Can You …

I had a friend text me and ask…

Can you give me ideas for food on our beach trip?

May is here!

Summer is looming in the near distance.

Before we know it, we may be packing the car for a road trip, heading to a vacation spot.

My friend has six children, many teens. She has a forceful grip on everyday food at home, but it had been a while since they ventured to the beach. She wanted to plan, giving herself some rest time at the beach too.

We took our kids to the beach so many times. (My in-laws lived at the beach, so we got there at least twice a year.) I have done the vacation food drill many times and still do! For many years, being on a tight budget, we did not eat out much during the week. I didn’t want to be in the kitchen a lot, so I found ways to navigate and feel like I was on vacation, too.

A Game Plan fosters success. Preparation is key.

Since we live about 6 hours from the beach, I took most of our food with us. Yes, it takes up car space, but it’s cheaper at home and freezer items really give you more time out of the kitchen.

A few staples I prepared ahead and froze:

Taco Meat

I browned and spiced the meat, then put it in a freezer bag. You can do this a few weeks ahead of time. The first night we arrived was taco salad night. You could also use it for burritos or nachos.

It’s late afternoon by the time you take occupancy and get settled. I could bring all the ingredients in the cooler and not have to visit the overcrowded grocery store on arrival day. It saves a lot of time, if you can bring dinner with you the first night. Restaurants are overcrowded the first night too.

Driving in the car for hours and then waiting in lines for dinner is not our idea of fun, nor our children’s.


I often make and freeze a lasagna in a disposable pan to use during the week. Again, you can put it in the freezer weeks ahead. It acts as a big ice block in the cooler too!

It was so nice to set it on the counter in the morning, beach all day and put it in the oven while we all showered when we came in. This is a hardy meal which my young ones devoured; they leave it all on the beach. Every bit of energy exerted in the water, body surfing and skim boarding.

Sloppy Joes

Another make ahead entrée. Freeze it and then thaw. Easy peasy. Throw a few sides together and you’re done.

Rotisserie Chicken

Buy a few rotisserie chickens at home, take the meat off the bone and freeze to use at the beach for chicken salad or an another recipe.

Pepperoni Bread

My friend started this tradition. My kids adopted it; a beach must-have.

Does anyone else’s family attach food to events? It’s a strong trait in our family.

Pepperoni bread means beach vacation. I can’t say I love making it, but they sure love eating it.

Essentially, you thaw bread loaf dough which I bought frozen. You can use frozen yeast rolls too or pizza dough. But, the loafs were more readily available. I thawed it, let it rise, rolled it out in long thin strips about 6” wide, then smothered it with pizza sauce, layers of pepperoni, and pizza cheeses. Next, I folded in the sides, overlapping the middle so it would stay closed. Then baked. Once cooled, I’d slice it into about 4” slices, which equaled a serving. I then put them in ziplocks and freeze. I’d begin thawing a bag when we were unpacking, putting it in the frig. My kids ate it for lunch on the beach. It was handy and pretty mess free (don’t put too much sauce).

I used to ration it to last most of the week. They could eat other things with it😉.

This one is similar to mine minus the pizza sauce.

Baked Goods

I make a few baked goods and freeze. These travel well in the cooler… pumpkin bread, cupcakes unfrosted wrapped six at a time in foil, zucchini bread, muffins, brownies, etc.

Pumpkin/Zucchini bread; some eat for breakfast.

Black Bottom cupcakes were expected. I’d freeze them unfrosted and take canned cream cheese frosting with us. I’d frost them frozen and set out a few hours before we were going to eat them. My husband still says they are his favorite cupcakes ever.

Without frosting!

FYI…. Things like the cupcakes and pepperoni bread… I only make for vacation. I don’t make them for home consumption, ever. They’re special treats for our designated vacations. I think that makes them more special and appreciated.

When there:

The Grill

We grill at the beach: burgers, chicken, or pork chops. Most of the places we’ve rented have grills. I appoint a grill person other than myself. That way I can be in the kitchen finishing the rest of the meal, which is simple cuisine. I purchase the meat at home and bring frozen. There are more options at home and prices are more agreeable.

Seafood Night

We usually do a seafood night AT THE RENTAL. The restaurants are so crowded and costly. We order from a local seafood market and make the sides ourselves. We buy crabs and shrimp/scallops having the market steam them (except the scallops, we pan sear those) I bake potatoes, fix a salad or veggie, and purchase hush puppies in the frozen section at the grocery. It’s a fraction of the cost of a seafood restaurant and more food!

Pizza Night

We order pizza one night, but we have learned NOT to do that on the night we get there. Lots and lots of people order pizza when they arrive. Takes forever to get it😬

Of course, we took snacks and purchased lots of fruit and veggies on location.

Some of my friends just really simple meals at the beach like grilled cheese, Rueben’s, purchased pork bbq, French bread pizza, hot dogs, etc. Every family is different!

Whether the beach or a location close enough to pack the cooler, these tried and true methods may give your vacation a little boost and a little more time to enjoy!

As our family has spread out, we’ve taken more “meet up vacations”. We don’t always go to the beach. Now each family takes a night to cook dinner for everyone: chef’s choice. We may have a dinner out or take out. Most weeks, we give our kids & spouses a date night out. Zee Zee and Papa get all the grands, yippee! That’s the best kind of date night for us!

I hope you can glean a tip or two from my experience. If this year doesn’t hold a vacay for you, try one of these at home. It might give you a mini-staycation vibe right at home!!

Summer’s on the horizon!!

Give us your best vacation tip!!!

Yes, I can,

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