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1-Cooler, 1-Weekend Trip

1-Cooler, 1-Weekend Trip

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This menu plan is a real, tested party in a box, a prescription for full, carry-in enjoyment. Easy for you, happy for all!

Five Meals, One Box (and a Tote)

Whether you’re traveling to a remote location or simply desire to plan ahead, our foolproof weekend menu will allow you to truly relax and still enjoy casual, healthy meals.

A little bit of prep work before the trip will make the weekend getaway much simpler. Our interlocking set of menus was designed to keep prep time to a minimum and double up on ingredients, for maximum ease. We strategized to include lots of perfectly peak-season produce, which hardly needs any cooking at all. Ingredients like pancetta, Greek yogurt, figs, and anchovies deliver bold flavor.

Even better, everything you need fits into a single cooler and tote bag. Download our handy Packing List for a quick guide to putting it all together.

Make Ahead Recipe #1: Orange, Pumpkin Seed, and Smoked Almond Granola

Make a double batch and divide it in two. Serve with yogurt, and you have a super easy breakfast for Saturday. Leave the other batch at home, and Monday-morning breakfast is good to go.

Make Ahead Recipe #2: Multipurpose Vinaigrette

You’ll use this basic vinaigrette several times. Make it in a jar; then all you need to do to reemulsify each time is shake it. Double the recipe to be on the safe side; you can always use any leftovers on salad greens.

Friday Dinner Drink

Mix up a pitcher of cocktails (OK, two), and relax for a while before starting dinner. Light, minty mojito coolers work before, during, or after dinner.

Friday Dinner

Once the grill gets going, take advantage of it—grill the pork and bell pepper you'll use for tomorrow's lunch while you're preparing tonight's menu.

Prep both tenderloins before you pack the cooler. Season both with ¼ teaspoon each kosher salt and black pepper, then wrap one with pancetta. Tightly seal each in plastic wrap. Grill both on Friday (the cooking instructions are the same, minus the pork-on-pork wrapping). Serve one for dinner; cool, wrap, and refrigerate the other to use in Saturday’s lunch.

Sweet with a little bit of heat, the Cantaloupe-Red Pepper Salsa is a super accompaniment to the pancetta-wrapped pork. Chop the rest of the melon for Saturday’s dessert.

Cantaloupe-Red Pepper Salsa, and Shaved Zucchini and Parsley Salad

Saturday Breakfast

Prep work before the trip yields its first payoff with orange-scented granola served over yogurt. Breakfast is ready in less time than it takes to brew a pot of coffee.

If you have a surplus of cantaloupe not used in Friday’s salsa and Saturday’s dessert, serve it here. One melon wedge has about 35 calories, plus vitamin C, folate, and potassium.

Saturday Lunch

With two elements (pork tenderloin and bell pepper) grilled at the same time as Friday night's dinner, today's lunch is a leisurely affair for the cook. Assemble the sandwiches, and give the dip ingredients a quick spin. Let someone else do the washing up—there's a hammock somewhere calling your name.

Onion rolls usually come eight to a pack. Take four with you, and freeze the rest at home for another use. Fire up the broiler to toast the bread and warm the pork, if you like.

Grill the bell pepper half with Friday night dinner until it’s nicely charred, peel and chop it, and then refrigerate in a zip-top plastic bag. It’ll be ready to go for this quick dip served with Saturday lunch.

and Yogurt “Romesco” Dip

Saturday Dinner

Once the grill is going, use it for both the salad and the pizzas. An amazingly simple, frozen, four-ingredient dessert provides a cool counterpoint to all that work over the fire.

The Grilled Romaine Hearts with Pepper are so simple, so good. Be sure to leave the lettuce on the grill long enough to get nice grill marks.

If your companions simply can’t be convinced to try anchovies, sub prosciutto in the pizza. (It has twice the calories and fat—120 calories and 6g fat per ounce, compared to 60 calories and 3g fat for anchovies.)

and Grilled Vegetable Pizzas with Anchovies

Saturday Dessert

Start this recipe after breakfast Saturday morning; it can freeze all day long while you’re busy doing other things—or nothing at all.

Sunday Brunch

Whole-grain salads are tailor-made for summer—you can make them ahead, you can serve them at room temperature, and they pair perfectly with almost any vegetable combination you can dream up.

If you have any remaining ingredients—figs, lettuce—that you don’t want to pack for the return trip, use them here as sides.

Sunday Brunch Wine

Great rosé is produced all over the world, but Jean-Luc Colombo Cape Bleue Rosé, 2013 ($15), from near Marseille, is hard to beat. With aromas of roses, strawberry, and watermelon, its acidity matches the tomatoes' bright burst. —Jordan Mackay

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