One of the benefits of renting a home with a kitchen is that you don’t have to eat out for every meal.  You can make meals at your home rental, which will save you a lot of money.  That being said, there are things to consider.  Here are some tips to maximize your use of a “vacation kitchen.”

This handsome man co-wrote this post with me.  Since he’s an excellent cook and almost always organizes our meals when we travel, we wrote this together!

1. Choose meals that don’t require a lot of pots and pans to cook.  Some times when you arrive at your home rental, they don’t have everything you have in your home kitchen.  This means you can’t expect to use 5 different types of pots to cook a meal.  Meals like chicken parmesan, for example, require a pan to bread the chicken, a pan to cook it in the oven, and then you basically have to make spaghetti and heat up sauce.  It’s just a lot to expect of a “vacation kitchen.”

2. Make meals that make good leftovers.  Additionally, consider leftovers that would be good eaten cold.  If you’re out sightseeing the next day, you might want to pack a lunch.  Unless you have a microwave in your car, you’re going to be eating it cold.  For example, if you baked chicken for dinner, you could shred the leftovers and make a chicken salad sandwich.

3. Bring a collection of spices in plastic bags with you.  Typically, your home will provide at least salt and pepper and maybe a few select spices.  However, you don’t know which spices you’ll have available to you, and you don’t want to spend $20 on bottles of spices.  Instead, choose a few and bring them in plastic bags for one-time use.

4. Choose meals that won’t produce a lot of excess to toss.  Taco night, for example, requires a lot of items to make it happen:  lettuce, shredded cheese, tomatoes, onions, sour cream, etc.  Some of these items you’ll only use once and then you would have to toss when you’re leaving.

5. Be on the look out for single-use condiments.  We’ve bought jars of mayonnaise and mustard to use on sandwiches and ended up not using most of it.  We could have picked up a few packets from Panera or another fast food restaurant and saved some money!

6. If you have to buy large bottles of condiments, date the bottles.  We call this “being nice to the next renters.”  When we have to leave a bottle of mayonnaise or mustard, we date the bottle so the next renter knows it’s not super-old and they can use it.  You can also date any other items you didn’t end up eating or using, and letting your host know they’re available.

7. Research one-pot meals.  There were four of us staying at a home rental where we were planning on making many meals.  The home only had one stock pot.  We ended up cooking everything in that pot; I’m talking eggs and sausage in the morning in a giant stock pot.  So in case this happens to you, do some research on one-pot meals for ideas.  There are some real good ones on Pinterest.

Nina Thomas

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