Tips and Tricks for Stress Free Self Catering Holidays

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Cooking Tips and Tricks for Stress Free Self Catering Holidays

Whether you're in a quaint cottage, camping under the stars or packed into a camper van, it's a good idea to keep cooking simple whilst on holiday.

When I was growing up, I was so lucky that my grandparents each had a cottage in amazing holiday places - on the West Coast of Scotland near Gairloch and in the pretty seaside village of Runswick Bay in North Yorkshire.  The cottages were teeny tiny and basic but some of my very best memories are from our family holidays there.   

In Gairloch, we walked for miles, got ravaged by midges and played cards whilst it rained.  In Runswick, we ran all over the car-less village in bare feet playing tig, stubbing our toes and spent hours building sea walls as the tide came in. 

Whilst these holidays were awesome for us kids, they weren't great for my Mum - trying to dry wet clothes in tiny spaces, endless food requests, cooking on a tiny baby belling.  Whilst we can't help with the clothes drying, see below how my Mum made sure she had a holiday too with one brilliant idea!

We ate really simple but delicious food.  Mum was incredibly prepared as the local shops at that time were not well equipped and there was barely any kitchen equipment in the cottages.

With these thoughts in mind, we've come up with our top tips for making your self-catering holiday a holiday for EVERYONE.

Top Tips for Cooking on Holiday

1. Pre prepare a chicken marinade to take with you on holiday. Mix the marinade before you go and take enough for a couple of meals.  I use an old jam jar.  This versatile marinade is brilliant for chicken drumsticks on the BBQ or prawn skewers or for marinating veggie kebabs. 


2. With a really good, homemade salad dressing, you can make a tasty salad out of the most basic ingredients.  We make a huge batch of this recipe (double or triple the ingredients for a big batch) and take on holiday so whipping up a salad can be a last minute affair.  3 tbsp Olive Oil, 1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar, 1 Whole Garlic Clove, 2 tsps Dijon Mustard, Salt and Sugar to taste


3. If you have followed Spice Pots for a while, you will know that our Carrot Salad recipe is one of my favorites (and the kids love it too) - it's healthy, cheap, so delicious and literally goes with everything!  Take the spices with you (mustard seeds, cumin seeds and turmeric) as they may be hard to find in rural or remote locations.  The kids can grate the carrots whilst you make the dressing.  Remember to take a grater with you! 

4. Cook a ham or beef joint before you go and take it with you for sandwiches or simple evening meals with salad.  It's less expensive (and has less packaging) than the pre-packed options.


5. Make a batch or two of pasta sauce or take a jar of ready made pesto for the easy pasta night option.


6. Make up a batch of stir fry sauce that's all ready to go into the pan with the veggies, meat and rice.  Mix the following in a jam jar: 3 tbsp hoisin sauce, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp sesame oil, 2 tbsp rice vinegar.  Then add fresh ginger and garlic on the day.  This will season a stir fry for 5 people.  Double up as necessary!  A wok may seem a ridiculous item to take on holiday but it's brilliant small gas rings or on a camp fire and is large enough to cook a big one-pot meal for many!


7. Pack your Spice Pots and recipe book.  Whip up a simple one-pot curry in 30 minutes or if you are super organised, why not make a couple of curries in advance to pop in the freezer?  Remember to pack a sharp knife for chopping!

8. Split the household into 2 teams so that you can have a night off every second night!  This was a game changer for my Mum. One team were on duty all day - preparing the breakfast, picnic and dinner and ALL of the washing up.  The other team had a guilt free day off from the cooking chores. It was brilliant!  Everyone got a break (mostly needed by my Mum) and the other total bonus was that us kids loved it and we learned skills in the kitchen that will always be with us.  It often turned into a bit of a competition too which elevated the quality of the food.

    Shopping List for Self-Catering Holidays

    We've put together a handy shopping list for you so that you can spend more time hanging out with your family and less time worrying about catering!  Plan most of the meals before you go for an easier and less stressful holiday.

    For the one pot curries, you will need:

    • Spice Pots
    • Onions
    • Ginger 
    • Garlic
    • Tins tomatoes
    • Tins coconut milk
    • Salt
    • Stock cubes
    • Vegetables or chicken
    • Lentils

    Additional useful ingredients:

    • Cumin seeds, mustard seeds and turmeric for the carrot salad
    • Spice Pots!
    • Natural yoghurt for an alternative marinade
    • Lemon / lime juice
    • Salt, pepper and sugar
    Cooking Equipment that might be missing in a holiday cottage:
    • Bamboo or metal skewers for marshmallows round the fire or kebabs on the BBQ
    • Grater
    • Garlic Press
    • A wok!
    • Sharp knife for chopping

    I hope you have a lovely holiday, wherever you are going!

    For more summer holiday top tips, check out our blog about enjoying (surviving) the summer holidays

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