Every year we try to head to the beach for the week following Labor Day. Most folks don’t vacation that late in the summer, so the beach is normally deserted, and with our youngun being a toddler we don’t have to worry about pesky school schedules getting in the way.
Beginning last year, with our first real vacation as a family, I made it a point to meal plan the week and we had a pretty bulletproof Weekly Menu to help us stay on budget and enjoy our time as much as possible. I’ve already gone into detail about why I love meal planning, and why our Weekly Menu process is so incredible. I won’t go into more detail here, but check this post out for more info.
Now that we’re on to “Beach Trip Weekly Menu 2.0”, I’ve had some time to reflect on the successes and failures of last year. There are definitely some lessons that have stuck with me and will make this year’s meal plan that much more successful. In preparation for this year’s trip, I wanted to compile a shortlist of the most important ways to make your beach trip meal plan a success!
1. Bring Some Groceries With You.
I like to shop at Lidl, and I have grown accustomed to saving a ton of money on our grocery bill. So, you can imagine my shock when I headed to the grocery store at the beach last year and paid nearly double our normal grocery bill for less stuff! Dry goods travel and pack well, so we made sure to load up on crackers, chips, and cereal to make our grocery bill a bit more manageable.This year we’ll be taking some of our sundries with us to save and make our lives easier. We are lucky enough to be heading to a family home that has a well-stocked pantry so some items like flour, sugar, and coffee aren’t necessary, but if you are renting a vacation property I highly recommend bringing those things so you don’t pay a premium for buying them at the beach.
Dry goods travel and pack well, so we made sure to load up on crackers, chips, cereal, and other favorites, to make our grocery bill a bit more manageable.
2. But, Don’t Bring Too Much Food With You.
Plans change, that’s just life. There is little more annoying than lugging a ton of groceries back with you from the beach or perhaps worse yet, wasting your money by leaving them behind. Most of our vacations last little more than a week and despite my affinity for over-prepping, I have tried to remember that it’s better to make a last-minute trip to a grocery store than to have to waste good ingredients. Plan on buying a certain amount of food while you’re away, and try to buy smaller pack sizes so you don’t have to worry about making hard choices at the end of the week.
3. Take Advantage of Produce and Farm Stands
I never try to bring produce on vacation unless I need a specific ingredient for a recipe. Most beach towns are littered with small produce stands that are packed with absolutely delicious fruits and veggies. I like to leave some room for substitutions in our Weekly Menu to allow for the addition of particularly good produce finds. By the time we head to the beach each year, corn is still in full swing and tomatoes are absolutely incredible, not to mention the stone fruit and peaches. On top of finding incredible quality produce, it’s always nice to support small local businesses, and shopping at produce stands allows us to do just that!
Most beach towns are littered with small produce stands that are packed with absolutely delicious fruits and veggies.
4. Get To Know the Town.
Beach towns are filled with enchanting small restaurants and businesses. Most of these operations rely on seasonal business to survive and it can be easy to get lost in the shuffle of search results and review sites. While you’re away take your time to explore and ask locals for recommendations. We love going back to the same beach year after year because we feel like every week we spend there, it becomes more of “our” place. We’ve found our favorite candy shop, breakfast spot, coffee shop, donut shop, pizza shop, etc, and every year we look forward to seeing all those places again. We try not to rely on google search results for our dining choices, and rather rely on the expertise of those who make their home there. Most small local businesses can’t afford the same level of marketing needed to make it to the top of your search results and therefore often get overlooked, much to the detriment of your palate and their survival. I promise, if you take a little time really get to know your vacation destination, you’ll enjoy it that much more.
We try not to rely on google search results for our dining choices, and rather rely on the expertise of those who make their home there.
5. Relax, Enjoy It.
Vacationing as an adult comes with a ton more anxiety than it did when we were kids. There is the cost, the travel, the unexpected hiccups, and the need to fully enjoy whatever time you can take for a vacation in the first place. I see now, why vacation could seem stressful to my parents, and why it has become a stressful undertaking for me as well. The most important thing I try to keep in mind is the need to relax and fully enjoy my vacation. Getting away for a week is about more than a place or the costs associated with it, it’s about relaxing, unwinding, taking time to grow closer to those around you, and taking time to be with yourself. If you are busy freaking out about things not going to plan, that’s never going to happen. A wise man once told me “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff”. When it comes to vacation, he was dead on, don’t get bogged down in the small stuff, enjoy your vacation, and make some memories.
Getting away for a week is about more than a place or the costs associated with it, it’s about relaxing, unwinding, taking time to grow closer to those around you, and taking time to be with yourself.
Thanks for taking the time to check out my Beach Meal Planning Tips. What is your favorite vacation tip that makes your get-aways run smoother? Let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to give them a try when we head to the beach next week!