Nutrient-Dense Food For The Road

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kefir parfait

My husband went out of town this week, and we knew he’d have to eat what was provided at company meals more often than not. Not much way to get around that.

Yet, he’d be in a motel room with a refrigerator. So we figured the best strategy was to provide a handful of key, nutrient-dense foods to make up for otherwise poor food options.

Our goal was not to replace the meals. Rather, to beef up his choices with nutrient-rich snacks and supplements. We didn’t want to be militant about his eating while on the road. Frankly, it is near impossible to find real, natural food in most venues anyway. So that’s not the battle we chose. We chose the battle we could win — supplementing with nutritious options. :)

In planning what I would send with him, two things were against me. First, I ran out of time to make a batch of jerky for a good source of pastured meat protein, fat-soluble vitamins, and healthy fats. Second, none of my fermenting vegetables (like sauerkraut) were done. Ferments provide probiotics to keep the gut healthy during times of stress or poor nutrition, as well as vitamins, minerals and enzymes.

The solution: cultured dairy. We happen to have an abundance of that, thanks to our family Jersey cow being in milk and also because I’m culturing like crazy for the Cultured Dairy and Basic Cheese eCourse. Cultured dairy provides all that I mentioned before: quality protein, healthy fats, essential fat-soluble vitamins (ADEK), probiotics, enzymes, and minerals. Plus, it tastes good!

So, come Sunday night, when he had to depart, I felt pretty good about what I was packing in his cooler. Besides the cultured dairy, I included some other nutrient-dense foods and other goodies to eat with the cultured dairy.

For his general eating out strategy, we decided he should avoid fried foods because of rancid, highly-processed vegetable oils. Also that if he was in a restaurant to be sure and ask for real butter, and to press for it because some servers don’t even know they’re serving margarine in place of real butter. He loves cream and could drink it by the pint, and will go into a grocery store just for it, so I reminded him that Tillamook or Organic Valley cream are best because at least those cows are raised mostly on pasture.

And that’s what we did. I talked to him this morning and he said he’s enjoying the food I packed and he’s going to eat all of it.

When you or your loved ones hit the road, what do you pack? Can you think of anything else I should have done? My husband will be away for a week next month, too, so I’ll be doing this again…. sooner than I would like. ;)

I’m sharing this post in this week’s Tuesday Twister, as well as Simple Lives Thursday and Pennywise Platter Thursday.

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  1. Diana says

    When my husband goes traveling for work by train I can do this type of food planning. Unfortunately he usually travels by plane and long distances and then its not feasible nor allowed when he travels outside Europe.
    But he does come back with digestive trouble, every time he has been outside Europe. Its sad sometimes. Luckily he mostly travels within Europe at the moment.

  2. says

    I really need to work on making nutrient dense foods for traveling. We often have to eat out and I hate doing that. I need my ice chest to become my best friend I guess :). Thanks for the post. It’s very helpful.

    • says

      Karen — It is a couple hour drive, then he gets to the motel and puts everything in the refrigerator. If there was no refrig, he’d be restocking the cooler with ice as often as necessary.

  3. says

    I’m just starting on this, and I can see traveling is going to be very hard. I’ve always had to take some food with me every where because I have celiac disease, but trying to make sure it’s nutrient dense too. That’s a toughy, especially if we have to fly.

    We are planning a trip in a couple of months to visit my husband’s father, and I’m sure I’ll come back with digestive troubles. He eats out at every meal. I plan on trying to cook there if he’ll let me. It’s always been hard enough trying to eat gluten free when we go to see him, I can’t imagine trying to eat real food too.

    Wish me luck. : )

  4. Karen says

    Thanks for these timely tips for traveling. My husband drives truck so he is gone Monday thru Wednesday. I try to pack him “a lunch” but of course it will not last him three days. I like the oatmeal idea. I do send squares of baked oatmeal with applesauce with him for breakfast. If you
    have any more ideas please post them as they would be so appreciated. He does not have access to a refrigerator so it does get complicated.

  5. says

    I typically take as many “dry” foods as possible, like crispy nuts and dried fruit, sometimes made up as “pammabars” (my version of Larabars), which are great for breakfast or a snack (and don’t need a cooler). Love the oatmeal bar idea and will experiment with something like that soon!

  6. Cindy Wilson says

    Do you have a recipe for the 5-spiced baked oatmeal? That sounds great. We pack a cooler when going on trips and are always looking for something different.

  7. Pam Groom says

    This is a topic I’d love to revisit again. Leaving home presents special challenges for me as an allergy sufferer and I hate feeding my kids from restaurants all the time. If you or others post on how to travel with the family and maintain a decent diet, I’d love to be informed and have links to visit.


  8. says

    Love this Wardee!

    We’ve done a couple of road trips and took along as much of our food as possible. As we ran low on things we would restock at the regular grocery stores. Like you mentioned, some brands are better than others.

    We are planning a 10 day road trip this summer (my daughter graduates from college!) that will involve staying with family a few nights but camping most nights. Food is at the top of my planning list. I’d hate to think how miserable we would be if we strayed from our normal way of eating for those 10 days. I was very inspired by Erin’s sourdough camping video from the eCourse and got many great ideas from her. I’ll be adding some of these ideas to my list too!

  9. says

    I always take snack foods, like dried fruit and nuts. Works for both breakfast and snacks and I’m not tempted to pick up junk food. Looks like you provided well for him this week. Good to hear Tillamook cows are treated well, that is the cheese we buy.


  10. says

    Great topic! I am a vegetarian and also find I have to pack my own snacks and “backup” meals when traveling. I like the idea of packing nutrient dense foods because I often find the salads that are served for vegetarians are not filling, leaving me sad and tired and hungry. I would love to hear more ideas about packing healthy food for traveling, including your oatmeal bars.

  11. Lee Deavers says

    This is an interesting topic for me because I will be taking a job as a truck driver and will be gone for three weeks at a time. I have no idea how I am going to pull this off and still maintain my health standards. I am so use to fermenting and making so much real food. I have not made any beef jerky (grass fed) but I have a dehydrator. Would like to see the 5 spice oatmeal; I use Cinnamon and nutmeg.


  12. Eileen S. says

    My kids love hard-boiled eggs and we also make “nutty balls” with ground crispy almonds, coconut oil, spices and dried fruit, run through the food processor, rolled into balls and then rolled in coconut flakes. I guess that is another homemade Larabar. Small veg like cherry tomatoes are great in-the-car food and carrot/celery sticks stay crisp in ice water for a long time without refridgeration.
    I got my husband some compartmentalized lunch boxes so he can have some stuff cold and heat up other stuff, they have an Insta-Hot at his work, so he can warm up boiled eggs very quickly and other things with a little more planning.
    If we are travelling I freeze everything that we aren’t going to eat the first day so that it keeps very cold with ice around it and I worry less about defrosting, we just eat our way down through the cooler, whatever is on top gets partially defrosted (but still cold) and then we heat it up and serve!
    Pickles and yogurt tend to be our probiotics-on-the-road. We saved the little 2 oz. yogurt cups from back when we bought commercial yogurt and the kids love getting their dose of yogurt every morning and I don’t mind if those cups get lost our destroyed, they keep the portions small for when tummies might not be able to handle a lot. Pickles are great, they are easy to store, transport and serve and help soothe sad tummies, too.
    When we visit my inlaws who don’t really cook, I will make little sausage muffins in molds that are each 1 egg, a bunch of sausage and some good veggies with cheese sprinkled on top. They are precooked and we have gotten good at reheating in the oven or even frying them individually on the stove, then served with yogurt; that way I know we start the day with some happy protein, egg, veggies and probiotic!

  13. Jennifer Knight says

    My husband does relief work in Haiti and has to pack all his own food in a carry-on bag with all his clothes for 5 days at a time. So, I REALLY appreciate your thoughts and ideas. Beyond jerky, tuna packs, nuts, and dried fruits I am always at a loss.
    Keep posting more please!

  14. Kayla W. says

    Hey there! I’m pretty sure that this isn’t really the place to ask this question, but I don’t know how else to contact you.

    My family and I raise goats, and we just recently started experimenting with making kefir goat cheese. But the cheese is so strong and sour that nobody wants to eat it! Is there something we can do to improve the taste and get rid of the really strong “kefir” taste?

  15. Raquel Frazier says

    If we are travelling I freeze everything that we aren’t going to eat the first day so that it keeps very cold with ice around it and I worry less about defrosting, we just eat our way down through the cooler, whatever is on top gets partially defrosted (but still cold) and then we heat it up and serve! I typically take as many “dry” foods as possible, like crispy nuts and dried fruit, sometimes made up as “pammabars” (my version of Larabars), which are great for breakfast or a snack (and don’t need a cooler).

  16. Lynn A says

    My sourdough has traveled from Boston to the midwest many times thanks to the inspirational camping post. I’ve also made granola cereal when I arrive (although that requires an oven or a Dutch Oven on a campfire), and bringing a small jar of whey has done wonders for my gut on the road (just a small splash in my lemonade) but also in a motel it’s great because I can leave the jug of lemonade out on the table for a couple of days and it just ferments happily. I’ve brought my kefir, but it hasn’t traveled well. My kombucha tea is with me at the moment, 1,200 miles from home, and it seems to be doing well. I love the pickle idea someone shared, because pickled beets with cottage cheese make any salad better than with commercial dressing, imo. Thanks for this post and all the wonderful ideas everyone has shared!


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