We get it.
You touch down in Myrtle Beach, check in to your hotel, then speed away to the nearest supermarket to stock your vacation kitchen's fridge.
The temptation to get every fun snack under the warm Grand Strand sun is large, but so are the chances you'll be tossing a lot of uneaten food at the end of your stay. How to remedy that? Consider your group, your intentions, your fridge size, and your budget. Scale back and shop smart. Here are some tips.
1) Stock up on breakfast: This is the meal you'll likely be eating most from your hotel room. First of all, are you flying solo with your spouse or hauling a brigade of children? We find it easiest to replicate the home routine, but keep in mind you can always return to the store for a resupply. One box of crowd-pleasing, healthy cereal, a gallon of milk, orange juice and fresh fruit will get you started. We like grabbing some yogurts for light meals or snacks, too. Have a baby? Consider buying pouches of food rather than jars – their much easier to pack for outings and are lighter if you're stowing extras in a suitcase. Donuts and pastries always seem like a good idea at the checkout line, until you are trying to corral a crew of hyperactive-then-sluggish kids out the door. Don't bother. Any extra pennies you shell out for pre-packaged convience foods will likely turn out to be a money-saver in terms of less waste.
2) Simple lunches: While you may decide to dine out midday, count on packed lunches for beach excursions, Bookgreen Gardens or state parks. Again, keep it simple. A loaf of bread (do the math according to mouths to feed x length of stay), small jars of nut butter and jelly, a couple bags of chips or pretzels, individually packaged servings of baby carrots, portable fruits like apples and bananas, and bottled water. Easier still, grab some ready-to-eat, individually wrapped PB&Js, or serving-size packets of peanut butter – both can come home with you if any remains. A two-pack of paper towels doubles as napkins and will last a week in the messiest of circumstances, and we prefer reusable storage containers such as Gladware to plastic baggies – less beach mess and they're more environmentally friendly. Wrap souvenirs and shells in your leftover paper towels and pack them in the containers for safe passage home.
3) Snacks: Non-chocolate granola bars (chocolate is a mess in the hot sun), fruit leathers, dried apricots and apple rings, applesauce pouches, and trailmix are all great, healthy ideas for the midday munchies. They pack well for the beach, can languish in the bottom of a purse, and are easily tossed in carry-on bags for the trip home if they're not eaten. A block of cheddar and box of crackers makes a good afternoon snack back at the room, especially when served with a bunch of refreshing grapes.
4) Beverages: Water is the easiest and healthiest potable of course. Gallon jugs can be decanted into reusable water bottles for the beach and drinking glasses for your room. Other than milk and OJ, skip the rest. The kids undoubtedly have sodas and lemonades at meals out, but they can be dehydrating, especially after long days in the sun. Grown-ups may consider a bottle of wine or six-pack for happy hour on the balcony. Kitchens are equipped with corkscrews and bottle openers.
5) Dinners; We like to play these by ear and not go bananas at the store. Will most evenings be spent out at restaurants? More like half and half? Remember the likelihood of returning home with doggy bags, which make a great day-after lunches or quick dinners before Hot Summer Nights. For the rest, think about hitting up a farmers market such as this mid-stay for the freshest picks of South Carolina. The best markets offer prime meats and cheeses as well as bread and produce. Ask the vendor, “What looks good today?” and he or she will hook you up with the makings os a memorable meal – no big box store hassles needed.