Monday, July 9, 2012

Beach Vacation Meal Plan: What To Eat While Traveling - July 9, 2012

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As anyone with food allergies knows, travel can be a challenge.  But as with most things, it can be done!  It does take some prep-work and advanced planning so I thought I'd share how my family handled food on our recent week-long trip to the beach. 

The first thing we always do is rent a condo or house that has a kitchen.  That way we can be in control of our meals and do much of the food prep ourselves. 

The second thing we do is a little internet research to see if there are any allergy-friendly restaurants in the area we'll be visiting.  One helpful site is  Visit the site, choose the foods you avoid and the location you'll be visiting and it will give you a list of restaurants with links to menus as well as reviews.  Other helpful sites include Find Me Gluten FreeLife Without Gluten's Restaurant FinderGluten Free Registry and Celiac Restaurant Guide.  (I'm sure there are others.)  Finding a restaurant that is conscious of gluten intolerance is at least a start to finding one that accommodates other allergies.

Third, we make a detailed meal plan including what we'll eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day.  On this list, we'll include at least a few meals that we'll eat out at a restaurant (provided we found some leads on the above mentioned websites.)  Since no one wants to spend much time in the kitchen while one vacation, we make sure our meals are quick, easy and mostly prepped ahead of time.  Dinners such as Mrs. Jolly's Chicken CasseroleCreamy Chicken PieSeasoned Ground Beef and RiceItalian Sausage Rice Bowl, Pulled BBQ Chicken or even Homemade Allergy-Friendly Pizza can be fully prepared at home, frozen in a baking dish or zip-close bag and taken along in your cooler to your destination.  During your vacation, its quick and easy to let one of those ready-made meals bake in the oven while you shower off the sand and, voila!, dinner's ready. (Just make sure you plan out your meals so there's time to defrost things in the fridge before cooking time.) Other ideas include meals that require few ingredients and little time in the kitchen such as spaghetti and meat sauce, hamburgers or taco salad.

You may also want to prep some take-along lunches so everyone doesn't get burnt out on sandwiches.  I'll give you a few ideas below.  Speaking of sandwiches, now might be a good time to buy store-bought GF bread instead of making your own Awesome Sandwich Bread.  You don't want vacation prep to wear you out completely.

Lastly, we make a grocery list of things to buy when we get there.  I prefer to do most of my shopping at home and bring it along. (Who wants to do a full-out grocery run while on vacation!)  But there do seem to be those last minute or freezer items that are just better purchased close to your destination.  But I do recommend bringing from home those specialty items like soy yogurt or gluten-free bread that may be hard to find at a standard grocery store.

So here's the actual plan we followed for our recent beach trip. 

  • Breakfast: Gluten-Free English Muffins (I adapted this recipe from Tessa the Domestic Diva, made them at home and froze them for easy toasting later.)
  • Lunch:  Cold Cut Sandwiches, grapes and potato chips
  • Dinner:  Out at a restaurant
  • Breakfast:  Homemade GF Granola Cereal similar to this recipe found at Crockpot 365
  • Lunch:  Taco Burger (Ahead of time, brown some ground beef with taco seasoning. Serve on the beach in sandwich bags with a spoon.) and Fritos and apples
  • Dinner:  Salad Dressing Chicken, Ore-Ida Fries (label states "gluten-free") and Salad
  • Breakfast:  Gluten-Free English Muffins
  • Lunch:  Chef Salads (Served on the beach in individual take-n-toss containers. Don't forget the forks!)
  • Dinner:  Out at a restaurant
  • Breakfast:  Banana Bread (I made 2 loaves at home, sliced and froze for easy toasting.)
  • Lunch:  Summertime Chicken Salad, fruit cups and chips/crackers
  • Dinner:  Pulled BBQ Chicken (We made this in the crockpot while we swam in the sea, but this is also an easy one to make at home, freeze and take along.)
  • Breakfast:  Cinnamon Toast
  • Lunch on the road:  Cold Cut Sandwiches and snacks
  • Dinner on the road:  Restaurant  
So that's it. That's how we do it.  I'd love to hear how others handle meals while traveling so please share your ideas with us.  

Check out more meal plan ideas at Menu Plan Monday and Gluten Free Menu Swap.

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