What’s not to love about a road trip . . . except maybe the endless supply of fast food and gas station snacks? Yeah, I know, those pull apart Twizzlers are the BEST and don’t even get me started on Gardettos – it’s like crack (or at least how I imagine crack might be)! Let’s talk about how to pack healthy meals when taking a road trip shall we?
But when you care about what goes in your body and/or need to watch the number of calories you are consuming, gas station snacks and McDonald’s are not your friends. And when you are traveling solo with a dog, and watching your budget, it can be difficult to stop at a healthy restaurant or even a grocery store (depending on the weather).
As I’m getting ready for a two-week road trip, I wanted to share what food I’m packing and how I travel as light (and cheap) as possible. I’ve provided links to Amazon products where appropriate. I’m also an Amazon affiliate so if you want to try any of the products, it doesn’t cost you any more and it helps me out.
Note: You’ll notice I reference using baggies for storage. I’m a bit of an environmentalist and don’t like the idea of putting more in a landfill. “Baggies” for me are generally reusable mesh bags, small storage containers, and plastic baggies. While I love the convenience of ziplock bags, I do wash them out and reuse them.
We stay in hotels/Airbnb’s about half the time so I have access to a microwave and sometimes a kitchen.
Because space is at a premium in my little Prius, I’ve found it’s easiest for me to take a small collapsable cooler and replenish it as needed. All the dry food is kept in a duffel bag and I also keep some food in a backpack that is close at hand. I’ve structured the list to show what I keep in each container.
What’s In The Cooler?
1. Overnight Oats (Click on the link for my recipe) – I take 2-quart jars of Overnight Oats and put them in the cooler. One jar will last 3 days if I’m just having it for breakfast.
2. Salad Mix – I take a gallon bag of salad mix so I can make my own salads along the way. It’s amazing how hard it is to find a good salad on the road. Whenever we stop to hike somewhere, I’ll make myself a salad with some veggies that I previously cut up, almond slices, and fruit. I do carry a collapsable travel bowl, utensils, and water (to wash out the bowl) so I can do this with minimal effort.
3. Salad fixings – adding the fixings to the salad mix seems to make it go bad faster so I keep the salad fixings in individual baggies/containers. I cut them up ahead of time so I can just sprinkle them into the salad.
4. Salad dressing
5. Fresh fruit and vegetables – While I only take a small collapsable cooler with me, there is always room for a few apples, carrots, and oranges. Pack what you like best and/or what you want in your salad. Louie also loves apples and carrots so I pack plenty of those. I put a few in the cooler and keep others in the dry food bag.
6. Almond Milk – One carton of almond milk. I use the almond milk to add to my overnight oats and when making a protein smoothie. The un-refrigerated, unsweetened vanilla cartons are much smaller and easier to travel with.
What’s In The Dry Food Bag
1. Dehydrated Mango – I have to admit I wasn’t a big mango fan but OMG, this stuff is ahhmazing! It makes it so much easier to give up the Twizzlers when I can have this as a snack. Be careful though, just 4 pieces will cost you 120 calories.
3. Almond Milk – 3-4 cartons. This is primarily used to make more Overnight Oats and Protein Smoothies on the trip but you might also like to add it to your coffee or tea. The unrefrigerated, unsweetened vanilla cartons are much smaller and easier to travel with (and only 30 calories per cup!) and the unrefrigerated boxes are hard to find on the road. You don’t have to worry about putting them in the cooler until you’ve opened one.
4. Cinnamon – Cinnamon has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. It’s been proven to reduce both blood pressure and blood sugar. I use it whenever I can – in my Oats, sprinkled on an apple, on my sweet potatoes, in my protein shakes, and with tea.
5. Almond slices – These are great in overnight oats, on a salad, or just eating a handful as a healthy snack.
6. Chia Seeds – These tiny seeds pack a powerful nutritional punch. High in fiber, a great source of protein, and omega 3, they are not only great for your heart and blood sugar but also improve digestive health. I put a few tablespoons of chia seeds in a snack baggie and add them to my overnight oats. They give it a pudding-like consistency.
7. Oats (Old fashioned Oats) – I take a few cups of Old fashioned oats to replenish my Overnight oats when they are gone. Store them in a gallon baggie instead of trying to pack a big box.
8. Coffee – Coffee is one of those things I refuse to skimp on. You can spend a small fortune buying premium coffee at Starbucks, Scooters, or your favorite coffee place. And hotel coffee generally tastes like, uck, just uck. So, I grind beans at home, put them in a plastic bag, and bring a French Press or camping setup so whether I’m camping or in a hotel, I can count on good coffee.
9. Monk Fruit Sugar – Monk fruit sugar is the best thing since sliced bread as far as I’m concerned. It doesn’t taste just like sugar but it’s far closer and healthier than any of the other low/no-calorie sweeteners I’ve tried. While it’s a little pricey, I’m glad to pay the price to have sugar with 0 calories in my coffee each day.
10. Teabags (your choice of flavor) – Sometimes it’s nice to have a cup of tea in the evening when there is just a little chill in the air.
11. Raisins – While I mostly use these in my Overnight Oats, they are also a better snack than the Snicker’s bar option.
12. Orgain Protein Powder – Of all the plant-based protein power options, this one is by far the best tasting. It includes 21g of plant protein per serving! And it’s chocolate! I have this on auto-delivery and get it delivered every month. Honestly, in the summer, it’s all I drink. You can either add water or some almond milk, pick up some ice at the convenience store, shake, shake, shake, and voila! Check out my favorite Orgain Smoothie Recipe here.
13. 2-3 Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes are easy to pack, good for you, and I can microwave them in a hotel room. One potato with a side salad is a great meal. Put a little monk fruit sugar and cinnamon on top and it’s dessert.
14. Small Container of Coconut Oil – Coconut oil is great for so many things. Put it on your sweet potato, rub it between your hands, and use it for moisturizer on your face, legs, and arms, or add it to virtually any meal for some healthy fats.
The backpack is where all my important belongings are. I bought a relatively cheap Eastport backpack years ago and that thing has served me well! It’s basically my purse and overnight bag when traveling. When staying the night at a hotel, I only take my backpack and cooler into the hotel. With a 65 lb dog on a leash, this is plenty of luggage to try to navigate. I’ll create another post regarding what I keep in the backpack but here is a list of the food items I keep handy.
- 2 Protein bars
- 2 days (4 cups) of dry dog food
- 2 tea bags
- A couple of snack baggies of dried mango
- Dog treats (of course)
What about Louie’s Food?
You might be wondering about Louie’s (that’s my dog, btw) food situation. He actually has his own small bag that includes 7 days’ worth of dog food, treats, a brush, nail clippers, a leash, 50-foot lead (when camping), and other stuff. He also enjoys a hamburger every now and then when we are traveling.
Water, Water, Water
I keep several gallons of water in the vehicle at all times. It’s amazing how attached we can get to the taste of our own drinking water and it can cost a small fortune to buy bottled water along the way. I love filling up this 64 oz. Iron Flask and keeping it on hand daily.
That’s it. I hope this list helps you figure out what to take on your next adventure!