Summertime usually means one thing for me: travel. Once Labor Day rolls around, the pages of my day planner are tattered and smeared with travel plans. Being in my late 20s and from the Midwest means a handful of summer weddings to plan for, along with college reunions, weekends spent camping and floating the river, day trips to the beach, and visiting friends in my old New England stomping grounds of Vermont and Massachusetts. A trip back home to Oklahoma or Texas is definitely in order, and a friend in Seattle is due for a visit.
But with that bite of the travel bug comes a few other tricky details to sort out — namely my dwindling bank account, but also my health. It's hard to stick to any sort of regular meal plan while traveling and, truth be told, who'd want to? Road trips and airport layovers make eating well at inconvenient, unplanned moments nearly impossible, and my travel FOMO is such that passing up a city's signature food just isn't going to happen. (Lookin' at you, Chicago Dogs.)
Although a vacation usually leaves me feeling refreshed and recharged mentally, when it comes to my body, I sometimes feel l like I need a vacation from my vacation when it's all said and done.
Once I'm back home, being intentional about what I eat helps me come down softly from the "treat yo self" high of a week away, and makes it easier to move forward with a renewed sense of energy and optimism. I've found that certain foods help me get my feet back on the ground after a vacation, and that cooking at home in the weeks after a trip helps ease the inevitable sting of blown travel budgets, too. Here's a look at the recipes that help me out most.
1. A Big Summer Salad
If I've been on vacation, odds are I haven't had fresh, leafy greens in days. For me, the quickest way to get back on track after a week of cocktails, late-night meals, and fried food is to prep a bight summer salad — usually something with a mixture of sweet and savory flavors. One of my go-to recipes is a lemony kale and strawberry salad: kale, avocado, strawberry, shaved Parmesan, frisee, tomatoes, and grilled chicken.
2. Easy Tacos
After being gone for a while, one of the first things I do is head to the grocery store to stock up for the week. Three things that are always on the shopping list? Avocados, greens, and ground turkey. For me, ground turkey is an inexpensive lean protein source that doesn't take a lot of time to make. After traveling, I like to brown up a pound or so of ground turkey to eat for the week for a batch of turkey tacos.
More Taco Recipes from Kitchn
3. A Big Savory Breakfast Bowl
Nothing gets me ready for a hard reset quite like the power of a full, savory breakfast bowl with lots of vegetables. I could have a breakfast bowl every morning and be perfectly satisfied. My go-to bowl is usually some combination of fresh and sautéed greens (spinach and spring mix on the bottom, sautéed collard greens on the top), quinoa, kimchi or radishes, mushrooms sautéed in Worcestershire, sprouts, feta or grilled halloumi, avocado, pepitas or pomegranates, cherry tomatoes, ground turkey, and grilled lamb or pulled short ribs. And don't forget the pièce de résistance: eggs! I like mine poached, but you do you.
Savory Breakfast Recipe Ideas
4. Easy Homemade Pizza
After a week of new restaurants, sometimes all I want for dinner is a reliable favorite. I'm a huge fan of whipping up easy, homemade pizza and I usually reach for the same standard: a classic margherita with sausage, or a ricotta, caramelized onion, and sausage pizza. If it's just me, I'll make a full batch of dough and then halve it and freeze the rest for another night. And if I'm feeling particularly exhausted after a trip, I'll grab dough from Whole Foods or Trader Joe's.
Delicious and Easy Pizza Recipes
5. Berries and Cream
Moving around from place to place for a week usually does a number on my body — especially if I've been treating myself to desserts all week long (which, let's be honest, I definitely have). I'm never one to skip dessert if I want it, but there's such a thing as too much of a good thing — especially post-vacation. After traveling, super-rich treats like cakes or muffins don't exactly skyrocket to the top of my list. Instead, I reach for lighter, low-prep desserts that don't have me slaving away in the kitchen, or feeling too full or sluggish.
One of my easiest, freshest desserts also happens to be one my favorites: berries and cream. In the summer months, I usually like a mixture of strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries, topped with homemade whipped cream.
6. Greek Yogurt Hangover Cure-All
Once in awhile, I'll come back from vacation having had a bit too much fun. And if my body is still on the struggle bus from one too many glasses of wine the night before, I'll make this funky drink to perk me back up: Combine about two tablespoons of Greek yogurt, curry powder, lemon juice, and club soda; mix thoroughly; and then drink quickly. I can't vouch for the taste, but I have a feeling you'll overlook it once your hangover slips away.
Do you have any recipes that help you feel better after vacation? Let us know in the comments!