There can be a lot of unpleasant surprises when you show up at a vacation rental that you've only seen in photos on the internet. Some of them are little issues (the bedrooms aren't quite as big as advertised, and the neighbor's house is just a little closer than anticipated). Others are a little bit trickier to navigate. For example, you arrive to a kitchen without any pans. Granted it's not the end of the world, but it might change your vacation menu planning just a bit. Here are some tips to help you keep your vacation from getting stuck.
1. Use the grill.
Where there's a grill, there's a way. Isn't that how the saying goes? And we're going to bet you already have big plans to use it for many of your meals. It's just about the easiest way to ensure that you won't have to deal with any pans at all. Make extra and you can eat the leftovers the next day for lunch.
2. Skip the heat.
Another option? Skip the heat (and the pans) all together. It's summer, after all, and it's hot! Hit up the local farmers market (which is also a great way to get to know a new place), stock up on fresh produce, and consider these 10 no-cook vegetarian dinners for inspiration.
3. Tap into your inner MacGyver.
So, it's day three and you're officially over salads, sandwiches, and anything with grill marks. What's a clever cook to do? Ask yourself: What would MacGyver do? It doesn't involve duck tape, but it does involve aluminum foil. Foil pouches are one of the easiest ways to pull a meal together with no pots or pans whatsoever.
Get a recipe: Baked Fish, Spinach & Tomatoes in Foil Packets
And if you're feeling really crafty, go ahead and cook your salmon in the dishwasher. (Yes, it really works!)
4. Use baking tools as cooking tools.
Maybe there's no official cooking pan, but have you checked out the baking gear? Our food editor Christine says that a pie pan can be used as a frying pan. Just preheat, throw some food in there, and stir as needed.
Another baking tool you can call upon? Baking sheets, of course! With the help of a cookie sheet you can turn almost any protein and any vegetable into a sheet-pan meal.
5. Bring your own pans.
Depending on the length of your summer rental, we're always fans of bringing our own supplies — including a favorite, go-to pan from your home kitchen. Not only will you be sure that you can make your signature dish, but you'll also be a bit more at ease in the unfamiliar cooking space having a few supplies of your own.
Have you showed up at a vacation rental kitchen only to find there were no cooking pans? What did you do?