Meal planning for a beach vacation shouldn’t be complicated! I look forward to every summer when we rent a house for a week on Cape Cod with my parents and siblings. As our families grow each year, we have perfected a list of the easiest beach vacation dinners. When you have 13 adults and 6 kids under 10, you avoid dining out at restaurants. Here are 5 Easy Beach Vacation Dinners inspired by our Cape Cod family vacations.
Meal Planning for a Beach Vacation
Why do you cook your own meals on a beach vacation? Typically, one of my favorite parts about going on vacation is visiting local restaurants (and not having to cook/clean in a kitchen). HOWEVER, when I go on vacation with a big group, cooking dinner at our rental is not only budget-friendly, but also less stressful. If you are going on vacation with a large group and staying in a home with a kitchen, don’t be afraid to stay home for dinner!
5 Easy Beach Vacation Dinner Ideas
Plan your menu and grocery shopping list before you go on vacation. I highly recommend planning all of your meals out before you leave for your trip. Grocery shopping on vacation can become very expensive if the town is a tourist trap. Do your research beforehand and bring staples or items in bulk from home.
Breakfast is quick (cereal, waffles, eggs, bagels, etc.). Lunch is always sandwiches, fruit, and chips on the beach. Dinner is our favorite meal on a beach vacation — and we have been whipping up easy beach vacation dinners in Cape Cod since 2008!
- Seafood Night
- Taco Bar
- Surf and Turf
1. Seafood Night
If you’re going to the beach, seafood is a must have! We always have littleneck clams, shrimp, fresh fish and lobster. There is a specialty fish store on the Cape that has the best prepared stuffed clams and clams casino — so we love to add them to our dinner menu!
2. Taco Night
A Taco Night can be done so many different ways with a variety of fillings with corn or flour tortillas and sides. We offer taco bar ideas to our family and take a vote for the most popular choices. Then we finalize a Taco Night menu before we even leave for our trip! This post has great ideas for your beach vacation taco night.
- Chicken (grilled or shredded)
- Grilled Fish (salmon, shrimp, swordfish, tilapia, etc.)
- Ground Beef
- Ground Turkey
- Grilled Vegetables
- Shredded Lettuce
- Shredded Cheese
- Shredded Cabbage
- Cheese Sauce
- Pickled (Onions, Jalapeños)
- Beans (black or refried)
- Tortilla Chips
- Corn Salsa
- Cowboy Caviar
- Sour Cream
3. Surf and Turf Night
My Dad’s favorite meal on a Cape Cod vacation is always Surf and Turf night. We make homemade Lobster rolls and grill steak, chicken (easy marinade here), and shrimp. Our picked lobster is usually prepared “Connecticut Style,” which means it is cooked slowly in butter over low heat. For sides we make anything from baked potatoes and roasted broccoli to asparagus and rice. There’s always a big salad on the table before dinner and a side of crusty bread with dipping oil.
4. Italian Night
We always have an Italian night on our beach vacation. From Shrimp Fra Diavolo to Spaghetti and Meatballs to my favorite Linguine with Clams, there are so many ways to enjoy pasta at the beach. We always serve olives, oil, and crusty bread alongside an Italian Salad or Sun-dried Tomato Feta Salad too. If you’re looking for a simple Linguine with Clams recipe — try mine below! Note: The recipe doesn’t require fresh clams, but they are a delicious addition!
Linguine with Clams
My Linguine with Clams Sauce recipe is simple and easy to make. It does not require fresh clams, but Steamed Clams with White Wine and Garlic adds another level to this seafood pasta dish.
Linguine with Clams
- 1 16 ounce package linguini pasta
- 2 cans minced clams reserve juice in a bowl
- 1/2 c olive oil
- 1/4 c butter
- 1 tbsp minced garlic or 1–2 freshly chopped cloves
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay
- 1 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley chopped
Steamed Clams with White Wine and Garlic
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp minced garlic or 2–3 freshly chopped cloves
- 1 1/2 c dry white wine
- 2 lbs littleneck clams cleaned and scrubbed
- 2 lemons halved
- bunch Small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley roughly chopped
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook linguine at a boil until tender yet firm to the bite, about 11 minutes. Drain.
- While the pasta is cooking, combine clams (reserve clam juice), oil, dried parsley, basil, garlic, and pepper in a large sauté or saucepan. Cook over low heat for 5–7 minutes.
- Add clam juice and white wine. Stir and cook over low heat for 5–7 minutes while liquid thickens.
- Add cooked pasta, butter, salt, pepper and fresh parsley. Optional: dash of red pepper flakes for heat.
Steamed Clams with White Wine and Garlic
- Begin by heating a large pot over medium heat and add the butter and olive oil. Cook until the butter is almost fully melted.
- Add the chopped shallots and saute for 2–3 minutes, until shallots change color (but not browned). Add in the garlic and cook for another 1–2 minutes, stirring everything together.
- Pour white wine in the pot and cook over medium heat for 1–2 minutes until wine reduces.
- Add the clams, stirring to coat them with liquid, and cover the pot with a lid leaving a small opening so the alcohol can cook off.
- Cook clams until they all open for about 7–9 minutes. If a clam doesn’t open — throw it away!
- Turn off the heat and squeeze the fresh lemon juice over the clams. Sprinkle with fresh herbs. Give everything one more good stir and serve over pasta or in a bowl on the side.
Keyword Clams, Pasta, Seafood
5. Cookout Night
The easiest beach vacation dinner is made of burgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, salad and french fries. Since we have a few vegetarians in the family, we always serve vegan burgers and tofu dogs too. You can make any type of salad, but our easiest go-to is: chopped romaine, cucumbers, black olives, chick peas and carrots.
Heading to Cape Cod for a summer vacation? Here are my best Cape Cod Beach Vacation Posts.