Summer holiday eating: 7 simple self-catering meal ideas

Enjoying the sun

Eating North Cork mangetout and broad beans in West Cork sunshine

One tin crammed with Chocolate Buckwheat Cookies. One  (small) bottle of homemade cassis. A couple of tubs of frozen hummus. One  still-warm loaf of Cinnamon Raisin Bread, carefully wrapped in a tea towel.

We may be going on holidays but I don’t like to let standards slip.

Self-catering is definitely the name of the holiday game when there are small people in the mix. It used to be self-catering in tents but, after our last camping expedition with a Little Missy who screamed the campsite down at 3am, we’ve put holidays under canvas on hold for the moment. Which, I have to say, does allow me more space for food in the car.

For our latest trip, although there was a box of supplies already wedged  into the boot, we made a quick stop at the re-launched Killavullen Farmers’ Market. Shopping didn’t take long: some just-pulled Kildinan Farm carrots, green onions and potatoes along with a bag of mangetout and broad beans for snacking, a stop at Gudrun’s Fermoy Natural Cheese stall for a sizable hunk of St Gall and a deliciously oozy St Bridget Beag and – positively last stop – at the secondhand book stall for holiday reading (at 50c a book, it’s cheaper than my library fines).

I’ve learned, from bitter experience, that there’s no point in trying eat out with smallies around dinner time. Lunch is fine, if you’re not on the beach, but dinner just doesn’t work out for two little girls who hit their evil witching hour at 5pm. We were staying in West Cork, so at there was plenty of good food available locally. The sainted Vicky, who looks after the cottage we were renting, had it already stocked with milk, butter, brown bread and her homegrown eggs, and a bag of toys that the girls eagerly fell on. 

Come sun or come rain (mostly rain), we wouldn’t starve.

These are lists that I’ve put together from the last few self-catering holidays. It might sound like overkill but bear in mind that I’m cooking most meals – and I’m over roughing it, food-wise. Any other suggestions are very welcome!

My self-catering essentials to bring or buy
Porridge/muesli
Natural yoghurt – for breakfast, salad dressings, cooking
Decent coffee – essential for survival. Brought Badger & Dodo.
Apples & bananas & oatcakes & Brazil nuts – for the beach.
Crackers/rice cakes/bread sticks/oatcakes – general snackology.
Chocolate Buckwheat Cookies – the best base for an ice cream sandwich or just for eating with juicy Rosscarbery strawberries and Glenilen Crème Fraîche.

Good sausages, rashers and chorizo: lots to choose from in West Cork, lots of easy meals to make from them.
Cheese – we had a combination of North and West Cork, topping up our Fermoy  Natural Cheese supplies with Gubbeen and Durrus.
Hummus – for pre-dinner bread sticks, pepper strips, carrot pieces.
Dark chocolate – hot chocolates and morale boosting.

Cider vinegar
Olive oil
Pepper & salt mills – there’s nothing worse than not having these to hand. Just makes life easier.
Squeezy Ballymaloe relish, Sacla’ squeezy pesto* – squeezy bottles make packing less messy and are perfect for beach picnics – if you have the weather. If not, they’re good for all kinds of quick meals indoors.

Couscous or bulgur wheat
Wholemeal spaghetti
Our beer/good wine and a bottle of sparkling for that cassis.

7 simple self catering meal ideas
  1. Meal-in-a-bowl couscous/bulgur: reconstitute couscous/bulgur, add chopped green onion, nectarine, feta, savoury seeds (pumpkin/sesame/sunflower seeds dry and toasted with Worcester sauce) – dress with pesto, cider vinegar, olive oil.
  2. The Husband’s bangers & mashRosscarbery Recipes sausages, Kildinan Farm spuds and lots of butter.
  3. Carbonara-style spaghetti: lots of garlic, streaky bacon, chopped tomatoes, drizzle of pesto, egg whisked with grated St Gall and mixed through hot spaghetti.
  4. Sausage rolls:  a rainy afternoon kind of cooking – more of those Rosscarbery Recipes sausages, wrapped in Field’s puff pastry, with some relish, grated apple and chopped green onion. Good cold too.
  5. Gubbeen chorizo: fried until crispy with strips of green onions and fried eggs. Lots of toast needed.
  6. Woodcock Smokery smoked haddock: topped with grated cheese, yoghurt, mustard and baked on stewed peppers and tomatoes. Thin crispy potato wedges for dipping. Satisfyingly warming on another wet evening.
  7. Mushroom burgers: from the barbecue, with barbecued streaky Ummera bacongreen onions, red pepper. Served in a toasted ciabatta roll, dollop with relish & lime chilli yoghurt.

* This was a (very useful) sample that I received from Sacla’.

Caroline

Caroline

Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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