A couple weeks ago, we took a road trip to visit friends and family a few hours away. Since we attempt to keep our travels on a budget (as well as gluten-free), I always try to pack a supply of food for the trip. We basically avoid restaurants- especially on these trips in very rural areas!
I usually bake a batch of gluten-free muffins or a quick bread ahead of time, to have on hand for meals/snacks during the trip. I also toss in a few jars of my home-canned produce (such as tomato sauce), to give me a “back-up option,” if the meal being served isn’t gluten-free.
We pack a cooler, which holds milk for Gen, along with some other fresh foods that can be used for snacks or meals. (Options in the past have included a jar of homemade yogurt, hard-boiled or deviled eggs, cheese, carrot sticks, peanut butter, and fresh fruit.)
We pack jars of water to take in the car with us, so we’re not buying expensive drinks or wasteful bottled waters.
But I’ve been meaning to share with you about our recent slightly *unprepared* trip! This past trip was my first time traveling at this stage of pregnancy- plus a toddler- and I didn’t quite pack all that was needed! Before we left, we were busy getting ready for the upcoming move, and I wasn’t able to spend much time preparing in the kitchen.
Our trip took longer than expected. We stopped often at rest areas (no surprise). We ended up delaying our return home with various errands and visits, and thus, eventually found ourselves needing dinner on the road without much left in the cooler.
Instead of pulling into a restaurant off the highway, we decided to browse a grocery store to see what we could find. I took inventory of what was left in our cooler (mainly milk, peanut butter, a small container of cream cheese, and the partial jar of yogurt), and headed inside.
We recognized right away that this particular grocery store was full of nitrite-filled meats, and highly over-priced dairy products. There weren’t any commercial “gluten-free” snack products on the shelves.
Here is what we ended up purchasing:
- Green Onions (a small bunch)
- Organic Baby Carrot Sticks (a small bag, since our carrot sticks were all gone)
- Whole Grain Crackers (small box)
- Salt & Pepper Packets *free from the deli*
- Disposable Cups & Utensils
- Bottle of Juiced Tea (a fun splurge)
Not your typical “to-go menu” is it?
This rural grocery store had the disposable utensils on sale for $0.87, and we were able to use them during the next week of moving. Although I really didn’t like buying these “wasteful disposable” products, I had forgotten to pack any real utensils in the car for our trip! I kept my purchase to a minimum, though, by purchasing only cups, which doubled as “bowls” also.
When I got out to the car, Gen sat in her carseat with a cup of milk (we did remember to bring her sippy cups!). Then I pulled out my ever-present Leatherman
knife from my purse and got to work at my “kitchen in the trunk.”
I snipped away at those green onions, and stirred them into some yogurt & cream cheese in a cup, along with the salt & pepper packets to make a healthy dip for our carrot sticks. (Gen got a cup of yogurt, and instead of using onions in hers, I mixed in the last tiny bit of homemade applesauce from the cooler.)
I had some leftover gluten-free crackers in the car, and Gen & Calvin shared the box of dense whole grain crackers we had purchased. The crackers were eaten along with plenty of peanut butter.
We had a good amount to eat, and were all full in the end! For the price of one typical “fast food meal,” we were able to feed our whole family a nourishing meal on the go by using what we had on hand, combined with wise purchases (even with some traveling splurges!).
So, I’d recommend being prepared while traveling, but even when the unexpected arises, a few basics can be just fine! (And don’t forget that pocket knife!)