Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Road Trip Tips, Pt. 1

We experienced our first "real" Spring Break as parents this year.  Spring break didn't mean much to me the past several years; having not been a student for so long.

Now that our oldest is in school full time, and my baby is in preschool, capitalizing on a week together as a family became a highly prioritized goal.

We decided to make the 22 hour drive to Southern Florida and back.  I had a few reservations about making such a monster of a trip with my five and six year old boys, but the drive went amazingly well, and we are so glad we did it!

Easter morning at my husband's grandparents' church on Marco Island, FL. It was such a beautiful day!

Normally I'd best be described as a 'flies by the seat of her pants' kind of girl, but I knew that an undertaking of this magnitude would require some forethought.  Several little preparatory measures contributed substantially to the success of our trip.  In this post, I'll be sharing my tips on food for the road trip itself.

1) Food prep

I spent the two days before our trip preparing snacks and lunch foods. As a whole foods, plant based family, it is impractical for us to rely on there being fast food or takeout readily available, and the last thing you want is to be stuck on a mountain highway with three hungry men! So, I pulled out all the stops and packed the following:

Chocolate zucchini muffins (From the Oh She Glows Cookbook)
Oat and beet breakfast cookies
Isa's Tofu omelet bites (with cauliflower pureed in!)
Simple veggie burritos (hummus, lettuce and Tofurkey wrapped in tortillas)
Chickpea salad sandwiches and collard wraps
One large tub of prepped grapes and strawberries
1 bag of apples
1 bag of clementines
1 bunch of bananas
2 containers of coconut milk
2 boxes of cereal
8 individual hummus packs
1 large container of celery, mini bell peppers and carrots
Individual packs of pickles
Individual packs of peanut butter (for fruit/veggie dipping)
Chocolate chip cookies
Black Bean brownies

Microwaveable packets of quinoa and rice (for hotel room dining)
4 Avocados
2 medium bags of snack mix made of various nuts, banana chips, dried cranberries and chocolate chips
1 large container of grape tomatoes
Coconut water
5 Clif bars and 5 Larabars
Potato chips for the man to snack on ;)
1 Jar of homemade vegan mayo
1 batch of lemon/coconut energy balls (recipe coming soon!)

Each of our boys also had a plastic shoebox full of portioned snacks. They were able to choose whatever they wanted to have at designated snack times alongside some of the fruit and veggies. Included in their tubs were:

Boom Chicka Popcorn
Apple sauce squeezers
Gluten free seed crackers
Shelf stable packages of black olives (these were awesome!)
Snack mixes - peanuts and cereal in some; almonds, raisins and chocolate chips in the others
Granola bars
Annie's Fruit snacks

90% of this food was for the trip down only. We stopped for groceries at Trader Joe's upon reaching our destination.

The snack tub idea is a total winner. It gave the boys something to be excited about, and they liked feeling in control of their own snack choices.

Here is my complete list of tips for food prep on a road trip:

A) Keep it organized!  I used as many uniform, stackable containers as possible so we could fit major amounts of food in one cooler. 

B) Keep most of the food in the trunk in your cooler, but have an insulated bag in the car with you to rotate out snacks periodically.  What good is all that delicious food if you have to stop every time you want a snack?

C) Keep non-refrigerated snacks in shoe boxes at your kids' feet.  Let them pick which "fun" snack to have alongside a portion of fruits and veggies.

D) I bought cheap baking sheets at the dollar store to use as trays and they were a lifesaver! The boys used them to eat on, color on, do puzzles on... you name it. Invaluable.

E) Don't be afraid to make a LOT of food.  I thought maybe I was overdoing it, but we ended up with just the right amount of food. Just make sure you have a large cooler, and large ice packs.  If you're making a long trip and bringing lots of fresh whole foods, you want to make sure you can keep them all cool.

F) Confirm that any hotel you are staying in has a refrigerator in the room, and a microwave if you need one.  We had an unhappy surprise at one hotel when we arrived with a cooler of food, warm ice packs, and no fridge.  Thankfully they were able to deliver one to us upon request, but I was slightly panicked for a moment.  

I remember taking road trips in the past and always ending up feeling lethargic, bloated, and over-all ishy afterward.  It's amazing the difference nutrition makes - at home and while traveling! I felt so great during and after this trip, thanks to fueling up on raw fruits and veggies and homemade baked goods, rather than fast food.  That and taking frequent exercise breaks, which I'll share my tips on in Part 2 of my road trip tips!

I hope some of this will help someone out there about to embark on a long journey! Leave a comment if you have any awesome tips to add to mine! 

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