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Vacation Meal Planning

We spent the last week in Hilton Head Island, SC, and it was so fun! It was as relaxing as it could be with our 5 y/o and 2 y/o in tow. They were the best little travelers! I was a little nervous about the 10.5 hour drive, which turned into 13, but they were great. We had my husband’s parents join us which is always fun and a huge help! They enjoyed themselves and we got to take some walks together while the kids were sleeping. 


Traveling is pretty much a must in this house, and we try our best to fit it in the budget. We do use a Marriott travel rewards credit card for monthly expenses, but I haven’t quite mastered the travel hacking like the Points Guy.

I grew up going to the beach every year, and when we were little, we often tagged along on my dad’s work trips, especially in the summers. My mom would drive behind him in his service truck. He would work and we would explore. I have only 1 state left to go to, guess which one that this.. Alaska! Between all of the normal travel and a couple driving trips out west we hit all the rest. And my Dad saved all his Holiday Inn points from traveling all the time and converted them to Delta miles and the five of us flew to Hawaii the day after I graduated from high school. 

This post is a little bit more in the life category of this blog, but I wanted to document what we took with us this year for meals so it’s easy to pull up next year. I figured if I was writing it down, I might as well share, since it might help some of you! Generally our plan is to cook at dinner at least 3 times, sometimes 4 times during our week long vacations. When traveling as a family we book places that have full kitchens. This was our first time as a family in Hilton Head, and we stayed at Waterside by Spinnaker. It was a perfect location and had nice pools as well. Cooking several meals saves money and keeps us on track with healthy eating. It’s also nice because we can stay in the pool longer in the afternoon and not have to get “ready for dinner.”

The trick is to make it simple. Most condos or VRBO type places have basic kitchen supplies but you won’t find a Blendtec, immersion blender, muffin pans, etc.  Today I made 4 meals for this week and 3 of the 4 required the Blendtec, so those aren’t on the vacation list.  🙂 

The best part about this trip (ok not the best part) but a convenient part was there was a Kroger on the island, new since the last time we were there. So that meant it was super easy to do Click-list and no roaming around the store after a long day of travel trying to find items. It was also right next to a Whole Foods so we were able to grab a few items Kroger doesn’t carry.

 Here was the menu

Breakfast Ideas: We brought a bag of Pamela’s whole grain gluten free mix, so we made pancakes a few mornings and I also made chocolate chip cookie bars with it as a treat later in the week. Funny the ingredients weren’t much different between the pancakes and bars, just different ratios + dark chocolate chips. 🙂 I sort of follow the pancake recipe on the back but add almond butter and applesauce and they are perfect!

Our son loves Applegate Farms chicken and apple sausages so we got those, The weekend before the trip, I had frozen these morning glory muffins, so we had a dozen of those that we brought with us for other days. We purchased some frozen fruit and avocado so we had some collagen fruit smoothies too. The ingredients doubled for popsicles too! Eggs and bacon are super easy as well. We did eat breakfast out once at The French Bakery Hilton Head and it was amazing! See my instagram feed for pictures. 

Lunch Ideas: Chicken Salad, Applegate Farms- Grass fed beef hot dogs, guacamole (pre-made from the store), salad (I brought a few Primal Kitchen Dressings from Thrive Market), some Boar’s Head lunch meat, fruit, raw veggies, or leftover dinner. 

Easy Dinners:

  1. Bunless Burgers – Hawaiian style with Grilled Pineapple on top, with Roasted Cabbage (use olive oil instead of Canola oil)  
  2. Spaghetti Squash and Meat-sauce- Muir Glen Organic Pasta sauce, Meat of your choice (or Veggie Version), + Roasted Spaghetti Squash. Condos don’t have the greatest knives, so microwaving the squash a few min before cutting can be helpful! We also had a bag of frozen broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower steamed to go with it. 
  3. Grilled Chicken, Baked Sweet Potatoes, steamed veggies from above. 

On Mother’s Day we enjoyed dinner out at Chow Daddy’s Hilton Head, the roasted veggie hot bowl with grilled fish was very good. Another night we checked out Giuseppis Pizza, I had the gluten free cauliflower crust pizza (Kale Pesto version!), and the last night we had a local Mexican restaurant called Amigos Cafe Y Cantina. It was literally right across the street and a friend had texted me that week to recommend it. It was a small, authentic mexican restaurant. It was fun to practice our Spanish too. 

A couple other tips: I brought 3-4 seasonings (mostly Trader Joes Blends), a small 8 oz mason jar of olive oil and one of apple cider vinegar, some collagen peptides in a baggie (for smoothies and popsicles), popsicle molds, salt and pepper. I also mixed up the seasoning in a small baggie for the chicken salad in advance as well as the seasoning for my burgers, so I just had to dump it in on vacation! My mother-in law also brought raisons, nuts, and seeds for throwing on salads at lunch, in addition to some snacks. She finds the best deals at what we call the “junk stores” in their area. Recently they snagged a whole box of Rx Bars for $2!

If you are traveling with kiddos and need some easy meal ideas for while you are gone, I hope this is helpful. If you happen to be traveling to Hilton Head, check out some of these yummy restaurants too!

Dr. Hartzler