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Vacation Meal Plan for Families: 7 Day Plan & Expert Tips

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When heading out on a family trip, creating a vacation meal plan can make things much simpler. Freeing up the parents time for fun activities, like playing games with their kids, or heading to the beach.

I’ve found having a meal plan ensures we’re fueled and ready for our adventures, without the stress of last-minute food hunts and hangry kids & adults. It also gives us an opportunity to use that extra money for special meals and bucket list activities that may cost more.

But planning meals for a cottage, vacation rental, or road trips can be challenging, especially when you want to create quick & easy meals, shop smart, use leftovers, save money and manage everyone’s food preferences.

Which is why we’ll go over the meal planning tips we use on our vacations 1 to 3 times a year, as well as give you plenty of vacation meal ideas and two sample 7 day vacation meal plans of ideas we’ve used ourselves. To help make your trip smooth sailing.

So, let’s dive into how we can make your next family vacation deliciously simple and memorably fun!

Easy Vacation meal ideas for vacation rentals. Fried egg & avocado on toast, salmon burger, charcuterie board, chickpea and feta salad.

Benefits of a Vacation Meal Plan

Whether you’re hitting the beach or exploring a new city, having a meal plan is like having a trusty roadmap for deliciousness.

When travelling, we like to mix up our vacation rental meals with local restaurants & food we really want to try. That way we get the best of both worlds.

Besides I love visiting grocery stores in other places, as it’s a great way to get to know the neighbourhood. 

You see, planning meals isn’t just about saving a few bucks (though that’s a big win). It’s also about making family travel smoother and more enjoyable for everyone. Whether it’s a beach vacation, trip to a cabin or a road trip adventure.

Let’s dive into five fantastic benefits of using a vacation meal plan:

  • Cost Savings: Wave goodbye to pricey tourist-trap restaurants! With a meal plan, you’re in control of your budget, choosing cost-effective meals over expensive dining options. More money saved means more funds for fun activities.
  • Healthier Eating: Stay in the driver’s seat of your family’s health. A meal plan lets you pack in those fruits, veggies, and wholesome ingredients, keeping everyone fueled with nutritious choices.
  • Time Efficiency: No more wandering around, wondering where to eat next. A meal plan means you’ve got a plan of action, leaving more time for adventures and creating memories.
  • Stress Reduction: Skip the mealtime decision fatigue. I’m looking at you busy mom’s who handle everything! Knowing what’s on the menu means one less thing to worry about, so you can relax and enjoy your holiday to the fullest.
  • Catering to Preferences: Got picky eaters or special dietary needs in the family? A meal plan ensures everyone’s tastes and requirements are taken care of, keeping everyone happy and satisfied.

Family Vacation Meal Planning Tips

Young Girl enjoying breakfast on the patio. Sitting in wrought iron chairs.
Tasty breakfast on the Terrace while on vacation | Photo: Packed for Life

When researching & creating your family vacation meal plan, first look into where the closest local grocery store or markets are, and if they’re afforable options close by. Then consider the following:

  • Know Your Destination: Tailor your meal plan to fit your destination. Beach trip? Think light and fresh meals. Heading to cooler climates? Warm, comforting dishes might be the go-to. Also, consider the kitchen facilities you’ll have access to and plan accordingly.
  • Keep It Simple and Familiar: Stick to recipes that require few ingredients and are quick to prepare. Consider dishes that can be made ahead and are transportable, or meal kits that take only a little bit of time. Vacation time is for fun, not slaving away in the kitchen! Also, include familiar favorites, especially if you have kids. A taste of home can be comforting, especially in a new place.
  • Plan for Flexibility: While it’s great to have meals planned, be ready to switch things up. Maybe you stumble upon a local food market or a must-try restaurant – leave some wiggle room in your plan for spontaneous culinary adventures.
  • Involve Everyone: Get input from the whole family. Kids might enjoy picking out their favorite snacks or breakfast items. This not only makes meal planning easier but also ensures that everyone looks forward to the vacation meals.
  • Pack Smart Snacks: Always have a stash of easy-to-carry snacks for those in-between meal hunger pangs or unexpected delays. Think granola bars, fruits, nuts, or crackers & cheese – something to keep the energy up and the hangries down.
  • Make food ahead: When feasible, make food ahead such as muffins, cookies, desserts.
  • Create a shopping list: A grocery list will help you make sure you have what you need, without spending a lot of money extra on things you don’t.
  • Optimizing storage space: Ensure food remains fresh and safe to eat by using proper containers & coolers with ice packs when possible. Reusable silicone bags and compact, stackable boxes are great options. They help in maximizing fridge and cooler space, keeping meals organized and accessible during your trip.

PRO TIP: When possible, use a delivery service to have your first couple of days (or more) food delivered to your vacation rental that first night. Saves you time & hassle on your vacation & usually doesn’t cost very much.

7 Day Family Trip Meal Plans

Notebook open to meal planning, with two red apples and and a wooden bowl of trail mix beside it.
Use a notebook or meal planner sheets to plan out your vacation meals | Photo: ViChizh / Deposit Photos

I’ve put together a couple of 7 day vacation meal plan examples, with quick meals that have worked well for us as a family. Here are a couple of other tips we use when vacation meal planning:

  • Leftover days: Typically on days 4 & 7 we try to eat up any leftovers, and just make meals according to what we have available. However, I’ve made 7 full days of ideas so you can pick and choose what you prefer.
  • Use pre-made food: We use pre-made at home or pre-packaged foods like salads, burgers, cut up fruit and the like when we can, to decrease the time we spend in the kitchen on holidays.
  • Repurpose leftovers: Another tip is to choose meals where you can use up the leftovers in meals over the next day or two. Such as leftover salad, meat, bread, fruit etc. This cuts down on waste & your time.

After our sample meal plans we have over 100 vacation meal ideas, including some tasty snack ideas and of course desserts.

7 Day Meal Plan Ideas #1

Here’s our first 7 day family vacation meal plan. Many of these ideas can be bought as pre-made or ready-made meals at the store if you want less work. Easy vacation meals with all your favorite things  for when you want to take a break from the local restaurants. 

If you’re staying in a hotel room with only a microwave, that will have to be a whole other post, as it will be harder to bring your own food & cook it. 

Day 1

Breakfast:

  • Banana Bread & butter
  • Mixed Berry Smoothies

Lunch:

  • Quesadillas with Cheese and Chicken
  • Salsa and Sour Cream

Dinner:

  • Rice, Corn & Ground Beef or favourite casserole
  • Caesar Salad

Dessert:

  • Rice Krispie Treats

Snacks:

  • Veggie Sticks with Dip
  • Cheese Cubes

Day 2

Breakfast:

  • Egg and Cheese Muffins
  • Fresh Orange Slices

Lunch:

  • BLT Sandwiches or Left Over Casserole
  • Potato Chips

Dinner:

  • Grilled Shrimp Skewers
  • Quinoa Tabouli Salad or Salad of Choice

Dessert:

  • Strawberry Shortcake

Snacks:

  • Leftover Banana Bread or Apple Chips
  • Yogurt with Honey or Maple Syrup

Day 3

Breakfast:

  • Scrambled Eggs
  • Bacon
  • Toast

Lunch:

Dinner:

  • Greek Souvlaki Skewers with meat & veggies
  • Greek Salad or leftover salad from lunch
  • Tzatziki Dip

Dessert:

  • Tarts or leftover rice krispie squares

Snacks:

  • Mixed Nuts
  • Raw Veggies (Carrot Sticks, celery, cukes) with leftover Tzatziki Dip & strawberries

Day 4

Use up all your leftovers day or try out some of these ideas.

Breakfast:

  • Blueberry Pancakes or Waffles
  • Toppings: Yogurt, Fruit, Maple Syrup

Lunch:

  • Ham or Turkey Wraps with Lettuce and Tomato
  • Sweet Potato Fries or Leftover Chips

Dinner:

  • Beef Tacos with Assorted Toppings
  • Mexican Rice

Dessert:

  • Baked Apples with Cinnamon

Snacks:

  • Popcorn
  • Fruit Salad

Day 5

Breakfast:

  • Avocado Toast
  • Hard-Boiled Eggs
  • Or Egg Breakfast Sandwiches with cheese, tomatoes, ham

Lunch:

  • Greek Salad with Feta
  • Pita Bread & hummous dip
  • Leftover Mexican Rice

Dinner:

  • Spaghetti Carbonara
  • Garlic Bread
  • Salad

Dessert:

  • Whoopie Pies or Ice Cream Sandwiches

Snacks:

  • Trail Mix
  • Sliced Cucumbers, Carrots & leftover Hummous Dip

Day 6

Breakfast:

  • Breakfast Smoothie Bowls with Granola

Lunch:

  • Chicken Salad Sandwiches
  • Coleslaw

Dinner:

  • BBQ Ribs
  • Baked Beans
  • Cornbread

Dessert:

  • Peach Cobbler or Fruit Pie

Snacks:

  • Dried Fruit
  • Roasted Almonds
  • Charcuterie Board

Day 7

Clean out the fridge day, or go out for a special last night meal, or try these ideas.

Breakfast:

  • Bagels with Lox and Cream Cheese
  • Fresh Fruit Platter

Lunch:

  • Pasta Salad with Vegetables and Italian Dressing
  • Garlic Knots

Dinner:

  • Grilled Steak
  • Roasted Asparagus
  • Baked or Roasted Potatoes

Dessert:

  • Fruit popsicles

Snacks:

  • Cheese and Cracker Platter
  • Grapes

This meal plan offers a diverse range of meals to cater to different tastes.

PRO TIP: Have theme dinner nights. Use ideas like Mexican, Indian or Italian food, BBQ, Appetizers or finger foods only. Be creative, it can make your trip meals more fun.

⭐️ More travel resources for families to help plan your vacations.

7 Day Meal Plan Ideas #2

Day 1

Breakfast:

  • Scrambled Eggs with Cheese
  • Whole Wheat Toast
  • Fresh Fruit Salad

Lunch:

  • Turkey and Cheese Sandwiches
  • Baby Carrots and Hummus

Dinner:

  • Pizza (homemade or store bought)
  • Green Salad with Italian Dressing

Dessert:

  • Chocolate Chip Cookies

Snacks:

  • Apple Slices with Peanut Butter
  • Trail Mix

Day 2

Breakfast:

  • Oatmeal with Honey and Bananas or
  • Greek Yogurt, Granola
  • Leftover Fruit Salad

Lunch:

  • Leftover Pizza or Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
  • Soup (Tomato or other family favourite)

Dinner:

  • Chicken Tacos with Lettuce, Cheese & Tomatoes (use pre-cooked rotisserie chicken)
  • Salsa and Tortilla Chips

Dessert:

  • Brownies

Snacks:

  • Mixed Berries & Yogurt
  • Popcorn
  • Leftover Cookies

Day 3

Breakfast:

  • Pancakes with Maple Syrup
  • Bacon
  • Sliced Oranges

Lunch:

  • Caesar Salad Wraps with leftover Chicken
  • Fresh Grapes

Dinner:

  • Spaghetti with Meatballs
  • Garlic Bread
  • Salad

Dessert:

  • Ice Cream Sundaes

Snacks:

  • Cucumber Slices with Ranch Dip or Leftover Hummous
  • Pretzels
  • Leftover Brownies

Day 4

Breakfast:

  • Yogurt Parfait with Granola and Berries or
  • Eggs, toast, hash browns

Lunch:

  • Ham / Turkey and Swiss on Croissants
  • Apple Slices

Dinner:

  • BBQ Chicken
  • Corn on the Cob
  • Coleslaw

Dessert:

  • Fruit Kabobs

Snacks:

  • Cheese, Crackers & Leftover Ham / Turkey
  • Raisins

Day 5

Breakfast:

  • French Toast with Strawberries
  • Sausage Links
  • Leftover Fuit Kabobs

Lunch:

  • Tuna Salad Sandwiches
  • Carrot & Veggie Sticks with Leftover Dip or Hummous

Dinner:

  • Jamaican Beef Stir-fry with Vegetables
  • Rice

Dessert:

  • Chocolate Pudding

Snacks:

  • Banana Slices with Peanut Butter tortilla wraps
  • String Cheese

Day 6

Breakfast:

  • Bagels with Cream Cheese and Jam
  • Fresh Melon Slices

Lunch:

  • Chicken Caesar Salad
  • Whole Wheat Rolls or Leftover Croissants

Dinner:

  • Cheeseburger Sliders or Hamburgers
  • French Fries
  • Salad

Dessert:

  • Leftover desserts or Key Lime / No Bake Pie

Snacks:

  • Mixed Nuts or Trail mix
  • Granola Bars
  • Veggie Chips

Day 7

Breakfast:

  • Breakfast Burritos (Eggs, Cheese, Sausage / Bacon, peppers, mushrooms etc.)
  • Orange Juice

Lunch:

  • Pita Pockets with Hummus and Veggies
  • Yogurt

Dinner:

  • Grilled Salmon with Roasted Potatoes & veggies or
  • Baked Salmon over pasta

Dessert:

  • S’mores

Snacks:

  • Granola Bars
  • Fresh Fruit (Pineapple Chunks, leftover melon & berries)

This plan balances healthy options with some fun treats, ensuring there’s something for everyone in the family. Feel free to adjust according to dietary needs or preferences.

Quick & Easy Vacation Meal Ideas

Charcuterie board with bread, cheeses. green olives, crackers, fruit & veggies.
Charcuterie Boards make a fun & quick vacation dinner, lunch or snack idea | Photo: Packed for Life

Here’s a comprehensive list of family-friendly vacation meal ideas, categorized under Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Desserts, and Snacks to give you a wide range of options.

Breakfast

  1. Pancakes with assorted toppings (berries, bananas, chocolate chips, fruit sauce, yogurt, syrup)
  2. Scrambled eggs with cheese and spinach
  3. French toast sticks
  4. Oatmeal with nuts, honey, and fruit
  5. Yogurt parfaits with granola and berries
  6. Protein Balls
  7. Bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon
  8. Fruit salad with a variety of seasonal fruits
  9. Breakfast burritos with scrambled eggs and salsa
  10. Muffins (blueberry, chocolate chip, raisin bran, lemon cranberry)
  11. Cereal with milk and fruit slices
  12. Smoothie bowls with toppings (chia seeds, coconut flakes)
  13. Belgian waffles with maple syrup
  14. Breakfast sandwiches with egg, cheese, and ham
  15. Banana bread slices
  16. Avocado toast
  17. Quiche with vegetables and cheese
  18. Mini egg muffins with bacon, cheese and spinach
  19. Croissants with jam or Nutella
  20. English muffins with peanut butter and jelly
  21. Homemade granola with dried fruit and nuts

Lunch

  1. Sandwiches (turkey, ham, cheese, peanut butter and jelly)
  2. Wraps with grilled chicken and veggies
  3. Pasta salad with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella & salami
  4. Grilled cheese sandwiches with soup
  5. Tacos with various fillings (beef, chicken, beans)
  6. Chicken Caesar salad
  7. Canned Chili or Soup
  8. Quesadillas with cheese and beans
  9. Hummus with pita bread and veggies
  10. Sushi rolls (vegetable, California, etc.)
  11. Hot dogs with various toppings
  12. Personal pizzas with customizable toppings
  13. Macaroni and cheese
  14. BLT sandwiches
  15. Chicken nuggets with dipping sauces
  16. Tuna salad sandwiches
  17. Veggie burgers
  18. Corn on the cob
  19. Baked potato with toppings (cheese, bacon, sour cream)
  20. Nachos with cheese and salsa
  21. Quinoa & Feta Cheese Salad

Dinner

  1. Anything grilled or BBQ – Hamburgers, Chicken, Steak , Seafood etc.
  2. Spaghetti with meatballs
  3. Beef or Chicken stir-fry with rice
  4. Baked or grilled salmon with lemon and herbs
  5. Meatloaf with mashed potatoes
  6. BBQ ribs with coleslaw
  7. Chicken wings & Salad
  8. Fajitas with peppers and onions
  9. Vegetable curry with rice
  10. Pork chops with applesauce
  11. Shrimp pasta with garlic butter sauce
  12. Beef tacos with toppings
  13. Homemade burgers with fries
  14. Chicken pot pie
  15. Vegetable stir-fry with tofu
  16. Sloppy Joes
  17. Casseroles
  18. Southwest Black Bean Salad
  19. Fried Rice
  20. Chana Masala & Rice (Curried Chickpea Dish)
  21. Gnocchi (my daughter’s favourite, she’ll eat for breakfast lunch or dinner)

Desserts

Most of these can be either make ahead desserts, store bought or even put together at your vacation rental if you have the kitchen for it.

  1. Chocolate chip cookies
  2. Brownies
  3. Fruit popsicles
  4. Apple pie
  5. Cheesecake
  6. Rice pudding
  7. Cupcakes
  8. Lemon bars
  9. Banana split
  10. S’mores
  11. Ice cream sundaes
  12. Carrot cake
  13. Strawberry shortcake
  14. Peach cobbler
  15. Chocolate mousse or pudding
  16. Fruit salad
  17. Key lime pie
  18. Apples & Caramel Dip
  19. Tiramasu
  20. Cinnamon Rolls (buy premade dough)
  21. Graham Crackers with sweetened cream cheese spread in the middle.

Snacks

Snacks are essential. We have some travel snack recipes you might like to try as well

  1. Trail mix
  2. Jerky
  3. Popcorn
  4. Fruit Pouches / Applesauce cups
  5. Cheese and crackers
  6. Veggie sticks with dip
  7. Fruit kebabs
  8. Granola bars / Protein Bars
  9. Pretzels
  10. Mixed nuts
  11. Apple slices with peanut butter
  12. Rice cakes with cream cheese
  13. Yogurt
  14. Mini sandwiches
  15. Sliced cucumbers with hummus
  16. Hard-boiled eggs
  17. Dried fruit
  18. Roasted chickpeas
  19. String cheese / Baby Bell Cheese
  20. Chia seed pudding
  21. Protein Balls / Energy Balls
  22. Muffins
  23. Fruit Leather / Fruit Roll Up
  24. Chex Mix

Let’s Spice Up Vacation Meal Prep!

Imagine this: You’re on vacation, soaking up the sun or exploring new sights, and guess what? Meal times are a breeze, thanks to some super savvy meal preparation techniques! Here’s how you can whip up delicious, budget-friendly meals with minimal fuss during your travels.

  • Batch Cooking Magic: Before you even pack your bags, get busy in the kitchen. Cook up big batches of family favorites like pasta sauces, hearty chili, or comforting stews. Freeze them, and voila! You’ve got ready-to-go meals that just need reheating. Less time cooking, more time vacationing!
  • Prep Like a Pro: Chop, marinate, mix! Do all this before you leave. Arrive at your destination with pre-cut veggies, marinated meats, and meal components ready to throw together. Or spend some time in the first day or so prepping everything so you can have healthy meals without the hassle of starting from scratch each time.
  • Versatile Ingredients for the Win: Think of ingredients that are like vacation multitaskers – chicken, rice, veggies. They can transform into various meals, from stir-fries one day to salads or wraps the next. This means shorter shopping lists, less to pack, and a sprinkle of creativity in your meal planning.

A little planning and prepping go a long way in making sure your trip is as relaxing and enjoyable as it should be. And for us, we prefer spending more time with our kids, and less time in the kitchen.

Final Thoughts: Let’s Savour The Moments!

Remember, it’s the simple things that make life sweet, like sharing a meal with those we love.

On vacation, these moments become even more special, weaving memories that stay with us forever. Smart meal planning isn’t just about being budget-friendly; it’s the magic that brings us together, whether under a sun-kissed sky, beside a cozy campfire, or at a beach house, make sure to make your summer vacation meal plan.

It turns meal times into joy-filled experiences. From peaceful breakfasts with scenic views to satisfying dinners after fun-filled days, these are the precious highlights of our travels.

So, let’s embrace vacation meal planning for its ease and savings, focusing on what truly counts – making every family vacation an unforgettable journey.

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