Meals on the Go

“How do you think of that?”
My friend Carly asked me this on a road trip about a year ago. I had popped open a can of tuna and pulled out a bag of bread and container of coconut oil to put together a sandwich within minutes.
How do I think of this?

If it hasn’t occurred to you yet, I do a lot of thinking when it comes to food. If I don’t provide myself with the best, most wholesome food for traveling, I find myself refusing to eat anything else that doesn’t fit in with my “rules.” Thus it works best for me to carry along wholesome snacks that cannot perish easily. I know that has been the first step in the right direction to avoiding a binge at night or falling into a routine of restricting.
I’m trying to get over it–the control issue where I only allow myself to eat certain foods and cannot let myself buy anything outside my comfort zone. But I’ve found some good use out of this obsession for healthy: I’ve used some creative brainwork to do the best I can to provide myself with healthy food.
Let me make this more difficult though and tell you that I don’t know THE healthiest way to eat. I don’t believe anyone really knows. So with these options for food and travel, please allow yourself to have a nutritional opinion and adjust to your needs. You don’t have to believe everything I share. I am only offering what works for me and what I like and feel comfortable with–all of which matches my body’s needs and my dietician’s guidance.
It has taken a lot of time and adjustment to get this traveling-food equation just right. What do you bring when you are a veggie-eating queen and want the most filling, nutritious foods possible?
Munchin’ on Macros
Since I’m following my meal plan given to me by my dietician, the first thing I think about is including a macronutrient in each meal: carbs, protein, and fat. Oh yeah, and vegetables. Vegetables aren’t a specific “macronutrient” per say but of course, you’re going to want to pack those. Fruit is great to bring along too, but sometimes that can be bulky and may suffer the dire consequences of getting squished in a bag. I find that oranges often work best if I do bring any fruit.
Carbs: Rolled oats in a bag are great, especially if you have a microwave or you can find a coffee shop and ask for some hot water. This is an easy option, but sprouted whole-grain bread is even easier. I usually buy Ezekial Whole-grain bread because you can find this in most grocery stores in the freezer (you don’t have to seek out a health food store) and it’s easy to grab-n-go.
Protein: The easiest protein source to carry along with me are little boxes of tofu that I buy from Costco. No, I don’t cook it–let alone do anything to it–because I like eating it plain. It’s how I roll. I also canned tuna and try to find the cans with a pop-open seal so that I don’t have to lug around a can-opener, too. Jerky is a fine option as well, and easy to get at almost any gas station. They are often high in salt and have some sugar but it is probably your next best option for protein—and not as smelly.
Fat: Coconut oil is a great nutritional fat to scoop into a small container. I usually eat my tuna with coconut oil on a slice of bread or two as a complete meal. Peanut butter is a good fat to use also if you just want to go more traditional and stick to a simple peanut butter sandwich.
Vegetables: Keep it canned if you can’t get to a refrigerator. Of course, cans won’t work well for flights since the air pressure will cause them to crush and send vegetable juices spilling all over your lovely clothes (yes, I’ve had first-hand experience with this). But for road trips I often bring a few cans of green beans.
Emergency Snacks: I find that Quest nutrition bars are great since they are high in protein and tasty. They have no sugar (although there is artificial sugar, which I am not a big fan of) and they are very dense and filling. I see these as a dessert or treat, and find them fun to look forward to eating on trips since I can “allow” myself to have them more often for emergencies.
Like I’ve said, there is no right or wrong way to travel with food, but this is how and why I do what I do to feel most comfortable. Please allow yourself wiggle room and be forgiving if things don’t turn out the way you expect them to. I do try to challenge myself to go out on a whim and buy a snack I may not normally eat to change things up and practice overcoming my fear.
Good luck, and remember to enjoy this time of travel rather than having food and its fears consume your thoughts!

About Rachael

Rachael Steil is a graduate from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts. Steil an author, speaker, and a recipient of the Spirit and Outstanding Runner award for the Aquinas College cross country team and has received 6th place All-American accolades in cross country as well as 7th place in the NAIA track nationals.

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