A Vacationers Guide to Make Ahead Recipes


I’ve been to a few gorgeous beaches in my life {Maui, Oahu, Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Jamaica to name a few}, but the ones that hold the most special place in my heart are the Outer Banks 4×4 beaches.

My love for these amazing beaches began when my parents took me there at the age of 10.   We loaded up all our items for the week {including both of our 4 wheelers} and headed out on the long drive to North Carolina in our red and black blazer.

Isn’t it funny how quickly your brain takes you back in time?

A lot has changed about these beaches in the last 30 years, but a lot has remained the same.  While we can no longer take 4 wheelers to the beach {this perk is reserved for residents only}, the incomparable beauty and the unique experience of simply getting to there still make me feel the way it did all those years ago.

You see, these aren’t just your average “park at the designated spot and tote your stuff a few yards to the sand” kind of beaches.

No ma’am.

These beaches span about 10 miles with houses all the way to the Virginia border.  In order to even get to your rental {scope our fave one, The Shell Game}, you have to have 4 wheel drive and let the air out of your tires {down to about 20 psi}.

Awesome, right?

If you’re adventurous and looking to try it, I recommend Twiddy Rental Company.

As you can tell, I could go on about these beaches and all they have to offer forever, but I’m sure you’ve got tried and true favorite spots of your own, so I’ll get to the true purpose of my post. . .

Vacay food prep!

For us, we chose to eat at our home for dinner each night.  While prepping ahead of time takes planning and a bit of work upfront, it makes the week less stressful and frees up time for more fun in the sun {especially for the parent typically in charge of the cooking}!

Yes please!

While we’ve been vacationing this way for years, in these unprecedented times, more and more  vacationers are taking up his method due to the restrictions and long wait lines at vacation spot restaurants.

So if this is you and you’re wondering what in the world to make ahead of time, look no further.  We’ve rounded up a few of our go-to vacay recipes to get you started with your own vacation meal planning!


Prep and freeze meals 1-2 week before you leave


The day of arrival!  If you have a long drive you are pretty much toast by the time you’re unpacked and settled into your home for the week.  Setting out a simple casserole or soup to thaw and bake for dinner is the absolute best! 








I know, i know… I said we like to have dinner at home while on vacay! But seriously – when it’s possible to feed your crew on the fly without so much as lifting a pan to and from the oven – I’ll take it!

So you get a bonus breakfast recipe. . . You’re welcome!

For dinner on this night, we like to buy local seafood that we pair with two premade sides and a simple salad. Below are a few side options that we love!

Perogies, while time-consuming, are to die for! This is a recipe that my daughter Bella makes, that has been handed down from her Polish Grandma, Marion Kruba.  We have found that it is best to make these over two days.




There’s nothing like homemade lasagna! We use the recipe on the back of the box of noodles for a regular lasagna, or you can change it up a bit with the options below:

Vegetable lasagna version for gluten free or veggies in place of noodle:

Layer your sauce {sausage and ground beef mixed in with onions and garlic} in the pan first. Next add a layer of mushrooms followed by gluten free noodles or no noodles at all! Then layer cheese {dairy free or 5 cheese}, followed by another layer of sauce, a layer of asparagus, noodles or no noodles, and cheese. Repeat sequence one last time with a layer of sauce, a layer of spinach, noodles or no noodles, cheese and a final layer of sauce to top it off. Bake according to package instructions, same as above! 


We do a repeat seafood night with another pan of scalloped potatoes and pierogies, along with a salad or another vegetable side dish {sometimes both}!

 See recipes above for scalloped potatoes and pierogies.


You guessed it – leftover night! This is when we try to finish up all the soups and casseroles from earlier in the week!



And finally, what’s a vacation without a few delish snacks hanging around!? Check out a few of our very favorites!





I hope that you find some recipes that make your trip enjoyable and keep your palette satisfied.  You can always alter recipes to suit your dietary needs.

And on a non-food related note, one last tip I’ll leave you with are a few oily recipes to save your skin as you enjoy a little R&R in the sun! Head over to Jenna Lee Wellness for DIY recipes to soothe overexposed skin or keep the bugs away, naturally!