Once you get into the swing of things, eating real food gets to be pretty easy. In the safety of your own kitchen, you have all the tools, a pantry full of Real Foods, and a nice fridge to keep your food fresh. But what do you do when face with a road trip? How do you avoid the drive-through traps and the sea of readily accessible junk food and come through unscathed?
Recently my family went on a little road trip to see my beautiful stepdaughter graduate from high school. I should actually say plane trip. It would have been easier had it been a road trip because we could have brought a cooler with us and had more food options, but since we were navigating airports and had very limited space to carry things, our food choices were very limited.
Here are 5 Real Food travel tips that we used to make sure we were still eating our best while away from home:
1. Plan ahead: This is easily the most important tip. Just like everything else with being healthy and eating Real Food, it all comes down to planning ahead. I wrote down each of the meals that we would need while on the road, and I made a plan for what we would do for each of them. For example, our flight left super early that first morning and I knew my kids would want breakfast on the plane, so the night before I made up some containers of overnight oats using this recipe from the Lemon Bowl. We didn’t have strawberries so I left those off. We used SunButter instead of peanut butter for allergy reasons, and regular cow’s milk instead of almond milk, again for the allergies. The guys at security kind of poked at the sack and gave it suspicious looks as we went through, but other than that it was the perfect airplane breakfast! Both my girls told me several times how delicious it was.
We had about a three hour layover, and during that time we all decided it was time for a snack. Have you seen the price of airport food? I knew it was expensive, but it’s been awhile since I looked. They wanted $10 for one teeny little salad! Sheesh! Thankfully I had thought ahead and made a gigantic batch of granola bars, so we enjoyed our own clean eating snack, right there in the airport.
I also packed each of them a couple of SunButter sandwiches to have on hand. I would be careful about packing PB&J on an airplane because you never know who is going to be allergic and because the reactions are so severe, but SunButter is perfect! None of the ingredients go bad quickly, so we were able to keep them in the girls’ backpacks; one for lunch the first day, one for dinner the next.
2. Load up on produce: When looking for food that doesn’t need to be in the fridge and doesn’t need to be heated later, produce is the perfect choice. Some produce travels better than others, of course, so we loaded our backpacks with carrot sticks, apple slices, and a bunch of those little mandarin oranges. I also brought some Lemony Kale Salad for my lunch that day. Whatever situation you find yourself in, even if (heaven forbid!) you end up at a fast food drive through, there is usually a fruit/vegetable option. Make sure to fill your plate with that instead of any fake food.
3. Research: We could only bring so much food with us, so we knew we’d need to eat out at least once. There are a few sites you can go to to list all the different restaurants options, including healthy/organic options, but we didn’t find these sites very helpful. There weren’t many healthy restaurants listed, and a lot of the information was out of date. We actually found it much more effective to just Google “healthy restaurant” and the name of the city we were in. We found a place that used produce from a local organic farm and decided to try it out. It looked like it had been decorated by my great-grandmother, and we did end up getting french fries for the kids, but that organic, local lettuce made a delicious salad for me. And yes, I did steal a French fry or two when the little girls weren’t looking.
4. Look to the past: Our ancestors didn’t have refrigerators and still needed to preserve their food. They used processes like drying and curing their food. A few days before our trip, Marquis made a huge batch of homemade beef jerky. He is more picky than the rest of us and is very fond of dead animals, so having a stash of jerky really made him happy. Other great options would be dried fruit or trail mix. Again, be careful with nuts as you are traveling as you never know who around you has allergies.
5. Make the best available choice: Sometimes, no matter how good your intentions are, you just might end up in fake food land. In those situations, just make the best choice from the options available to you and don’t worry about the rest. This tip actually goes hand in hand with the produce tip. We chose to take advantage of the hotel’s free continental breakfast (I really love the word free!). Of course, the Real Food options at a continental breakfast are rather slim, so we grabbed a bunch of fruit and filled up on that, then just nibbled at the rest. The little girls each got a little yogurt and I grabbed a bite of some eggs, and I also ate one of our granola bars.
It is possible to eat well in a world full of pretend food, it just takes planning and awareness. And fueling your body well will give you the vitality you need to fully enjoy your vacation!
What are your favorite Real Food treats to eat on the road?
BUILT Gourmet Getaway Lunch Tote