Vermont ski tips: Food for your family

Mad River Glen sign I hope you’ve been enjoying your holidays as much as we have. We arrived for a Vermont ski trip on the day after Christmas just ahead of a storm that dumped over a foot of snow in 24 hours and have been blissfully spending our days on the mountain ever since. Mad River Glen has been a paradise of powder skiing like I haven’t seen it during Christmas week for many years and Tommy has discovered a love of moguls that has me chasing him down the mountain, very aware that my legs are four times as old as his are.

Being up here for nearly a week has me thinking about the practicalities of a family ski vacation, which with all its gear and moving parts sometimes feels like a minor military operation. And if your kids are like mine (and you are like me) than food is especially critical. There are a couple of things that complicate the issue of staying provisioned: You don’t want to spend a ton of money on food. You don’t want to spend a ton of time on food. Yet all that fresh air and exercise mean you need copious amounts of it. And if you are staying in a condo as we often do on ski trip, you’ll have access to an equipped kitchen but not a personal chef or grocery delivery service.

So I’ve learned not to mess around when it comes to our food on a family ski vacation. The first thing we do upon arriving in town is swing by the local grocery store (in Waitsfield, Vermont home to Sugarbush and Mad River Glen, my favorite is the locally-owned Mehuron’s) where I pick up food for all of our breakfasts and about two-thirds of our lunches and dinners.

My thinking is always to keep it simple and filling – my three go-to dinner ideas are tacos, homemade pizza (using pre-made crusts), and doctored up pasta sauce from a jar. Other easy ideas include canned soup with bread and salad, grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, and omelets.

To achieve these easy meals, when I first arrive in town I swoop through the grocery store and pick up everything we need so that I don’t have to worry about shopping or complicated cooking and can focus on skiing and fun. The following basic grocery list serves my family of four for a five-day ski trip; you an obviously adjust it as necessary for the length of your trip, size of your family and dietary requirements (we are carnivores and have no food allergies).


  • One dozen eggs
  • A gallon of milk (or soy or almond milk if that’s your preference)
  • A half pound of butter
  • A half gallon of citrus juice (OJ or grapefruit)
  • Two boxes of instant oatmeal packets
  • English muffins (can also be used for mini pizzas)
  • Jar of jam
  • Bacon or breakfast sausage


  • Jar of peanut butter
  • Several cans of tuna
  • Small jar of mayo
  • Bread
  • Carrots
  • Pretzels (or chips or bagged popcorn)
  • Granola bars
  • Fruit (apples and bananas are good choices as is dried fruit if your family likes it)
  • Package of cookies


  • Small bottle olive oil
  • Small bottle salad dressing
  • Jarred pasta sauce
  • Boxed pasta
  • Italian sausage (to add to sauce)
  • Cheese (for pasta, pizza, sandwiches – I go for cheddar, mozzarella, and parmesan)
  • Pre-made pizza crust
  • Veggies for salad, pizza topping, taco topping, to add to pasta sauce and omelets (lettuce, bell pepper, carrots, tomatoes, and onion are good choices)
  • Box of taco shells with seasoning
  • Ground beef
  • Can of black beans
  • Sour cream

Our remaining lunches and dinners can be purchased on the mountain or at restaurants, because, after all, you are on vacation. But I think you’ll find that purchasing the items on this list will save you money, keep you fed, and most of all give you maximum time to play in the snow.

Whether your are skiing or enjoying some other family holiday fun, I wish you a very Happy New Year and look forward to sharing many more family travel adventures in 2013. And if you’ve got your own tips about what to feed your family on a ski trip, please share them in the comments below – I’d love to see them.

This post was written in conjunction with my relationship with Mountain Reservations as one of its Mountain Ambassadors.

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