Vacation Meal Planning Made Easy

Vacation Meal Planning Made Easy

You’ve found the perfect Airbnb and now it’s time to start vacation planning. Isn’t it true that part of the lure of staying at a vacation rental home is so you can have a kitchen with basic cooking essentials at your fingertips?

While it’s hard to find recipes with minimal spices, cooking oils and ingredients that you can reuse they’re all keys to successful vacation meal planning. If you’re traveling with a group these meals take in account different taste buds, picky eaters and range from sweet and delectable to chock full of vegetables and healthy.

Package up leftovers for grab and go meals and snacks throughout the week . Use our printable vacation meal planning guide to help get you organized before you go.

Day One: A relaxing Vacation Arrival!

Dinner:

Combat fast food and airport food with veggies and hummus or dip, charcuterie board and your favorite drink. The first night is all about relaxing. With kids in tow easy to make Annie’s Organic Mac-n-Cheese is a hassle-free dependable option. Serve with the fruit or vegetable that you know they will eat. Think comfort foods and don’t get hung up if that means PB&J. After a long day of travel, you want your kids to sleep and this is not the time to introduce new foods after a day of traveling excitement.

Day Two: Includes the most cooking -relax the rest of the week!

Breakfast:

Egg Strata and/or French Toast casserole. Prepare the night before or that morning. Making this early in your stay means that there will most likely be leftovers to serve throughout the week.

Cheese, Bacon & Vegetable Strata Recipe

A tried and true crowd-pleaser, this easy Strata is best prepared the night before.

PREP TIME: 15 minutes

COOK TIME: 1 hr

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 thick slices of White Bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup crumbled cooked Bacon 
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 ½ cups chopped fresh Mushrooms
  • 12 Eggs
  • 2 ½ cups Half-and-Half
  • Optional – 1/4 moderate sautéed chopped Onion and/or chopped Green Peppers

DIRECTIONS:

  •  Toss cubed Bread with Bacon, Cheese, Mushrooms (sautéed Onions and Green Pepper if desired), and pour into a 9×13” baking pan
  • Whisk together Eggs, Half-and-Half, and Mustard until smooth, then pour evenly over cubed bread 
  • Cover the pan with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight
  • Preheat oven to 350 
  • Remove plastic wrap from the baking dish, and bake Strata in the preheated oven until the top is golden brown and eggs are set, about an hour 
  • Let stand for 10 minutes before serving

Day Two

Breakfast:

Another breakfast favorite, especially for the kids, this easy French Toast Casserole Recipe only takes minutes to assemble. The pecans and drizzled topping puts it in a league of its own.

French Toast Casserole Recipe

Prepare the night before or in the morning and bake right away.

PREP TIME: 10 minutes

COOK TIME: 35-45 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large loaf good-quality French or Sourdough Bread, leave the crusts on for extra crunch
  • 1/2 cup (45g) Chopped Pecans 
  • 5 large Eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Whole Milk
  • 1/4 cup (50g) Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt

FOR THE TOPPING:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted Butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons (40g) Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
  • Pinch of Salt

DIRECTIONS: 

  • Lightly grease a 2 or 3-quart baking dish
  • Slice or tear the Bread into 1-inch cubes
  • Layer Bread and Pecans until the Bread is all in the dish
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the Eggs, Milk, Sugar and ½ teaspoon of Cinnamon, pour this mixture over the Bread
  • In another bowl mix the topping: melted Butter, Brown Sugar, 1 teaspoon Cinnamon and a pinch of Salt
  • Drizzle the Bread mix with the topping right before it goes in the oven
  • Bake at 350 degrees in a preheated oven fo 35-45 minutes
  • Serve with Maple Syrup

Day Two

Lunch:

A variety of delicious sandwiches will fuel you and your active group during the week. Again making them ahead will free up time for you later, and help you to save money and calories when you opt for one of these over sweets or take out for a late-night snack.

Chicken Salad on Sweet Hawaiian Buns

Light but flavorful, we’ve never met one we haven’t liked.

PREP TIME:5- 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 lbs shredded Chicken 
  • 8-10 Hawaiian Buns -or similar
  • Cilantro -chopped, 1 handful
  • 1 cup Mayonnaise
  • ½ cup Shredded Cheese
  • Salt & Pepper -to taste
  • Optional: chopped Red Onion or Jalapeno

CHEAT TIP:

  • For a really fast version use an already cooked Rotisserie Chicken from the grocery store

DIRECTIONS: 

  • Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, sprinkle with Salt & Pepper and then spoon onto Buns
  • Package together or in individual portions and store in the fridge until serving
    • *Optional: Spread with Avocado slices just before serving

    Day Two

    Lunch:

    A take on the classic Italian hoagie, with fresh ingredients and a little  bit of red pepper zest.

    Sweet & Sassy Italian Hoagies

    Wrap these tight in seran wrap after assembly to lock in the flavor.

    PREP TIME: 10 minutes

    INGREDIENTS:

    • 6-8 rolls or Sub bread
    • 1 pound each -A mix of Italian lunch meats: choose 2 from Salami, Ham, Capicola, Prosciutto, Mortadella, Pepperoni
    • 1 pound mild Yellow Cheese such as Mozzarella or Provolone 
    • 1 (16 oz) jar of Roasted Red Peppers
    • 2 cups shredded Lettuce
    • 2 Beefsteak Tomatoes
    • Vinaigrette – we like 
      Beano’s Original Submarine Dressing, 8.0 FL OZ

    DIRECTIONS: 

    • Spread the bottom face of the sub bread with Roasted Red Peppers
    • On the top, generously add the Italian Vinegerate
    • On the Pepper side, assemble first meat, then cheese, followed by vegetables
    • Wrap subs tightly in saran wrap and refridgerate until serving

    Day Two

    Dinner:

    Prepare in the morning and then leave in the crock pot while you explore fun activities during the day.

    Cheryl’s Southern Pork

    Expect leftovers of this delightfully simple yet delicious pork to carry over for lunch the next day.

    PREP TIME: 10 minutes

    COOK TIME: 6-8 hours on high, 4 on low

    INGREDIENTS:

    • 8-10 lbs pork shoulder
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • Cumin
    • Paprika Pepper
    • Smoked Paprika (mostly) 
    • Water

    DIRECTIONS: 

    • Mix a generous portion of spices into a bowl to create the dry rub
    • Lay the raw Pork on a clean surface or parchment paper and massage the dry rub onto the meat evenly
    • Place meat into a large crockpot
    • Add 1 cup water
    • Cook on low for 6-8 hours
    • The meat will be white and easily shreddable when it’s done
    • Serve on Corn or Flour Tortillas with Cheese, leftover Cilantro and diced Onion

    Day Three: Eat what’s already been prepared and explore!

    Breakfast:

    Leftovers from the day before. Fruit, Bagel and Cereal option. Dry cereal is always easy to bag up for snacks throughout the day to fuel your adventures.

    Lunch:

    Combine leftover Pork from the night before with BBQ sauce. Serve on a bun with Chips and Fruit.

    Dinner:

    Out for John’s Birthday

    Day Four: Enduldge in some local tastes!

    Breakfast:

    Out at the local Cafe.

    Lunch:

    Grab and go pre-made Chicken Salad and Italian Hoagie Sandwiches.

    Day Four

    Dinner:

     Always a crowd-pleaser, these Chipotle-like Burrito Bowls only take 35 minutes to make and everyone can build their own.

    Steak & Chicken Burrito Bowls

    Anticipate happy bellies all around the dinner table. Serves 10. Reduce the amount of meat for smaller crowds.

    PREP TIME: 15 minutes

    COOK TIME: 20 minutes

    INGREDIENTS:

    • 3-4 bounds cubed Chicken
    • 3-4 pounds cubed Sirloin Steak
    • 2 (8 oz) packages of Frontera Classic Fajita Skillet Sauce
    • 2 (8 oz) packages of Frontera Key Lime Shrimp Taco Skillet Sauce (goes great with Chicken too)
    • 1 large (16 oz) can of Black or Pinto Beans
    • 4 – 6 cups Brown Rice or White Rice
    • Lettuce
    • Shredded Cheese
    • Cilantro
    • Onion
    • Avocado
    • Tomato
    • Sour Cream

    DIRECTIONS: 

    • Heat two large skillets and grease with oil or butter
    • Add Chicken and Steak -don’t mix meat, one in each
    • Cook through turning so all sides are evenly cooked
    • Add the sauces and let simmer for 10 – 15 minutes
    • Meanwhile, cook the Rice and Beans
    • Chop Tomatoes, Onion and Cilantro
    • Arrange all toppings along the counter
    • Layer bowls with Rice, Beans, Meat and individual topping choices

    Serving: Everyone gets a bowl and can go down the line and assemble their own, in true Chipotle-style.

    Day Five: make it easy and reuse ingredients!

    Breakfast:

    Combine remaining Eggs with Milk, Salt and Pepper. Whisk together and slowly cook scrambled Eggs over medium-low heat. Throw in any leftover Lunch or cooked Meat, Veggies and Cheese for a hearty Scrambler.

    Lunch:

    At the Festival

     

    Day Five

    Dinner:

    Pasta with Marinara, a White Sauce option and Meatballs.

    Classic Marinara & White Sauce With Meat Balls

    For a diverse crowd, you can appeal to vegetarians, Italian lovers and those who can’t do the red sauce. Again this is along the lines of build your own so anyone who’s not happy can literally go sit in a snowbank.

    Start with the meatballs and while they are baking make the Pasta and Sauces.

    MEATBALLS – Makes 25 to 30

    PREP TIME: 15 minutes

    COOK TIME: 25 minutes, turning once halfway through

    INGREDIENTS: These are best and most tender if made with a meat mix that includes ground Veal. If that’s against your constitution or hard to find, make your own breadcrumbs or add Ricotta cheese to retain flavor and tenderness in each bite.

      • 1.5 lbs ground Beef 80/20
      • 1 lb ground Mild Italian Sausage (pork)
      • 1 lb ground Veal OR Homemade Breadcrumbs
      • 2 Eggs
      • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
      • ¼ cup grated Parmesan Cheese
      • Dry Italian bread crumbs (if using Veal)
      • *Add 1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese to replace the Veal
      • 1/2 – 1 cup Flour to Coat
      • Olive Oil

    DIRECTIONS:

    • Combine all ingredients with the exception of the Flour and Olive Oil in a large bowl
    • Using your hands, generously mix together ensuring all ingredients are spread throughout
    • Roll into 2 bite-size round balls
    • On a flat surface or plate, sprinkle the Flour
    • Roll each Meatball in the Flour so all sides are coated
    • Generously coat two baking dishes with Olive Oil
    • Place the Meatballs in the dishes, then bake at 350 for 25 minutes, turning halfway through

    PASTA: Cook 2 lbs Pasta of your choice in a large pot on the back burner while you prepare the sauces.

    MARINARA SAUCE – Makes 10 cups

    PREP TIME: 10 minutes

    COOK TIME: 30 minutes

    INGREDIENTS:

      • 12 tbsp Olive Oil
      • ½ cup Butter
      • 6 large Garlic Cloves, mashed
      • 1 tsp Parsley
      • 1 tsp Salt
      • 1 tsp Pepper
      • 12 cups -6 1 lbs cans Peeled Plum Tomatoes
      • 2 tbsp dried Oregano
      • 4 heaping tbsp Tomato Paste

    DIRECTIONS: 

      • Heat Oil and Butter in a large saucepan
      • Chop Garlic and Parsley together and add to the pan
      • Sprinkle with Salt and Pepper and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes
      • Drain the Tomatoes and chop the solids
      • Add Tomatoes and Oregano to the pan
      • Cook slowly over low heat for 30 minutes

    WHITE SAUCE – Serves 6

    PREP TIME: 5 minutes

    COOK TIME: 20 minutes

    INGREDIENTS:

    • 5 tbsp Butter
    • 3 cloves Fresh Garlic -minced or 2 tsp prepared
    • 3 tbsp Flour
    • 1 cup Chicken Broth
    • 1 cup Milk
    • 1/2 cup shredded Mozarella Cheese
    • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
    • Salt and Pepper to taste

    DIRECTIONS:

    • Melt Butter in a saucepan over medium heat
    • Add the Garlic, cook for one minute
    • Add Flour, cook for another minute while stirring occasionally
    • Add the Milk and Broth to make a rue, stirring constantly
    • Cook until sauce thickens
    • Add the Cheeses and Salt and Pepper
    • Serve immediately or set the burner to low, stirring often if waiting for the Meatballs or Marinara to cook

    Day Six: Combine simple, fun & healthy!

    Breakfast:

    Pastries & donuts from the local bakery.

     

    Day Six

    Lunch:

    Meatball Bombers

    Meatball Bombers

    Using remaining Meatballs from the night before, these are easy to prepare on the fly and throw in the oven.

    PREP TIME: 5 minutes

    COOK TIME: 15-20 minutes, until meat is heated through and cheese melts

    INGREDIENTS:

    • 1-2 loaves of Italian or French Bread, depending on how many you are feeding
    • Mozarella Cheese -remaining from precious recipes
    • Meatballs & Marinara from the night before

    DIRECTIONS: 

    • Slice the loaves of bread in half and then cut into individual sandwich portions
    • Add 3-4 Meatballs to each
    • Cover with Mozarella Cheese 
    • *For a saltier flavor additionally sprinkle with remaining Parmesan
    • Bake in the oven at 350 until heated up and the cheese is melted

    Day Six:

    Dinner:

    Healthy option. If you’re like us, by day six you’re tired of eating out and crave some fresh food and vegetables to get you through vacation bloat.

    Salmon Quinoa Bowls 

    Healthy and flavorful, these easily prepared bowls combine robust flavor with your choice of vegetables. Serves 6

    PREP TIME: 15 minutes

    COOK TIME: 35-45 minutes

    INGREDIENTS:

    • A generous piece of salmon, 1.5 to 2 lbs, about .25 lbs for each person in your group
    • 2 cups Tri-Colored Quinoa -follow instructions on the package
    • 4 cups Brown Rice -follow instructions on the package
    • Sauce:
      • 1/3 cup Soy Sauce
      • 3 tbsp Rice Vinegar
      • 3 tbsps Honey
      • 3 cloves Garlic -minced
      • 2 tbs fresh Ginger
      • 1/4 tsp crushed Red Pepper flakes
    • 2 tbsps Olive Oil
    • 24 ounces mixed veggies of your choice – we like Kale, Onion, Red Pepper, Mushrooms, Snap Peas and Water Chestnuts
    • 4 Scallions
    • 2 tsp Lemon Juice

     

    DIRECTIONS: 

    • Cook the Quinoa and Rice according to the package directions
    • Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the sauce
    • Prepare the Salmon by rinsing it in cold water, then pat dry with a paper towel
    • Sprinkle the Salmon with Salt, Pepper and Lemon Juice to taste
    • Add the Salmon to a coated shallow baking pan
    • Pour 2/3 of the sauce mixture over the Salmon
    • Place in oven, preheated to 375 degrees
    • Cook 30-45 minutes until the top is flaky and the middle retains some pink
    • Heat a large skillet with 1 tbsp Olive Oil (add a bit of Peanut Oil if you have it on hand)
    • Add the vegetables, including scallions
    • Saute until crisp and tender, about 8-10 minutes turning often
    • Sprinkle with Soy Sauce to taste
    • Heat the remaining sauce mixture on the stove or microwave and serve alongside Salmon
    • *Remove the skin from the Salmon before serving
    • Layer in bowls and enjoy!

    Day Seven: Enduldge in leftovers all day!

    Leftovers all day long. If this means your five-year-old is eating Pasta for breakfast, let him. You have enough to do with packing and making the checkout time. Conserve on travel snacks by bagging up leftovers and taking them on your journey home.

    Shop Now

    Spend your well-earned vacation with loved ones rather than at the grocery store. We will shope and stock your vacation rental home prior to your arrival.

    Travel Thoughtfully! Order groceries ahead.

    Vacation meal planning is not always easy but it’s a lot less stressful if you plan in advance. Lucky for today’s travelers, the option of staying at a vacation rental home over a hotel, gives you the option of dining in, catering to different taste buds and diets and overall relaxing in a true family or group fashion. Eat in to truly enjoy the ambiance of your ‘home away from home’.

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    How to Maximize Your Vacation Travel and Love of Food

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    The following tips will take some of the stress off you and make vacation meal planning easier. 

     

    Know What Delights Your Fellow Travelers

    • Knowing the habits of your travel companions can help guide grocery planning. For example, some in your group may be early risers and want a hearty breakfast to get their day’s adventure underway.  Others want to sleep in late, have coffee and a quick bite and leisurely decide how their day will unfold.  
    • Also, it helps to know in advance about your companions’ dietary needs and preferences.  I always prefer to make a meal that will accommodate my entire group rather than serving a dish that some cannot eat. We want everyone to enjoy their vacation, right?

    Share the Experience of Vacation Meal Preparation

    • Ask your travel companions to volunteer to make a meal of their choice, shop and prep for an  evening happy hour and dinner experience.  We all know weather conditions, excursions and explorations can adjust the course of any traveler’s vacation day, but there is no reason you have to be responsible for every meal.  While “too many cooks in the kitchen” is true, group gatherings in the kitchen with one or two people at the helm makes it a fun and memorable experience.   Important Note: whoever cooks is relinquished from clean-up duty!

    Take the Cooking Experience Outdoors

     

    • If your vacation rental includes a grill, designate the ”grill master” and cook dinner outside.  There are so many foods that grill well – chicken, beef, pork, seafood, veggies and fruits.   It takes the heat outside and lends to conversation, relaxation and minimizes clean up to enjoy a sunset.

    Bring Local Cuisine to Your Vacation Rental Kitchen

     

    • Take advantage of what is in season and available at your vacation destination. Whether it’s seafood, BBQ, ethnic flavors, or specific vegetables and fruit, it all adds to the experience and memory.  And the beauty of the internet is that you can explore in advance and find out what is in season.

    Dessert Is a Must on Vacation

     

    • Nothing says a “happy sigh” at the end of a vacation meal like the presence of dessert.  Delightful to all, dessert prep can be delegated as well.  From S’mores on the grill, a homemade specialty, a local pastry or a jaunt to an ice cream shop it adds to the end of a beautiful day. 

    Ensuring your love of Travel and Food should be a shared experience for all.  It’s taken me some time to realize that preparing vacation meals can also be a shared cooking experience with your travel companions.  Bon Appetit, happy travels and making new memories. 

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    In Life, As In Travel There Are No Guarantees

    There was a time not too long ago when travel was about adventure and not knowing exactly what was around the corner added to the excitement. Since the spread of COVID-19, times have drastically changed. Now, if we plan to travel, we want to know exactly what we can expect, more than ever before. You may be asking,

    Should I Cancel My Summer Travel Plans Due To Coronavirus?

     

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    While some states are beginning to ease stay at home restrictions as early as May 1, others are under extended orders and are asking for visitors to suspend travel plans for the foreseeable future. In areas where restrictions are being lifted, you could expect to be able to travel by mid to the end of May. But just because you can travel, should you?

     

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    Eliminate Risk While Getting There  

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    Air Travel During COVID-19

     

    If you are traveling by air, wear a mask. Practice hand washing often and run through a routine with your family before-hand of what that will look like. Will you wear gloves through security? That’s great but understand that the improper use of gloves may contribute to the spread 

     

    How will you sanitize things after they’ve been on the security belt? Where’s the closest bathroom for handwashing:

     

    • Before and after going through the security line
    • Before and after eating 

     

    Have plenty of hand sanitizer and wipes on hand. TSA has modified its size restrictions for hand sanitizer during this time. Avoid touching surfaces and then using your cell phone. Wipe down credit cards after each time you use them. Always, when in public, avoid touching your face.

     

    Be kind to the airline workers. Respect social distancing and remember that they too are on the front-lines.

     

    Driveable Vacations

     

    Driveable vacations may become the norm during these times. When stopping for gas, to eat or even stretch, remain socially distanced from those you come into contact with. Wear a disposable glove or cloth when pumping gas. Always wash hands or use sanitizer after touching any kind of keypad or kiosk. Remember to wipe down hard surfaces that are often touched after each stop. These include:

     

    • Door handles
    • Steering wheels
    • Radio or temperature dials
    • Seat belts
    • Cell phones that have been out of the car

     

    Occasionally open up the windows or a sun-roof for fresh air. If possible, pack a picnic rather than stopping for food at a commercial space.

    It’s About Two-Way Social Responsibility

     

    Remember that when you travel you are a guest of a community where residents live year-round. Any time someone from the ‘outside’ comes in, this local population becomes at greater risk of exposure. As a guest, it’s your ultimate responsibility to respect and follow the wishes of the location. Mary Calhoun, Mayor of the tourist town of Red River, New Mexico had this to stay to future travelers to her community.

    Pre-Planning

     

    Hotels and Vacation Rental Home Management companies are stepping up their game when it comes to enhanced sanitation. Chad Mantz at Red River Real Estate has assured his guests that they are ‘leveraging expanded cleaning measures, including sanitizing high-touch surfaces and introducing bleach-based and hospital-grade cleaning solutions’ and this is being echoed industry-wide.

     

    Vacation rental homes especially offer extra protection with private entryways, outdoor spaces and no need to interact with other guests. You can further plan ahead and protect yourself by:

    • Ordering touch-free grocery services
    • Bringing your own sanitizers and wipes
    • Finding out ahead of time which restaurants are open for take-out and when
    • Supporting local businesses that rely on tourism
      • Order items for pick-up or buy a gift card for future use

     

    In short, no matter what you choose to do, we all need to be as socially and hygienically responsible as we can during the outbreak of COVID-19. 

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    One Dish Healthy Mexican Casserole

    Prep Time: 10 minutes

    Cook Time: 30 minutes

    *Vegetarian or non-vegetarian option

    Ingredients:

    • 1 TBSP OLIVE OIL
    • 1 MEDIUM ONION
    • 1 BELL PEPPER OR MIX 1/2 OF 2 VARIETIES (RED, GREEN OR YELLOW)
    • 1 JALAPENO or HATCH CHILES *optional
    • FROZEN CORN
    • 1 14 OZ CAN BLACK BEANS
    • 1 14 OZ CAN DICED TOMATOES -we like fire-roasted
    • 4 CUPS BROWN RICE
    • 1 1/2 CUPS SHREDDED CHEDDAR CHEESE
    • 1/2 CUP SHREDDED MEXICAN BLEND CHEESE
    • 1 TBSP CHILI POWDER
    •  1 1/2 TSPS GROUND CUMIN
    •  1/2 TSP SALT, 1/2 TSP PEPPER
    •  1/4 TSP CAYENNE PEPPER
    • CHICKEN, BEEF or PLANT-BASED PROTEIN *optional
    • CILANTRO *optional
    • LIME OR LIME JUICE *optional
    • AVACODO *optional
    • SOUR CREAM *optional

    Instructions:

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Cook the rice according to package directions. Meanwhile, dice the onion, peppers and jalapeno or chiles. Heat a large skillet to medium and add the olive oil. Saute the onion and pepper mix for about 4 minutes until they begin to turn translucent. Add the chicken breasts* (skip if vegetarian) lime juice* and spice mix. Cook the chicken thoroughly and remove from the pan. Add the beans, rice, tomatoes, corn and cheese to the pan. Shred the chicken and return to the mixture in the pan. Transfer the ingredients into a greased casserole or baking dish. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the cheese begins to bubble. It can be finished under the broiler if needed to get the bubbly cheese effect.

    Add toppings of your choice such as cilantro, avocado and sour cream.

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    Pesto Tortellini Salad

    We can get creative with this one as the only ingredients required are the tortellini and pesto. Other than that, what’s lurking in your fridge that can be added?

    Prep Time: 5 minutes

    Cook Time: 10-15 minutes

    Ingredients:

    *Double to stretch out for several meals or for a large family

    • 1 16 oz BAG OF FROZEN CHEESE TORTELLINI
    • 4 or 5-OUNCE JAR OF PESTO SAUCE

    Instructions:

    Add tortellini and enough water to cover them to a saucepan. Cook on high heat. Let the pan come to a rolling boil until the pasta is cooked. Drain. PRO TIP: the tortellini will float to the top when they are done. Rinse and add to a large bowl. Add pesto to taste and stir.

    Now for the fun part. Here are some things we’ve tried.

    Suggested add-ons:

    • OLIVES -KALAMATA, BLACK OR GREEN
    • DICED RED ONION
    • BROCCOLI
    • CAULIFLOWER
    • ARUGULA
    • ASPARAGUS
    • SHREDDED CHICKEN
    • SHRIMP
    • FRESH BASIL
    • TOMATOES
    • ADDITIONAL CHEESE SUCH AS FETA

     

    Janie’s Soothing One-Pot Chicken Soup

    Just like Grandma used to make, this soothing chicken soup is perfect for a time like this. They don’t call it ‘chicken soup for the soul’ without reason.

    Prep Time: 15 minutes

    Cook Time: 3 hours

    Ingredients:

    • 1 LARGE ONION (YELLOW OR WHITE)
    • 1 CUP DICED CELERY PRO TIP: Use the inside leaves for additional nutrients & flavor.
    • 1 CUP DICED CARROTS
    • 1 2-5 LB WHOLE CHICKEN
    • CHICKEN OR BEEF BULLION OR BROTH
    • EGG NOODLES
    • 3 BAY LEAVES
    • 1/2 TO 1 TSP GROUND CLOVES OR DILL
    • SALT & PEPPER
    • PARMESAN CHEESE *To add at the table, optional but highly recommended

     

    Instructions:

    Thoroughly wash the inside and outside of the chicken. Cover it in salt & pepper. Fill a large pot with water and place the chicken in the pot. Dice the celery, onion and carrots and add them to the pot. Add seasoning, bay leaves and bullion cubes. Heat on high until boiling. Reduce heat and let simmer for 2-3 hours. Remove the chicken and let cool enough so you can shred it. Re-add shredded chicken and egg noodles. Turn heat to high and boil again until the noodles are cooked through. Serve with crusty bread and parmesan cheese.

     

    Mandarine Chicken Thighs

    I don’t know about you but we’ve seen a shortage of white meat at stores as of late. Don’t let that turn you off from chicken. There is a lot you can do with the flavor of chicken thighs.

    And just to be clear. You have two options here.

    1. Buy premade mango sauce

    2. Make your own

    We won’t judge. We promise!

    Prep Time: 20 minutes

    Cook Time: 20 minutes

     

    Ingredients:

    • 4-6 CHICKEN THIGHS
    • 1 MANGO
    • 3 TBSP LIME JUICE
    • 2 TBSP THAI FISH SAUCE
    • 2 TBSP CANOLA OIL
    • 1 TBSP LIGHT BROWN SUGAR
    • 3 CLOVES GARLIC
    • 2 TBSP SIRACHA
    • SALT -to taste

    Instructions

    Rinse the chicken thighs and pat down with a paper towel. Place them to the side. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend well. Put the thighs and marinade in an air-tight container or plastic bag. Let the items marinade in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

    When you are ready to cook, fire up the barbie! Enjoy fresh air in a socially distanced well-ventilated space.

    Grill the chicken until a bit crispy on the outside and a safe internal temperature of over 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Enjoy!

    *Optional: Serve with Cilantro and we suggest it on top of your favorite rice.

    Pro Tip: Double the recipe for multiple meals. They are delicious the next day cold.

     

    Stay home and Stay Safe! Get your groceries delivered when you can.

    Best Ways to Entertain Yourself During Self-Quarantine

    Best Ways to Entertain Yourself During Self-Quarantine

    If you are reading this, you’re probably undergoing self-quarantine as well. Welcome! It may not be ideal, but I am on day 5 and have relied heavily on making the most of it. I am usually pretty good at doing nothing and staying inside, one of my many talents, but it’s different when you don’t have much of a choice. Staying inside and taking proper safety precautions are important during this time, but it doesn’t mean we can’t entertain ourselves while staying in. I’m going to dive head-first into this isolation situation for you all. We will explore this quarantine from all different directions. Whether you live alone,with your parents, with friends or roommates, we’ve got you covered.

     

     

    Living alone does not mean complete isolation. Luckily COVID-19 can’t kill the internet (that we know of so far), so utilize this resource. Staying connected with family and friends is extra important during this time. One of the nice things about modern technology, is that it is a great tool to stay connected. Exhaust this, call your family and friends each day or set up facetime dates. But also be cautious about exploring social media, this is a stressful and uncertain time for everyone and some are reacting differently than others, and this can affect you. Make sure you stay informed and keep in touch with those important to you, but don’t get stuck in a twitter thread conspiracy theory that will keep you up with anxiety all night.

    Now let’s talk coloring books. Adult coloring books and pages are the new wave. And I have to say, I don’t recall coloring ever being so satisfying. 

    If you are a gamer, now is the time to download new games and dive in. See how many campaigns you can finish by the end of your quarantine. It is time to make your home as comfortable as possible, bring out your favorite fuzzy blankets and make yourself comfy. If you are now working from home during this quarantine, make sure you separate your work space from your hangout space.

    This is the time to break out all the face masks and beauty products you have, go straight to relaxation mode while keeping yourself healthy. It’s especially important to be taking your vitamins, and maybe some extra. Keep that water bottle close and always full, hydration is key.

    Living with roommates or friends during self quarantine is almost as good as it gets (if you like them). You may not be able to go outside, but human exposure is important. Bring out all those old board games and cards, and maybe some alcohol, and take a trip down memory lane. Download some interactive games on your gaming station that everyone can join in on. Cooking a homemade dinner for the house is also a fun way to keep things moving. Take it to the next level and have everyone get ready and dress up for the meal. It’s always fun to get ready, even if you can’t leave the house. We all love a good theme night, so make a list and pick one for the night, create dinners and games that tailor to your theme.

    Rely on each other to keep yourselves moving and entertained, turn that extra space you have into a work out or yoga area. Download some apps to help guide you and go at your own pace. If you live with roommates, make sure to take that extra step to clean after yourself and remember that you all are stuck inside. I know it can be overwhelming, it’s different to stay in for a weekend binging netflix when you are making the choice to do so. So make sure your quarantine environment is one you feel safe and relaxed in. Arts and crafts can be fun for people of all ages, let’s get real. I’m 24 and we have a painting night set up for tonight in the house, clear out some space and channel your inner DIY crafts mom.

    If you have pets, make sure you are stocked up on their necessities. This is a weird time for them as well, so try to keep to their routine as much as possible. Keep your dogs entertained with a motivating scavenger hunt. Literally just hide treats around the house, my roommate’s dog loves it. Your cat will love self-quarantine, they were made for this.

    Just make sure you are staying inside, even if you are feeling okay. This is a time of uncertainty and the best way to act is to stay safe and aware. By keeping yourself healthy, you’re helping keep others healthy. Check in on your loved ones, play a board game, try something new, and stay safe!

     

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