How to Meal Plan For a Vacation Rental Adventure


How to Meal Plan For a Vacation Rental Adventure

I'm hungry! 🧒

You think you hear this a lot at home? Wait 'til you go on vacation! From the moment you pull out of your driveway to go on a trip, it seems like food is the central theme. 

In today’s blog we will give you a step-by-step guide to plan your meals for a week’s vacation on Topsail Island. We are going to help you think about every detail, including car snacks, breakfast, lunch, dinner, treats, desserts, when to eat out, when to stay in, what to cook, and how to do it all without a million trips to the grocery store (all while staying on budget). 

Ready to play along? Let’s go!

Meal Plan | Ward Realty

A few weeks before your trip...

Step 1: Determine how many meals will need to be planned.

Sit down and think about how many meals you want to eat at “home” (i.e. the vacation rental) and how many meals you want to eat out in town. This list may be determined by your budget, the appetites of your family, and your willingness to cook on vacation.

In general, you will need to plan for about 21 meals (7 each of breakfast, lunch and dinner).

While you are at it, consider how often you want to go out for treats, like ice cream. The easiest plan is to just go once every day! Why not? 

Step 2: Research restaurants. 

Try to go out in town for at least 1-2 breakfasts, lunches and dinners to really enjoy our local offerings! We also encourage plenty of take-out. After all, you're on vacation. 

Need help narrowing down where to eat? Read this blog, Get to Know the Fun Local Businesses of Topsail Island for ideas. Make sure you eat something before you read the menus – you are going to get hungry!

Step 3: Plan easy meals for the rental & beach. 

Do not overthink this. We repeat. KEEP IT SIMPLE. We are going to attach some easy ideas for meals you can cook and prepare at the vacation rental without any special tools, appliances, or menu items. You should definitely take advantage of your vacation rental kitchen (it's a huge benefit and money-saver, and one reason you have chosen to rent a house instead of a crowded hotel room). But there is no need to go crazy. Think sandwiches, burgers, pasta bakes, and macaroni and cheese. 

Step 4: Plug your meal plan into a simple spreadsheet

We are including a sample meal plan at the end of this blog. Make it your own! 

Step 5: Make a list of ingredients to bring and buy

Think about what you will want to bring with you from home (salt, seasonings, condiments, pasta, snacks, non-perishable foods). Make a second list of things to buy once you arrive on the island (fresh foods, milk, eggs, meats, cheese, fruits and veggies). If you live close to Topsail, bring as much as you can from home, even the perishables! 

Don't forget snacks. We suggest simple stuff like nuts, chips, veggie sticks, dried fruits, pretzels, and protein bars. Kids also love frozen fruit, smoothies, cheese sticks and popcorn. 

Grocery Shopping | Ward Realty

1-2 days before your trip...

Step 6: Grocery shop. 

You don't want to spend a lot of time at the grocery store once you arrive on vacation. Get as much as you can already bought, prepped and ready before you leave. 

Step 7: Prepare snacks and drinks for the car ride

The car ride TO your destination always seems so much longer than the ride home! Prepare some snack bags or bento boxes with yummy snacks for the family. A bag of chips or package of M&M's from the store is a lot cheaper than from a gas station on the road! Read this blog for more helpful road-trip advice. 

Step 8: Pack up the food

You will need at least one cooler for the beach anyway. Make it work double duty to bring down a package of burgers, sandwich fixings, a bag of apples and whatever else needs to be kept cold. Don't forget the groceries and meals you bought and prepared for the trip. 

Lunch at the Beach House | Ward Realty

Once you arrive on Topsail...

Step 8:  Unpack and feed the troops

Put away your cold stuff, explore your exciting Topsail Island rental, and feed the crew whatever you had planned for the first night! Whether you choose to go out, order a pizza, or heat up a casserole you brought from home, everyone will be so happy to eat and settle in to their week of fun & sun. 

Step 9:  Evaluate your grocery needs

Topsail has plenty of places to grab the additional grocery items you need for the week. Some of our local stores (like Publix and Harris Teeter) offer order-ahead curbside pick up, so call them the week prior to your vacation to schedule a day. Your future self will thank you! 

🛒 Publix Super Market at Arboretum at Surf City - Delivery, In-Store Pickup, Curbside Pickup, Instacart. 

🛒 Harris Teeter of Hampstead - Delivery, In-Store Pickup, Curbside Pickup

🛒 Food Lion Surf City - Delivery, In-Store Pickup, Curbside Pickup, Instacart

🛒 Walmart Surf City - Delivery, In-Store Pickup, Curbside Pickup

🛒 DumplingNC - Personal grocery shopping and delivery to your vacation home

Step 10:  Enjoy your well-laid plan! 

When you have a plan for the week, there's no question about "what's for dinner tonight"! There is no stress about what to make, or if you should go out or have leftovers. Even if you deviate from your general plan, that's ok. You gave it some thought, you have several meals figured out, and you can even use this plan year after year. 


Here is a sample meal plan for a one-week vacation to Topsail Island. Click here or click the image to view larger, download &/or print!

Free Vacation Meal Plan Printable Samples


Here is a blank meal plan worksheet you can use for your next trip. Click here or click the image to view larger, download &/or print!

Free Vacation Meal Plan Printable

More helpful blogs: 


What's your favorite meal planning hack? 

Please share it with our readers! 

How to Meal Plan For a Vacation Rental Adventure


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