Once upon a time my husband and I flew from Missouri to Maryland to look for houses for a week, followed shortly by taking our family on road trip down to Colorado, followed almost immediately by us moving halfway cross country.
Out of four weeks, we were on the road (or plane) for a total of 6 days, and otherwise away from our house for about three weeks.
We needed to eat a lot of food on the road.
Not just any food. While we were doing this we were eating allergy-friendly real food, and doing the GAPS diet?
Yeah. It was a bit crazy, even if you don’t count the day that involved two emergency room trips and our car breaking down.
But, I digress. Back to the food.
Even if you don’t have allergies or are doing GAPS, I am sure you can agree eating real food is a really smart idea. But, how do you do it when you are on the road and do not have access to the kitchen?
Through trial and error, lots of trying to convince my kids to eat jerky, and tips from other real foodies, I learned a lot about how to do just that.
In the end eating real food on the road, was totally doable. Much easier than I thought it would be. It just takes some planning, creativity, and lot of ice in your cooler.
5 Things I Learned From Eating Real Food, GAPS Legal, and Allergy Free on The Road
1. Muffin Tins. Muffin Tins. Muffin Tins.
*Angelic Music* Muffin Tins.
I can not take credit for coming up with this idea. I have seen it all over pinterest and a similar idea on instagram. It works like a charm.
Whoever originally come up with this idea deserves the nobel parenting prize. Even my two year old doesn’t make a mess when eating in the car with these.
Simply fill with an assortment of finger ready foods. We would stop by the side of the ride and I would fill them up and hand them out. At our next stop I would wash them to be ready for the next meal.
2. Rethink The Cold Cuts When it Comes to Protein
Cold cuts are classics for on-the-go and easy meals. Sadly, they are usually filled with less than idea ingredients and/or are priced a less than ideal price.
However, any meat that tastes fine cold, and isn’t messy, will work. This can be things you buy from local farms (such as natural sausages), things you make (such as sliced or shredded chicken), or even things you can get at the store (such as smoked salmon trim or prosciutto as those can usually be found with just 1-2 natural ingredients).
Beyond meat, hard boiled eggs and slices of cheese are good low-mess ideas for protein as well.
Buy and prep ahead of time. If you are taking sausages, slice and bag. You want to be able to just reach in a bag or jar and grab them. If you are buying things in plastic pouches take them out and put them in a resealable bag beforehand.
Trying to open a package of smoked salmon, while you are parked on the side of the highway, without scissors is just the type of scenario you want to avoid.
To recap, some good protein for on the go is:
- Slices of Chicken
- Shredded Chicken
- Chicken Patties made from Seasoned Ground Chicken
- Slices of Natural Sausages (ones that taste good cold)
- Smoked Salmon Trim (check for preservatives)
- Prosciutto (check for preservatives)
- Hard Boiled Eggs (sliced if desired/you have a little one eating them)
- Slices of Cheese
3. Take Finger Ready Fresh Fruits and Veggies
Ok, so this might seem like a complete and total “duh” but I did not think of it until the third stretch on the road. Until then we did not have a lot of freshness in our on-the-go meals and the dried foods and sausages were getting a bit old.
I took an afternoon and prepped a ton of fruits and vegetables for the last few legs of the trip. I was a little afraid about lasting, but in little baggies in our well iced cooler the fruit and vegetables lasted the 5 days we needed them to.
Basically anything that won’t be messy to eat (i.e. no mango which is slimy or cherries which stain) or will last well (i.e. no avocado or banana) works.
Finger Ready Fruit and Veggie Ideas:
- Broccoli (steamed or fresh as prefered)
- Cherry Tomatoes (halved if you have a toddler)
- Apple Slices sprinkled with lemon (will brown some if you have them in the cooler for a few days, but still taste fine)
- Roasted Asparagus (to eat cold)
- Roasted Carrots (to eat cold)
- Steamed Carrots
- Mushroom Slices
- Sweet Pepper Slices (we like mini peppers cut into chunks)
- Lacto-Fermented Dill Pickles (cut up if needed)
- Lacto-Fermented Carrots
Planning out your road trip? Make sure you have your road food ready by creating your meal plan in Plan to Eat. Plan to Eat makes it really easy to pop in any internet recipe (like the links in this post!) and then you will have your shopping and prep all ready to go.
4. Food Pouches Rock…
… and I completely underutilized them.
I took a lot of chia pudding, applesauce, and yogurt with us but as we weren’t stopping for most meals we couldn’t really eat them. I wish I had used food pouches. They turn just about any squooshable food into no-mess travel friendly foods.
Fill them up ahead of time of course, because you don’t want to try to do that on the road. Rinse as soon as you have a chance as dried food in pouches is hard to wash later.
A Few Ideas for Putting in the Pouches:
- Fermented Raw Applesauce
- Classic Applesauce
- Coconut Yogurt if Dairy Free
- Chia Pudding
- Spiced Carrot Puree (this is what we did)
5. Take Some Special Treats
Treats aren’t exactly necessary, and you do want to keep it simple, but a few are so worth it.
When my road weary children found out chocolate was to be had they squealed with such delight it was a pleasure!
We also took some special foods such as fruit leather and dried fruit which they got more frequently.
What We Take for Treats:
- Cinnamon Apple Chips
- Apple Juice Infused Cranberries
- Nut-Free Lara Bars
- Fruit Leather (or make your own!)
Plan to Eat is a June sponsor receiving their complimentary mention.