5 Fun, Make-Ahead Cottage Meals
Who loves time at the cottage? In Canada we are lucky to have beautiful lakes and vast wilderness. Ever since I was a child, I have appreciated visiting my aunt and uncle’s cottage on Maple Lake. This has always been a cherished time to enjoy the outdoors, play and relax. As an adult, I still love cottage times and especially cottage food! However, coming up with meal ideas can be a tad arduous. Today’s post is to inspire you with 5 fun, make-ahead cottage meals. After all, who wants to spend a lot of time in the kitchen when you can be sitting by the lake with a good book or playing Chinese checkers? Take a short break from your canoe paddling and get ready to explore some delicious cottage meal options.
5 Make-Ahead Cottage Meals:
The Complete BBQ Meal
Who says you can’t enjoy a nutritionally-balanced meal on the BBQ? Certainly not this dietitian. Grilling food is ideal because you can stay outside and enjoy the bright sunshine while cooking. For this meal, try grilling corn on the cob, your choice of protein (I marinated chicken with a little oil and dried herbs) and fresh, marinated bell peppers and zucchini. Bonus, dessert can also be included on the BBQ. Try grilled pineapple rings. You can use fresh or canned pineapple sprinkled with a little cinnamon and grill about five minutes per side.
DYK: #Corn on the cob grows in Ontario from July until September? Click To Tweet
The Gourmet Sausage (or Veggie Dog)
The Italian sausage has always been a cottage favourite. To kick this classic up a notch, try adding a couple extra ingredients. Like sautéed caramelized onions (here’s a simple how to video). Caramelized onions can be made in advance and heated up before serving. Try adding guacamole (here’s my zesty guacamole recipe) or simply slices of avocado. Add extra veggies such as sliced cherry tomatoes and arugula for a pop of colour and vitamins. If you are a fan of spicy, you can add pickled jalapenos. If you’re feeling a little cheesy, add some crumbled feta, grated mozzarella or other cheese. Add condiments you choose. You can serve your main entrée with a side salad or raw veggies.
Boring #BBQ sausages or burgers got you down? Here's some #cottage meal inspiration! Click To Tweet
The Buddha Bowl
Buddha bowls are satisfying, versatile and fun! These colourful, balanced meals are all the rage these days with pictures popping up regularly on Instagram (here’s the Dietetic Directions instagram). They’re also known as grain bowls, hippie bowls or power bowls. You can create yours by filling it with ingredients and flavours you like. I will share a basic formula for how to build a Buddha bowl:
The Basic Buddha Bowl Formula:
Most Buddha bowls contain a grain, that helps to boost the fibre, which makes us feel full. Examples include: wheat, rice, barley, bulgur, millet, quinoa, buckwheat and corn. Grains provide carbohydrates, protein and a wide range of vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, iron, zinc and magnesium. Read here about the importance of carbohydrates in the diet for appetite regulation and healthy body weight.
Here’s the basic formula for HOW to Build a #BuddhaBowl! Click To Tweet
Greens or Veggies:
Next, decide on which veggies to include in your bowl. You can use raw, roasted, grilled or sautéed veg, anything goes! Leafy greens like spinach, arugula, kale are great. To add freshness to your bowl, you could cut up fresh herbs, tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, peppers or grated carrot. You really can’t go wrong. These dishes can become “fridge cleaner” recipes when you use up leftover veggies. Some people enjoy adding fresh or dried fruit to Buddha bowls.
Lastly, after your Buddha bowl has a grain and a green, it now needs a protein. You can go for vegetarian protein or with meat/fish options. Examples include: legumes, tofu, shrimp, chicken, falafels, edamame, lupini beans, roasted chickpeas, hard-boiled egg, hummus, nuts/seeds, etc.
For adding additional flavour, try lemon or lime wedges. To finish, use a simple dressing, like canola oil, dijon mustard and vinegar. Here’s a simple dressing recipe or try tahini mixed with lemon juice, maple syrup, salt and pepper. You can also do ethnic themes for your Buddha bowl – Try the Mexican bowl, the Mediterranean, Asian bowl, Italian bowl, etc.
Yum! Try ethnic themes 4 Buddha bowls – Mexican bowl, Mediterranean, Asian bowl. Click To Tweet
Chicken or Black Bean Fajitas
When you have a bunch of ingredients from your Buddha bowl, why not use the leftovers in fajitas? Perfect for those cottage days. Again, I love this meal because it’s versatile – use whatever you have on hand! People can also customize their meals by including protein and veggies that suit their preferences.
At the cottage, try grilling chicken, shrimp, steak or tofu. You can also open a can of black beans or baked beans for a protein alternative. Add lettuce, grilled peppers, mushrooms, onion in a BBQ basket with some oil and spices or even Zesty Italian salad dressing. Salsa, sour cream/plain Greek yogurt and guacamole are always a hit.
Find out this #dietitians top 5 cottage meals! #RDchat #eatwell Click To Tweet
A cottage stay would not be complete without sandwiches. You can also make panini-style sandwiches or grilled cheese sandwiches on the BBQ. For building sandwiches think about having protein (turkey breast, sliced, roast chicken, roast beef, ham, cheese, egg or tuna salad, etc). You also want to include veggies and interesting condiments like grainy mustards, jalapenos or mayo if desired. With so many options, you can go with anything. Put out a serving tray with different fillings to build-your-own sandwich and enjoy the cottage views.
Cottage eating is fantastic. To maximize the amount of time you are outside and minimize the amount of time you spend cooking, plan make-ahead options. Be sure to try: complete BBQ meal, increasing variety in classics like sausage on a bun, Buddha bowls, fajitas and sandwiches.
Now it’s your turn! What are your favourite meals to make at the cottage?
P.S., A related post is on 3 Ways to Manage Cottage Eating Pitfalls.