This is everyone’s favourite time of year, when we can head outside and hang out with family and friends at a cottage or cabin by the lake. Mixing cocktails, talking, laughing, reading, hiking, playing games and going for bike rides – it fills our hearts with joy. But the best part? Enjoying meals and sharing food together.
Follow our tips for stress-free meals and snacks at the cottage, so you're not stuck in the kitchen while everyone else is chatting and laughing on the deck or by the lake. After all, it’s your vacation too. Relax, you got this!
Plan to relax
Don’t leave meals to chance because that'll just cause a lot of unwanted stress, and you’re not there for that. Before you go, decide on a daily meal plan. Then prep ahead and freeze what you can. A charcuterie board with assorted cold cuts and a variety of cheese, cooked roast beef or tuna salad for sandwiches makes light work of lunch. Prepared dishes like baked beans and lasagna freeze well, but don’t be afraid to prep burgers or marinated beef strips, steaks or kabobs, ahead of time so it’s quick cooking for dinner.
The night before, set out bowls and cutlery, and prep the coffee machine. This way, everyone can help themselves to their favourites: muffins, cereal or granola; or toast with butter, peanut butter, jam and honey. Stock the fridge with milk and juices, yogurt, fresh berries and fruit. Try this sheet pan omelette (above) for a Big Weekend Breakfast, and assign everyone a task, i.e., cooking the eggs, making the pancakes, frying the hash browns, barbecuing the beef sausages, etc.
Keep it simple
People look forward to gathering around a table at a cottage in the summertime. This is not the time to be whipping up Julia Child creations, or pheasant under glass. If you start with quality ingredients, you can make flavourful meals without a lot of fuss that will foster up conversations and lend a sense of harmony and togetherness to your meals. Be sure to choose meals that both adults and kids alike will enjoy, so you aren’t assembling different meals for everyone and making more work for yourself. After all, you’re not a short-order cook.
Celebrate with Canadian food
What’s a top pick?
Canadian beef and garlic are perfect companions for summer grill season... or for any season to be honest! Try a classic pairings of Canadian beef with garlic bread faves for grilling recipes that will take dinnertime up a notch. For an easy meal, think burgers, like our Beef Burgers with Creamy Dill Sauce; a juicy beef patty sandwiched between two slices of toasty garlic toast instead of just a regular bun. For more family-friendly meal ideas that are great on the grill, visit Canadian Beef.
Easy appies & snacks
Fun activities and a cottage vibe make people hungry. Pack an assortment of sweet and salty snacks, like cookies, including the perennial favourite, homemade chocolate chip cookies. As for appetizers, a cheese and cracker platter pairs well with a chilled glass of wine. Pick up a tray of veggies and dip and a few bags of nuts and… you’re done!
Feeding a crowd
Start with pitchers of drinks like iced tea, lemonade or sangria—it’s quicker than making individual drinks. Burgers and hotdogs are a great option when it comes to feeding a lot of people.
Present something different: Fondue makes a lovely leisurely and relaxed meal: try a cheese fondue with leftover cubes of cooked steak as a unique dippable. Or try a make-your-own pizza night, handing out balls of dough and setting out toppings—it’s always fun to cook together!
If you’re a guest…
- Start by asking what food, drinks or supplies you can bring to the cottage.
- Suggest taking care of a meal or two during your stay.
- Offer to help, in the housekeeping department, like bringing up your own sheets, cleaning up after meals, and washing dishes.
- A gift for the host is always appreciated... then let the good times roll!