Traveling gourmet

Time off and away from the usual routine does not mean always eating out during the entire vacation. Passing through Springfield MO on the way to the lake, we make a stop at Meal Makers for no hassle vacation dining choices.

“I’m not cooking! It’s my vacation too.” said a mom who walked into Meal Makers while I was there. “I like having something fast and easy for them (the kids) but healthier that fast food,” she said. “When the In-Laws come over – they think George married a gourmet cook!”

Here are three ideas that simplify vacation dining. Grocery stores have many prepared foods, ready to heat and serve or stock up on carryout specials. Save some money and calories by eating-in on your next vacation.

Bistro Market

Bistro Market has a wide selection of wines, cheeses, hot foods. photo: Price Cutter

1. Bistro Market 401 South Avenue, Springfield, MO 65806, (417) 869-1840. Bistro Market is a small upscale urban grocery store located in downtown Springfield, MO. The store includes grocery staples, fresh meats and seafood, natural and organic products, a chef-inspired delicatessen, local produce, Starbucks and an impressive selection of beer, wine and liquors.

So many hotel rooms include a fridge and microwave, it’s easy for travelers and vacationers to enjoy the Bistro Market’s salad and hot food bar or deli items to go. Savvy travelers can find their favorite beer or wine at the market, skipping the pricey restaurant markups of before dinner or after dinner drinks.

Picnics practically pack themselves in this grocery store. My favorites: the olive bar, a wide selection of wines and cheeses, and lots of fancy individual deserts. Bistro Market is a part of the Price Cutter grocery stores.

Prices are reasonable and you can click into local social media to find bargains. For example, Twitter has this Bistro Market tweet today: “What could sound better than our grill special today? Beer Battered Fish Sandwich with Waffle Fries – $6.99”

Bistro Market is located in a historic building at 401 South Avenue on the corner of South Avenue and Walnut, Springfield, MO. Open Sunday–Wednesday, 6 am–midnight, and Thursday–Saturday, 6 am–2 am. The Bistro Market is in the heart of Springfield’s bustling downtown district.

2. Meal Makers Email: [email protected], 3853 S Campbell Ave, Springfield MO 65807, phone: (417) 877-9999, Fax: (417) 877-9989

Meal Makers

Stop by Meal Makers for prepared meals ready to cook on the way to the lake house. photo: PBH

Meal Makers sells time saving healthy prepared and packaged meals for busy people. Buy them freshly made or frozen for your freezer or for travel.

They do all the planning, shopping, chopping and prep work. Meal Makers’ carry-out service provides “homemade” meals for you to cook in your home: they make it and you bake it. Meal Makers sells a lot of meals to local folks as many customers buy three or four family meals here a week.

For travelers and vacationers, it’s a great deal. It solves the problem of bringing all the ingredients with you to make a delicious meal. You don’t have to buy a whole bottle of herbs if you simply need 1 bay leaf or ¼ teaspoon of thyme.

Many shoppers stop by for prepared meals ready to cook on the way to the lake for the week or weekend. If you are spending a few days in a cozy cabin, or a lake view condo, chances are you didn’t come to spend the whole time cooking.

Meal Makers owner

Preparing, measuring and marinating chicken breasts so you don't have to do it. You get an oven-ready meal, clean kitchen and the compliments. photo PBH

• For example, the aroma of White Chicken Chili will fill your vacation kitchen and all you have to do is turn on the crackpot. Stove or crockpot preparation instuctions come with the meal that makes 3-4 serving for only $16.99. You get healthy food and skip the hassle of eating out in crowed, touristy restaurants.

Bruschetta & Cheese Chicken with Green Beans comes in an oven ready foil pan. That’s minimum prep time, almost no clean up and a gourmet meal in your own home. (Or motorhome, camper or cabin.)

Butterflied chicken breasts with Italian stuffing, basil, diced tomatoes and mozzarella cheese and topped with red peppers and parmesan cheese; served green beans. Recipe serves 3-4 adults for $18.99.

This is my kind of cooking when we head down to the Ozarks for a few days in our timeshare or condo. There are are a variety of menus to choose from: Homestyle, Regular & Lite, and Dietetic meals. Nutritional information included with each meal, along with cooking instructions. Call ahead for freshly prepared or frozen meals. They will be ready and waiting as you stop by on your way to the lakes or the Ozarks.

Meal Makers, 3853 S Campbell Ave, Springfield MO 65807, phone: (417) 877-9999, Fax: (417) 877-9989. Hours: Monday thru Friday 10AM-6PM and Saturday & Sunday 11 AM-3PM In Parkcrest Shopping Center, MealMakers is between the Candy House and Glo Cleaners.

3. Bob Evans 2651 North Glenstone Springfield , MO, 65803 order on line. Or call.
N. Glenstone & I-44, Phone: (417) 864-8184, Hours: SUN-THU 6-9/FRI-SAT 6-10

Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad – Tender, slow-roasted chicken, bacon, sweet dried cranberries and bleu cheese tossed with fresh greens in our Sweet Italian dressing. Topped with honey-roasted pecans. Served with your choice of savory side and bread. Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad (Served with 1 side & bread) 19.99

Pot Roast Stroganoff – Slow-cooked pot roast and egg noodles in a rich stroganoff sauce with mushrooms and onions. Served with a garden salad and grilled garlic Ciabatta bread. Pot Roast Stroganoff (Served with salad and bread) is $19.99 and serves 4.

Plus, you can order your favorite extras like: Fresh Buttermilk Biscuits – Dozen for $5.99 or a loaf pumpkin bread for $4.99

Bob Evans call ahead. We stopped by the Springfield location, but most Bob Evans offer family meals to go.

These dine-in choices are cheaper than going to a fancy restaurant. Don’t give up dining-out,  just add dining-in as part of the excursion. Eating like a local is usually a healthier, fresher choice.

I’ll stop by Meal Makers on my way down to Big Cedar where we spend the week in their romantic cedar log cabins. Consider these food choices as stretching your vacation dollars and not your skinny jeans.

Meal Makers Chicken Cordon Bleu hot from your oven. photo: Meal Makers