Subtitle: How My Mom Transported 5 Dinners for 13 People from Indiana to Florida in August without Giving Anyone Food Poisoning
I know that it’s not really vacation season yet, but it’s never to early to start planning. The economy being what it is, lots of people need to save money and one way to do that on vacation is by not eating out.
What? Not eat out on vacation? Who wants to cook while they’re vacationing? Probably nobody, but with a little planning making your own food on vacation can be easy and will save you hundreds of dollars. (It also helps if you have a mom who does all the work. More on that in a minute.)
I’m not going to talk about using crockpots, hotpots, toasters and coffee pots in a hotel room, although I have done that before. This info will be most useful for those of you who rent a house or cabin or if you camp. These are also great ideas if you are doing a “staycation” and want to eat at home, but keep it simple and good.
Last year my family, my parents and my sister’s family were blessed to be able to go to Disney World. We rented a house there instead of staying on-property. The ideas and pictures I’ll share in this post are from that trip. This year we are all going to Gulf Shores, Alabama and renting another house on the beach. We’ll be repeating much of our menu from last year.
The idea was to come up with foods that could be mostly prepared and then frozen, so that while we were on vacation it was only a matter of “assembling” the food. It really helps if you can freeze the foods flat in ziplock bags. That will save space and make packing the cooler easier.
Using Dry Ice to Transport Food
My parents packed a very large cooler about 4:30am with the food, which was already frozen solid. They bought dry ice that morning. There were guidelines on the package of dry ice that said to use something like 12 lbs. for 48 hours. Because of the heat, they decided to use 20-25 lbs. of dry ice. They packed it on top of the food because cold descends. The dry ice was also wrapped in newspaper to better insulate. All the ice was gone when the cooler was opened, but the food was still frozen.
You need to know that my parents left Indiana at 4:30am on one day. The cooler was not opened until about 4:30pm the next day! That is a long time to keep food frozen in August. The cooler just hung out in the back of their van while they drove and then enjoyed a half day at Epcot. We were a bit nervous before opening it, fearing it had all rotted. But it worked!
Update: If you can’t find dry ice, check with a local welder. They usually have plenty and will sell it to you, although it is a good idea to check with them ahead of time to be sure they will have it for you.
There are lots of different foods you could make that could be assembly only and frozen to reduce your cooking and clean up time on vacation. These are some of the foods we made. Click the links for recipes. I took these photos with my old point-and-shoot camera. I do think my photos are getting better, which is exciting to me.
Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Hashbrown Casserole
A few other tips
Make good use of foil pans and crockpot liners. They will greatly speed up the cleanup process.
We used a grocery shopping service called We Go Shop in Orlando. That saved us spending our vacation time buying perishables that couldn’t be frozen.
Mom also made and froze a cake, cookies, waffles, banana bread. Obviously, there was some work in planning and preparing the food, but it really paid off in the end.