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Recipes And Tips For Self-Catering Holiday Cooking

22/07/2014 12:09 | Updated 22 May 2015

Recipes and tips for surviving a self-catering holidayRex You could be this relaxed looking, if you read our tips

Self-catering holidays can free you from the monotony of hotel buffets, but cooking for your family while you're away can often feel like the same old routine, somewhere else.

So what can you do to prevent becoming a slave to the stove, when you're meant to be kicking up your heels in the sunshine?

Obviously eating out is the best way to avoid cooking, but this can end up costing a fortune and leave you craving a simple home-cooked meal.

Plan ahead, keep it simple and bear these tips in mind:

Arm yourself with recipes

Leaf through summer food magazines and tear out a bunch of quick and easy meals. Browse your favourite food websites and print off the most uncomplicated recipes you can find.

If you've got a tablet PC, download a cooking app or two. BBC Good Food have a great offering, as does Jamie Oliver.

Going abroad?

Think about the type of food that will and won't be available locally, as this will affect what you'll be able to rustle up in the kitchen.

Vegetarians aren't that well catered for in Europe, so if you can, take a stash of veggie products with you.

Pack a phrase book. Great for de-coding cooking instructions and ingredients if anyone in the family has a food allergy. Also good for avoiding embarrassing moments in local shops.

There's nothing more shudder-inducing than getting to the front of the queue at a French butchers and being lost for words; the locals raise their eyebrows as you eventually resort to the power of mime.

Kit

If you're driving you can probably fit a few bits and pieces in the car, but if you're flying you'll want to keep it light and comply with luggage regulations.

Double check how equipped the kitchen will be in your accommodation.

A decent small chopping knife, corkscrew and vegetable peeler don't take up much room but can make all the difference.

A stash of zip-lock bags are a must for storing snacks/picnics to take to the beach and that all-important journey home.

Cool packs and bags are also a winner.

Emergency meals

Packing a few store cupboard staples will give you emergency meal options, ideal for when you rock up at your accommodation and all the shops are shut.

Breakfast: It's not sophisticated, but tea bags, a cereal selection pack and a pint of long life milk means you'll at least be able to have brekky on your first morning.

10 minute pasta sauce: 1 tin chopped tomatoes, glug olive oil, teaspoon each of salt and sugar, tsp dried herbs like sage or thyme - throw it all in a pan and simmer for 10 minutes then stir through cooked pasta. The kids will love you for this.

Tasty rice: Just adding a stock cube to the water when you're cooking rice transforms it into a really delicious quick supper. Stir through some tinned sweetcorn and bingo you've banished the hunger pangs.

Take it easy

Eat simple breakfasts and picnic lunches that you've made yourself and then eat your dinner out. That way you're only doing the bare minimum of cooking, leaving plenty of time to enjoy your holiday.

Don't do a massive weekly shop at the local supermarket. You'll end up spending too much and feeling pressurised to cook all the food you've bought. Buy a few things at a time and give yourself room to be a bit more spontaneous.

Make the most of fresh local produce and find out if there are any food markets nearby - it's great fun trying all the treats on offer and often makes brilliant inspiration for a meal.

What are YOUR tips for a smooth self-catering experience?

Do you pack the kitchen sink or keep it to a minimum?

What are your go-to holiday recipes?

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