Healthy eating when you are constantly travelling and are on the road for work can seem like a challenge. Without packing the right foods or planning ahead, you may be stuck with having to eat out. But it doesn’t take a lot of time to ensure you have nutritious and energizing meals and snacks to keep you well fuelled and sticking to your healthy eating goals.
I’ve put together some items you will need and a list of healthy no-cook meal and snack ideas that you can pack ahead of time, or easily pick up at a grocery store during your travels to help minimize eating out.
What you need:
- Cooler/ lunch bag – If you are on the road many hours of the day, or staying overnight in hotels, something larger than your standard lunch bag will be needed. For long trips or when you need to feed multiple people, you can even get coolers that plug into your car and keep food cold longer! Here’s one example: https://www.amazon.ca/Koolatron-P20-Compact-Cooler/dp/B00009PGNS
- Ziplock bags and/or Tupperware containers of various sizes
- Cutlery – plastic may be better if you have to eat multiple meals in your car and can’t wash cutlery between meals
- If staying in a hotel, try to get one with at least a mini-fridge. This way you can store healthy foods that you pack or pick up on the way, and also save a lot of money.
- Grocery stores – find out where grocery stores are along your route or near your hotel to pick up healthy food (ideas below). If you are on the road just during the day, you should be able to keep things cool with icepacks in your cooler. However, for longer business trips, it can be a good idea to stop at a grocery store and keep refrigerated items in your hotel.
- Re-usable coffee mug and water bottle – important to stay hydrated!
- Time: A big part of healthy eating is planning and preparing ahead of time. Set aside some time on the weekend or at least night before to plan, pack and prepare your meals and snacks!
Meal and Snack Ideas for Travelling
Oats in a bag: Like instant oatmeal but way healthier! These are great for when you have overnight trips.
-To make, fill a ziplock bag with a serving of quick oats (1/3-1/2 cup), 1-2 tbsp of flax, chia or hemp seeds, ¼ cup chopped nuts, pinch of cinnamon. All you have to do is find a cup and add hot water.
Other add ins: unsweetened cinnamon, unsweetened dried fruit, scoop of protein powder – endless options and flavour combinations!
For a more detailed explanation and more ideas, check out this site: http://www.theyummylife.com/Instant_Oatmeal_Packets
-Similar to the above idea, you can pre-package tupperware containers with high fibre cereal (like fibre 1 or shreddies) and add some chopped nuts and hemp hearts. When ready to eat, pick up a small container of Greek yogurt or milk to make a cereal bowl or parfait. Also a good snack!
Peanut butter and banana tortilla roll up
Make this ahead of time and easily eat with one hand while driving, or pack ingredients with you. You can pack whole wheat tortillas, bring a full jar of pb with you or take what you need in a container, add a banana and wrap it up.
Veggies & a Wrap
-For a balanced lunch on the road, Pre-wash, cut and store large ziplock bags of vegetables for lunches and snacks and eat that with a wrap (whole wheat tortilla, hummus, chicken or turkey slices). Again, easy to eat with one hand if you must eat while driving
Cold bean and quinoa salad
Mix cooked quinoa, black beans (or any beans), mixed veggies (cucumber, tomato, red onion), vinaigrette and spices, and you have a one dish balanced meal.
-I just discovered the Crockpot lunch crock (http://www.crock-pot.ca/en_CA/specialty/lunch/crock-pot-lunch-crock-food-warmer/SCCPLC200-CAD-MASTER.html?dwvar_SCCPLC200-CAD-MASTER_color=colour-blue#q=lunch+crock&start=2) and its great for travellers! If you to plug this is in at a stop or hotel, it can be used to heat up individual portions of leftovers meals you may have – like soup, chili, casseroles.
-While pre-packaged salads that are made in-store are an option – they can get expensive. If you have the chance to go to a grocery store, buy bags of chopped lettuce or pre-mix salad kits, go to the deli for some slices turkey meat or hard boiled eggs and ask the salad bar for an empty plastic container to mix up the salad yourself! Some salad kits have dressing already in it, and they can be a bit unhealthy, otherwise keep a container of dressing with you like balsamic.
Snacks will be your best friend when you have a long day on the road! Try to stick to a regular eating schedule as best as you can, and having snacks with you or storing non-perishable items in your car will help you do so. Eat every 2-4 hours – try not to go too long with out eating as that can lead to low energy, that “hangry” feeling and overeating later on. The fast food option will seem much more tempting if you are starving and didn’t take time to eat regular snacks/meals.
Stock up on these foods for healthy travel snacks:
- Apple/Pear + cheese string or babybell cheese
- Snack size can tuna + 2 Ryvita crackers
- Hummus for dipping veggies (carrot sticks) – You can find individual container packs
- Individual container of cottage cheese and fruit or raw veggies
- Hardboiled eggs – pack ahead of time or available at grocery stores and sometimes convenience stores
- Trail mix
- Packages of roast chickpeas (“The Good Bean” brand has lots of flavours)
- Protein/Energy bars that are low in sugar, high fibre, have some protein and not a lot of crazy ingredients. Some of my favourites: Simply bar, Darryl’s HiNRG or Performance Bars, Kind Bar, Quest Bar, Lara Bar
-Whole fruits (like apples, pears, peaches, bananas, oranges, grapes) will keep better longer and don’t require refridgeration like cut up fruit (melon, pineapple) or travel with fruit cups packed in water.
– The same goes for vegetables – and the good thing is they will require little prep work. Carrot stick, cherry tomatoes, snap or snow peas and mini cucumbers are good for travelling and easy to eat when driving.
-At home, pre-portion snacks so they are ready to go: Homemade trail mix into 1/4 cup servings (made with a variety of raw nuts and unsweetened dried fruit); ziplock bags of crackers (Triscuits, Ryvita crackers)
Stay hydrated! This may mean extra stops to use the washroom, but to keep energy levels up and maintain health, keep a water bottle with you and refill at stops.
Also be sure to watch out for what you add into your coffee. Sugar, cream and flavoured syrups can really add up in fat and calories.
Gas Station Convenience Store Healthy Finds
Gas stations or service station stops along the highway often have a convenience store where you may be able to find some healthy snacks. It will save you to pack these on your own, but in case you are stuck, some options available are:
- Cut up veggies
- Hummus and crackers
- Greek yogurt containers
- Hard boiled eggs
- Protein bars
- Nuts and seeds
For personalized recommendations, nutrition coaching and meal planning support, contact me about my nutrition coaching packages.
Written by: Andrea Docherty, RD
Registered Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist