How to Pack Food (And Tools) for a Weekend Away

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Never let a rental kitchen get the better of you! Set yourself up for culinary success, no matter where you are.

The success of a weekend getaway, in my opinion, is determined by the quality of the meals enjoyed during that weekend. Staying in a vacation rental is a great way to save money and eat well, but it also poses challenges -- as in, you never know exactly what you're going to get when it comes to equipment.

That's why it is good to have a plan. First, establish your go-to list of ingredients that you pack automatically whenever you know you'll be navigating a strange kitchen. These can be transformed easily into a variety of healthy, tasty, satisfying meals. Second, grab some key tools to ensure you can do what you need to do.

I like this list of 10 must-have ingredients by Jane B. Diener, writing for The Financial Diet. Diener, who enjoys her weekends away with friends, says she always packs the following foods because they are so versatile: eggs, bread, hummus, onions, carrots, chips, pasta, spinach, tomatoes, berries. She writes:

"With my favorite ingredients, I can create an endless combination of delicious meals and snacks. Here are some of my favorite ways to combine these 10 ingredients:
- Roasted Vegetable Pasta- Sautéed Vegetable Pasta- Vegetable Omelettes- Hummus Sandwich- Egg Sandwich- Berry Toast- Spinach Salad with Chopped Egg and Veggies
When all else fails, I shamelessly eat handfuls of any combination of chips, berries, and carrots."

Diener's list covers a lot, but I wouldn't leave my house without packing a few extras: peanut butter, nuts, apples, olive oil, kosher salt, and a pepper grinder (no more of the rancid pre-ground stuff that's been in a cupboard for who knows how long). Oh, and good coffee beans (pre-ground is safer).

Next, pack a few necessary tools. By all means, take your favourite knife! After years of using the same wonderful MAC knife that slices through melon rinds and squash peels as if they were butter, I have no patience for unsharpened knives that cause more work and stress; having my own knife makes everything go more smoothly. A corkscrew and can opener are two more essentials because their absence can ruin a meal, and, if you're fussy about coffee, take along a moka pot or French press so you don't need to rely on an ancient Mr. Coffee drip machine whose basket filters you cannot find.

Of course, the whole appeal of a weekend getaway lies in its sense of relaxation. You don't want to spend too much time preparing food, nor do you want to be enslaved to a meal plan, using ingredients that will go bad if they're not eaten. An ingredient list like the one above accommodates flexibility. You can incorporate whatever local seasonal produce or fresh protein you encounter during the day's rambles, allowing the vacation experience to shape what you eat, using the tools you've brought.