Healthy Eating At The Cabin

By Amy Crum, MS, RD, LD
June 28, 2022

cabin-eating.jpgIt’s the time of year when Minnesotans all over are packing up Friday after work and heading to the cabin for the weekend. Whether you plan to go every weekend over the summer, just occasionally, or only go once a year to your favorite Airbnb up north, it’s good to be prepared with healthy options when you are away from home. Planning some basic breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options ahead of time will ensure that you have plenty of healthy options when you travel.

Balanced Nutrition = Balanced Energy

Some planning can help you to stay on track with your nutrition, and ensure you have plenty of balanced energy while enjoying your vacation. Being in R&R mode doesn’t mean you have to throw your regular meal plan out the window. Eating regularly throughout the day and staying ahead of your hunger will ensure you have the energy to do the things you want to (even if that’s just an afternoon nap in the hammock!) and keep your blood sugar and digestive system on point while traveling. Remember to include animal protein, healthy fat, and nutrient dense carbohydrates at each meal and snack, just like you would at home.

One tip to make sure you’re eating regularly and eating in balance is to start the day with a solid breakfast. When you break your fast from the night before with something savory and satisfying, it sets you up for whatever might come your way, whether that be swimming, golfing, kid-wrangling, or lounging. Breakfast doesn’t need to be complicated either! A leftover burger patty from the night before, a quick protein smoothie, or one of the make-ahead ideas listed below can make this meal fast, delicious, and get you ready to enjoy the rest of your day.

Prep Ahead To Enjoy The Moment

mangochickensalad.jpgA trip to the cabin is exciting, but it’s understandable if you’re feeling a little concern about how you’re going to keep your healthy eating habits up. The last thing you want is to be stuck in the kitchen missing out on the fun or feeling guilty because you indulged in something that got you into a carb craving mode! To avoid having to do too much work while you’re enjoying your trip to the fullest, try prepping foods before you leave. Here is a list of things you can try:

  • Pack a cooler with your perishable foods to avoid having to spend too much time shopping once you get there.
  • Wash and cut up vegetables and fruits ahead of time to make eating healthy that much easier. Just grab and munch!
  • Marinate proteins at home, so they’ll be ready to put on the grill whenever you need them. If grilling isn’t in the plans for your trip, meatballs, meatloaf, or pulled pork are usually crowd favorites that can be made in advance and enjoyed at the cabin. These protein options freeze and thaw really well, if you need to make them further ahead because you know you’ll be packing the kiddos clothes and swimsuits last minute.
  • You can make an egg bake at home and enjoy it as an easy breakfast once you arrive at your vacay space.
  • Prep a batch of hard boiled eggs and use the carton to pack them back up. These can give you an easy protein to snack on during your trip, use as a quick breakfast, or whip up into a fast egg salad for lunches when you’re there.
  • Try making NWW protein balls or protein muffins to have ready as a quick snack.
  • A chicken, egg, tuna, or salmon salad can be made at home and used as a quick lunch when paired with raw vegetables or on top of a salad. This one would also be a quick make if you need to do it once you arrive.
  • Bring a slow cooker! If you don’t have a lot of time to food prep BEFORE arriving at the cabin, pack your crockpot to throw in some chicken in the morning that will be ready in time for drummies for dinner.

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To help you plan your shopping list, here are some ideas of things to bring or have on-hand:

Nonperishable foods to keep stocked: Canned coconut milk, nitrate free meat sticks, a variety of nuts, canned tuna or salmon, protein powder, olive oil, avocado oil

Foods to keep in the cabin fridge:  Avocado based mayo and salad dressings, such as Primal Kitchen, nut butters, single serve guacamole, cream cheese, olives, pickles, butter

Freezer staples: frozen berries, frozen vegetables, meats

Perishable foods to bring along: eggs, hard boiled eggs, protein muffins or balls, chopped vegetables, variety of fruits, meats and cheeses, protein muffins or balls, egg bake, nitrate-free deli meat, cream cheese, chicken or egg salad, full-fat yogurt or cottage cheese

Set Yourself Up For Success
Think about times of the day when you are more tempted to eat foods that aren’t as nutritious when on vacation. If time out on the boat usually involves snacking on chips or other processed foods, make sure to have some healthy snacks packed instead. Raw vegetables with guacamole or a sour cream dip can be great for that crunch and munch feel. Nitrate free deli meat, cream cheese and pickle roll ups could be a fun substitution that still feels like a fancy snack. For happy hour, maybe put together a nice charcuterie board with some high-quality cheese, veggies, olives, pickles, nuts, and nitrate-free meat. Skip the crackers and pretzels and instead fill it with an array of colorful veggies and some berries.

Don’t forget to stay hydrated while you’re spending your summer days outside. Keep a water bottle close by to make sure you are getting plenty of fluid throughout the day. You can feel snacky when you get dehydrated in the sun and fun, so keeping ahead of your water intake will help with those cravings.

Alcoholic drinks can be a temptation for some while you’re at the cabin. Think of ways you can switch up your beverage choices if happy hour is usually in your schedule. Try filling your thermal cup with sparkling water, a twist of lemon or lime, and a few frozen berries to substitute for your usual alcoholic drink. A small glass of kombucha can give you a little extra probiotic while being a fun effervescent beverage (just check the label to make sure it doesn’t have too much sugar).

Recipes To Have Handy

Here's a list of the recipes linked above to help you with your meal plan. Having go-to recipes you can lean on that you know your family loves takes out some of the thinking involved in planning your weekend away and will relieve some of the stress, so you can fully enjoy yourself too:

Peanut Butter Protein Balls
Blueberry Oat Muffins
Curry Chicken Salad
Egg Bake
Wild Rice Meatballs
Veggie Dip
Instant Pot Citrus Pork Shoulder
Crockpot Chicken Drummies

With a little extra planning, you’ll be happy to spend your weekend at the cabin with more energy while staying on track with your health goals all summer long! Have other tips or recipes you use to eat healthy at the cabin? Share them in the comments!

For more ideas on summer eats and travel treats, check out these resources:

About the author

Amy likes to focus on small changes that make a big difference and keeping an upbeat, positive outlook. “I love helping people find ways to adjust their daily habits to make nutritious eating easier and to brainstorm creative ideas for incorporating new foods and techniques to meal planning. I enjoy seeing people find out how much better they can feel as they start to cut out processed meals and eat more real foods. I don't believe in people feeling deprived. Instead, I like to help people really enjoy the food they are nourishing their body with and come up with healthier alternative meal ideas that might even taste better than what they were eating before.”

View all posts by Amy Crum, MS, RD, LD

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