One of the reasons I like staying in a vacation rental or condo is access to a full kitchen. I'm also not a big fan of cooking while on vacation. So, what's a girl to do? Choose one of these easy meals to make in your Airbnb kitchen, that's what.
Easy meals to make in your Airbnb kitchen
Ordinarily, I like cooking but vacation is…well, vacation. I want to relax and take a break from the things I ordinarily do, like preparing meals, doing laundry and picking up after other people in general. Since I don't have the unlimited budget that three restaurant meals a day for a week would cost, I look for condos and vacation rentals with cooking facilities. Here's a list of favorite easy meals to make in your Airbnb kitchen.
A few things to keep in mind when making meals in your airbnb kitchen
- Most vacation rental kitchens are only stocked with the most basic equipment. Keep your meals simple.
- You'll want easy to find ingredients, minimal spices and condiments and dishes that don't use lots of bowls and pans to prepare.
- If you're ordinarily against convenience foods (precut/peeled fruits and veggies, pre-seasoned meats, frozen foods) you might want to relax your rules for vacation.
Driving or flying
If we're driving, I'll typically bring more pantry items with me and include more spices and condiments. I'll typically buy perishable items once I get to where I'm going, although I've been known to take meat from the freezer and toss it into the cooler. It does double duty as ice for anything I want to keep cold and it's one less ingredient I have to buy at my destination.
If we're flying, I typically won't bring much with me in the way of foodstuffs, although you certainly could, depending on how you like to pack. I usually bring salt and pepper and a small bottle of hot sauce (make sure you put the hot sauce in a baggie so it doesn't spill on the rest of your belongings in transit) and maybe a couple of packages of ramen noodles or tuna pouches, if our pantry is super well stocked before our trip.
If you're driving, you might want to consider bringing a crock pot. You can do lots of easy meals in a crock pot or slow cooker that don't use a lot of other bowls or utensils.
If I'm waiting until I'm at my destination to buy groceries, I scope out the kitchen before I make my firm menu plan and go shopping. I've been pleasantly surprised by a couple of vacation rental kitchens but most of them are pretty basic. In addition to basic seasonings, I've sometimes packed a good knife and can opener, a small flexible cutting board, and food storage supplies, such as gallon plastic bags or foil. The one thing I've found to be almost universal in vacation rental kitchens is very cheap knives and cutlery and the absence of any food storage bowls, i.e. Tupperware type products.
My 10 favorite easy meals to make in your Airbnb kitchen
1. Basic Tacos
We almost always put this on our list of easy meals to make in your Airbnb kitchen. I usually brown ground beef and add an envelope of prepared taco seasoning. You can use ground turkey or a deboned rotisserie chicken, too. We usually buy flour tortillas because they're fast and easy to microwave but you can grab a box of crunchy corn shells and pop them in the oven for crispy tacos.
You can also do taco salads or taco bowls. You can buy canned black beans and rice in a pouch and make a bowl with your choice of meat and toppings. Fresh lettuce and tomatoes with taco meat and toppings is a good way to keep it lighter while still enjoying something hearty.
Taco toppings are available pretty much everywhere. Many deli sections have homemade salsa and guacamole available.
2. Sheet pan dinners
You can use just about any combination of meat and vegetables to make an easy sheet pan dinner. I like using fully cooked smoked sausage or kielbasa and a bag of frozen sweet potatoes on one sheet and mixed vegetables (basic mix of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots works or you can get a fancier veggie mix.)
You'll have endless possibilities with sheet pan dinners – chicken breasts or thighs or fish filets work well, too.
If your vacation rental doesn't have good sheet pans, you can grab disposable aluminum pans at the grocery store.
3. Hot dogs
Hot dogs and beans or hot dogs and macaroni and cheese are an easy, kid-pleasing meal. If your Airbnb kitchen comes with a gas grill, you can grill outdoors. If not, hot dogs are easy to make on the stovetop or in the microwave.
4. Sloppy Joes
This is another one of our list of easy meals to make in your Airbnb kitchen standards. A package of hamburger buns, a pound of hamburger meat and a can of Manwich sauce. It doesn't get easier.
Pasta is easy to make on the stove top or in the microwave. I am also a very big fan of Buitoni pastas and sauces. If you want a meatier sauce you can grab frozen meatballs or brown some ground beef on the stove top and add that. Add some frozen garlic bread and a bagged salad kit and you have an easy, hearty meal.
You can also use the meatballs and sauce for meatball subs or hoagies. Just grab some good buns and some cheese.
6. Rotisserie Chicken
Rotisserie Chicken is super versatile. You can use it for tacos, stir fries, salads and more. Rotisserie chicken and a bagged salad kit makes a super easy dinner and it's easy to double if you need to feed larger groups. If you want to make this more hearty, serve with baked potatoes or crusty bread.
7. Crockpot Meals
Crockpot/Slow Cooker meals are my lifeline during the week. I love a good “dump it and forget it” meal when I'm busy. I find these types of meals to work well for the “I'm on vacation and I don't wanna cook” mindset. Most of the vacation rentals I've stayed in haven't had a crockpot but a few have.
I like to do chicken breasts or thighs combined with chicken broth and salsa for bowls or tacos. You can add rice, black beans and corn to make it heartier or serve these things on the side.
Read more: Slow Cooker Tex Mex Meatball Soup
I also like to use my slow cooker for pork roasts or pork tenderloin. My standbys are chicken broth with cumin or a bottle of barbeque sauce.
Frozen meatballs combined with chili sauce, chicken breasts with barbeque sauce and crushed pineapple, and salt and peppered round steak mixed with a can of stewed tomatoes were a few things my readers mentioned as being easy crock pot meals. You can see the full list and get more ideas here.
8. Soup and Sandwiches
If you're on a week's vacation, odds are you don't want to eat sandwiches every single day but they're easy to put together for light dinners or lunches. When we're vacationing, we usually do breakfast at our vacation rental, have lunch out, and have dinner in. If we've had a larger meal at lunch, I like to balance it out by having a simpler, lighter meal at dinner time.
We love buying local bakery bread or local deli goodies when we're in a new place. It makes an ordinary sandwich a little more interesting.
9. Charcuterie Board
We have charcuterie board dinners about once a week, sometimes more often when it's hot outside. My kids are so into this and it's so easy to throw together. We usually do two varieties of meat, two to three varieties of cheese, a dish of nuts, and some fresh fruit. I'll mix it up with pickles, olives, peppers, dried fruits, and hummus or other dips. I'll put out a plate of crackers, mini naan, or cubed bakery bread. Easy peasy.
This is a great way to sample local flavors. Grab that fancy cheese you see in the gourmet shop or try some local honey or chutney.
10. Baked Potato Bar
We do our baked potatoes in the Instant Pot and that's been life changing. Odds are, your vacation rental won't have an Instant Pot so you'll have to do them in the oven the old fashioned way and plan for that cook time or cook them in the microwave. Otherwise, this is a really easy meal to put together. We tend to stick with pretty basic potato toppings, like shredded cheese, bacon, sour cream and chives, but you could also use shredded pork or chicken, canned chili, jalapenos, broccoli and cheese or any other thing you can think of. This is also a good way to use up any leftovers in your Airbnb kitchen.
A variation on this is a pizza bar. Set out pizza toppings and halved English muffins or mini Boboli shells and let everyone make their own personal pizza. Anything where my kids can build their own plate is a big hit. This works well for larger groups, too.
11. Convenience foods for more meal ideas
Cooking in an Airbnb may be easier if you rely on convenience foods. Whether that be a bell pepper someone else cut up or choosing a microwaveable rice pouch instead of making rice on the stove top or a rice cooker.