Saturday, June 25, 2011

Getting to Paradise Found-Preparing for Two Weeks at the Beach

My son Gavin (before urgent care) and Molly checking out the beach.
With any trip, a really important key to a successful trip is the planning and preparation, which is why we start weeks in advance packing, planning menus, and making lots and lots of lists (Foods to take, What to buy at the farm market on the way in, condiments and spices to take, etc)  Keeping all these lists straight was a lot easier using Cozi Calendar which allows you to make to-do and shopping lists, which was really helpful and kept them all in one place.  Cozi Calendar is a free application that allows you to keep all your family's appointments and commitments in one place- I have been using it for about a year, and besides its daily utility, it was great for helping me organize for our family vacation.

Crab dinner is always popular across generations!
Beside the obvious things like making sure you have the right clothes and the perfect bathing suit (for me this means one with lots of spandex), the biggest thing for me is planning meals. While there are good grocery stores in the Outer Banks (including Food Lion and my favorite Harris Teeter), I normally carry my proteins with me because I pre-prep many of them. It is my goal to bring as little food back as possible and for that, planning is essential. Also, because we were on a budget, I tried to plan dishes that could be prepared for a crowd without breaking the bank. For our meals when the largest number of people were planning to be there we planned a ham (great dinner and leftovers are good for sandwiches , omelets), pulled pork barbecue, crockpot carnitas, graduation chicken, tortellini-pepperoni casserole, taco salad, hamburgers and hot dogs, and steamed shrimp, and of course, steamed crabs.  For meals with smaller groups, we made fish tacos (a big hit, even with the non-fish lovers), flank steak, and then we interspersed a nigh out at Rundown Cafe and some local take-out foods from Corolla Pizza and Coastal Cravings, and an amazing tomato pie from Dockside 'N Duck. Factor in some treats from Duck Donuts and Tullio's Bakery, and a special night out that my husband and I had at Metropolis, the food took second place only to our amazing location a stone's throw from the beach.

Preparing meals in Paradise Found's well equipped kitchen, was really a pleasure and the layout was perfect for a crowd. We usually made everything and then set up the food on the large bar like a buffet and let everyone serve themselves, which was very convenient.Then all leftovers (when there were some) were "bagged and tagged" and the dishes done by volunteers who had not helped with cooking dinner. Since we had adult children, they also contributed meals- Katie made her turkey-lettuce wraps for dinner and Colleen and LJ made 2 breakfasts, SOS (I know you all know what this stands for) and omelets.

One of the more important parts of our preparation was pre-trip shopping.  Proteins and bulk foods were purchased at Costco, produce was procured on the trip down at Morris Market, and perishables were picked up as the last stop before we checked in. We even made a special trip to Richmond to Penzey's Spices to stock up on spices for our meals (this will be a separate post).  While I am a foodie, and my family loves to try new things, this was, first and foremost a vacation so I chose things that were delicious, easy to prepare, and highlighted fresh ingredients and produce we could get locally.  That allowed us to do what we came here to do- enjoy each other and the beach!  See below the family water ballet in the pool!


the constant hunger said...

Great tips!

Simply Life said...

wow, looks like a great time!

Deborah Dowd said...

Simply Life- It was an amazing time- with really great food (and lots of people to cook it for!)

Ashley Cross said...

Thanks for the tips. I love beaches :)