Food is so hard. I mean, right? As though it’s not difficult enough to eat clean at home, a vacation and travel make it nearly impossible! You really have to have a good plan, and concede to a few days of prep, to stand any chance of sticking to a clean eating plan on your trip!
I have a lot of goals this year and what I put into my body will make or break those goals! I am also very conscious about what my kids are eating and restaurant mac and cheese just isn’t going to cut it. We rarely leave town for more than a few days worth of a camping trip, so this is not something we have to deal with regularly. However, this trip will be EIGHT DAYS! That’s a double budget buster, both in calories and dollars!
Luckily, I have a plan! You know what they say….”failing to plan is planning to fail”. So let’s get to it!
My plan is to have enough food for snacks and lunches to hopefully last the majority of four complete days. Our trip is a total of 8 days and I am preparing enough protein food to, hopefully, last the entire 8 days of meals for me. Likely not my family, but they are not on as strict a meal plan so that’s okay 😉
I have the foods categorized by macros; proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and sweets/deserts (ok, sweets is not a real macro but it is a very real category on a vacation with 3 kids!).
I will be cooking and freezing the items that thaw well (think meats) in order to get them to last as long as possible in our big ice chest. The more perishable things; like yogurts and pastas, that do not thaw as well will be eaten in the first 4-5 days of the trip and replaced with mini shopping trips along the way.
If we can get away with only eating out for a handful of meals, I will count this a worthy and successful endeavor!
- Chicken Breast
- Chicken Thighs (without skin)
- Burger Patties
- Hard Boiled Eggs
- Protein Bars (Epic Buffalo or Venison)
- Cottage Cheese
- Nuts and Nut Butters (peanut, almond, sunflower)
- Sweet Potatoes
- Brown Rice
- Fruit (banana’s, apples, berries)
- Pasta Salad
- Roasted Veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, asparagus)
- Nut Butters
- Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Chips and Salsa
- Snackimals (animal crackers/cookies)
- Ketchup (just try to find a ketchup in any restaurant that does not have high fructose corn syrup!)
- Salt and Pepper (don’t ask me how serious I am about eating only sea salt)
- Salad Dressing
Don’t prep too early! You don’t want the food to spoil and go bad the first day of your trip! I grocery shop 3 days out and cook everything 2 days out. Freeze everything that will thaw well. In my case that is;
- Chicken (breasts and thighs)
- Sweet Potatoes (cooked, mashed, portioned)
- Brown Rice
Remaining perishables are portioned and stored in the fridge. Everything else we put into paper bags so we can dispose of them as we eat through food and reduce the space they take up in the car.
I weighed out all of my protein portions (because, like I said, goals this year!) to make it easier on myself. If you are tracking macros or calories by weight don’t forget to label your measurements! You will not remember, even though you swear you will 😉
I cut and sauteed the chicken in a bit of coconut oil, seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. This went into a large Tupperware container and frozen. The 4 oz burgers were cooked and frozen in a big Ziplock baggie.
Eggs were the final protein necessary to prep. Super easy! I just hard boiled 40 eggs and stored them, shell on , in special egg specific tupperware containers. We will peel as we eat to keep them fresh for as long as possible.
I did a big gluten free pasta salad, which is one of the hubby’s favorites, and will be a great carb option for the kids. I did not portion this out for myself, because I’m not planning on eating any (ahem) so why bother? If you make any kind of “salad-y” thing, I would suggest not putting the dressing on it until you actually go to eat it. Bring the dressing and dress the salad as you eat it. You’ll thank me for non soggy salads.
Sweet Potatoes and brown rice were both done in the insta pot (best thing ever). I did portion sweet potatoes into 2oz portions, put them into the mini snack size ziplocks and then all of them into a large gallon size zip lock. I did orange and white sweet potatoes because one of my kids likes orange and one likes white…yeah. The brown rice was all put into a tupperware container to be measured out as it’s eaten (make sure you bring your scale and measuring cups/spoons if you are doing portions!) Both the rice and sweet potatoes went into the freezer.
Broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and asparagus were all broiled with coconut oil, salt, and pepper. I chopped them all up and put them into a large Tupperware container but did not freeze them because….ew. Thawed soggy veggies just don’t do it for me. I also packed some little baggies with chopped celery and carrots for dipping in peanut butter or avocado or just plain is good too 😀
I baked roughly 75 sourdough chocolate chip cookies for this trip. And even though I am absolutely planning on splurging and eating one chocolate covered banana per day while in Disneyland, these will be a perfect alternative to give my kids instead of the mounds of sugary sweets offered up in the park and along the way. I packed them in these great honey jars that made me hum….who stole the cookie from the cookie jar…all day long. If you need a great place to figure out macros for recipes like this, here’s the one that I use I like this one because you don’t have to search for ingredients, you just copy and paste and put in the number of servings and BAM! Nutrition facts 🙂
Everything else that we are bringing is already portioned into single servings (like yogurts) and will just be put into the cooler (perishables) or in paper bags (non perishables).
I like the idea of having lots of options to pull together. This way of food prep will make it easy to just choose a protein and a carb for a well rounded nutritious meal and will make me feel better when we do enjoy a meal out here and there. In fact! The hubs and I are celebrating our TEN YEAR anniversary while we are down there and have reservations at one of the great restaurants in Disneyland, which I am looking forward to and will absolutely be ordering dessert!
Don’t forget that you will be coming home at some point! And everyone will still be hungry! Yes, it’s true. Even after all of this food you and your crew will still need to eat when you get home. And chances are there won’t be much left in the fridge after being gone for a week or more! Which means you will be “forced” to grab a pizza on the way home or eat out. But not you! Nope! You’ve got a plan! And that plan is to have something delicious waiting for you when you get home! While you are already surrounded by the disaster of food prep for your trip, take a little extra time and effort and put together one of your families favorite stews or chili’s that can easily be reheated the night you get home! We love a good chili, so I do a basic burger chili that is nutritious, filling, and comforting. A great welcome home after a fun and exciting, but tiring, adventure.
While we are on the subject of a “great home welcoming”, do yourself a huge favor and leave the day before your trip open for cleaning that house top to bottom! I love leaving a spic and clean house because I love coming home to a nice clean space! There’s nothing worse than walking into a huge mess at homecoming.
For a quick re-cap, if you are struggling with the time line for your big trip;
- 2 weeks out (at LEAST, and depending on how many kids and activities you want to incorporate) start planning and prepping your travel activities
- 5 days out – plan your menu for your trip
- 4 days out – make your master grocery shopping list
- 3 days out – do your grocery shopping
- 2 days out – MEAL PREP DAY! Remember to make something special and quick that will be ready for you the first night back after your trip!
- 1 day out – get that house clean and laundry done!
- Leaving Day – get up before the kids and pack the car! Make sure all the fun trip surprises, and at least that days worth of food, are easily accessible.
Have the BEST TRIP EVER!!! 🙂 🙂