Prepare ahead to have nourishing foods on hand while driving.
Lunch Hour Lesson #51
My husband and I take a lot of multi-day road trips. The 242,000 mile odometer reading on our Honda Civic confirms this! And while on the road, we still want to make sure that we’re eating nourishing and delicious foods. Rarely do we stop to eat at a restaurant while road tripping.
I’ve had many people over the years ask me what we do to continue to eat well while traveling, so today I’m going to share our strategy!
Besides being healthier, it does save money and valuable time during the driving day to bring our own food. However, it takes a little advance planning and batch cooking to make the trip come off successfully.
We also don’t always bring all the food we’ll need from the beginning. Often our first stop when we arrive in a new city is the local health food market or Trader Joe’s where we purchase perishables for the next couple days. We sometimes eat in the car, sometimes at rest stops, and other times at the Airbnb or hotel in which we are staying.
Before I get to the food itself, I’ll mention that the right supplies make a difference as well. We always have with us:
- a medium-sized cooler
- a set of camping utensils
- lightweight stainless steel containers with snap-on lids
- a couple small bamboo cutting boards
- a dish towel, soap and sponge
- paper towels
- one good quality small chef’s knife
- wooden spoon
- Hot Logic portable food warmer
Then there are the food staples:
- sea salt and pepper
- olive oil and apple cider vinegar
- coconut oil
- filtered water
- avocado oil mayonnaise
My strategy for batch cooking ahead of the trip is to make filling foods for breakfasts and lunches, and then we can eat more snacky type foods for dinners.
For breakfast, my go-to recipe is Baked Oatmeal Squares (adapted from Kristen Michaelis at FoodRenegade.com)
- 3 cups organic steel cut oats
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1.5 teaspoons rye flour
- 6 cups warm filtered water (or more to cover by at least 3 inches)
- 4 cups raw milk, or 2 cups heavy cream and 2 cups filtered water
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg, beaten
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup raisins or other chopped dried fruit
Put the oats, apple cider vinegar, and rye flour in a large bowl and cover with the warm filtered water. Stir gently, cover the bowl with a plate, and let sit for 12-24 hours. After 24 hours, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Pour off the soaking water from the oats. Add the raw milk and all remaining ingredients and whisk until well combined. Pour into a 13×9 baking dish. It will be liquid, not a batter, but it will firm up in the oven. Bake for 45-60 minutes or even a bit more until browned and bubbly. Let cool, then cut into squares and serve with your choice of toppings.
The program is a powerful way to kick-start a healthy lifestyle!
I make these oatmeal squares the day before the trip and wrap the individual pieces in plastic wrap (yes I do use plastic wrap while traveling!) to refrigerate or sometimes freeze them. They defrost well.
We bring along bananas, yogurt, cheese, or some sort of good quality jerkey or meat stick like those from Paleovalley to eat with it.
For lunch, when we are often in the middle of driving and need something with the least amount of fuss, I batch cook something ahead of time in my Instant Pot and freeze portions in stackable freezer containers. These frozen containers of food make good ice packs to keep the rest of the food cold in the cooler as well.
To eat these while driving, we simply take out one of the containers and start heating it up in our Hot Logic portable food warmer about 45 min before we want to eat. It plugs into the cigarette lighter. Then we eat it out of our stainless steel bowls with the cutting boards on our lap.
My favorite recipes for this are Chicken Biryani and Three Bean Turkey Chili (both from the book Pressure Perfect by Lorna Sass) and Spaghetti Squash Bolognese (from Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo, but I usually use rice instead of the spaghetti squash because it is less watery).
For dinner, we bring a variety of foods to cobble something together. Generally these foods work well:
- homemade cornbread, muffins, or other quickbread
- carrots, celery, apples, bananas
- raisins or other dried fruit
- peanut butter or almond butter
- canned tuna or salmon
- string cheese or block of cheddar
- nuts and seeds
- salami or prosciutto
- cottage cheese, yogurt
If all we have is these foods, they can make a meal. But we often stop to pick up some salad greens when we arrive and use some of these things to make a salad.
Practice making Baked Oatmeal Squares, so that you can be ready to whip them up the next time a road trip comes around.
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