We combined a little bit of make-ahead planning with some double-duty ingredients to build a menu of easy, straightforward meals that feed four deliciously and healthfully—from Friday night cocktails and dinner to Sunday brunch—without ever resorting to boring standbys like cereal, cold-cut sandwiches, and chips.
How do you get all this food to wherever you’re going? That’s the easy part: All the cold items you’ll need fit into a single large cooler. (Yes, we measured it.) Everything else fits in a grocery tote or two. And for the most part, you’ll use every ingredient you bring.
Cooler Packing 101
For general cooler packing, here are a few tips. Pack raw meats, fish, and produce sealed in plastic bags on the bottom. Next layer in produce, dairy, eggs, and perishable condiments. Save space by packing just what you think you’ll need for the weekend. And remember to fill the cooler all the way up; the ice will melt faster if it’s full of room-temperature air.
If you store your cooler in a hot garage, bring it inside the night before so you can start with a cooled-off vessel. Use solid ice or reusable gel-filled ice packs on the bottom, pack food, then fill in the gaps with bags of cubed ice. Once it’s packed and ready, stow in the trunk, away from light, and put a blanket or sleeping bag around it for extra insulation.
Bag the Rest
Make-Ahead Recipe 1: <strong>Citrus Shortcake</strong>
Make-Ahead Recipe 2: <strong>Spice Rub for Steaks</strong>
Make-Ahead Recipe 3: <strong>Sweet Chipotle Snack Mix</strong>
Friday Dinner Drinks
Get everyone involved with throwing dinner together. One person can shuck the corn and mix the slaw, another can man the grill, and another can assemble the sliders. Who’s on cleanup duty? We suggest you draw straws for that one.