Cooking · Family life · main dish · Main entree · Meal planning · Traveling

Meal Planning for Family Vacation

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For a fantastic ending to a great summer, we enjoyed our first Family Vacation!  We were blessed to have our daughters, sons-in-law, and grandsons all join us for a two and half day get-away!  Let me just start by sharing a few of the highlights:

  • Coming up with our hashtag for the time away!  We wanted pics to remember this event by, so we needed a hashtag for Instagram!  We settled on #hamfamvacay2017.  Some of the other running options were – #picvacay2017 #hammingitup2017
  • Having time to just be together. When you have babies in the group, it’s just easier not to be running all over, and we were happy with that!  We gladly opted to just stay near the condo and only go out one time.  We truly just wanted to be able to visit and be together.
  • Having time in the Word as a family. My husband gathered everyone together on the patio and we opened God’s Word to read a chapter and share our “Ah ha” verses.  How thankful I am that we could all contribute and share from the riches of the Bible.  I do not take for granted having a family filled with believers!
  • Meal time!  What’s better than home-cooked food, enjoyed at “home” with those you love?

It can be a little tricky feeding lots of people, but we came up with a plan that made it doable. Today I’m linking up with my daughter, Whitney to share how we managed six meals for six people, adding in the complications of two who were dieting, one who had a birthday, and one (kind of) picky eater!

Because we were staying at a Wyndham resort, we had cooking capabilities and decided we would eat all our meals “at home” rather than eating out.  Aside from being a money saver, it’s also so much easier to visit in the quiet of the resort, than at a restaurant.  But how do you bring enough food and give what everyone likes when there are six adults eating six meals?   Here’s what we did:

  1. I offered to make supper for both nights, knowing that they would be the more costly meals.
  2. I suggested that the girls either:
    ~each take a day and make both breakfast and lunch on their day,
    ~one take lunches for both days and the other the breakfasts for both days.  They chose the latter.

Another component in cooking for a crowd is dietary restrictions, or even likes/dislikes.  One of the couples was on a diet that restricted grains, dairy, sugar, and several other things.  One in our group isn’t too adventurous with foods.  We decided that we would do our best to provide a main meat that everyone could have, and then let them fill the gaps with what they could/would eat.  It can be nearly impossible to please everyone – right?  This way, the options was theirs to eat what the cook provided, or add their own items to the meal.

We were glad to be able to cook, but no one wanted to be spending lots of time preparing the food.  For my supper meals, I opted to do a grilled meat one night and an oven-prepared meal the next night.  Here were my supper menus:

Night One:

Grilled Steaks
(Adding only grill seasoning and no marinade, due to the dieters)
Baked potatoes (done in the oven)
Corn on the cob
French Bread

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Excuse the poor picture, but the picture taking was low on the list at the moment! =)

For that first supper, everyone ate the steaks and potatoes, but the dieters didn’t have corn, bread or cupcakes.  We were celebrating a birthday that night, so I got creative with what I had and made a slice of a diet friendly birthday “cake” which also fell on the day of  the eclipse!

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My Eclipse “Cake!”

Night Two:

Oven-Baked Chicken Fajitas –
(Everyone could add or leave off what they didn’t like)
Spanish Rice – (The dieters fixed Sweet Potato fries)
Refried Beans
Fresh Fruit


After everyone else left, my husband and I had the blessing of finishing out the week at the resort, so we needed breakfast and lunch meals for those days as well.  To keep things easy, I tried to get double use out of items I brought.  For example:

  • Bacon – Used for breakfast or BLT’s for lunch
  • Bread – Toasted  for Steak night, Toast and jelly for breakfast
  • Leftover fajitas for lunch
  • Fresh tomatoes and fruit – salad, dessert and snacks!

Mealtimes were a huge success!  There was no flurry of wondering where we would go or what we were going to eat.  It was laid out simply and everyone had plenty of good food!

You can go here and check out Whitney’s post to see what she and her sister fixed for the other meals!

What does your  family do to make mealtime happen on vacation?

With love from my country kitchen,



Staying Organized On a Trip

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Digging through a suitcase looking for a belt, or your facial wipes, or your contact case is not the way to end a long day of travel!  When I began packing for Israel, I carefully loaded my carry-on and my one large suitcase so that I would be able to find everything easily and so that everything would be ready to use and wear.  I never had to search or dig for one thing the whole time I was gone!  Here’s how I did it:


  1. I packed minimally.  Not that I didn’t have a full suitcase – I did, but I had clothes that would coordinate and I could wear the tops and pants interchangeably.
  2. Before I packed, I laid the outfits on my bed and took pictures of them so I could get dressed quickly each day.  All I had to do was look at my photos and I knew what I needed to pull out of the suitcase.
  3. After packing, I made an inventory list of each item and exactly where it was located. For example, Front Zipper of Large suitcase – Leopard shoes, Face wipes.



Then to stay organized on the plane ride, I had a medium sized drawstring bag in my carry-on.  After going through security, I filled that bag with what I needed for the night flight.  I put in these items:

  1. Glasses
  2. Contact Solution and case
  3. Makeup bag with a little makeup and some meds
  4. Comb
  5. Toothbrush
  6. Hair spray
  7. Ear buds and Ipod
  8. Flannel Scarf (used as a blanket)
  9. Small flashlight
  10. Snacks

This bag was tucked into the pocket of the plane seat, right in front of me.  It made getting to those items very simple.

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Extra Packing Tips:

  • To keep clothes fresh in the suitcase, put a couple of dryer sheets in-between the clothes.  During the second week when I reached that part of my clothing, they smelled sooooo good!  This was a really great tip!
  • If you have room, tuck in a small blanket from home.  Being in another country for 12 days can make you feel a bit homesick, but having a comfort from home like a soft blanket, is a blessing!  Sometimes the heavy comforters on the bed was too much, and my blanket was just what I needed, both in weight and for the touch of comfort from home!
  • Packing cubes are great, but I didn’t want to make that investment.  Instead, I put all my tops into a canvas bag, then put that bag in the suitcase.  When I needed  a top, it was easy to just pull out that bag and get one out without disturbing the whole suitcase.
  • Put everything back where it goes when you are finished with it.  Don’t assume you’ll remember where you put it!  Take the time to follow your inventory and return it where it came from!

I haven’t always been able to say that I never lost an item or couldn’t find something I needed while on my trip…until this time!  I did lots of researching and reading before we left, so I could enjoy the trip without the frustration of tearing the suitcase apart looking for something!

I hope this helps you to be more organized the next time you travel!

Tell me what you do to keep yourself sane on a trip!

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(L)Oven Monday – Enjoying Food in Israel

Hello Friends and Happy Monday!  I returned this past Friday from a two-week trip to Israel!  This was our second time to visit and tour this beloved land, and it was incredible!  I feel like a little more light of understanding was able to peek into my mind and heart, giving  me an even greater love for my God and His Word!

Since I was away, I haven’t had anything going on in my oven, but I thought I’d share a little of my food diary from our trip to the Middle East.  The food there is good, just different.  The places where we stayed tended to have the same kind of foods available, with a few exceptions.  Let me give you a visual of what we ate:

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There was always a buffet for breakfast and supper at the places we stayed.  Believe it or not, you will always see a salad bar at breakfast time.  They have lots of wonderful cheeses, spreads, olives, and greens, vegetables and other salads made up.

That wasn’t exactly my style for the first meal of the day, so I usually had some type of egg.  Most places offered  an egg station where they would make you a fried egg, scrambled egg, or omelet.  It was important to get protein for the long days of hiking and traversing, so I usually always had an egg of some sort.  Often there were egg casseroles, as well.

There is no bacon, but there is fish, and I learned that pickled Herring is really good, plus it’s another source of protein!  It’s surprisingly good with breakfast!

The produce there is amazingly fresh and delicious!  Their avocados were huge and delicious, and made a great accompaniment to the eggs! I had an orange almost every day- they were so flavorful!

Coffee was a “Cappuccino,” unsweetened, but made from a real cappuccino machine, it had frothy milk and caffeine. I just added artificial sweetener and it was perfect!

Lunchtime didn’t offer a great deal of variety.  We usually heard that there were two choices – Falafel and Schnitzel.  Here they are:


In case you’re not familiar with falafel, it is made up of pureed chick peas and herbs and deep fried.  It’s usually served in a pita bread and accompanied by lettuce, salad and sweet peppers.  Sometimes there is a Tahini Sauce to add, which is made from Tahini paste (Middle Eastern sesame paste), lemon juice, olive oil and a few spices.

The other choice is Schnitzel (bottom right picture), which can be made from chicken, pork or veal.  It is pounded thinly and fried and served the same as the falafel.

One day we were offered a “Quesadilla” – a large “tortilla” spread with goat cheese and herbs and olive oil and grilled (Top right picture).  It was good and a nice change.  We found out that the herbs that are spread on each of the lunch choices really didn’t settle well, so we opted out of lunch most days, eating the snacks we had taken with us.

The other choice that was on a menu board was a “cheese stick.”  It wasn’t really flavorful, but the cappuccino that accompanied it made up for its lack of taste!

Now for supper in Israel:


There was always an incredible choice of salad options.  I loved the olives, cucumbers and peppers added into my lettuce.  Also, the olive oil and vinegar option for dressing was a light way to enjoy the salad.

Bread and hummus were present always, as well as a variety of hot dishes with meat or fish.  Rice, Couscous and potatoes were sides offered.  Then the desserts were many and delicious.  Thankfully, they were small portions, so you could try a few different ones without feeling too guilty!

So, we definitely didn’t starve, but at the same time, do you know how good a Longhorn steak and baked potato tasted the night we returned??!!!!  My taste buds love the American cuisine!  I look forward to stirring up some things in my kitchen and warming up my oven for some of our favorite dishes this next week!

Have you traveled outside of the US?  What foods did you love?

Happy to be home!

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