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Keeping Your Nutrition on Point while Traveling
by Rebekah Tilson, M.S.
Over the past decade, I’ve been slowly and organically transitioning into a clean, from the earth diet. As great as this makes me feel and as much as it’s helped my performance, I would always run into the travel challenge. Caleb, my husband and I do most of our travel via car (believe it or not we actually like being stuck in the same place for hours at a time!). With that comes extended time on the road and food access whittled down to the closest fast food joint or gas station run. After some trial and error, I’ve come up with a fool-proof travel plan for car travel. It takes a lot of planning, but I hope that by sharing my experience it will take out the times when “errors” were apparent.
Two weeks before travel:
I start cooking extra. Extra dinner, extra breakfast bars, extra veggies. We save our old yogurt containers (because they’re big and I don’t mind ditching them when they’re done), so I pack in about a meals worth of each food, put saran wrap over the top before the lid, and label with a sharpie. That last part is huge… somehow as food freezes it all starts to look the same…
Here’s an example of what I cook and freeze starting about two weeks out:
– Salsa chicken (crockpot overnight with chicken breast and a can of salsa)
– Broccoli (baked and spiced with cumin, salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika)
– Turkey (or beef) meatballs (these are so fun to make- mixing turkey, egg, oatmeal, spices, ketchup- yes, ketchup, and using a cookie scoop, place into muffin tins and bake)
*Don’t forget, you’ll need a decent sized cooler for all your food! Ice packs help, too. We find those easier than a bag of ice that melts everywhere.
Also, I swing by the grocery and start grabbing some dry goods. Honestly, I do this all year ‘round as I know car travel will happen at some point and I’m a bargain shopper- when big lots has Krave jerky on super sale, I stock up! Here are my favorite dry goods travel choices:
– Jerky (Krave or Epic are my favorite)
– Epic bars
– Single-serve olives
– Single-serve nut butters
– Whole jar nut butter
– Gluten-free bread
– Via coffee
– Beanitos chips (it always happens that we want something salty and crunchy while traveling, so I throw these in there so we at least get some protein)
– Single-serve oatmeal (Bob’s Red Mill makes a stellar gf oatmeal with chia seeds!)
– Single-serve vegetables (yep, I know, salty as all get out, but in the event that veggies are scarce, I have these as a backup)
– Granola (Heaven forbid Caleb goes a day without his granola! Cascadian farms is our favorite)
– Salad dressing
One week before travel:
Back to the grocery- one of my favorite places to go! This time I load up on perishables… we’ll have that cooler, so I’m not worried about them spoiling:
– Yogurt (always full-fat, always no sugar)
– Eggs (as awesome as it smells, we boil these the night before we leave so we have some protein-packed breakfasts)
– Sealed lunch meat (I opt for carrageenan free, etc. turkey breast- sealed because I freeze this until we’re ready to go!)
– Spinach (for that salad!)
About a week out, I also make my list or meal plan. Yup, I love me some charts. But, this does help let me know if I’ve prepped enough food for myself and for Caleb (who eats for like three people). We typically go out to eat once or twice while away, but again keeping us on budget (yep, we have a travel food budget!), it’s something we’ve chosen not to do every meal. The benefit of this is I also know exactly what I’m eating, my meals don’t have any fillers, and for my gluten (and corn) issue I know I won’t be up half the night with stabbing pains in my stomach.
Writing this, it seems like it’s a lot of work, and on one hand it is. But, having this system, when we’re two days out from our trip, I am not worrying or scrambling to get food together. My dry goods bag is already packed and I have a shelf set aside in both the freezer and fridge to accommodate travel-food only so packing morning-of is a breeze. In addition to the big cooler, we bring a day-lunch pack. This way we can leave the big ‘ol honkin’ cooler back at our hotel and bring only what we need for the day. Other things to consider:
– silverware- we pack some real deal silverware in a mason jar
– paper towels- bring the whole role, I promise you won’t be sorry
– extra container- it will come in handy
– bag clips (2-3)- I use these for something every single trip
– grocery bags- you’ll need somewhere to throw that trash
If you want, you can even sit down before you leave and calculate macros, divide food up into individual servings and freeze. I track as I go, because sometimes I just don’t know if I’ll be in the mood for meatballs or salsa chicken!
I’ve created a check list below to help you out on your next trip. Feel free to duplicate and add in things that you like to bring as we all have our daily staples. I hope this helps on your next trip!
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