Make-Ahead Meal Tips for Your Next Vacation

Make-Ahead Meal Tips for Your Next Vacation

Food expenses can take a big bite out of a vacation budget. Wouldn’t you rather use that money for experiences and memories? Put the kitchen in your hotel room or vacation rental to use by exploring easy meals to make on vacation. Super easy. This allows you to discover delicious regional specialties from farmers markets or neighborhood grocers without much effort

This simple, one-pan curry recipe can be made ahead of time, like in the morning before sightseeing, and reheated when you need a quick meal after a day of exploring. Or take it to-go in a sealed thermos for a warm, hearty lunch when you stop for a break during the drive to your next destination.

Make-Ahead Vacation Meal Planning Tips

Before you start cooking, use these shortcuts to make food prep faster and easier during your travels. After all, you are on vacation.

1. Select local ingredients.

If you’re relaxing in a seaside villa, this might mean incorporating the catch of the day from a local fishmonger. Or browse the farmers market and choose local fruits and vegetables that you don’t have access to at home. Be adventuresome.

2. Prep during downtime.

While the kids sleep in or your spouse goes on a morning run, sneak in a little produce washing and chopping. This gives you a head start on veggie-filled omelets for breakfast, snacks for the afternoon or a late evening meal.

3. Use convenience items.

You’re focused on rest and relaxation, so you don’t need to channel your inner gourmet chef. It’s OK to cut corners and use prepared sauces and broths to make hotel room meals. Keep the cooking simple.

Easy Make-Ahead Vacation Meal: One-Pan Curry

Classic Indian cuisine is the inspiration for this simple combination that’s sweet and spicy. For vegetarian travelers, a few substitutions can make this a tasty meal for your dietary preferences, too.*

Grab a skillet and start cooking!

Serves 4


2 tablespoons vegetable cooking oil

(Tip: Some vacation cabins and hotels will include oil in the pantry, so check to see if this ingredient is already available to you before you buy.)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed

2 medium potatoes, cubed

1 jar curry sauce (12 ounces; spicy or mild)

4 cups mixed broccoli, carrots and red bell peppers, washed and chopped


Chef’s knife

Cooking and serving utensils

Cutting board

Large skillet with lid (stovetop or electric)

Plastic wrap

Thermos (optional, for travel)

Can opener (optional, if using vegetarian recipe)

Make Ahead Ingredients


1. Warm a drizzle of vegetable cooking oil in a skillet over medium heat.

2. Add the cubed chicken breast and potatoes. Let them brown for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Make Ahead Step 2

3. Pour the jar of curry sauce over the chicken and potatoes, then stir. Add a little water — a tablespoon or two at a time — if you’d like a thinner sauce consistency.

4. Layer the vegetables atop the saucy mixture, cover with a lid and allow the broccoli, carrots and red bell peppers to steam for 5 minutes on low heat.

Hotel Recipe Step 4

5. Remove the lid and stir to combine the chicken, sauce and al dente (firm) vegetables. Cook for an additional 5 minutes on low heat, uncovered, then remove skillet from stove and let cool. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to be served after a day of exploration. Try pairing this curry with bread from a local market or a pouch of microwaveable rice.

You can reheat this recipe for a quick, flavorful meal later. Simply place it back into the skillet, add a few tablespoons of water to thin the sauce and warm it on low for 10 minutes, stirring often.

Make Ahead Step 6

*To make this recipe vegetarian: Instead of chicken, substitute 12 ounces of firm tofu (strained) or 2 cups of canned chickpeas (strained) as your protein. If you opt for tofu, cube and sauté it just as you would the chicken in step 2. If using chickpeas, add them to the pan at the same time as the vegetables during step 4.

Looking for additional easy, make-ahead vacation meal and travel snack ideas? Try easy-to-make (and easy-to-carry) packable snackable recipes like cheesy herb-roasted chickpeas, no-bake white chocolate cranberry cookies or s’mores popcorn balls, which you can make at home before takeoff, or upon arrival. Bon voyage and appétit!

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About the Author

Angela Tague is an Iowa-based writer focusing on healthy living with a nod to preparing gluten-free vegetarian meals. Her inspiring articles and recipes have been published by Tom’s of Maine, a2 Milk, Parenting, Hello Humankindness and many other wellness brands. Learn more about her writing at Web Writing Advice or take a peek at her autoimmune health journey at Cupcakes and Yoga Pants. Angela tweets too often, posts about the writing life on Facebook and shares food and dog photos on Instagram.