Home » What Food To Buy When Staying In An Airbnb With Your Family
Travel Tips

What Food To Buy When Staying In An Airbnb With Your Family

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Last Updated on July 10, 2024 by Leslie Stroud

Airbnb in Paris

*Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. Opinions shared are my own, and I only endorse products I support. By clicking on any of the links below, I may get a small commission if you purchase at absolutely no additional charge to you. I appreciate your support.*

Traveling full-time with kids gave us the chance to stay and experience over 40 Airbnbs around the world.  We’ve often stayed for a month at a time, but we’ve also had plenty of short stays over the years. 

Now that we live full-time in Portugal, we are back to shorter stays in new countries.  However, on average, we still travel internationally at least once a month.

Why We Stay In Airbnb’s Internationally

We greatly prefer to stay in an Airbnb as a family for many reasons.  One of them being the option to cook food.  While eating out on vacation has its perks, it can be very expensive for a big family like ours and can be unhealthy as well, depending on the restaurant.

There are some really fun and quirky Airbnbs around the world, like in the US and Europe, that are good for relaxation and adventure too!

Let’s face it: eating out with a bunch of kids isn’t always fun, either.  They get bored and act out, you are shoving a phone or tablet in their face to keep them quiet, paying a fortune, and thinking the whole time “when can we leave?”

I’d much rather have the flexibility, when we want it, to cook dinner while the kids play and eat on a beautiful patio.  Or I’d like to be able to make a quick dinner for the kids (think PB&J!), get them to bed, and cook a romantic dinner alone.  

We like to have a house to eat food delivery in versus a hotel room.  We sometimes opt for Uber Eats, which does work around the world, and having a table and fridge to store leftovers can be really lovely!

In some places, you’d be surprised how difficult it might be to find an open restaurant as well.  Like in Iceland, we road-tripped and had a really hard time finding restaurants for dinner.  We had “snack dinners” in the car more than we would have liked.  In Europe, restaurants can close early outside of big cities and you might be out of luck eating out anyway.

You get the possibilities!  We still love to eat out on vacation but like to have the option to also relax at “home” when eating out isn’t going to work with the kids.

Working while traveling

What Food To Buy For Your Airbnb Stay

I like to plan about 75% of our days’ worth of dinner.  We will eat out once or twice, or be on the road exploring and getting fast food.  If we are staying for 5 days, I’ll plan for three solid dinners and have enough food for an extra night.  For example, we love breakfast for dinner, so I can easily transition breakfast food into an extra dinner. 

Tip: It’s a lot cheaper to eat out for lunch than dinner!  Enjoy your meal out during the day with the kids and eat in later.

I plan breakfast for every day.  We like to sleep in and often work late at night and rarely go out for breakfast.  Many mornings our kids are snacking or making some light breakfast for themselves while we get some sleep.

I never plan for lunches and instead plan lots and lots of snacks.  I’ll also have sandwich options, like PB&J.  We are almost always exploring during the day or eating lunch out in a new place.  However, lots of driving, exploring, or hiking requires snacks.

Note that leftovers can make great lunch options!  We eat a lot of leftovers for lunch.

We also have found our “comfort” items while we travel, such as herbal tea, Nutella, or chocolate ice cream.  You’ll know these items for your family, so modify that section of my shopping list as it works for you.

Picnicking with grandma

My Favorite Go-To Meals For Airbnb Stays with Kids

Breakfast Suggestions

  • Cereal and milk (usually 1-2 boxes will feed us for 1-2 mornings)
  • Pancakes and bacon
  • Oatmeal with Nutella
  • Eggs and toast
  • Hash browns the eggs
  • Egg and sausage casserole (link recipe here)
  • Yogurt, fruit, pastries (continental breakfast.  Bonus these items can double as snacks)
  • French toast (great for using leftover bread)
  • Frittata (also great for using leftover veggies and eggs)

Dinner Suggestions

  • Spaghetti with meat sauce, salad, and bread
  • Hamburgers or hot dogs with chips and raw veggies
  • Chicken breasts and rice with vegetable
  • Grilled cheese
  • Egg salad sandwiches (great for leftover eggs!)
  • Chicken nuggets or fish sticks (easy, can be a good lunch option in case you are home for lunch).
  • Pre-made deli options can be fantastic!  It’s hard for me to find them gluten-free, but they are much less expensive than eating out, can be quite healthy, and you can even eat them on the go!
  • Fried rice.  We like to take rice and mix it with cut deli ham, cut bacon, etc.  Throw in some pepper or mushrooms or other vegetables if you can get away with it with the kids.
  • Tacos.  We LOVE Mexican night, but I’ll warn you that outside of the US it’s hard to find this.  Asia is a no-go, but Europe usually offers a “foreign section” in larger cities and you might find a taco seasoning mix.  If this is a family favorite, you can bring the seasoning packet in your suitcase from home.  I haven’t found it at all in South America and we haven’t been to Africa yet.
  • Pizza.  This is a worldwide food option.

My Recommended Shopping List For Your Airbnb Stay with Kids

Cleaning and Storage Needs

  1. Trash bags (usually only 1-2 are provided for free)
  2. Dishwasher packets (usually, you can buy fewer packets or a small bottle of detergent)
  3. Paper Towels
  4. Plastic wrap for leftovers (Tupperware can be hit or miss at Airbnbs, but you can at least wrap a plate or bowl)
  5. Foil 
  6. Toilet Paper (usually you’ll need more than the 1-2 rolls provided when you are traveling with kids)
  7. Kleenex (a small travel pack should do)


  1. Ketchup (very versatile for fries, fish sticks, tater tots, eggs, etc)
  2. Ranch or favorite dressing (note that outside of the US this is pretty hard to find, but you can usually find a flavored mayo that acts the same)
  3. Mayo (can be used for egg salad or sandwiches)
  4. Mustard, if that’s your thing
  5. Oil (note: many Airbnbs do have oil, salt, and pepper, but we’ve found a few that did not.  If I don’t buy oil, I’ll at least buy butter to cook with instead, like if it’s a really short stay)
  6. Salt and Pepper (these are almost always provided, but it’s a real pain if you don’t have them!  It’s almost impossible to cook without salt).
  7. Syrup.  Sometimes you can’t find this as it’s an American breakfast thing. If we can’t find it, we use jam, Nutella, or honey.


  1. Eggs
  2. Milk
  3. Yogurt
  4. Cheese (for snacking, grilled cheese, or breakfast.  Maybe also Parmesan for topping pasta)
  5. Butter (for toast or even for cooking with)

Dry Goods

  1. Cereal
  2. Oatmeal
  3. Pasta
  4. Rice
  5. Mixes. I love easy baking mixes, such as brownies, or pancake mixes. Just remember the eggs and oil.


  1. Bread for breakfast, sandwiches on the go, etc.  Rolls can make great, easy sandwiches too
  2. Hamburger or hot dog buns, if needed
  3. Bread for pasta dinner
  4. Muffins or pastries for continental breakfast


  1. Fruit for snacking and breakfast.  Our favorites are always apples, bananas, peel-able clementines (great for the car or bus), fresh berries, and pre-cut fruit
  2. Potatoes
  3. Vegetables for sides at dinner
  4. Onion and garlic for general cooking
  5. Snack vegetables: bell peppers to cut and take on the go, cut cucumbers, cut carrot sticks

Crackers, Chips, and Processed Goods

  1. Potato chips
  2. Crackers to use with cheese or peanut butter
  3. Microwave popcorn
  4. One-the-go snack items

Meat or Frozen Section

  1. Ground beef for pasta
  2. Chicken breasts for the main dish
  3. Frozen foods like chicken nuggets, fish sticks, lasagna, etc.
  4. Hamburgers or hot dogs

Other Items

  1. Drinks.  We love sparkling water, Coke Zero, and usually a fun drink or two that’s new and local.
  2. Nutella and peanut butter.  We use this for breakfast in oatmeal, as a snack, for sandwiches, etc.  You can always find Nutella around the world!
  3. Honey.  We use it for herbal tea, sandwiches, or for sweetener in a pinch (even in baking).

Comfort Items For Our Family

  1. Chocolate ice cream (Lucy is addicted!)
  2. Herbal tea for mom
  3. A few bakery or deli items for Chris while he works
  4. Chocolate.  We all love it!

How To Plan Your Shopping List For Your Airbnb Stay with Kids

I’d recommend discussing as a family how many dinners you will plan to eat in, pick your dinners, and make your list from there.

If you think it will be hard to find specific items, like gluten-free pasta, sometimes it is worth it to pack it with you.  You’ll have the room coming home for a souvenir. Thinking of good luggage to fit everything? Check out our family’s favorite luggage here!

I’ve gotten used enough to this that I do not plan ahead at all and usually, just hit the store.  However, I used to plan our meals meticulously before the trip.  

What If I Have Extra Food?

Chances are good you’ll have leftovers.  I’ve handled this differently in each scenario.  Your options are:

  • Leave it in the Airbnb and hope the host or cleaner will want it.
  • Give it to another family or person you’ve met on your trip.  For example, in Hawaii, we were in condos with lots of other travelers.  We just found someone arriving and asked if they’d like some food!  Obviously, this only applies to unopened items
  • Take it on the plane for a snack.  Note that if you are traveling internationally, any fresh produce or meat often needs to be consumed before the customs of the next country.
  • Pack it home!  I’ve packed many dry goods home if we have the room.

It may feel like a waste to have extra food, but the money we save on eating out easily outweighs this.  A dinner out for our family is usually $100-150 and eating in can cut that to $20-25 easily.  

Enjoy prepping for your travel and Airbnb stay!



Plan and book your flight on Booking.com, Skyscanner, Kiwi.com, or Expedia

Check out top-rated hotels on Booking.com, Expedia, or Vrbo, (we also love Tripadvisor)

Get into fun activities from GetYourGuide, Airbnb Experiences, or Viator

Need a car? Rent from Expedia Rental Cars

Get your family’s travel insurance from World Nomads

Capture your best travel memories with a GoPro, Sony camera, or our favorite drones: DJI FPV, Air, and Mini

Check out other travel necessities for your trip from a comprehensive list of all the 7Wayfinders Travel Must-Haves. Click Here!

Additional Reading

Airbnb vs Hotels Internationally: Where to Stay for Family Travel

How to Book a Long-Term Airbnb or Travel Home

Best Apps For International Family Travel


  1. Pingback: Travel Vaccinations: Everything You Need to Know - 7 Wayfinders

  2. Pingback: How to Book a Long Term Airbnb or Travel Home - 7 Wayfinders

  3. Pingback: The Technology We Travel With: Tech Packing List - 7 Wayfinders

  4. Pingback: DIY Travel First-Aid Kit - 7 Wayfinders

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *