Last week we had a great time traveling as a family. The hubster was working in Coeur d’Alene so we tagged along. His work paid for a great portion of the hotel bill and gas so we made a little family vacation of it.
Granted, I know when most people go on vacation it is a free for all and they enjoy getting out and not having to cook. But there are alternatives to eating out while on vacation. I decided to challenge myself to come up with thrifty, easy/simple meals that wouldn’t require too many ingredients and wouldn’t take too many dishes to prepare.
With the economy the way it is today I try to save when ever possible.
One of the hubsters coworkers brings a small toaster oven in his luggage when he travels and makes a trip to the grocery store when arriving and cooks his own meals in his hotel room (although I am pretty sure he is eating frozen pizzas the whole time). I thought this was a clever idea and I thought why not!
I have a large toaster oven I purchased to use in my classroom back in my teaching days. We cooked a few times a month as a part of my curriculum. So I dug the toaster oven out of the garage and dusted it off and got a plan in tact.
Sure we could eat fast food off the dollar menu and save money but really I would rather eat a “home” cooked meal and save even more money.
I came up with several recipes that are simple with only a few ingredients.
We did eat out a few times still (Hey we are on vacation aren’t we!) These are the meals I threw together.
Artichoke chicken w/couscous
I also packed food to make lunches: sandwich fixings, mac and cheese and Raman noodles along with fresh fruit string cheese and veggies. The hotel provided breakfast, so I didn’t have to cook then, yeah!
Making the meals was easy and fast but there was some prep and thought that went into it all before we left town. I cut up carrots, celery, broccoli and cauliflower and browned one pound of hamburger. And gathered all sorts of odds and ends.
Had we not borrowed my in-laws minivan there is no way we could have packed up our own meals to take on the road. The “trunk” of my car only has enough room to barely fit the monster of a stroller. Actually we wouldn’t have been able to take the trip with all of us with out borrowing my in-laws awesome luxurious minivan. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! The DVD player was a life saver too!!
So packing to cook while on vacation did take up precious car space. We had the toaster oven, a box of food and supplies and a small cooler. But with the mini van, we were able to pack a little more liberally.
Please bear with me the photos don’t look that appetizing (phone photos!). Rest assured, although simple the food was good.
2 chicken bullion cubes
1 ¾ Cups couscous
2 Cups boiling water
Combine the artichoke hearts with the chicken and allow to marinate for 20-30 minutes. Place marinated chicken and artichoke hearts on baking sheet and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Boil 2 cups of water in the microwave (normally I do this on the stove, but ya know when you are on the road you make do with what you have). Add bullion cubes, stir until dissolved. Add couscous and cover until water is absorbed (about 5 minutes). Fluff with a fork and serve with bake chicken and veggies.
1 lb browned seasoned hamburger
1 can of tomato soup
1 can off green beans
1 package of mashed potatoes
Prepare potatoes according to directions and set aside. In a casserole dish combine soup, green beans and hamburger. Add mashed potatoes on top of other ingredients, sprinkle cheese on top and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
This is the first time I have used tomato soup for Shepherds pie and I really liked it. It is a little different than I have used in the past, and super easy.
1lb of hamburger
1 box of Stove Top stuffing
1 Cup of milk
Mix hamburger, stuffing mix and milk. Then form into balls and place in cupcake pan. Use your thumb to make a small well and add BBQ sauce. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
English muffins or pitas
Jar of pizza sauce
Pizza toppings: we used Canadian Bacon and pineapple
You know how to assemble a pizza! I just used the toaster feature and toasted until the cheese looked melted.
Shake and Bake Chicken Nuggets
1 lb of chicken
1 box of Shake and Bake
Cut chicken into chunks, then place seasoning and a few pieces of chicken at a time in the shake and bake bag and arrange on baking sheet. Again… Bake at 350 for 30 minutes (you see a pattern here)
Over all it was a fun experience. It was nice to know what I was cooking several days out (that doesn’t happen at home). Give it a try if you are trying to save or are strapped for money or if you are just up for the challenge.
I spent less than $20, most of the things I needed we had already. I would say that is some thrifty cooking!