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Eating healthy on the road?


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We are about to head out for 2 1/2 weeks. I will have a kitchen for part of that time, but other parts we will be driving all day long and between low-quality, cramped hotels. I plan to bring my crock pot for days we will be out but staying in the same place for an extra evening, but I need lunch and breakfast ideas daily, then dinner ideas for the 4-5 evenings where cooking won't be an option.

 

I have a child who seems to have a noticeable difference when he spends much time on a standard American diet of any type. One meal in a week he can handle, but there is a cumulative effect that gets him every time. This seems to include chemicals in cleaners as well, such as laundry detergents. I can bring my own bedding for him, but the food will be tricky.

 

I've never pinned it down, since again, it seems only to be cumulative, not small amounts, so I'm not sure exactly what the issue is, but it's not what I cook with daily - largely whole foods.

 

Ideas? We'll have a cooler but that's it. I can't figure out how to cook on the road or keep things fresh for long, no freezer available.

 

We leave in just over 2 weeks so I have to start planning/preparing.

 

Thanks!

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Are you on the road all day?

Can you use a crockpot?

can you precook/freeze and defrost/heat?

 

google whole foods stores in the areas you'll be in, maybe they have some deli things for you purchase.

 

 

Thats all I've got

 

Lara

 

I'm counting 5-6 evenings where we can't crock pot. I can precook, but we will just have the cooler, not a freezer. That would only get me through the initial trip there. I suppose I could recook/freeze extra sometimes on the days I will have a kitchen available, but heating could be a problem...

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When I was in college, there used to be those little plug in pots that you could use to heat up water. We used them to heat water to make instant soups and I guess you could actually put canned soup in them, too....

 

I know that they also make those little sandwich presses now for kids in dorms. You can use them to make any type of hot, grilled sandwich.

 

Could you perhaps use something like that and carry your sandwich makings with you, as well as pop top or dehydrated soups?

 

If you will be in motel rooms with microwaves, there are many shelved meals now that don't require refrigeration. Of course, I have no idea what sorts of chemicals would be in those.....

 

When we are going to be out and want to take food with use, we tend to take little pickles, nuts, cheeses, crackers, seeds, breads, pepperoni, summer sausage, jerkey sticks, etc. I actually get a turkey jerkey stick at our food coop now that's very good.... We take apples, pears, and bananas.

 

I know there are shelf ready microwavable packets of rice of various types out there now. There are kits for making tuna salad sandwiches. I can think of lots of cold choices, but hot things are tougher!

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Rotisserie chicken from the local grocery store or Boston Market. You can also get green salad at either one.

 

Boiled eggs

 

Baked potatoes can be gotten at Wendy's.

 

Lots and lots of fresh fruit and fresh vegetables

 

Use your cooler--it can be quite effective if you just keep refreshing the ice and if you keep it closed. Only open it quickly to get what is needed, just a few times per day.

 

Triscuits crackers are whole wheat--try them with cheese.

 

Canned or vacuum-pac tuna or chicken

 

Cold pasta salad

 

Chipotle

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Some ideas for you:

 

Roast some turkey or beef and slice. This can be filling for sandwiches, burritos/wraps or toppings for crackers, etc. You could freeze part of it, which will thaw in the cooler after few days. Of course, you would have to pack 'safe' crackers, tortillas, bread, etc. We have also made meals fo frozen rice with meat, but that needs to be heated before eating.

 

Lots of fruit and veggies w/dips (hummus or ranch or whatever) for snacks. This can be bought along the way.

Can you freeze some muffins, pancakes, waffles, etc, to be eaten along the way for dinner, lunch AND breakfast? You can redefine 'dinner' for this trip, since your son's health is on the line. ;)

You can buy fresh produce and have salads with nuts & dried fruit on top.

Can your son have peanut butter (or another nut butter)? You could make sandwiches with it, or use it as a dip for veggies & fruit.

 

 

If you need to freeze food before you leave to last the entire trip, you may need a plug-in cooler for your vehicle, or buy dry ice along the way.

 

As a side note, we have found most fast food places are willing to heat something up for us, when they find out our son has food allergies and can't eat their food. The rest of us order from the menu.

 

I feel for you! I hope your trip goes well and you're able to find food for your son along the way, as needed.

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Now we're rolling with ideas! :party:

 

I'm going to compile a list of ideas tonight and sit down to make a meal plan. I can plan some things to buy along the way, some things to premix, and some things I can easily grab ingredients for along the way.

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My Mom used to can homemade soups for her and Dad when they would take road trips. They took along a little cook stove, but a microwave would do too. I don't think canning is hard, you just have to have a pot deep enough to cover the jars. It's a thought.

 

We are swamped next weekend, but I will consider pulling out the canning items this week. I do have a neglected pressure canner. :001_smile: We'll see if I have the time/energy.

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We have often traveled with a small grill and a small fold up table. DH has major gluten problems and chili and baked potatoes from Wendy's gets old fast.

 

I suppose I could look into an electric frying pan, but a few of those days we won't be in by dinner time. Not sure how to manage out on the road. Weather permitting, I suppose there is always propane grills at rest stops, but that's quite a risk this time of the year.

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A single electric burner might work well for when you're in a hotel. You can bring a largeish pot and a pan - whatever you normally use the most - and do any cooking that way. Think in terms of simple one pot meals. Many budget motels have a small refrigerator available in the room. Maybe you could call ahead and make the request. That would make it a bit easier than relying on a cooler. Other than that, think of meals which don't require any cooking, like cheese and crackers, cut up fruit and veggies, etc.. Cereal and fruit might work well in the morning. Sounds like you'll be having a great adventure!!! :)

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http://www.amazon.com/Weber-1520-Propane-Go-Anywhere-Grill/dp/B00004RALK/ref=sr_1_3?s=garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1294367440&sr=1-3

 

This is the type of grill I am talking about. We traveled across country with something like this and you can get some of them in the $20 range and yes we have traveled with it in the winter as well.

 

Oh! I think my parents may have something like that I can borrow! We have something a bit different - mainly charcoal, but it comes with a propane attachment.

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We bring a cooler and a lot of zip-loc bags. The bags are used for ice, and for containing stuff we get along the way. Each night, we fill a bag with ice and put it in the cooler. Each morning, we do it again. Every hotel I've ever stayed at had free ice. Keeping things cool is actually pretty easy. The zip-loc bags are essential for keeping things un-messy.

 

We eat from grocery stores along the way, not restaurants.

We bring paper plates, bowls, cups, and plastic cutlery. It makes it easier to prepare the food. We bring a small cutting board and a sharp knife, sometimes a Swiss army type and sometimes a paring knife with a sheath.

 

We eat the following:

 

Good bread, cheese, peanut butter, jelly, nuts, yogurt, cereal (bring milk in boxes (like the box juices) or just buy a small jug at the local grocery or convenience store), homemade muffins (they will last the first week, anyway), apples, bananas, applesauce, grapes, raisins, carrots. Look up the addresses of good grocery stores along the way - Wegmans is one option around here. They often have prepared whole foods - cut-up fruit or veggies, etc., as well as sandwiches or microwavable meals.

 

Make it part of your day's adventure to find a nice local bakery, or a farmers' market, or some other healthy eatery. If you look these up in advance, it will help.

 

My dad has actually cooked a turkey in a hotel lobby microwave, and we have done a standing rib roast with potatoes and broccoli in the pits of Daytona Speedway during Bike Week, but that's advanced work!

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We have trouble with chemicals/additives. What we do:

 

Split meals at Outback, Carabbas, those type of restaurants. The portions are large, and our family of four can make it fine with two split meals. The quality of food is good and doesn't cause problems.

 

For breakfast: Make a banana bread to take, take the almond milk that isn't refrigerated and use it up each day on organic cereal w/bananas. The hotel usually has juice, but if you want better quality, pick it up at the store and keep in frig. or cooler. Same w/milk. We also like nut bars for breakfast if there isn't time to clean up a mess.

 

Also take a little dishwashing liquid.

 

For lunch: Take organic lunchmeat, cheese, squeeze mayo and mustard (or ranch dressing), lettuce/sprouts, tomato, onion, and bread or wraps to make sandwiches. Be sure to take plastic wrap so you can carry it (we had to make an emergency trip to the store because we forgot it). And a decent knife, the plastic ones don't cut tomatoes or onions very well.

 

HTH

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The obvious answer is to avoid all fast food restaurants. At least if you eat out, make sure it's somewhere you can order healthy.

 

When we're on vacation, I stock the hotel room fridge with prewashed, ready-to-eat fruits (berries, apple slices, pears, sliced kiwi, etc), carrots & broccoli/cauliflower chunks, small bottled waters, greek yogurt, cheese sticks (the real kind--not string cheese) and Roquefort cheese. You can also throw in a couple of pkgs. of pre-cooked chicken chunks that have been cubed or cut into strips (like the kind that you can buy for quick fajitas), which is a quick and easy protein fix. Buy canned garbanzo beans, drain and rinse, toss with a little olive oil and salt and pepper; keep in a covered bowl--another easy protein. You can replenish the "snack fridge" through the week. Outside the fridge, have bananas, nuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruits, crackers, etc.

 

We usually only do two meals a day, anyway, because we sleep late on vacation. We order room service for breakfast, and they usually have all kinds of things from fresh fruit to oatmeal to yogurt to eggs and toast, etc. We've also brought our own cereal, plastic bowls & spoons and milk.

 

Since we normally have that around 9:30 or so, snacking tides us over until dinner time. If your crew has to have a full meal in the middle of the day, then it's simply about restaurant choices. If you choose good restaurants, you can order whole foods just like (or almost like) you cook at home. One good place is Ruby Tuesday--they have a GREAT salad bar. Cheesecake Factory is awesome, and the serving sizes are so huge, you can easily order only one entree for every two people.

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Could you afford to invest in a food saver, vacuum packing system? These have been known to go on sale quite cheap. If you pre-cook the foods, seal with the food saver, and then freeze...the foods should be safe for use for several days after thawing so long as the package remains sealed.

 

We carry tortillas instead of bread because it travels better. We make wrap sandwiches out of all kinds of toppings. But, I also can and dehydrate food during the harvest season so I always have canned chicken soup, beef and noodles, salsa, chili, applesauce, etc. that I do dump and heat. We use a coleman two burner, propane tank powered camp stove and have been known to cook in the back of a van with the back doors open while at a rest area or truck stop.

 

I also take a lot of yogurt, homemade granola to use as cereal, boiled eggs which last quite a while in the cooler, lots of fresh veggies and fruits, nuts, and cheeses and we travel with the toaster which we can use in the morning for toast, bagels, and if I am industrious before we leave, waffles which I've frozen ahead and are for the first morning breakfast...pop in the toaster until golden brown.

 

My children do not mind cold rice - I know they are strange kids - so I'll also make rice before I leave and then we'll eat that with chopped cold ham, chicken, or turkey and the fresh veggies.

 

Generally, we look like we are camping when we actually occupy a motel room!

 

Faith

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PP mentioned dehydrating and that made me think of a local cooking chef I saw recently who did a whole show about backpacking with dehydrated food. She dehyrdrates her veggies, meat, etc..and then packages individual meals into ziploc bags and adds water at the campsite. She doens't say it, but she must bring along a kettle/pot of some kind. She uses tomato paste in a tube with dried veggies for a red sauce. Her carb is either pasta or rice, quinoa, etc.. She adds butter when she is putting her bags together, but she is only planning on a 3-4 day trip. You could buy that as you travel. An electric tea kettle would be quicker than a campstove ..I use mine for boiling all the time instead of boiling on the stove. You could boil water at night and "cook" oatmeal while you sleep and add raisins and honey for breakfast.

!

If you want a link to the show, I can find it for you.

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If possible bring 2 coolers (one for food & one for drinks) this keeps the food cooler for longer. Food ideas that my family enjoys...

 

Breakfasts

***mini cereals & milk (or put serving sizes of acceptable cereals from home in ziploc bags)

***instant oatmeals

***granola bars (bought or homemade) & yogurts

***fresh fruit & hard boiled eggs

 

Lunches

Pack the lunch cooler with cold cuts, bagged lettuce, tomatoes (slice as needed), cheese, spreads (mayo, mustard, peanut butter, jam, butter, etc.), baby carrots, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, a selection of fresh fruit (apples, mini bananas, grapes, manderine oranges, etc.), bread rolls, & crackers.

 

Fix a lunch basket with small paper plates, a small cutting board, a paring knife, some plastic knives, spoons, paper towels, etc. Put what ever from the above lunch items that doesn't need to stay cool in the basket. Replenish the bread, cold cuts, fruit & veg as needed along the way. If you vary the meat / fruit / type of bread each time, you don't get bored with the same lunch.

 

Dinners

***cooked chicken from the deli, bagged salad, bread from the bakery

***pizza night (since you're eating healthy most of the time anyway ;) )

***bacon-egg pie (make at home to eat day 1 or 2), coleslaw

***chili-con-carne & rice (cook & freeze the chili at home & heat up in the microwave) use that microwave rice. Top with cheese & salad from the lunch cooler. Use tortilla chips if you want to make it into nachos.

 

HTH,

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Great ideas!

Quick question: Does anyone know if yogurt cups freeze? The local discount grocers often have great deals on cases of organic, natural yogurt cups, but they are usually on or slightly after their expiration date. I figure, if I freeze them first, and they slowly thaw in the cooler, I can make them last longer. Would that work, or would it change the texture?

 

Second: Will hard boiled eggs last longer if they are not peeled? I would assume so, but the mess in the car makes me squeamish. We're not that tidy as it is!

 

I haven't figured out what, if anything, I can manage on the road for cooking, but I have decided the crock pot must go on days we will stay more than a single night. I have dehydrated veggies and lentil/bean mixes I can easily make in that.

 

I may borrow a coleman cooker from my parents, however. I can certainly do some one-pot meals with veggies and a meat. I also have some good recipes for instant rice and canned chicken. I only need to make the rice, throw in chicken, cheese, salsa, or whatever other variety. I found a few from some sites on emergency meal planning for things easy to heat and serve off the shelf.

 

I have already looked into grocery stores in some of the places we'll stay. I need to check closer for a deli department for chicken or otherwise on days when we will be passing through if I can't bring something to cook with. Space is a real concern.

 

Here's what I plan so far for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks:

 

Next week a double batch of homemade muffins

Cereal w/milk in cooler and plastic bowls/spoons

My kids love hard boiled eggs, so I plan to boil a couple dozen to pack in the cooler for a protein snack and lunch options. I will have access to a kitchen at the half-way point to boil more.

String cheese package from Costco

Bag of nuts

Fruit of whatever is on sale

Baby carrots and veggie munchies

Discount grocer for misc. crackers or natural snacks to last as long as possible

Bread and sandwich makings

 

I'll do more reading through posts and see what else may work.

Edited by CLHCO
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PP mentioned dehydrating and that made me think of a local cooking chef I saw recently who did a whole show about backpacking with dehydrated food. She dehyrdrates her veggies, meat, etc..and then packages individual meals into ziploc bags and adds water at the campsite. She doens't say it, but she must bring along a kettle/pot of some kind. She uses tomato paste in a tube with dried veggies for a red sauce. Her carb is either pasta or rice, quinoa, etc.. She adds butter when she is putting her bags together, but she is only planning on a 3-4 day trip. You could buy that as you travel. An electric tea kettle would be quicker than a campstove ..I use mine for boiling all the time instead of boiling on the stove. You could boil water at night and "cook" oatmeal while you sleep and add raisins and honey for breakfast.

!

If you want a link to the show, I can find it for you.

 

I have an electric tea kettle! I wonder if it would fit into the crock pot I plan to bring?

 

I can make a lot too if I can boil water. I may have to make that a priority. A tea kettle won't cook noodles. If I could cook noodles, that opens up a lot more options too. Reheating is easier if there isn't a microwave.

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Yes yogurt cups do freeze well. Just stir when thawed, before eating. I used to put frozen yogurt cups in my dd's lunch in the summer :)

 

Hardboiled eggs do last longer unpeeled. Just peel as needed or peel a couple & put in a ziploc bag at breakfast, ready for lunch.

 

Coleman cookers are good, but make sure you have a place to use them outside. Don't cook indoors with a camp cooker. It's not safe.

 

If space is an issue, just get enough milk, cold cuts, fresh fruit / veg., etc. for 1-2 days. Ask at where you stay each night for a grocery store nearby & fill up then. Same with breads & crackers. Just stick up from home with items that your ds can eat & keep those special for him as you may not easily find them enroute.

 

2 minute noodles can be cooked in a microwave. Rice noodles (I believe) can be cooked by soaking in boiling water. I have a pasta cooker that I use at camp that is simply a pot with a strainer top under a tight lid. You pour boiling water on the pasta, put the lid on & wrap in a thick towel & leave for 10min. Drain. If the pasta isn't quite cooked I pour in fresh boiling water & leave for another 5-10 minutes. Not great, but at least you can make pasta.

 

JMHO,

Edited by Deb in NZ
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I have an electric tea kettle! I wonder if it would fit into the crock pot I plan to bring?

 

I can make a lot too if I can boil water. I may have to make that a priority. A tea kettle won't cook noodles. If I could cook noodles, that opens up a lot more options too. Reheating is easier if there isn't a microwave.

 

I would think the crockpot could be used as a kettle and cook pasta in it after you have boiled the water in the tea pot.

You can make oatmeal in your crockpot over night too.

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These are great ideas. We have food allergies to egg and MSG (which is in almost everything, if you know what to look for on the labels). The only fast food we do is Wendy's baked potatoes. Others have mentioned most of what we do. I always bake oat scones ahead of time, and oat cookies. We take bread, crackers, fruit, cheese, yogurt, loads of nuts, peanut butter, fruit, carrots.

We stop at grocery stores instead of fast food places, and buy this sort of stuff, letting the kids pick out which types. We also sometimes get granola bars. Another thing to take with you, if possible, is a toaster oven.

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Could you pre-make some falafel balls to take along? You could add them to salad, or put them on some bread with some lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and tzatziki.

 

I would also have some containers along so that you can periodically get some fresh fruit and veggies to cut up into munchable pieces.

 

We did a month-long road trip last year. I took along a muffin tin for each of the kids. I used the paper liners to minimize clean up and toothpicks for utensils. It worked great for holding all the little bite-sized pieces of food.

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have you looked into one of these to use the crockpot WHILE in the car?

 

http://www.amazon.com/Cisco-Linksys-L03040-Power-2GO-Inverter/dp/B00004XRDM

 

Lara

 

We have something like that, but I don't know if it would work on a crock pot. I have some concerns about keeping hot food contained while driving, too.

 

I have severe multiple food allergies. If we have to travel more than a day, I bring frozen quail, millet, pigeon, buffalo, taro, etc. in a food saver bag in a cooler and stay at hotels with a fridge/freezer in the room. I cook with this:

 

http://www.sportsimportsltd.com/12vopost.html

 

My husband calls it my "easy bake oven!"

 

Now that does look interesting.

No major food allergies here, just some chemical sensitivity concerns (in most processed/fast food), but one thing I really am is *cheap*. :tongue_smilie: At that price, if it works well, it would save money, that's for sure.

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We have something like that, but I don't know if it would work on a crock pot. I have some concerns about keeping hot food contained while driving, too.

 

 

 

Now that does look interesting.

No major food allergies here, just some chemical sensitivity concerns (in most processed/fast food), but one thing I really am is *cheap*. :tongue_smilie: At that price, if it works well, it would save money, that's for sure.

 

It works well!

 

I used it for one road trip, then a couple of times to keep food warm when driving an hour or two away here in the local area when we would be out for a while and I would need to eat. You either have to heat the food first and then keep it warm, or it takes a few hours to heat up.

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It works well!

 

I used it for one road trip, then a couple of times to keep food warm when driving an hour or two away here in the local area when we would be out for a while and I would need to eat. You either have to heat the food first and then keep it warm, or it takes a few hours to heat up.

 

There is a whole line of such things, it seems! There is a crock pot one that has a lid that secures on for travel, plus you can get an adapter that will plug into a wall outlet to use at a hotel instead of the car.

 

So, hypothetically speaking, if I froze several meals this week, put one set in a cooler with dry ice to stay cold longer, and another set in the regular cooler to simply thaw gradually, I could decide around lunch what we'd have for dinner, take something that is thawed, say, a chicken and rice meal already prepared, plug it in as we are driving, then serve it up for dinner a few hours later, right?

 

I could double everything I make over the next week or so and freeze...

 

Yes, this sounds like it could work well!

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I have severe multiple food allergies. If we have to travel more than a day, I bring frozen quail, millet, pigeon, buffalo, taro, etc. in a food saver bag in a cooler and stay at hotels with a fridge/freezer in the room. I cook with this:

 

http://www.sportsimportsltd.com/12vopost.html

 

My husband calls it my "easy bake oven!"

 

...did you just say PIGEON? :001_huh:

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Rats. I was just looking and the largest they have is just 1 quart. That's not good for a family of 6. The crock pot is 1.5, which would allow 1 cup per person, enough for the hot part of the meal, at least, with sides. I may consider that one. I don't want two because the GPS has to plug into the other outlet.

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