Cooking in an Airbnb – Meal Ideas and Grocery List

Cooking in an Airbnb – Meal Ideas and Grocery List

July 2023

Cooking in an Airbnb – Meal Ideas and Grocery List

One of the great things about renting in an Airbnb as opposed to a traditional hotel is the ability to have a full kitchen. Cooking your own meals on vacation has benefits that may work for your vacation. For us, we typically eat breakfast and lunch by preparing our own food and save dinner for going out. On trips that focus on hiking and the outdoors, then we make our own dinner as well.

When searching for an Airbnb, if you plan on cooking make sure the listings include a kitchen that lists appliances and amenities so you know ahead of time what you have to work with. In our experience – while it was never 100% perfect and had us missing that “one thing” we have at home, we were able to make everything we needed with what we had provided at the Airbnb, so no complaints. When looking at Airbnb listings, you are not going to know if they have the right pan size or dish for something you are looking to make so keep that in mind when making your meal list.

Finding recipes that did not require a lot of prep work or a lot of ingredients is a bigger challenge. I was not going to buy an entire bottle of soy sauce for one meal. For during the day, we needed meals that did not require refrigeration as we would not have a cooler.

PRO TIP: Find a grocery store that has a delivery option or allows for pick up – that way, you can do all your ordering online at home before the trip and not waste time grocery shopping on vacation! This also limits browsing shopping and helps keep to your shopping list and budget.

If you are traveling to a place with agriculture, take advantage of local farmers markets! Farmers markets are one of our favorite activities when traveling to get exposure to what the destination is known for and turns cooking into a fun vacation activity.

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Meal Ideas


  • Oatmeal packets are convenient and easy to make – just need a microwave or a kettle.
  • The just-add-water pancake mix – make the entire container and then eat them as you go for easy grab-and-go breakfasts. The just-add-water mixes that allow you to shake in the container remove the need for a bowl or any utensils – just pour frmo the container onto a pan and you are good to go.
  • Eggs are also a quick and easy way to start the day with some protein.
  • Fruit like apples and bananas are a great way to get some nutrients in and can supplement any breakfast.
  • Frozen waffles simply need a toaster and these are good to go in minutes. Up to you if you want to purchase maple srupy but be mindful of the container size for how much you would actually use.


  • Tortilla wraps or bread for sandwiches with simple fillings. Keep any needed condiments to a minimum.
    • Lunch meat / cheese
    • Pouches / cans of tuna or chicken
    • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Leftovers from dinner also make good lunches.


  • The best thing here is to try and not have to cook every night of vacation if you can avoid it – after all, it is vacation!
  • Look for pre-marinated meats that can be cooked in the oven – all the flavor with none of the work.
  • Grab bagged or frozen vegetables for healthy dinner side dishes. Also purchase bagged salads that come with toppings and dressing.
  • Potatoes and microwave rice make for easy carbs to complete a meal.
  • Rotisserie chickens are both easy and affordable.
  • If you have a grilll, burgers, hot dogs, and even chicken and ribs can be added to your dinner rotation.
  • Pasta is another great way to have a quick simple meal that can be mixed up multiple times by changing up the sauce.
  • Too much breakfast or lunch items that you need to eat? Have breakfast or lunch for dinner.


  • This is where it is easy to have fun.
  • Pretzels, chips, crackers for a salty snack.
  • Chocolate bar for a sweet snack – I always refrigerate the chocolate so it does not melt when I take it on the road.
  • Granola bars are the best as they can be versatile to your preference of salty or sweet.
  • Trail mix, nuts, and fruit also make great snacks.
  • Wheat crackers and hard cheddar cheese also travel very well.

Grocery Shopping List

MeatsRotisserie chicken
Pre-marinated chicken or steak
Ribs (add BBQ sauce if not already marinated)
If you have a grill, burgers and hot dogs
Hard cheese 
Lunch meat
Frozen vegetables
Bagged salad
DryPancake mix (just add water kind)
Oatmeal packets 
Can/pouch of tuna/chicken
Granola bars / nuts
Chocolate of choice
Microwave rice
Grated parmesan
Jelly spread
Peanut butter
Fuite of choice – apples, bananas
MiscAluminum foil 
Spray oil 
Sandwich bags
Tupperware containers

I also packed sandwich baggies and two small Tupperware containers to help with storage and unit dosing the food. Another item I was happy to have was a spare bag – this Baggu is perfect for traveling as it packs up so small but has a ton of space. Since we switched Airbnbs during the trip, the food became an unexpected addition so having another bag to pack food was super helpful. Sometimes places do not allow for disposable bags anymore so having the Baggu for shopping was also perfect.

The goal is to keep it simple and easy so meals do not become a burden on vacation but instead are a convenient way to enjoy the property you are renting. Make sure to check the listing to make sure you have an idea of what to expect when you arrive. I hope you found this assessment and shopping list helpful for your next vacation!

What are your go to recipes when you are on vacation? What would you add to this shopping list?

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