Family Portrait minus Moo_April 2010

Well we have finally arrived in Vermont! After two days of driving, and two days of settling, I am online, although briefly. We won’t have reliable internet access until next week. But I couldn’t resist coming online to share this post with you, my loyal readers!

We arrived at night, in the dark, but woke the next day to paradise – green grass, flowers blooming, sweet breeze blowing. We had two glorious days like this, and now there is almost 2 feet of snow on the ground! But that is what you can expect at this time of year in Northern New England. In any case, I wanted to talk about food – and more specifically food while on the road…

If you are like me, planning a trip inevitably involves food. Many times I will choose a travel destination based on what the food scene is like there – are there good quality restaurants with local farms to supply them? Are there unique foodie experiences to be had? New exotic foods to try? Etc… But what do you eat on your way there, where often the choices are less than optimal?

If you are driving, your choices are extremely limited. At the airports, there is little better – mostly in both instances it is a sea of fast food, or if you are “lucky”, sit down chain restaurants, none of which are a part of my food plan because you never know what goes into the food they are cooking. Even so called “healthy” choices on the menu can be cooked with bad oils, and salad dressings can have corn syrup, or the worst of the worst, anything can be loaded with MSG, hydrogenated oils, food dyes or other food preservatives. No, you really never know what you are getting, and eating bad food on the way to your travel destination can have you feeling poorly once you get there – which really defeats the whole purpose of enjoying your time away. In my experience, only in Italy was I able to literally stop at a rest stop and get good, fresh and locally made food– but that is a post for another time, perhaps.

EggSalad_and_ChickenSalad_RoadFood

So since I don’t live in Italy, what I have been doing lately is making food for us to take on our trips. This year all of our trips have been road trips, and that makes packing food to take along a little easier, especially if you go with foods that are easy to eat with your hands. All you need is a small lunch box sized cooler (depending on the size of your travel party), a few ice packs, and a smaller grocery bag with non-perishable items. For long trips, remember to pack enough meals for everyone you are traveling with and plenty of water. For Roberto and I, when we head up to New England for example, we need a total of 4 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 4 dinners – 2 of each meal for two days. Imagine how much money that will save you in road meals!

Also, remember, that you don’t need to eat something different everyday for every meal. Usually we take 4 of the same thing for all the breakfasts, and then create a large batch of 2 other choices – one for dinners and one for lunches. If you add some fruit, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, or maybe even some kettle chips and a little dark chocolate, you have enough variety to keep it interesting, as well as some treats to keep you motivated to keep on truckin’!

Here are some of our favorite meals to take along:

1) Oat Cakes with various cheeses, sliced, smoked salmon, or salami (you can pre-package the cheeses and meats into ziplock bags, and pack the oat cakes separately to keep them crunchy. This is a great breakfast choice.

Eggs_for_Salad_Road_food

2) Hard Boiled Eggs – which you can either have for breakfast with an oat cake or create an egg salad with for one of the other meals and serve on rolls, or wraps, etc.

3) Lettuce Wraps – large romaine lettuce leaves stuffed with tuna, salmon or egg salad, or beans and corn with salsa, or chunks of mozzarella and tomato drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette or any other creation you can come up with. You can even make a “turkey sandwich” and put it in a lettuce wrap.

Chicken_for_salad_road_food

4) Homemade Chicken Salad – served on rolls or bread or stuffed in a lettuce wrap. I like putting sun-dried tomatoes in my chicken salad

5) Green Salad Wraps – make a delicious tossed salad full of crunchy veggies, dress it, and fill wraps with the mixture, or one of the other mixtures above, under lettuce wraps.
6) Homemade Maki Rolls – these are the best little finger foods in the world! :)

For our most recent trip – the drive from Florida to our new hometown in Vermont, we took #1 for breakfasts, and #’s 2 and 4 to divide over lunches and dinners. The prep time for this was about 15 minutes. Enough time to cook the chicken for the chicken salad and mix up both the salads (I had hardboiled the eggs in advance). Plus I did this with my kitchen PACKED for the move – so trust me, anyone can do this! LOL! :) We are lucky enough to stay with my aunt in Virginia half way, so she lets us tuck our little cooler in her fridge, overnight and sends us on our way the next morning with full bellies!

What kinds of foods and snacks do you like to bring on your trips? What is your worst road food experience?

You can check out my mom’s posts here and here on her blog Travel Closeup for more road trip food ideas!