Summer Pantry Challenge: Vacation Menu Edition

For the second week of the Summer Pantry Challenge, I needed to create a menu for an upcoming vacation we’re heading into. This menu came straight from the pantry to create road-trip snacks and cabin meals for us.

We’re planning our yearly trip to the great northern wilderness (also known as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area). We’ll be staying at Chez Pazlar, my aunt and uncle’s “cabin” just at the entrance to the BWCAW and have a few day hikes and canoe portaging trips planned from there, as well as some crazy birthday partying for that youngest son of mine.

When I first started considering how traveling and the pantry challenge went together, I balked at the idea. I had given myself a pass for the four days we’d be in the woods, thinking I could just purchase whatever I wanted. Then I came to my senses and embraced the challenge aspect and moved ahead with clearing out my overflowing freezer and cupboards.

In the interest of full disclosure, we are planning on a Friday evening meal at Trail Center. It’s a family tradition to visit at least once, and this time it’s for dinner at the request of my aunt.


Orange Pecan Zucchini Bread and Lemon Blueberry Banana Bread – I found both shredded zucchini and frozen blueberries from last summer in the depths of my freezer, and there are some neglected bananas sitting on the counter. They’ll be turning into quick breads and making the trek up the North Shore of Lake Superior with us.

Smoked Salmon and Lemon Dill Cream Cheese on Bagels – A request made by my eldest daughter, this will use up the cream cheese we have and prevent it from sitting in the refrigerator while we are gone, as well as some of our herbs and the wild salmon we’re hording in the freezer.

…all served with fresh fruit


Mediterranean Bean and Barley Salad – We always have dried beans on hand, and they’re full of protein. They’ll be paired with some vegetable odds and ends we want to make sure we clear out of the refrigerator and the garden and use up, as well as dressing ingredients from the pantry.

Chicken Pasta Salad – A great way to utilize our pantry stores of pasta and go through dried herbs and seasonings, as well as clear out a few leftover items from the refrigerator.


Smoked Ribs with Baked Beans and Cornbread

Grilled Sandwiches: An Italian-style meat combination with cheese and vegetables on a soft French loaf, wrapped in foil and grilled to warm.

Trail Center Meal


Kettle Corn and Chile Lime Popcorn – We always have popcorn to pop for family movie nights, and it’s an easy snack to make up the day before you leave, storing in zip-top bags or large containers for snacking along the drive.

Granola Bars – Hiking perfection, utilizing stores of oatmeal, pepitas and raisins in the cupboard, and a forgotten bag of shredded coconut in the freezer.

…as well as carrot sticks and dried fruit

Packing Up for a Drive:

1. Freeze a few containers full of beverages to act as extra ice. We made and froze iced tea for the occasion, as well as some fresh lemonade for the kids.
2. Try using up all perishable food in the days before you leave as Mandi suggested in her Eat Well, Spend Less post. We used up the eggs in our fridge by making Chili Lime Deviled Eggs for a neighborhood barbecue last week and putting egg sandwiches on the menu.
3. Pack your cooler wisely. Katie had some great suggestions on how to pack up the cooler to make sure all your food makes it on your camping trip or long drive, including what to pack on the bottom of the cooler, what needs extra containers to prevent water from leaking in and more.
4. Keep snacks in the car. We are filling our thermal water bottles full of water and ice and stashing popcorn snacks and dried fruit in the car to minimize stopping to dig through the cooler while we’re on our way.

Check out what everyone else is doing as they eat from the pantry this month:

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  1. Oh man… those ribs. Why aren’t they magically appearing in my pantry?

  2. Great links! Thanks for sharing!

  3. These are all better then any restaurant I know of. Have a wonderful vacation!

  4. Fun road trip/vacation tips! Me and the Hubby loves road-tripping and often use our cooler to advantage.

  5. Everything sounds delicious!

  6. OK I don’t camp, but going with you guys and all this food could easily change my mind. Have an amazing time with your sweet family 🙂

  7. They’re so cute! Very cool — all inclusive? family meal making!! This looks delish.

  8. Wow… Lots of great ideas! I’ve been in a bit of a cooking rut since we got home from vacation, so I can use some fresh dinner ideas!

  9. Wow, great post! I often struggle with thinking about what to eat on road trips — both in the car and at the destination, and I usually give myself that pass. In fact, I wrote about bad road food in a recent post. I’ll definitely be saving these recipes for next time.

    Side note: I heart the boundary waters!

  10. Wow, I’m impressed! It is not easy to plan out meals for vacations. Nice job!


  1. […] We’re using leftover salmon from our trip for this salad and filling it up with all the garden produce that has been growing while we were […]

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