Vacation time is finally here, and you’re getting ready for a week or two at the cottage, where you can have some peace, quiet, and relaxation. Or perhaps, you just need a change of scenery, and you’ve booked yourself a work-cation at the cottage.
No matter what your reasoning is for wanting to spend some time in cottage country, you’ll want to come up with some of the best summer cottage meals to eat healthy while you’re taking some time away from the city.
To ensure that you Getaway Well on your next trip to the cottage, we’ve put together some suggestions for the best summer cottage meals that you’ve really got to try.
Before we dive into our suggestions, let’s talk about how you can prepare yourself and your cottage for making great meals.
One of the biggest things that you need to take into consideration when you’re planning the best summer cottage meals is where you’ll be preparing the food.
Does your cottage have a full kitchen with a full oven and stove? If so, you can probably make meals as elaborate as the ones that you would make at home. However, if you don’t have those kinds of amenities, it can make cooking a lot more challenging.
Without a stove or oven, you can be left resorting to camping grills or campfires to do all your cooking, and that can make things a lot more complicated if you’re planning recipes that you should have a full kitchen to prepare.
Keep these amenities in mind when you’re arranging for your trip because the cooking equipment you have available to you should partially determine the way you design your meal plan at the cottage.
Also, do as much prep for meals as possible ahead of time. The best summer cottage meals don’t require a lot of time to prepare or massive clean-up efforts at the end.
You may want to eat like you’re competing on Iron Chef, but no one enjoys the mountain of dishes left when you’re done making an extremely elaborate meal in a small space (hint hint – most cottage kitchens).
If you’re only going to the cottage for a few days, you probably won’t have to worry about too many of your ingredients expiring, unless they’re a food that’s supposed to be left refrigerated and you don’t have somewhere to keep it cold.
But for longer trips, you need to plan carefully and think about incorporating ingredients (and by association recipes) that hold well for longer periods of time.
This can mean avoiding cooking dishes that require a lot of milk or cream or choosing healthy vegetarian camping meals that don’t require a lot of meat proteins to keep on ice for an extended period of time.
Lots of fresh produce is a good idea since most types of vegetables and fruit will last at least a week or two, especially if you keep them cold.
Whole-grain pasta or rice are also healthier alternatives to bleached versions, which hold well and can easily be added as a side dish to your meals.
One fruit we’d recommend not bringing with you is bananas, believe it or not. That’s because bananas release a gas called ethene, which causes other nearby fruits and vegetables to ripen more quickly.
The last thing you want to bring with you is a fruit that will reduce the shelf life of all your other produce.
Plastic forks and knives are terrible for the environment, and frankly, they’re not the most pleasant utensils to eat with anyways.
Instead, consider picking up a couple of cottage cutlery sets that you can use to enjoy your meals just like you do at home.
These cutlery sets will be the perfect addition to all of your best summer cottage meals, and you’ll be doing something helpful for Mother Nature. That’s what we’d call a win-win.
With how easy it is to attract bugs in cottage country, it’s no surprise that cleaning up the mess left over by the best summer cottage meals would be enough to attract some real attention.
Thankfully, you won’t have to worry about where you’re going to put your leftovers from big meals. These containers will keep all the food scraps tightly closed and protected from unwanted invaders (including anyone that tends to overeat when food is left out).
Going to the cottage is supposed to be about taking it easy and giving yourself a chance to relax.
Thankfully, you can always make some casseroles ahead of time and set them aside to simply cook at the cottage, if you’ve got an oven available to you.
This incredibly tasty casserole is not only Whole30, but also low carb, so you won’t have to feel bad if it’s so tasty that you want a second helping.
These are some of the best summer cottage meals because they’re great for sitting around the table, picking at the nachos while you’re chatting with loved ones.
Also, these campfire nachos are extremely easy to make. Just layer your ingredients into a large cast-iron skillet, and then place them on the embers of your campfire (or the oven, if your cottage allows), and cook them until the cheese is melted.
You can use healthy tortillas chip alternatives, low-fat cheese, and even homemade salsa or low-fat sour cream for dipping after, to remove some of the extra calories from the equation.
Is there anything that says cottage life more than hamburgers? Well, you can forget the frozen kind (they’re a pain to keep cold at the cottage anyways unless you have a freezer handy), and go for something more elegant using this homemade hamburger recipe.
Not only do these patties work well whether you prefer your burgers thick or thin, but they’re also just as delicious off the grill as they would be done in a pan on the stove.
The real question becomes, what toppings do you want on your burger?
Without requiring a ton of different ingredients, or a lot of prep work to put together, this pesto pasta salad definitely makes our list for the best summer cottage meals.
Cook your noodles ahead of time and toss them in a bit of olive oil to keep them from sticking together. Then, you can simply add in your tomatoes, cucumber, mozzarella, pesto, and freshly grated parmesan cheese right before you serve it.
Heavy enough to be a meal on its own, pesto pasta salad also makes a great side dish if you’re having steaks or fish on the BBQ.
We couldn’t talk about pasta salad without also bringing up one of the other best summer cottage meals that we bring every cottage trip – German potato salad.
Made with a vinaigrette, instead of creamy, dairy-based dressings, German potato salad stays fresh a lot longer than potato salads made with mayonnaise.
This recipe uses some of the natural fats from the bacon rendering to help create a dressing that’s rich and full-flavored, while also feeling very light on the palette.
Just like preparing a casserole ahead of time, you can do all the prep at home to put together this mouth-watering chicken pot pie, and then simply throw it in the oven at the cottage when it’s time to get dinner ready.
Imagine sitting in the kitchen of your cottage, sipping a cup of tea or a glass of wine, and putting your feet up while the warming scent of your scrumptious pot pie wafts through the whole house.
Not only will this be a healthy, satisfying meal, but you’ll hardly have to lift a finger to put it together. That alone makes this one of the best summer cottage meals.
Lunch and dinner aren’t the only meals that you need to be thinking about when you’re staying at the cottage.
While many of us adore a big, elaborate breakfast, the amount of time it takes to cook a big early-morning meal (not to mention the leftover mess), can leave us feeling exhausted and ready to go back to bed – before the day has even really started!
Save yourself the hassle and prepare this casserole in no time flat. Prepare all your veggies, bacon/sausage, and grated cheese ahead of time. Then simply whip your eggs, combine them in a casserole dish, and pop it in the oven.
You’ll be able to wake the whole family with the smell of this amazing casserole, and you’ll still have the energy to make the most of the rest of your day.
Of course, you don’t want every meal at the cottage to come out of a casserole dish or skillet, and sometimes light, refreshing dish can be the best summer cottage meal of all.
Take this healthy roasted beet and feta salad that will knock the socks off even the harshest salad critic. You can even roast your beets ahead of time at home, and then simply add them to your salad when you’re ready to serve.
Vegans can easily substitute for a vegan cheese to make this an even more flexible dish, especially if you or your traveling companions are trying to get away from meat proteins and dairy in your diet without going full-vegan.
Trust us – with this much flavor, you’ll hardly know this is such a healthy meal option.
Sometimes the smartest way to introduce loved ones (especially kids) to the best healthy summer cottage meals is to lead by example, or simply work healthier dishes into your meal plans without making a big deal about it.
Then, when they taste how incredible your food is, you can point out that not only is it tasty, but it’s a healthy choice as well.
Eating healthy doesn’t mean having to eat bland, uninteresting foods. Once you start building tasty, healthier menu items into your cottage meal plan, you’ll not only be making better choices for your health, but you’ll be ready to Getaway Well every day – no matter what life throws at you.