The Best Gift to Give Yourself Before Vacation

updated May 26, 2021
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Coming home from vacation can be rough. (Especially considering the fact that most of us probably haven’t been away in more than a year! We’re all extra out of practice!) Not only are you not on vacation anymore, as evinced by the suitcases stuffed to the max with dirty laundry and the fact that your bedroom window probably doesn’t have a postcard-like view of white sand beaches or snow-capped mountains, but there is also regular life waiting for you. You have to deal with that inbox overflowing with emails and — here’s the real rub — you have to feed yourself! Through that pina colada-induced brain fog, you might (vaguely) recollect something known as meal planning.

When I used to come home from vacation to an empty fridge, I dealt with this return to reality with a jar of peanut butter and a bag of stale pretzels. They would satiate my hunger until I could dash to the grocery store.

Now that I have kids, I can’t employ the same laissez-faire technique. As a mom, I’ve come to rely on a single strategy to ease the transition back to real life. It takes a little bit of planning ahead, but it’s definitely worth it.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk

Stock the Freezer Before You Go on Vacation

The smartest thing I do before I leave on a trip is to stock the freezer with enough food to fill us up for a few meals.

Whether my brood comes home at 1 p.m. or 1 a.m., one of us is always hungry. Defrost-friendly dishes feed my fam and make me feel like “I got this” (even if I’m so tired I can’t stand up straight).

The best part about this freezer plan is its ease: All I do is make a few extra portions of the meals we’re already consuming before I leave. Once the freezer is full of good-to-go meals, there’s no temptation to stop for fast food or worry about meal planning when my internal clock is somewhere over Greenland.

One more tip: Don’t forget the veggies! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked in my fridge the night before leaving on a trip only to realize I’ve got a bunch of veggies that won’t survive my time away. Even though I’m usually running behind on the packing front, I take an extra 10 minutes to chop up all my veggies and put them into a freezer bag or sealed container. Pre-chopped veggies go with any pantry staple or sauce kicking around my fridge.

Do you do this, too? What do you make? Tell me in the comments below!