Frugal and Healthy Eating While Travelling

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What do you pack to eat when travelling? With some preparation beforehand, you won’t need to turn to prepackaged, processed, “travel-friendly” foods. These are not good for you, and often carry a high price tag.

The stress of being away from home, no matter how fun the trip is, weakens our bodies. We are outside of our comfort zone, exposed to a different toxin load, and often suffer from lack of sleep. So traveling is one of the most important times to keep up good eating habits.

I received a question along these lines recently.

My husband, son and I are planning on going camping for about a week. Our camper has a small fridge, so I can take some things that require refrigeration but space is limited. Could you offer some menu suggestions that would be easy for me to prepare so I can enjoy the vacation without spending a lot of time cooking but not have to purchase those processed, instant, packaged meals?  I don’t mind spending some time preparing food before we leave.

Funny… I didn’t think I could answer this question at first, not having camped much. But, even though I am not a camping expert, but I am a simple-food expert, so I think I can help with this. I do alot of planning ahead for busy weekends, or days out hiking.

So, my approach for camping would be the same as my approach for a busy weekend, or for a day out hiking, or a for a road trip. The scale may be different, but all those scenarios involve the same strategy.

(Thinking about this is very timely for me. In about a month, we are headed to Montana for a week-long vacation at my parents’ house. I will have to pack food for two days on the road – and we don’t ever go out or buy any packaged, prepared, convenience foods.)

The key will be to prepare ready-to-meal components. But first, let’s consider some possible meals that lend themselves well to easy, on-the-road assembly.

Meals That Are Easy To Assemble On The Road

When planning your meals, you need to know if you’re going to have access to a fire pit or cook stove – which will affect whether or not you’ll be able to assemble warmed up meals.

  • Cold Grain Salads – Just combine meat, grain, beans, and seasonings on the spot.
  • Sandwiches – Combine meat (chicken, beef, or salmon), cheese, and veggies on bread, and serve a salad on the side.
  • Skillet Dish – Following the skillet dish formula, create a meal by combining the meal components you’ve prepared – endless variety here! This assumes you have a skillet/pot and a heat source to cook the dish.
  • Cold Cut Meals – Put out plates of cold meat, cheese, bread, veggies and dip.
  • Eggs, Sausage and Biscuits/Pancakes – This assumes you have a covered cast iron skillet and a cooking fire or stove to cook these items.
  • Bread with Hummus or Bean Spread and Salad
  • Kefir/Yogurt with Fruit
  • Add your own ideas! I know you’ve got some…

Ready-to-Go Meal Components

Once you have some road-friendly meals in mind, you’ll spend time in the days before the trip preparing the meal components. If you have all the meal components ready to go, then assembly or brief cooking is the easy, last step to getting food on the (picnic) table.

Here are suggested meal components you can cook or prepare ahead of time. Obviously, you would pick and choose for the number of meals you need – and the meals you’re planning to create – and only take what you need! 😀

Also bring these items, which I would consider as garnishes. They are simple foods that you likely already have ready to go, but just need to pack up.

  • raw cheeses from pastured animals
  • seasonings and oils – salt/pepper/herbed seasoning salt/herbs/olive oil/balsamic vinegar, etc. – to make every meal taste good!
  • pastured butter or virgin, unrefined coconut oil for frying eggs, biscuits, pancakes, etc.
  • a bit of Kombucha for any overnight soaking – plan on 1 tablespoon per dry cup of mix
  • organic fruit
  • pastured eggs, nitrate-free sausages from pastured animals
  • kefir or yogurt
  • wild canned salmon
  • water, water, water – for soaking and drinking

I can’t tell you how much my family enjoys the feasting when we have all these foods on hand to combine in endless ways. We eat so well! And I enjoy the time very much myself – because there is very little left to do. So the day trip, weekend trip, or busy weekend, actually feels like a sit-back and relax time with my family!

What do you pack when on the road? How do you eat healthy and keep your costs down? Please share your ideas so we can help each other during this travel season.

This post is part of Pennywise Platter Thursdays at The Nourishing Gourmet.

Next Tuesday, I’ll be launching a blog carnival here at – the Tuesday Twister Blog Carnival. The first week, I’ll be giving away some of my homemade soap to one blessed participant. Please join us!

This post may contain affiliate links. We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. Thank you for supporting Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS with your purchases. Our family thanks you!


  1. says

    Ooh, good post! We tend to eat out far more than we should, simply because if we’re on the road and need something to eat, we gotta eat! But with a little planning ahead we could eat much better, cheaper AND healthier. I’ll look forward to other people’s suggestions…
    .-= sara kay´s last blog post… Good Day… =-.

  2. Marcy says

    When we go camping, we love to take tacos. Sounds like it would be a lot of work but we bring a jar of seasoned ground beef, a jar of beans, a container of shredded cheese, salsa, shredded lettuce, and a container of tortillas. You just have to get it all out. Sometimes we combine the meat, cheese, beans, and salsa in one container and the cold stuff in another so it can be reheated quickly and easily.

    When we go on a road trip, we focus on snacks, like homemade trail mix, apples, and egg muffins. Easy to grab out of the food bag over the back seat, they don’t have to be chilled or heated, and no utensils needed! If it’s going to be a short trip, we’ll include sandwiches but I hate soggy or “old” sandwiches so we normally just take the ingredients and assemble at the destination.

    • says

      Marcy – those are GREAT suggestions!

      The taco idea does NOT sound too hard. That is something I would definitely do and have done – once I assembled taco fixings ahead of time in soft tortillas and put them in a fire-safe container and then heated them over a grill or fire. Like baked burritos – then everyone topped theirs with the toppings that were ready too.

      It is great you pointed out the snack ideas! Thanks!

  3. says

    I have a frugal tip as a far as packing the food. If you are using a cooler, you can save on buying ice or those blue freezy packs by freezing bottles of water (or other beverages) that you can use later once they are thawed. Freeze raw meat you plan to cook the first or second night, (depending how far you are going) and extra loaves of bread, they will be thawed by the time you want to use them and in the meantime, help keep the cooler cold.
    .-= Marg´s last blog post… Picking saskatoons =-.

  4. says

    This is really a great post. I find that when I am on the road, the hardest thing to plan ahead with is enough protein and fresh veggies. But you have some really great suggestions here!

    Something I would do is make a batch of healthy muffins for the road. I try to make them high in protein by using almond or coconut flour, eggs and chicken puree! You can also add in some pureed veggies. My toddler loves these, they travel well and they are high in protein.

    Thanks so much!
    .-= Sarah Schatz – menus for limited diets´s last blog post… Fresh Tomatillo Salsa =-.

  5. says

    Our family of six went on a weeklong trip in March from our home in Arizona to Southern California to spend three days at Disneyland and then attend a family wedding. It was very important to me to cook ahead and plan our food so that we could not only make the trip more economical, but also to keep us from making dietary compromises that would affect our health. I made up and froze rolled tacos (using homemade corn tortillas and local, grass-finished beef), enchiladas (with homemade sauce and pasture-raised chicken), and pizza (both gluten-free/dairy-free for our food-allergic son, and traditional for the rest of us). In addition, I made 108 mini muffins (banana-chocolate chip, as well as Wardee’s pear-ginger and sweet-potato kinds). We did compromise a bit in taking prepared breakfast cereals, but we supplemented those with some protein in the form of cooked-ahead turkey bacon. And we did buy some bananas at Ralph’s grocery store. For lunches, we brought our own bread and made turkey sandwiches to pack along wherever we were going that day. We stayed in a hotel with a kitchenette to facilitate our eating needs. We only had one dinner out with cousins, and all of our food kept nicely and lasted for the duration of the trip. It wasn’t difficult to make things ahead a little at a time; in fact, it was kind of fun to figure it all out and plan for it and then see it through!
    .-= Sonya Hemmings´s last blog post… Water: Logged =-.

  6. Alice Benham via Facebook says

    We went camping recently, and we took 5 pounds of bacon! It’s perfect camp food, and cooks easily on a propane camp stove (we’re under a burn ban, too). Also, before we went I baked up a huge batch of meatballs and sauce, and then packed them up in rubbermaid containers and just re-heated on site. The first night I served half of them as-is, and the second night I smashed them up and served them as sloppy joes. The last night we had tacos–again, I cooked up the taco meat in advance, and then all I had to do was re-heat and put out the toppings. In my case I didn’t chop the toppings beforehand, but I suppose you could do that ahead, too. None of it was fancy, but everyone’s tummy was full!

  7. Stacey Burkholder Martin via Facebook says

    to keep with the camping theme..I often grill burgers at home, freeze them then put them in the crock pot (as long as you have electric!) with tomato sauce, a little Worschershire, salt and pepper. Add your other camping picnic foods and you are set.

  8. Amy Schwanbeck Lapain via Facebook says

    very timely.. on a group i am on for homeschool reviews we are discussing easy on the go type foods..and your name happened to be mentioned there by someone else too :)

  9. April Currier via Facebook says

    I like to make Bierocks (stuffed cabbage buns) – they are even good cold if there is no way to heat them.

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