Whether you’re headed to the beach for a holiday weekend escape or are thinking about planning a late summer trip, it’s worth the time to gather a handful of easy-to-assemble meals to prepare onsite.
Sure, coastal communities often feature alluring restaurants, but most vacationers like to whip up at least a few meals in their well-equipped condos, where they can sip cocktails and enjoy the sunset. How you pack the ice chest can ensure you the opportunity to spend more time on the beach than in the supermarket.
225 features writer Maggie Heyn Richardson suggests these five meals, which are flexible, tasty and appealing across generations. Many ingredients serve double duty, and they’re all great as lunch leftovers.
Day 1: Fajitas
Pan-fried strips of marinated chicken and steak, combined with onions and tri-colored bell peppers, are an affordable way to feed a group. Bring along fresh, good quality tortillas, salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream, fresh tomatoes, avocado and limes (which you also need for cocktails). Canned black beans and your favorite rice round out the dish. The next morning, use leftover ingredients to make breakfast tacos or lunchtime burrito bowls.
Day 2: Antipasti and salad
A big platter of cheeses, cured meats, marinated vegetables, nuts and olives, along with a fresh salad and a baguette is a lightening-fast vacation dinner. There’s no need to turn on the oven; just assemble your selected ingredients on a pretty plate, and off you go. Remaining ingredients are perfect for the homemade pizzas you’ll serve on Day 4 and the stuffed burgers on Day 5.
Day 3: Pasta
With loads of fast and easy pasta dishes out there, it’s crazy not to bring dried pasta to the beach. Use leftover fajita chicken along with prepared pesto and chopped fresh tomatoes to make chicken pesto pasta. This night is also a great time to pick up some fresh Gulf shrimp and crabmeat for a luscious seafood pasta. Or, save time by purchasing Gulf shrimp at home and cleaning them before you go.
Day 4: Make-your-own pizza
See where this is heading? Pesto, cured meats, shrimp, a variety of cheeses and all sorts of leftover pickled or fresh vegetables give you the makings of lots of different homemade pizzas. Bring good-quality prepared crusts in the ice chest, or make your own on site.
Day 5: Stuffed burgers
What’s a beach trip without a juicy burger? Bring ground beef, buns and condiments along with you, but make the patties infinitely more interesting by stuffing them with ingredients you’ve used throughout the week, including feta cheese and olives, mozzarella and pepperoni or marinated mushrooms, pan-fried onions and Swiss cheese.