they just don't: e.g., I want coffee, granola, and peanut butter for breakfast options. I have all these items in my cabinet, so why not bring them? Also, I brought along items like tin foil, non-stick spray, and Smart Balance that I knew we wouldn't end up using enough of in order to justify buying there.
- Make-ahead meals! For our trip to Myrtle Beach, we "only" had about a 5 1/2 hour drive. This was a safe amount of time for us to bring a few cold items with us, so I brought as much as I conveniently could. For the first night there, I figured spaghetti would be perfect: no stress, not too much prepping required, and could feed a crowd. So earlier in the week I made some marinara sauce in the crock pot, added browned ground beef, and stuck it in the freezer. By the time we arrived, it was nearly defrosted and cooking pasta took nearly no time at all!
|Made-ahead: Mac & cheese sauce|
Of course, we did eat out a few times...A bacon pizza was in order since it was my vacation (from all things healthy apparently). But what's a vacation without a few breaks from normally duties like doing the dishes? :)
Hope these steps help the next time you are planning for a vacation. Leave me a comment and let me know how YOU prepare! :)
|Why does it always rain on the way back home from vacations?|