In a few weeks we are taking our youngest son and one of his friends to Yellowstone National Park, and I’m trying to figure out how to feed them without losing my sanity or my retirement portfolio, because teen boys eat and eat and eat.
We have a long, long drive the first day – nearly 600 miles from Bend to Idaho Falls. That day will be all about snacks, sandwiches, and fast food.
The next morning the plan is to hit a grocery store to stock up on last minute things before driving to West Yellowstone. While we will bring most our food from home, we won’t be taking the heavy things like gatorade, beer, soda, and gallon jugs of drinking water. (Yes, I know the water in the tank is perfectly fine, but I still don’t like to drink it, and we will only have enough in there for flushing the toilet during the first day or so.)
Once we arrive in West Yellowstone, that is when all my planning goes into effect. I know the last thing I will want to do after long days spent in the park is cook. I’m not a huge fan of cooking in general, and when I’ve been busy all day, I like it even less. To make sure we eat real food everyday, I’ve made a menu plan for breakfasts, lunches on the go, easy dinners, and a few thing the boys can cook over the fire.
A couple of weeks before we leave, I will begin to precook and freeze some of our dinners. We will having tacos two of the nights, and we will have spaghetti another two nights. Taco meat is seriously one of the easiest things to cook ahead, seal in a food saver bag, and then freeze. Same with the Italian sausage I use in spaghetti sauce. While I’m not currently planning to take a grill, I do want to find a grill basket and use it for chicken skewers and burgers. I will precut, marinate, and freeze the pieces of chicken. I will also form the burger patties, freeze them, and then bag them with pieces of wax paper between the patties.
Lunches will be pretty much the same everyday. We are taking a small cooler that we can pack each morning. Sandwiches, veggie sticks with dip, chips, homemade lunchables, boiled eggs, and granola bars. We will have another small cooler for drinks, and we will keep our Hydroflasks of water near our seats.
Breakfast is my favorite! If I don’t get a real breakfast, I will be crankier than any bear in the park. As much as I adore bacon cooked over the campfire, we won’t be having morning fires. However, we will have full hookups most nights, so I’m taking precooked bacon that I can pop in the microwave. I also plan to precook sausage patties and freeze enough for a couple of meals. We will fill in the meats with easy things like scrambled eggs and pancakes.
Snacks will be a lot like lunch with a few extras thrown in like beef jerky, popsicles, fruit, etc. I’m also bringing stuff for the pie irons, along with canned chili with fritos just in case the boys want something super easy. S’mores will of course be on the menu.
Fridge and freezer space is at a premium, so menu planning is so important on a long trip to a place with ridiculously expensive groceries. I’m hoping that the only things I have to buy in the park are milk (I can only fit a half gallon in the fridge) and ice. We will be taking our ice maker for drinking ice, but will need to replenish the ice in the drink cooler every couple of days.
I wonder how many times I will tweak the list before it’s time to leave?