Travel-friendly meals

Summer is winding to a close, but that doesn’t mean that entertaining should cease! Last-minute excursions to the beach or lake house often include food with friends and family. Make the meals easy to prepare so that you can spend time enjoying the company and reveling in the last lazy days of the season before autumn begins.

Firing up the barbecue pit is a simple means to a quick meal, letting your focus be on food preparation. On the night you grill chicken, add extra chicken breasts to the pit to use in tomorrow’s meal, Chicken Pesto Personal Pizzas. These savory pizzas are easy to throw together at the last minute. Prepare on mini pizza crusts or whole wheat pitas. For a nutritional bonus, add any extra veggies you enjoy. These pizzas make excellent individual lunches and freeze well.

For those who want to join the festivities prepared with an all-star make-ahead meal, Crawfish Fettuccine is simple to make and easy to freeze. The fettuccine and crawfish mixed with a wonderful cheesy white sauce is a crowd pleaser—you will get asked to bring this year after year! Simply defrost in the refrigerator to pop in the oven on your evening of choice. Pair with a simple side salad if desired. Cooked shrimp may be substituted for crawfish.

Of course, no vacation is complete without munchies, and my Snack Mix is a fantastic sweet-and-salty combo. A good way to package these treats, as well as nuts and other snacks, is to divide them into individual zip-top bags. Whether in the car or on the beach or a hike, these tasty treats are easy to pack, will curb hunger and will please all ages. I like to use seasonal chocolate candies to make festive mixes throughout the year. Dried cranberries may be substituted for chocolate, or leave out both if you prefer. A bit of preplanning will ensure that your last vacation of the summer is a breeze.

This is my Southern standby when I have a group coming over or need to freeze a dish to take with me.

1 lb. fettuccine
3 Tbsp. butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/2 lb. light pasteurized cheese spread
2 lbs. crawfish tails
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 bunch green onions, chopped (optional)

Cook fettuccine according to directions on package, omitting oil and salt. Drain; set aside. In large nonstick pot, melt butter and sauté onion, green pepper, red pepper, and garlic until tender. Add flour, stirring until mixed. Gradually add milk, stirring until smooth.

Add cheese, stirring until melted. Add crawfish, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, and cayenne. Toss with pasta. Sprinkle with green onions. Makes 8-10 servings.

To Freeze: Cool to room temperature, then wrap, label, and place in freezer.

To Prepare After Freezing: Defrost to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Sprinkle with green onions and cook, covered, for about 40 minutes or until well heated, stirring as needed.

Nutritional information per serving:
Calories 362 | Protein 26g Carbohydrate 46g | Fat 8g | Calories from fat 20% | Saturated fat 4g Dietary fiber 2g | Cholesterol 119mg Sodium 272mg | Diabetic exchanges: 2.5 lean meat, 2.5 starch, 1 vegetable

Short on time but want a terrific meal? Go Mediterranean with pizza. Look for pre-made pesto in the grocery.

2 whole wheat pitas
2 tsp. pesto
6 Tbsp. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2/3 cup shredded cooked or grilled chicken
2 Tbsp. chopped artichoke hearts
2 Tbsp. chopped sun-dried tomatoes (reconstituted in hot water)
2 Tbsp. crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Cover pitas with pesto and layer with remaining ingredients. Place on prepared pan and bake 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted and pita is crisp. Makes 2 pizzas.

Nutritional information per serving:
Calories 354 | Calories from fat 27% | Fat 11g | Saturated fat 4g | Cholesterol 58mg Sodium 661mg | Carbohydrate 37g | Dietary fiber 6g | Sugars 2g | Protein 29g | Dietary exchanges: 2 1/2 starch, 3 lean meats

A savory and sweet mix that is hard to beat.

3 Tbsp. sesame oil
3 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. garlic powder
4 cups honey-nut toasted rice and corn cereal squares
6 cups mini-pretzels
1 cup dry roasted peanuts
1 cup candy-coated chocolate pieces

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line baking pan with foil. In small bowl, whisk together sesame oil, honey, soy sauce, and garlic powder. On prepared pan, combine cereal squares, pretzels, and peanuts. Add oil mixture and toss with cereal mixture. Bake 25 minutes, stirring once. Turn off oven, leaving mix in oven 1 hour to continue crisping. Cool completely and toss with chocolate candies. Store in an airtight container. Makes 20 1/2-cup servings.

Nutritional information per serving:
Calories 205 | Calories from fat 36% Fat 8g | Saturated fat 2g | Cholesterol 1mg | Sodium 357mg | Carbohydrate 29g | Dietary fiber 1g | Protein 4g Diabetic exchanges: 2 starch, 1 fat

Holly Clegg is the author of the best-selling trim&TERRIFIC cookbooks, Eating Well Through Cancer and Too Hot in the Kitchen: Secrets to Sizzle at Any Age. For more information, visit or