Road Trip Food Prep!

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!

The Plan

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!

The Macros

Protein

  • Chicken Breast
  • Chicken Thighs (without skin)
  • Burger Patties
  • Tuna
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Protein Bars (Epic Buffalo or Venison)
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Nuts and Nut Butters (peanut, almond, sunflower)

Carbohydrates

  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Brown Rice
  • Fruit (banana’s, apples, berries)
  • Pasta Salad
  • Roasted Veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, asparagus)

Fats

  • Avocado
  • Butter
  • Nuts
  • Nut Butters

Sweets/Desserts/Snacks

  • Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Chips and Salsa
  • Snackimals (animal crackers/cookies)

Condiments

  • Ketchup (just try to find a ketchup in any restaurant that does not have high fructose corn syrup!)
  • Mustard
  • Salt and Pepper (don’t ask me how serious I am about eating only sea salt)
  • Salad Dressing

The Prep

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)
  • Burgers
  • 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.

Proteins

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 😉

4 oz Burger Patties
Chicken Breast and Thighs

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.

 

 

Carbohydrates 

Gluten Free Jovial
Pasta Salad

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
Brown Rice

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.

Roasted Veggies
Raw Veggies Packs

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 😀

Sweets

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!

Final Thoughts

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.

Time Line

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!!! 🙂 🙂 

We Need a Vacation…cation…cation!

In case you didn’t  know, we never leave home. Ever. We are home-steaders, after all.  But we do love to travel once in a while and decided when our eldest was about 3 and obsessed with all things Disney, we would take her, and any future children, to Disneyland when they were 5. That seemed like a decent plan.

This will be our second go round with the Happiest Place on Earth, made just slightly more complicated by adding a third human and the expense of air fair for 4 humans and a baby to fly half a state away. I’ll get to the point. We’re driving. And because we are driving, and the 19 year old in me loves a good road trip, and the ocean, and is all nostalgic over the years I spent on the Cali coast….we are including an extra 4 day extension to drive up HWY 1 along the California Coast. Whoopie!!

With Spring and Summer right around the corner, many of you may also be making plans for a vacation with your little ones and, whether flying or driving, I think this post will include some ideas you can utilize to make this your best summer vacation yet!

Come On, Come On, Come On….Let’s go!

Our 8 day road trip is just over a week away!!  Time is flying by and I am sure glad I started prepping for this trip a month ago. Lesson to the wise, it is never too early to start planning! Especially when kids are involved!  I have a smorgasbord of ideas and plans to make this the best trip ever, which is not an easy task to pull off considering the ages of my kiddos; 9, 5, and almost 2! Yes. You read that correctly. Almost. Two. 8 day road trip. Almost 2. I know, it sounds crazy…but it’s going to be awesome! Here are a few things I have planned to make sure everyone is having fun (okay fine! to make sure everyone is distracted enough that the baby screaming in the car won’t even phase them!).  You. Don’t. Even. Know. But you will! Read on….

All Star Road Trip Activity Line Up

Individual Travel Binders – these are stuffed full of “all the things” my girls love to do. Drawing, coloring pages, dot to dot, mazes, tic tac toe, a USA states map to color as we see license plates from each state – you name it, it’s in there! I also hole punched a bunch of the magazines they got for Christmas (9 year old – Nature Friends, National Geographics for Kids; 5 year old – High Five, National Geographics for Little Kids), a cute little activity book, with stickers, and a pencil bag with sharpened pencils, erasers, and a pencil sharpener.

 

 

Lego Boxes – I am pretty excited about these! I printed out a bunch of lego patterns for each older girl and put together these really great patterns for them to follow. They both love legos and I love sneaking math into road trip time so….win win!! But seriously, how cute are these?! And they fit perfectly into a basic pencil box. Loooove them! And my kids will to 🙂

Small Cookie Sheet – We’re talking the .88 cookie sheets at Walmart here. They need to be small enough to fit in their laps, but large enough that a piece of paper and some colored pencils will sit nicely inside of it. This one from WalMart works perfectly (side note: I feel like I have been conditioned to hate WalMart…yet love Amazon! What the heck? What is actually the difference…?Comment below to clue me in) Uses for this cookie sheet will be many!

  • Magnetic Puzzles
  • coloring or drawing
  • eating food
  • playing with legos
  • basically anything they might need a hard surface for!

Magnetic Puzzles! – We are a family of introverts, okay? And introverts LOVE their puzzles. And books. And basically being anywhere extroverts are not (okay, that was a joke – probably a bad one!). The girls got a few miniature puzzles in their stockings this past Christmas, so I stuck magnets to the backs of them and bam! magnetic puzzle! I had a little too much fun putting this one together for the picture, I’ll admit it. And of course, we’re working on learning continents and oceans in school soo…. #shamelesshomeschoolplug

Zipper Pouches – I bought these great zipper pouches to fill with fun little things to entertain the kids and these were actually great to stuff for the toddler as well (who was the most difficult to prepare “things” for this trip!)  Here are the things I came up with to fill my bags’

  • Little finger puppets and wooden fairies! The littlest actually loves these! She got them in her stocking and when I saw how much she loved them, I snagged them for these bags so she wouldn’t get sick of them before our trip!
  • Hex bugs. Does anyone not love these things? I mean really…they are hilarious and so fun.
  • I filled one whole bag with wooden teethers and baby toys and mirrors.
  • Stickers! And paper to stick them on! My though process with this one is that the Little One can be doing this while the older two are doing their scrap book-y stuff, listed below. Eh? Eeeeh? I’m always thinkin…
  • Mini wooden farm animals.
  • A few more Miniature puzzles with magnets on the back
  • Shapes, fractions, and colors wooden chips cards

Audio Books – My two oldest girls have Disc men and headphones, which may or may not be necessary (since we have already ascertained that baby will be happy happy the entire trip). I love audio books and so do my girls! Here are a few of our fav’s that will be coming along; Winnie the Pooh, Adventures in Odyssey, Aesop’s Fables, Swiss Family Robinson, the Bernstein Bears, the Secret Garden, The Land of Stories, The Cat in the Hat, Peter Pan. We  probably have a lifetime worth of hours between these options, but I am also planning on checking into our library to see if they have other fun books and titles to listen to!

Dry Erase – This one is so simple it’s almost funny. Just remove the insert out of a DVD case and slip a plain piece of computer paper inside. I put dry erase crayons inside the case, along with a rag to erase, and they have endless hours of drawing entertainment! Easy peasy.

Other Miscellaneous games and activities include;

  • Connectagons (seriously one of the best inventions for kids, ever!)
  • Lots of card games (hearts, go fish, matching, rummy, old maid, war, etc.)
  • Popcicle Sticks with Velcro on the tips for making letters, shapes, etc.
  • Disney Tins with magnetic letters and numbers
  • I found these GREAT miniature Disney themed play sets on Black Friday last Fall! They are so adorable! The kids are going to love them. What better thing to unwrap on the way to Disney Land to get us into the “Princess Spirit” (as if we need an excuse! Lol).
  •  Books for everyone – mostly paper books but there are a few new surprises loaded onto their kindles as a last resort
  • When all else fails, there is pureflix or netflix we can stream from our tablet. Though I really am trying to keep screen time to a  minimal for this trip. And always…the struggle is so real, right?!

 

 

First Aid Kit – This is not an activity, exactly, but still a very necessary part of any expedition, especially with kids, am I right? Here is my working list…

  • Band aids of various sizes
  • Ibuprofen (both for adults and the babies)
  • Car Sickness Medication (my oldest gets horrible motion sickness)
  • Cough Drops
  • Calamine Lotion, insect itch relief cream (in case of an itchy itchy rash…or bug bites)
  • Various burn relief pads, sprays, and treatments
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Polysporin
  • Sunscreen
  • Aloe Vera
  • Tweezers & Fingernail Clippers
  • Gauze pads and wraps
  • ACE Bandages and Sports tape
  • Lotrimin
  • Allergy Medicine
  • New Skin
  • Iodine (for disinfecting)
  • Baby Powder (we’ll be at the beach as much as I can manage…and baby powder is the best for getting all the sand out of “all the places”)
  • Diaper Cream
  • Baby Wipes

I will be keeping this box in my car from here on out, and I suggest everyone have, at least, a basic first aid kit in their vehicle. You just never know what you’re going to need or when!

That’s a Wrap!

One of the most exciting parts of having all of these fun activities for the kids? I am going to be wrapping a lot of these fun treasures up and doling them out at specific times and intervals as we travel! So they will get a new distraction every few hours to keep them from getting too bored. I think it’s going to work!

Alright, that’s a wrap on road trip activities! Stay tuned, because this week I will be working out, planning, preparing, portioning, and packing up the hardest and most important part of any traveling: FOOD! We eat a pretty specific diet and I am a tad bit neurotic about my kids eating toxic chemicals and such (I know, I’m so annoying) that I can’t stand the thought of “just eating out” for every meal! We might actually die. So you better believe we are bringing a cooler the size of a Prius and staying in hotels that have some sort of fridge or kitchenette. And, of course, I will have every Whole Foods charted along the entire California Coast before this trip is over! Ha!