Family Vacation Meal Ideas by Amanda Haas

I have a love-hate relationship with kitchens on vacation. Although access can dramatically reduce trip costs, not to mention is more relaxing than restaurants with young kids, figuring out what you are able to cook in an unfamiliar place can be a real chore. Good news, there’s a new family-friendly cookbook out by Bay Area-based chef Amanda Haas, Cooking Light Real Family Food, that takes the sting out the entire family vacation meal planning process.

Simple & Easy to Understand Recipes

On most vacations we’re out doing, exploring, or relaxing all day, leaving zero time for complicated and time-consuming recipes. They beauty of Amanda’s recipes is that they are easy to follow – no re-reading 10 times to get it – and many require less than 15 minutes of hands-on time. A perfect set-up for vacation cooking!

Accessible Ingredients

One of the biggest challenges of cooking on the road is accessing ingredients in what is may be a grocery store with limited inventory. Most of the recipes in Cooking Light Real Family Food involve basic ingredients that you can get anywhere.

Standard Cooking Equipment

Unless a rental is luxury home with a gourmet kitchen, kitchen equipment and utensils available may be very basic. Many of the recipes require only standard baking dishes and plans, not elaborate food processors and other high-end cooking paraphernalia. There are also recipes just for grilling.

Healthy Recipes

Amanda’s secret weapon is her knack for putting together recipes that are healthy AND appealing to kids. Not an easy task! Roasted Cauliflower with Sage, for example, is oven-roasted and subsequently caramelized so the veggies are sweet. Or, Kale Chips instead of potato chips for a healthy, savory snack.

Amanda also highlights recipes that are gluten and/or dairy free for traveling families with allergies.

All Meals Covered

All meals are covered – breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, dessert – there are even drinks for happy hour featured. All recipes include a complete nutritional analysis. She also includes a comprehensive metrics equivalents index so you can figure out recipes from anywhere in the world.

Prepare Ahead

Some of the recipes can be prepared ahead and are marked with an icon accordingly. These options are perfect for family ski trips or heavy activity days when it’s so much easier to come home and just heat a meal versus cooking from scratch.

Kids Can Help

One of my favorite parts of the book is the Kids Can Help section outlining how kids can participate in making a meal. Really, Amanda has thought of everything!

Recipe Test Drive

I have given Twisted Fish a test drive, a recipe where you fill a parchment pouch with a favorite fish and seasonal veggies.  This is a mess-free, complete meal as everything is cooked together. The fish was shockingly good and devoured by all ages at a recent dinner party with kids from ages 2 to 10.

I’ve outlined why this book is useful for on a family vacation here, but clearly Cooking Light Real Family Food is a fantastic resource for every day cooking. You can buy the book on the Cooking Light website (hello terrific holiday gift). Amanda also publishes the brilliant One Family One Meal site with weekly meal plans and shopping list, another must-use for busy parents.

Editorial Note: Ciao Bambino was sent a complimentary copy of Cooking Light Real Family Food. As always, our opinions are our own.

Relevant Links:

Tips for finding the best family-friendly vacation rental

Tips for finding toddler-friendly accommodations

Holiday meals and recipe ideas

Tips for traveling with children with allergies

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