It is difficult to get into a food prep routine when at home, so it makes sense that it would be even more complicated when traveling for work or with family.
It is equally as important to consider what you are putting into your body when you are away from home. This is something that any person with a special diet knows all to well. You cannot rely on restaurants or events to supply meals or snacks that will meet your special meal preferences.
What about those people without food restrictions? Well, spend some time researching what is in your food and how it got there, and you may very likely end up with some things you are no longer willing to consume.
Here are some tips to help make prepping food on the road easier:
- Know what’s available: Call ahead to the hotel and see what you will have available in your room. Knowing if there is a refrigerator, microwave, stove top, or other kitchen accessories can make a difference in your planning.
- Use your resources: If a microwave is available, you can plan meals that include pre-cooked rice, beans, lentils, etc. There are now a wide range of microwaveable meals that are healthier than hotel or restaurant food. If you have a refrigerator available, you can hit the grocery store and buy many of the foods you would normally prep for meals at home. With a stovetop, there is no reason not to eat very closely to what you eat at home.
- Pack Containers: Add some food containers to your luggage so that you will have the ability to easily pack on the go. Worst case, use ziplock bags or reuseable baggies, to ensure you have a way to store your prepped food items.
- Knives: Do not bring these on an airplane or pack into your luggage, but you can bring a knife if you are driving to your location. If not, load up on some plastic knives at a local gas station, store or hotel (some have plastic utensils available for guests). Same goes for additional silverware…
- Snacks can go a long way: Pack a lunch bag to take with you throughout the day. Fresh fruits and veggies can last without being kept cool. Obviously, nature’s snacks are the best option, especially when no cooling devices are available.
- Bring a cooler: If you are driving to your destination, bring a cooler filled with snacks or items that need to be kept cool. Every hotel I have ever stayed at (even the yucky ones), have an ice machine. You can dump the old ice out in the bathtub, a refill daily to keep your food cool. This works well, however, I recommend putting items into ziplock bags to prevent any water damage as the ice melts.
- Prep Time: Set aside time to prep your food, just as you would at home. Remember that your goals, whether they include eating healthier, losing weight, or avoiding certain foods. Remember that food is one of the most important things you have to concern yourself with, and by setting aside some time to plan meals (even on the road), you are taking care of yourself.
- Find your favorite portables: Keep a list of your favorite packable portables such as nuts, seeds, energy bars, etc. These can be packed in a carry-on or in a suitcase to be checked, and can prevent any excuses for not having snack items available. You can also pack a variety of other non-perishable items to be included for dinners.
- Eating out: So, there are times when you are traveling for business or pleasure, during which you are required to eat at a restaurant. Keep your goals in mind, and remember some tricks for healthy eating on the go:
- Ask for dressing and sauces to be served on the side. Either pass on these, or use sparingly.
- Look at nutrition information online before reaching the restaurant when ever possible. For me, I usually look up vegan safe options before we eve pull into the parking lot, so that I can have a plan. Depending on your dietary needs/preferences/beliefs, it can be difficult to locate a healthy option on a typical restaurant menu. Many restaurants can substitute to meet a variety of dietary needs.
- Avoid creamy sauces and dressings. These are almost always high in calories and fat.
- Skip croutons on your salad- keep the toppings to a fruit, veggie, nut spread when possible.
- Order smaller portions: Don’t be afraid to order off the kid’s menu for a smaller portion size.
- Offer alternative: If you are unable to find anything on the menu that meets your needs, try offering up an alternative restaurant option that everyone agrees on.