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Who else leaves meals/meal kits for kids/spouse/parents when traveling?

Call me a glutton for punishment, but I've always left prep'd meals or extremely simple meal kits for whichever family members are staying at home. (To be fair, I'm leaving a busy high school senior and a guy who works 10-14 hour days doing roofing and construction. It's not realistic for them to cook every day and they could rack up quite the takeout bill if I don't prep.)

Anyone else engage in this pre-trip culinary nonsense? If so, what has worked well for you?

Posted by
8214 posts

Nope. My parents used to let me fend for myself when they went on vacations, and I liked it that way.

Posted by
418 posts

There are times when we keep my 3 grand-daughters while my daughter and husband travel. We stay at their house when the girls are in school and they live 3 hours from our house. She leaves me with a binder with all their schedules, phone numbers and email addresses for their parents and teachers. She sometimes makes some casseroles and leaves them in the freezer for me. She also leaves me suggestions for meals that they like and also the recipes. It helps me a lot. I’m sure your family is happy that you helped them while you are gone.

Posted by
471 posts

I always left meals for my family so they wouldn't be ravenous, malnutritioned beasts when I got back.

Posted by
1554 posts

I do. I would leave food that is easy to be reheated, such as quiche and frozen vegetables.

Posted by
2620 posts

Not sure this counts, but I feed a murder of crows in my yard every day and they get cooked egg bits plus other goodies, so when I travel I have a weeks’ worth ready in the refrigerator and my dad parcels it out. This was fine until I took a 2 week trip and my dad declared he wasn’t going to be “cooking eggs for those damn birds”. Sure enough, one night we were talking and he asked which pan to use and how many eggs do they need 😬

Posted by
295 posts

My son would probably enjoy that too... if I left my credit card. (Not gonna happen!)

I think I have a lot in common with your daughter, lol. I'll never live down the laminated instructions and schedule I left my mom (a mother of 8) the first time I left my son with her. I've loosened up a bit, but I still like to be very prepared. I just had my living will notarized and copies of all of our travel documents and IDs, etc, etc etc, put into an easily accessible file to leave here in case of emergency.


Precisely, lol.

@ Barkinpark

If only... Neither one of them will touch quiche with a 10 foot pole and veggies are iffy. I think I can get away with pad thai or spaghetti if I freeze in portions and hide some veggies that way...


You're killing me, haha! That is great- classic!

Posted by
288 posts

Nope. The way to learn to cook is to have to do it yourself. I will ask my kids what they want in the house for food and get it for them and leave some cash so they can pick up stuff if they need it.

Posted by
7404 posts

My husband travels on some trips with me and others I travel solo. I will be going to Italy in June for three weeks by myself. I usually make a few things like meatloaf, quiche or anything else that heats up easily and a batch of his favorite cookies stored in the freezer. But mostly, I make sure the pantry is well-stocked and freezer has some easy-to-make meals like Costco lasagna. He’s actually a great cook, so it’s not a huge stretch for him to cook & grill for himself. I mostly do it as being considerate since he is very supportive of my love of travel.

I also immaculately clean the house, wash all of the clothes possible, etc., but I do that even if we’re both going. I don’t like to come home to a lot of “to do” stuff, coming off of vacation. He teases me that if he’s stayed at home, he begins cleaning again a couple days before I will arrive.

Posted by
4869 posts

Yep, I picked up the tip from this forum to prep some meals for myself for when I get back from my trips. It's become one of the things my post-trip self loves best about my pre-trip planner self!

Posted by
11401 posts

How long are you leaving them alone?

Make a big pot of sauce and freeze it in one meal portions. They can boil water and cook the pasta fresh each time.
The sauce just needs nuking
A Costco chicken should work for two meals. Buy the better kind of frozen pizza

A stash of heat and eat ribs

Posted by
3777 posts

These days, I make dinner for the first night that I am gone but I make twice as much as usual so they can it a second night but oddly, they always eat like beasts that night and finish the entire thing that I thought would last two nights. If I have the time, I also leave a soup or chili or stew that I freeze and that usually is enough for another two nights. After those are done, they are on their own. Back when my children were too young to fend for themselves if I and my husband were going to be out of town, a relative would stay with them and she would make the meals and keep them on their schedules.

Posted by
2355 posts

Nope. If the family members are old enough to be left alone, their old enough to cook/heat up a few meals. Stock the pantry and fridge. Give them some suggestions for easy prep meals. Costco have lots of options of heat & serve things: tacos, lasagna, pulled pork, meatloaf & mashed potatoes, etc.

Posted by
451 posts

My husband requests a tater tot casserole when I travel without him. LOL Something I don't make any more since the kids left home.
He eats it for several meals augmented by fast food. Thankfully he's an eat to live, not live to eat guy, because I hate cooking.

Posted by
374 posts

I was spoiled growing up. My parents (read mom) would take me to the grocery store and let me fill the cart with whatever I needed.

Posted by
7404 posts

Another helpful food trick is to write a list of items you would like picked up at the grocery store when you return home. We have done this after vacations to Hawaii. I have the list, and when we land at our final airport, I send the order into Instacart to have the box of groceries delivered within an hour of our arrival at home. It is so handy!

Posted by
5054 posts

The only cooking I leave behind is for the dogs.

Posted by
295 posts

Meh, as far as the “if they’re old enough to stay home alone…” Or “let ‘em fend for themselves!”… When I was the primary breadwinner, I didn’t take off and leave no money and say, “If you’re old enough to have a job, you can fend for yourself.” Cooking isn’t rocket science but there’s still a learning curve. I’d rather they walk the dog.

I don’t go in for traditional gender roles, but there are roles inside a family due to sheer functionality. My husband is a pretty good cook but again, he’s on a roof in freezing temps for 12 hours sometimes. Understandably, his body would rather sleep than eat if it requires more effort.

Also, I’ve cooked professionally and completed a pastry certificate so I obviously enjoy cooking and then there’s the budget…

It’s not for everyone! And I’ve had my fair share of making stuff and it not being eaten, no matter how beautifully prepared. I was pretty crunchy when the kids were little but they might end up with a good bit of hot dogs and cold cuts if I can’t think of anything better, because they will eat it. (Blah.)

I loved a lot of the humor and suggestions! I’ll reply tomorrow when I’m not on a phone!

Posted by
15651 posts

I live alone.

I leave food for myself in the freezer so I don't have the stress of shopping/cooking right away when I get home.

Posted by
201 posts

We were unable to book our regular house-sitter, so our dogs will be kenneled for the 2 1/2 weeks we will be in Greece. My husband has been bagging their meals--2 meals a day x 2 Great Pyrenees x 18 days. He's getting a little loopy.

Not quite the same thing but still an important part of trip prep. When we've left our children we've left things in the freezer and given them cash for McDonalds, etc. I think the kids were easier. . . . .

Posted by
160 posts

When I travel I mix and bag meals for 4 horses (they are rather complicated with different feeds and supplements) for either my husband or farm sitter. It’s a time consuming pre-travel task. Husband is fine cooking for himself, though he often jokes that I should leave casseroles in the freezer.

Posted by
2160 posts

If I am leaving my husband behind, I will leave precooked things in the freezer like meatloaf. He is a terrible cook;) When we are gone together, our adult kids come over and house/dog sit. I usually leave one dish for them for the first night. The only reason I do that is because when I cook, I usually have enough for a second night so I just put it in a container for them. Both kids are on their own and have professional jobs, and they are just fine with making their own meals just as they do at home on a daily basis.

Posted by
2873 posts

Nope, my hubby is very capable of fending for himself. If I’m not home he uses it as an opportunity to cook disgusting things like beef tongue and heart and chicken gizzards and eat corn nuts and pork skins. Makes me cringe just talking about them. Yuck!

Posted by
8597 posts

The OP has more reason than most to leave food behind. But I'd only do it on condition that (1) it gets eaten; and (2) it is appreciated. Elderly parents are a different story. If it gets to a point where you are afraid they will start a fire or hurt themselves, you gotta do it. Aren't microwaves great?

Posted by
6364 posts

Aimee, where do you find these guys? Lol.

The last couple of years that my dad was alive, my sister-in-law and I would cook for him. Not every meal, but enough lunches and dinners that he didn't have to cook unless he really wanted to. S-i-l would put together balanced meals and freeze them; my technique was to make quite a bit extra of whatever I was cooking for my husband and me. The extra would go to dad, and would last him for several meals, or he could opt to portion it out himself and freeze it for later.

Back to the topic: Yes, when I was going to be out of town for more than a few days, I would cook some main courses (meatloaf, pasta with sauce, baked fish) to take to Dad. He would add bread, fruit, and vegetables to make the meals his own.

And he often reciprocated. More than once I came home from a trip to find a pot of beans or homemade venison chili waiting for our first meal home. God, I miss him.

Posted by
295 posts

Ah! Brilliant.

They do love spaghetti... maybe if I add meatballs they'll actually use the microwave! (gasp!)
Didn't think of ribs, but I feel they will be unknowingly thanking you for this suggestion.

Murphy's law.. You make enough for two nights and they eat it in one. I swear if I wanted them to eat it all up in one night it would languish in the fridge.

Well, stocking the pantry and fridge and giving instructions qualifies as meal kits to me!

Oooh, they will totally knock out anything involving tater tots, haha.

That's kind of great! Spoiled is one way to look at it, but a lot of kids never step foot in the store with their parents, so it's great you did shopping together.

I thought of sending them an instacart order while I'm gone, but of course I didn't think of scheduling one for us travelers. Great idea... I'm sure we'd come home to an empty fridge!

That is lovely. My birthday is a couple days after I get home, so I'm holding out hope they don't leave it a wreck, haha!

Favorite comment. I uh.... make homemade dog food. ((I do not know how I became "that" person.)) And yes, I made a big batch in the freezer for while I'm gone. But hey, it's not like she can make dinner for herself, right?


This is smart and for once, I will prep for myself!

@Susan D
I agree, haha! Macaroni and cheese is way easier than the nonsense I do for the dog!

Ok, well you have me beat! I thought the dog was a lot of work!!

Aw, it's nice your grown kids dog sit for you! My oldest just went off to basic training and suggested we dogsit for 10 weeks. I would have caved, but I'll be gone two weeks in the middle and his dog is not potty trained so he'd have to be crated for 12+ hours a day and then again overnight, which I can't conscience.

I mean, mine makes himself a tortilla with crunchy peanut butter, raisins, salami and large chunks of cheese. It's so gross, and he craves it at about 11pm. I swear it's his body screaming for protein and fat to repair his muscles while he sleeps.

There's a paradox, isn't there? Those of us who usually do these things tend to have families who take them for granted. Those who are used to fending for themselves can be a bit more appreciative of carefully prepared meals.

My parent's are in their 60s, but my grandma passed last year and I prep'd freezer meals and soup portions for her a lot.

<3. I really miss my grandma too. She was always making me food til the last couple of years and it was absolutely terrible, lol... but so sweet!

My kids were in the habit of each taking a night to make dinner for the family when we were quarantined (We barely left for a year.). Even the 12 year old... it was really nice! I've had them help a little on weekends but the girls just started a new (very rigorous) school and one plays basketball every night and games on weekends and the other is a dedicated dancer on pointe. My son (17) could stand to pitch in a bit more! He will be taking care of the dog pretty much solo while we are gone and she requires multiple walks a day and a LOT of brushing and detangling. Hopefully he will appreciate his sisters more after this!

Posted by
14175 posts

Oh yes, I do.

I have a house with my brother and SIL. After I planned a trip to France for a month last Fall she wound up being scheduled for extensive back surgery. I generally am the cook for the house (brother and I are vegan) so I started making double batches of everything I cooked for a few weeks ahead of time. Chili, several different kinds of soups divided into portions where they would have enough for 2 meals, several different bean dishes where my brother would only have to fix rice to go with, several different baked pasta dishes.

He has low level skills...can do rice, baked potatoes, hashbrowns with veggies, pancakes/waffles.

I just wanted to make things easier for my brother as I knew he'd be worried about her outcome. Yes, they ate every bit of what I left and I felt less guilty about traveling while she was in her acute phase post-op and her recovery.

Posted by
2031 posts

Nobody here but us chickens though like Chani I prep a few meals and freeze them for our return. I enjoy that “Aha!” moment on the plane ride back when I remember. The one time I did leave a few cooked meals when I traveled alone briefly I came home to find them untouched and a pile of Big Mac wrappers in the trash. The end.

Posted by
2267 posts

This was all sounding strange to me, recalling that when my mother started traveling solo she didn't leave us meals.

Then I remembered that was because she'd already shipped us off to boarding school.

Posted by
107 posts

My adult son house/dog sits when we are gone. We (my husband is the cook in our family) usually leave a few things in the freezer, like homemade spaghetti sauce, chili, and frozen pizzas. Then I give him cash to buy what he wants while we are gone. I feel like the cash makes him happier than a bunch of prepared meals (his tastes and ours are significantly different...I blame his time in the, helps pay for the extra gas he needs to get to work from our house, and is way cheaper than boarding our dog.

Posted by
3208 posts

My husband doesn't like to travel, so I go off with friends.
At first I would leave food, and basic recipes to follow.
Then I realised that very little of it got eaten, so I don't bother any more.
The man is 67.
If he's hungry, he'll figure it out.
And now I don't have to come back to rotting vegetables in the crisper.

Posted by
1684 posts

No. My kids are grown-up and I'm married to an adult.

Posted by
2160 posts

Sleight--We dog sit for our daughter, so we all have the best of both worlds with being able to swap. Her position is permanently remote, so she likes coming here as there is more room and the dogs play together so keep each other occupied. When our son house/dog sits for us, he likes it because our house is much closer to his office than where his apt is.

Posted by
2764 posts

I was sitting here thinking I would never do this, and then I read someone said they would do it for their dog. Yeah I have the that dog gets whatever she wants and if I have to prep meals in advance for her so be it. . I have been known to go to prepare a boatload of chicken and rice because she’s on a restricted diet

Humans? they’re on their own!

Posted by
4011 posts

Never. After work, we go food shopping & pick up what we want to make for dinner so something cooked in advance wouldn’t be fresh.

Posted by
5054 posts

Carol, I was the one who posted about the dogs, and yes, we cook alot of chicken and freeze it in small baggies- for the housesitter to give to the dogs.