My Mom's Go-To Dinner for Night One of a Family Vacation

It’s a crowd-pleaser, folks.

<p>Maskot/Getty Images</p>

Maskot/Getty Images

When my family goes on vacation, the biggest stressor is figuring out the game plan for meals.

We all love going out to eat for dinner, but it can get far too expensive to do that every night. Yet, we don’t really want to spend a ton of time cooking while we’re on vacation either. The kitchen is unfamiliar and small, and the equipment at rental houses isn’t always the best (looking at you, dull chef’s knives).

But, despite those challenges, my whole family does appreciate the effort that goes into a home-cooked (vacation-cooked?!) meal.

Once a year, no matter what we all have going on in our lives, my parents, my brothers, and I head to Cape Cod for one week at the beach. As we’ve grown from kids to teens to adults, my brothers and I have taken on more of the cooking duties and planning for the trip, but my mom figured out the best meal for the first night of vacation long ago: meatballs.

If you’re a touch skeptical, I get it—meatballs don’t exactly shout “beach meal.” But they’re perfect for that first night for several reasons.

Easy to Make Ahead

Meatballs freeze well (check out the freezing tips in Chef John's meatball recipe) so you can make them when your pre-vacation schedule allows. My mom makes a big batch of Italian meatballs the week or two before vacation, freezes them, and then tosses the freezer bag into a cooler for the drive to the beach cottage. They defrost while we unpack and enjoy the first day of vacation without having to stress about a grocery store trip on day one.

Make Cooking Simple

To finish off the meatballs, you just need to toss them into a pot with sauce and let them heat through. We’ll occasionally cook spaghetti and make an easy salad to go with the meatballs, but the even easier option is using them to make meatball sandwiches. We get sub rolls and provolone cheese to finish off the sandwich assembly, and the only big item to clean is the pot we used to heat the meatballs.

A Crowd-Pleaser

In my family, no one complains about eating meatballs. When we were kids, my mom knew she could get us all fed with minimal groaning, and vacation could start with less bickering (at least, about what was on the table).

dotdash meredith food studios
dotdash meredith food studios

How to Freeze Meatballs

After cooking your meatballs, spread them out evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and pop the tray into the freezer. Once meatballs are fully frozen, transfer them to a zipper-lock plastic freezer bag or freezer-safe container. This method ensures that the meatballs won't freeze together creating one solid mass.

My Mom's Tips for the Best Meatball Sandwiches

  • Use squishy sub rolls. After slicing open the rolls, brush them with a little olive oil, and place them in the oven or toaster oven until they’re lightly toasted.

  • Reheat meatballs in sauce. You can make homemade pasta sauce if you like, but we like to keep vacation cooking as simple as possible and use store-bought sauce.

  • After loading meatballs into your toasted sandwich rolls, top meatballs with a slice or two of provolone cheese. Then, stick the sandwiches back in the oven briefly to melt the cheese.

  • Since these sandwiches are pretty hearty, serve something light on the side, like chips or Caesar salad.

Read the original article on All Recipes.