Vacation menu planning with travel-friendly foods

Our Travel Gear We Use series has covered our top travel gear picks for road trips and favorite road trip snack foods, but what about vacation menu planning with groceries for meals on the go?

Vacation menu planning made easy!

We love staying in vacation rental homes when we go to Lake Tahoe or the beach, but everyone hates stopping at a grocery store en route. After hours of road tripping, trust me, I don’t want to shop with high-energy kids either! Picking up a few perishable items is unavoidable, but to keep your pre-vacation grocery shop to a minimum, pack the following non-perishable go-to ingredients for vacation menu planning in a vacation home, RV, or cabin.

Travel-friendly food products that make multiple meals:

The key to packing non-perishable food products in the car and saving time in the grocery store is to ensure each item will be utilized in more than one meal. We try to pack 2/3 of our ingredients before we leave, so we only need to stop at a grocery store for the remaining 1/3. We’re in and out of the store within 15-20 minutes!

  • Powdered milk: this dry milk product lasts so long in my cupboard, I didn’t even realize it had been temporarily taken off the market. It’s back now, available on Amazon or through Milkman. Each envelope of this instant low fat milk makes one quart, perfect for cereal in the RV or camping cabin, for toddlers and preschoolers in sippy cups, or for making our favorite vacation house dessert: instant pudding over store-bought pound cake.  Yes, we’re simple folk. What I love most: as of this month, Milkman powered milk is GMO-free.
  • Jiffy pizza crust: Nope, it’s not gourmet (are you sensing a theme yet?) but a few packets of Jiffy crust can make one fine homemade pizza. We love to do this on ski vacation days: return to the ski cabin or vacation home and have pizza night. We bring the Jiffy crust and bottle of pizza sauce, then add shredded cheese, veggies, and meats (the only items we need to purchase at the store). Tip: pizza makes for a great ‘arrival night’ meal.
  • Dried blueberries or cranberries: Rehydrate in a bowl of water and use in vacation morning pancakes or muffins (gotta make use of that vacation home kitchen!) or eat them for ski day or hiking day snacks. We like to mix ours with pre-made trail mix, or top berries on cereal in the morning.
  • Instant oatmeal packets: We love Quaker, and yeah, we usually go for the sweetened flavors, but any instant packets will do. Of course, they are used in my family for quick breakfasts (especially while backpacking with kids), but instant oatmeal packets can also jazz up those blueberry muffins or a cobbler you make with apples you picked up at a farmer’s market en route. You know the drill: just cut with butter and cinnamon and sprinkle over your muffin batter or unbaked cobbler.
  • Dried pasta: and plenty of it! We make more pasta dishes while in vacation homes than any other type. Spaghetti with marinara sauce is a meal that can be made start to finish with non-perishable items: 1. spaghetti noodles, 2. canned sauce, 3. canned parmesan…done! Again: this meal is simpler than the version I’d make at home, but I’m on vacation, after all! We also bring dried macaroni and canned chili for easy chili-mac and ramen noodles for quick ski lunches.
  • Frozen dough for rolls: For a great first-morning-on-vacation meal, take out a package of frozen rolls and place them in a greased pan. You know what I’m thinking…monkey bread! Create the recipe before you leave home, and the rolls will rise as you drive. All you need to do when you arrive is set the pan on the kitchen counter and bake in the morning.
  • Dry soup mix: You know those family-sized bags of soup mix that include the rice, beans, and spices needed to make soup with only boiling water? Those can be great for camping and RV trips. Bring your own dried or rehydrated meat to add if desired.

New find: Patagonia Provisions for the road

Want to go upscale with your ready-made food? We recently learned of Patagonia Provisions…yep, the same Patagonia that makes my favorite ski pants. They now make soup mixes, chili, and breakfast grains (eaten warm like oatmeal) made of carefully sourced, whole foods. They have snack bars and dried fruit, but that’s not what interested me, because expensive bars are eaten at breakneck pace in our house (and in our car).

patagonia provisions

What I love are Patagonia Provisions soup mixes, which serve two, and are only slightly heavier than your standard dehydrated backpacking food pack (and about the same price). They come with us on road trips and camping trips for ready-made, healthy, wholesome meals on the go. After skiing? Yep. Before a sports tournament? Sure!

Their breakfast grains are perfect to have in hotel rooms in the mornings where there isn’t a free breakfast offered (just use your coffee pot for instant hot water), and best of all, Patagonia Provisions makes packets of wild-caught, responsibly sourced salmon. My kids will eat the salmon by itself in the car, but it’s also great to add to camping recipes. We could make fish tacos, chowder, and even salmon burgers. They also have buffalo jerky that could be used in the same ways.

What food items do you bring from home to save time and money in vacation homes, RVs, or cabins?

Disclosure: Pit Stops for Kids frequently tests and reviews travel products, for the purpose of review. 

About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.




  1. Such great ideas!

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