A couple of months ago, I headed out on the road with my 2 young kiddos for our Spring Break trip from Key West, FL to Yorktown, VA. My husband was at a Coast Guard training there, and we went up to visit him!
I love traveling almost as much as having our family all together, so this trip was a win-win for all of us. Something I dislike about traveling, though, is how hard it can be to keep from overspending on food. And you’ve heard me say it before, I can’t stand the limited options for healthy food on the road either. For me and my kids eating the healthiest options from fast food restaurants (usually least expensive with easy access from the highway) for 3 meals a day for 3 days, we’re looking at spending at least $160. And that’s for food I’m not exactly happy about us eating and is not very filling either! Anytime we go for a long weekend trip, I end up basically reinventing the wheel with planning for food, and it gets tiring! So during this past trip, I kept track of everything I made and packed to bring with us. I will use this guide again and again for any time we do car trips in the future, and it will make things MUCH more simple and streamlined!
For the Spring Break trip, I grabbed my rolling cooler tote, and for about half the cost mentioned above, I stocked it up with breakfast, lunch, and snack foods. We actually had enough food to eat for late dinners in our hotel rooms too! Granted, after 3 days straight of controlled options, we were all ready for a little more variety, but it worked out so well I will do this from now on as a simple way to save money (and our health!) while eating on the road.
An added bonus: even though I was in the middle of P90X3 at the time of that trip and had a set meal plan with controlled portion sizes, not only did this road trip meal plan coincide with that and help me stay on track toward my fitness goals, it actually helped me put the road trip food plan together!!! (See my P90X3 results here!)
So here’s the before and after pics of my prep. All this fit into my Thirty-One rolling cooler perfectly! Each night when we arrived at our hotel for the evening, I’d put my food containers in the mini fridge and place my freezer packs in the freezer. (I used 2 larger freezer packs and 1 small. These cost just a couple dollars each at Kmart or Walmart).
>>>>Here are the snap-lid containers I use. I have had them forever and I LOVE them! I never have to worry about leaks, and they fit together perfectly!<<<<
In addition to the rolling cooler bag, I also packed the following:
~A smaller cooler bag with a gallon jug of water and some 100% juice packs for the kiddos.
~A separate bag with snacks: Golden Sunrise Apricot Muffins, a Ziplock baggie of trail mix (Planters mixed nuts with raisins, dried cranberries, and dried apricots), pistachios, Triscuits wheat crackers.
~An additional bag of non perishables, including Shredded Wheat cereal, homemade granola, natural peanut butter, fruit preserves, whole wheat bread, Shakeology packets, unrefrigerated boxes of unsweetened almond milk, shaker cups, and then paper plates and plastic cutlery. We used some of this on the road, and had some left over to use during our cabin vacation!
This is the chart of the foods I made in advance:
|Week 1||Bake & freeze muffins||Make Granola|
|Week 2||Cook pasta||Cut fruits & veggiesMake pasta salad
|Make Blueberry YogurtHard-boil eggs||LEAVE / Travel Day #1
Make Banana French Toast & Maple Yogurt for breakfast, save extra for trip
|Week 3||Day #3||Day #4 (traveling)|
*Golden Sunrise Apricot Muffins (can be frozen to prolong shelf life)
*Vanilla Cinnamon Flax Granola (can prepare up to 2 weeks in advance and store in airtight container)
*Rainbow Pasta Salad
(prepare pasta and refrigerate up to 3 days in advance, assemble salad up to 2 days in advance)
*Hard-boiled eggs (up to 4 days in advance)
*Blueberry yogurt (mixed about 1 cup frozen blueberries into a 32-oz tub of plain nonfat yogurt, after removing about a cup of the yogurt)
*Banana French toast (add 1 medium banana, mashed, to 2 beaten eggs and 3 tbsp milk, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1 tsp vanilla and use this mixture to coat bread on both sides- place prepared bread slices on griddle heated to 275 degrees & cook 2-3 minutes per side) – can be prepared up to 2 days in advance & refrigerated, reheat in microwave
*Maple yogurt dip for the French toast (1/2 c plain nonfat yogurt plus 1 tbsp pure maple syrup per container)
These are the fruits & veggies I prepped ahead (peeled, sliced, chopped):
Watermelon (1 small)
Cantaloupe (2 small)
Cucumbers – sliced
Carrots & celery – sticks
I used SnapLock containers and Ziplock baggies to keep everything leak-proof and fresh.
Here’s the meal plan outline I used to plan our road trip meals:
LEAVE/ Travel Day #1 (Friday)
-afternoon snack: cheese sticks and grapes
-dinner: was planned to go out, but we got to the hotel late- had pasta salad and melon
Day #2 (Saturday):
-breakfast: banana French toast with blueberry yogurt
-snack: hard-boiled eggs and melon
-lunch: green salad with garbanzo beans for me; peanut butter & jellies for kiddos and raw veggies with peanut butter dip on the side
-afternoon snack: Shakeology with almond milk for me; cheese & crackers and oranges for kiddos
-dinner: green salad with garbanzo beans, extra veggies and melon
Day #3 (Sunday):
-breakfast: Golden Sunrise Apricot muffins & melon
-snack: hard-boiled eggs and apples
-lunch: spinach, pasta, and garbanzo bean salad for me; pasta salad with veggies for kiddos
-snack: blueberry yogurt with granola
-dinner: we were treated to a homemade dinner on the road by our awesome friends who we stopped in to visit on the way!
Day #4 (Monday):
-breakfast: Shredded Wheat with sliced bananas and almond milk
-snack: Strawberry Shakeology mixed with almond milk for all of us! (tastes like strawberry milk! we love it and it’s super nutritious with no fake/chemical stuff!)
This system for prepping and packing truly saved us SO much time and money by allowing us to avoid busy drive-thru’s. We were also able to enjoy ourselves at our meal stops, utilizing picnic tables and open grassy areas for the kids to run around and get some energy out after sitting in the car for so long. We also didn’t have to stop every 2 hours to eat! Quite a few of the snacks we just munched as I drove with no interruption of our travel.
I hope this helps you as you plan to hit the road this summer!