You may be concerned that holiday travel or an upcoming vacation will expose your family to too many unhealthy foods. If yes, then you need to pack healthy food of your own and bring it along. This guarantees that you will eat healthy meals while you have fun on your trip.
Well, this may sound like a good idea, but it’s not actually so easy! Below are a few tips that will simplify how you prepare and package your food to-go.
1. Take Time to Plan
You should avoid a last-minute rush by planning several days before the day of your trip. You’ll need to create sufficient time to gather the food ingredients, as well as prepare them for packaging. You can even cook and freeze some of the meals, especially if you’re putting them in a cooler during the trip. Frozen foods will keep longer, and also keep the temperature in the cooler lower.
Of course, ensure that you have reusable containers and ones that help keep your food cool or warm. If you’re cooking a hotel, look for one that has a refrigerator and microwave or stove top in the room. Being able to store and heat up your own food at the hotel will also keep your food bill much lower than going out to eat for every meal.
Also, you may consider carrying small portable kitchen appliances with you, such as a small immersion water heater and an electric hot plate. Particularly, this is important if you are staying in a budget hotel without a kitchenette. If traveling by plane, make sure to check with the airline that the appliances you’re bringing are allowed.
For car trips, definitely bring along a cooler. There are many sizes of coolers, so you will need to find one that will fit in the back seat or trunk of your car. Make sure you have something that works, and be prepared to get ice the morning of your trip. An ice-packed cooler will keep your food cold for approximately two days. If you replace the ice every night, you can keep your food stored even longer.
Finally, make a plan of where the food will go, especially on a car trip. Ensure that there’s space for the cooler away from any portable electronic devices. Finally, have ample storage bags on hand so you can keep the food inside the cooler dry.
2. Choose Foods Ideal for Travel
If you can access a mini-kitchen at your travel destination, then you can pack as many groceries as you may desire. If, however, you find yourself with minimal cooking options, you can pack healthy foods such as the ones below:
- Refrigerator oatmeal. If you have a cooler, then this is a great healthy breakfast option. You can prepare jars of milk, oats, add-ins, and sweeteners to take along on your trip. For example, one jar can contain nuts, oats, a spoonful of jam, and almond milk. Then make a few others with different add-ins, such as hemp seeds and chopped fresh fruits. Within a day, you’ll have a high fiber breakfast in every jar that will keep you energized all day.
- Fruits and vegetables. When you pack healthy foods for your trip, make fruits and vegetables a priority. Whole fruits such as apples, bananas, and oranges require no refrigeration and are easy to store. As well, you can pre-chop vegetables into slices or sticks, making easy healthy snacks. You can also bring along your favorite nut butter, which makes a fulfilling dip or snack for apple slices and other produce.
- Cheese and hard-boiled eggs. These foods are highly portable as long as you have access to a cooler. Both make a good snack or can be part of a meal.
- Bread. Sandwiches are the quintessential travel food. You can eat bread with peanut butter, deli meats, premade tuna salad and lots of other sandwich toppings. If you pre-chopped some vegetables or have a cutting board, you may easily add extra nutrition to sandwiches. For extra savings, consider buying lunch meat seasonally (just as you might with produce!) For example, turkey and ham go on sale in December.
- Cooked leftovers. If you have a cooler, you can freeze and bring along your leftovers from the fridge to finish up on the trip. Moreover, you won’t let the food in your fridge go to waste while you’re traveling.
- Protein and energy bars. You should never forget to include protein and energy bars when going on a trip. They are an easy way to get filled and energized without any prep or fuss.
- Easy-to-cook packaged foods. Although raw, live foods are best, if you do have a hot plate or stove top to work with, packaged foods make for a simple quick meal. Think about bringing foods that you’ll only need water to cook. These include macaroni and a jar of sauce, ramen and freeze-dried meals.
3. Gather Your Supplies
Once you’ve decided what healthy foods to pack for your trip, you’ll need to gather supplies. Here are some items you should include:
- Forks, knives and spoons. These are basic items that you’ll need during most meals. Even if you’re eating sandwiches, you’ll need utensils to slather condiments on the bread.
- Plates and bowls. If you forget to bring plates, then your meals might get quite messy. And if you’re camping, you definitely need to bring your own dishes. Hence, always pack a few reusable or paper plates. Here’s a tip: Ensure that your plates are microwave-friendly if you’re staying in a hotel with this appliance.
- Storage container. In addition to containers that hold your packed foods, you have to consider that you may have leftovers. To address this, you can bring an easy-to-clean jar, or reuse the packaging from some of the foods that you’ve already eaten. This is why reusable, and not disposable, is better!
- Chopping board and knife. If you know that you’ll be doing some prep work during your trip, you will definitely need a knife and board. If you’re flying, ensure that you pack your knife in your checked bags, so security doesn’t confiscate it.
- Dish soap and sponge. This isn’t applicable to every trip, but if your hotel doesn’t offer cleaning supplies, you will definitely need something to clean up your containers and reusable dishes after meals. Keep in mind, when flying you cannot bring fluids through security checkpoint, so pack everything in your checked bags.
While you may not require all these supplies, each one is quite useful depending on what foods you’re bringing and the details of your trip. Think about what you’ll need before your travel and pack accordingly, so your meals are fun and stress-free.
The idea of packing food for a trip may seem like a bit of a hassle at first, but you’ll realize how convenient it is after your first attempt. You will not only have healthy meals during your trip, but you will significantly reduce your expenses. Moreover, waiting on restaurant wait lists or filling up with junk food snacks will likely drain you of the energy you need to enjoy your travel or vacation.
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