Author Topic: How to eat on vacation, packing picnics for a family of 5  (Read 5323 times)

KBecks

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How to eat on vacation, packing picnics for a family of 5
« on: January 30, 2014, 06:46:12 AM »
We are going on a family vacation this spring to San diego, it is mostly paid for by relatives who want to host everyone.  We will be staying in a rental house, and then we have rented another house on our own to extend the trip and see the desert.

Eating out is a huge cost and I read a MMM article about having to eat out when you haven't planned ahead and getting not so great food for huge prices.

So, what should we pack for picnics?  Do you have any tips / tricks / great meal ideas?

Thanks!
Karen

mandies

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Re: How to eat on vacation, packing picnics for a family of 5
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2014, 06:52:30 AM »
We are forever packing food for day trips to both save $$ and accommodate a very picky eater. Our secret weapon is hummus. There are literally a bazillion varieties with different kinds of beans (chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, even sweet potatoes), and then you chop up some carrots and celery, bring some whole grain chips or corn chips, or even some bread and cheese and lunch is served. We bring refillable water bottles and maybe some apples or some zucchini bread or cookies for dessert.

Another thing I like to do is bring flavored cheese cubes along with carrots, celery or red peppers. We like to make tomato and cheese sandwiches, but keep the sliced tomatoes in their own container until food time so the bread doesn't get soggy.

Peanut butter and jelly -- while it sounds old fashioned, if you use really good jam and all natural peanut butter and good bread, can be great as well. We also like Nutella sandwiches, but more for a dessert.




MissStache

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Re: How to eat on vacation, packing picnics for a family of 5
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2014, 07:34:46 AM »
A go-to picnic food in our family is something we call "antipasto."  You basically chop up a bunch of veggies, mix them with olive oil and italian dressing, and let them marinate.  They get better as they sit!

Our recipie includes (my proportions, but can be endlessly altered):
Broccoli (1 whole head, cut into florets)
Cauliflower (1 whole head, cut into florets)
Carrots (4-5 large, cut into rounds, or a bag of baby carrots)
Mild pepperoncini peppers (and I like to mix in all the juice, too!)
black olives (1 or 2 cans)

My parents put cherry tomatoes in theirs and if I'm feeling really fancy I'll put in some little mozzarella balls. 

I think you could add just about anything, as long as they are firm veggies (the dressing softens up the veggies a lot- almost like they are steamed or something, so I wouldn't put leafy greens or anything like that in.) 

It keeps for a couple of days, is delicious cold or at room temperature, and can be tailored to any picky eaters. 

Man, I think I'm going to make a bowl of this when I get home today.

greaper007

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Re: How to eat on vacation, packing picnics for a family of 5
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2014, 01:01:34 PM »
Don't forget about a small camp stove.    You can do grilled cheese and tomato soup or burgers, dogs etc to break up the monotony of cold food.    I did burgers in the parking lot at cedar pointe one year and it was a big hit.    Bringing a slow cooker can be useful too.   Corned beef and cabbage, roast, stew etc.

bogart

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Re: How to eat on vacation, packing picnics for a family of 5
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2014, 01:32:14 PM »
How old are your kids?  Will you be driving a rental car?  Are you flying to get to SD?

Lans Holman

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Re: How to eat on vacation, packing picnics for a family of 5
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2014, 01:33:52 PM »
Salads are great for picnics.  My favorites:
Greek salad with cucumber, tomato, feta
Cabbage, chicken, shredded carrots, sesame dressing, almonds or cashews
Orzo or couscous, sausage, sundried tomatoes, basil, mozzarella

A big bowl of any of these with a nice loaf of bread and maybe some fruit and you are set. 

KBecks

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Re: How to eat on vacation, packing picnics for a family of 5
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2014, 02:24:44 PM »
These are great tips.  We will be flying into San Diego and will have a rental car.  Our kids are 9, 7 and 5.  Thanks!


Thegoblinchief

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Re: How to eat on vacation, packing picnics for a family of 5
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2014, 03:03:45 PM »
Lunch is the easiest, and you definitely got some good advice already.

For breakfast, my family growing up would bring our own milk, cereal, and bowls.

Dinner is trickier, since you don't want to do picnic food TWICE in the same day. My plan going forward will be to cook using a charcoal chimney and a skillet. Eating out is the single most expensive thing you can do on vacation, unless you're staying in super nice hotels or doing very expensive activities.

KBecks

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Re: How to eat on vacation, packing picnics for a family of 5
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2014, 03:40:40 PM »
We're staying in vacation rental homes, so we will have a full kitchen for dinners.  It's just for when we go out during the day and don't' want to pay for $3 bottles of water and $10 sandwiches at food stands, especially if we go to a tourist attraction.  We will eat a few meals out, I'm sure, but we want to keep it reasonable. 

I have not packed picnics and this will be a good thing to explore and become good at.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: How to eat on vacation, packing picnics for a family of 5
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2014, 03:52:15 PM »
You'll never go back!

Except when we're with my in-laws, who just INSIST on buying food all the time, we always pack lunches. My kids are super picky eaters, so it's a win-win. I pack food they will eat AND it's cheaper :D

Dr.Vibrissae

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Re: How to eat on vacation, packing picnics for a family of 5
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2014, 03:58:00 PM »
I third the hummus with crackers and veggies, as well as sandwiches, string cheese (personal favorite), fruits that are easy to eat with you hands (I personally like apple slices with a few squeezes of lemon juice to keep them tart and white, as well as clementines and grapes). 

I'm a big water drinker, so I usually just have a water bottle with me that I fill up from time to time.  If you're going to be somewhere hot, though, I usually will fill a couple of my water bottles and freeze them. They'll keep your food cold, and will be partially melted and deliciously cold to drink when lunch comes.  You could do this with juices too.

frugledoc

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Re: How to eat on vacation, packing picnics for a family of 5
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2014, 04:13:59 PM »
For breakfast, porridge. Easy, cheap, healthy and delicious.

bikebum

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Re: How to eat on vacation, packing picnics for a family of 5
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2014, 06:03:58 PM »
Peanut/almond butter and banana sandwiches. Cheap, high calorie, good balance of carbs and fat (low on protein though), last long time out of fridge, easy to prepare, and delicious. I like almond butter over peanut butter, but it costs more. Get a nut butter that contains only nuts; Jiff, Skippy, etc. are nasty!

Annamal

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Re: How to eat on vacation, packing picnics for a family of 5
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2014, 06:23:37 PM »
For breakfast, porridge. Easy, cheap, healthy and delicious.

Or even better, baked oatmeal (check the budget bytes websites for recipes) which is also portable (and can incorporate seasonal fruit).

On long hot family car trips my mum used to put our drink bottles in the freezer overnight (sometimes with juice, other with water)


horsepoor

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Re: How to eat on vacation, packing picnics for a family of 5
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2014, 06:52:16 PM »
Individual yogurts are pretty portable and kid-friendly.

I frequently eat out of a cooler of food from home when I travel for work.  I kind of make it a game to try to not go out to eat at all, or only go out once in a week-long trip or whatever.  You're at a big advantage having access to a full kitchen each day.

I really like what I think of as "dense" salads to break of the monotony of sandwiches.  I just did an overnight trip this week, so I mixed a can of lentils, a can of olives and a can of tuna with some parsley, green onion, bell pepper, vinegar and olive oil, then split that into two portions and ate it as my main meal both days (hotel room had a fridge).  Also, hardboiled eggs should travel well and are nutritious, cheap and filling.  You can pre-peel them to make it easier to eat while you're out.  Carrots, celery and broccoli all do fine outside of refrigeration and don't bruise easily, so they're a good choice.  Oranges are good, and apples or grapes if you can prevent them from getting bruised or squashed.  I also eat avocados frequently when I'm traveling because they're healthy and filling, and can stand in for dips and dressings.  Also, homemade trail mix is great - you can do this on the road by finding a grocery with a bulk section and just buying a little of different nuts and dried fruits, then throwing them all in a bag.  Obviously, you could just buy the trail mix as well, I just like choosing my own ingredients and getting a premo mix.

bogart

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Re: How to eat on vacation, packing picnics for a family of 5
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2014, 08:42:21 PM »
We will be flying into San Diego and will have a rental car.  Our kids are 9, 7 and 5.  Thanks!

OK, so I might consider packing a (soft-sided) cooler or using one as a small suitcase for your trip, to have it.  Another option would be to pick up a cheap styrofoam one at your destination (but a decent soft-sided one with handles will likely be more practical for real picnicking -- more portable).  Being able to keep things cold-ish gives you a lot more options for what you pack.

Besides what I've seen in quickly scanning others' comments, yeah, I'd go with school-lunch style stuff and bear in mind that kids those ages often don't seem to require (or enjoy) the same amount of variety as do adults.  Bagels with cream cheese are something I find readily portable and good.  I like good breads with soft, spreadable cheeses (brie, etc.), fruit and veggies, and smoked fish (also, cooked shrimp -- which are readily available in grocery stores these days).  But your kids may or may not embrace these!  I'd involve your kids in the meal planning.  Assorted fish (salmon, tuna among others) can be bought in cans or bags and used in salads/sandwiches without needing to be kept cold for the journey.

You can likely pick up a decent, and decent-priced rotisserie (or fried!) chicken (and may want to slice it up at your place of residence, if it's the whole bird), to use for one meal -- assuming you are willing to eat cooked chicken cold (of course you can also cook one up yourself, but may not want to).  You could also involve the kids in baking brownies from a mix one evening and pack those as a picnic treat.  Nutritional value, low, but, fun value, high.  If the thought of brownie mix (or from scratch) horrifies you, you can always bake banana bread (or similar) from scratch. 

Have fun!

alexabreana

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Re: How to eat on vacation, packing picnics for a family of 5
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2014, 09:21:35 PM »
I live in San Diego, first let me start by saying that last week the weather was a warm.

We are also a family of five, almost same age as your kids. When we travel we find a Costco and buy the 100% beef hot dog w soda for 1.50 no membership needed to buy from food court. If you have a smart phone download groupons app. Groupons has lots of good deals on food.

Have fun in San Diego, it's a beutiful city

Alexa

Kaminoge

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Re: How to eat on vacation, packing picnics for a family of 5
« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2014, 08:50:24 AM »
Depending on where you are if there's a supermarket around you can often get good meal options on the spot pretty cheaply if you're carrying some basic cutlery (one plate and one knife worked for my family). So you pick up a packet of fresh bread rolls and some deli meat and a bag of apples or whatever. Saves you carrying it around all day (which won't be an issue if you'll be with the car all the time).

My parents were always very Mustachian and we never ate out. Literally NEVER. I ate out with them for the first time when I was 15 (it was my mothers 41st birthday) - we ate at the restaurant of a truckstop. We weren't even that poor, they just didn't see the point of wasting money on food when we could enjoy the stuff from the supermarket for a fraction of the price. I hated it as a kid but now I've turned into them!

One of our favourite treats was icecream. If you've got enough spoons (or things that can function as spoons) you can buy a tub and everyone can eat their fill for a fraction of the cost of buying everyone an individual icecream.