Travel and Food

What do you eat when you’re on the road?

Yesterday I cooked some food for our upcoming trip. In the past, I used to eat whatever it is that they serve on the airplane because I never planned in advance and  always ended up being hungry during the flight.  I would wait anxiously for the steward/ess to arrive with his/her cart, and eat whatever goop they put in front of me, including the weird chicken in the questionable sauce, the chewy roll and the plast-icky fruit. And, of course, the piece of dry cake wrapped in plastic.

On long car rides I would eat hamburgers with potato chips and wash them down with soda at McDonald’s, often the only food available; and M&M’s for dessert.

I’d never ever eat any of that at home, but the road was an exception, part of the travel experience.  Of course, one doesn’t feel very well, after eating food that’s completely devoid of any nutrition – might as well have eaten cardboard with some butter. However, I always blamed my fatigue of “traveling” either on the jet lag, or the long car ride with cramped legs.

Two years ago, we completely changed our diet and started to bring our own food while traveling. At first bringing food added to the general anxiety of getting ready, not only because there was additional planning and preparation, but it also adds weight and bulk to the hand luggage. Not that much fun.

But then, the reward it big. Really BIG. Not sure if it’s due to the placebo effect, but the jet lag is so much more bearable and now I even feel great after long rides in the car. I can even function without a nap after a red eye to Europe.

Here’s what we’re bringing this year:

  • fruit (apples are good, they have a high water content)
  • veggies, if I’m really organized (baby carrots, snap peas or celery pieces)
  • some kind of snack bar (I’m in love with Larabars, especially the cherry pie kind, which I could make myself if I had the time. I don’t. If you want to make your own Larabars, here’s the recipe with only 3 ingredients.
  • chickpea cutlets (see top image) It doesn’t matter if you travel or not, are vegetarian or not, these are great. I have modified the recipe slightly and only, because I didn’t have the breadcrumbs the recipe called for. Instead, I use half a cup of wheat germ and half a cup of oats. I also double up on the spices, but that’s a matter of taste. These cutlets always turn out, are delicious with ketchup or without, and travel well.

I will freeze yesterday’s batch, and thaw them on the way to the airport, so they’re ready, when I board the flight.

Here’s an article on how to beat jet lag by fasting until you reach your destination as the process of eating after a fast resets the body’s clock:

  • Avoid all food from the time you get to the airport (i.e., about two hours before departure)
  • Don’t eat during the flight — but still drink plenty of water
  • Eat soon after you land, as close to a local meal time as possible

It makes complete sense, but not sure if it’s right for me.

How to you travel? Do you bring food? Any travel food recipes?

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6 Responses to “Travel and Food”

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  1. Lucy says:

    I bring my own food to the train, but I am a lousy planner, because always in a big hurry when packing the night before leaving. A few years ago when we still had a car, we used to stop at Burger King on our road trips – it was quite fun back then, and a good excuse to eat junk food once or twice a year, just as you said. But after all, road trips usually aren’t that long around here, and you can stop at any time and have a snack! For the train I try to pack sandwiches (always more than I think I need) and fruit, and always dark chocolate – it’s a life-saver when your are stuck in the middle of nowhere.

  2. stephanie says:

    For road trips I pack bananas, fruits, PB&J sandwiches and of course chocolate. I don’t want the kids to ‘snack’ in the car so they have their sandwiches and fruits only at meal time.
    I’ve never packed food in the plane, except for an occasional Larabar. I will follow your example and pack something for our annual trip to Europe. I may try fasting but I need to pack something healthy to eat when we land.

  3. Juliann says:

    Wow! Are you a mind reader? I am planning our meals for an upcoming week long camping trip (We camp rather than hotels on trips partly so we can cook our own food). I was lamenting over the high price of Kashi bars for snacks ($3 for a box of six) and running out of meal ideas. No more. Homemade larabars and chickpea burgers will be coming along with us. Thanks!

  4. Vicki says:

    This is a great idea! The chickpea patties would be great for my husband’s lunches, too.

    I flew on Air France recently and they made me some excellent dairy free vegetarian (read: vegan!) meals! I’m so glad I remembered to call ahead! The only weird part was I got my food about 30 minutes before everyone else, so I wasn’t sure if I should wait? or eat? or ??? yeah – I ate.

    I am currently addicted to KIND bars. But I’m definitely trying this larabar recipe – and the blueberry muffin recipe that’s mentioned in her blog. Thanks for the links!

  5. Mary H says:

    We usually do fruit and nuts, maybe some larabars. Thanks for the recipes – we love falfel so I can’t wait to try the chickpea cutlets. Also I have lots of figs on my trees getting ready to be ripe – I like to dry a bunch, and now I’m going to try them with nuts and dried cranberries in the larabar recipe. Yum.

  6. Hi Kathrin

    Yes! Yes! And yes! I’ve always hated the food you get on planes (it tastes pretty awful and feels utterly dead and lacking it nutrients) and I always end up feeling horrible from it, but I do get really hungry on long flights (we live in New Zealand so flights to anywhere take a long time – 24 hours to Europe, for example). I recently flew with a budget airline to Asia and decided not to pay extra for the meals, but instead took my own. What a revelation! I ate lots of fresh fruit and veg (carrot sticks, cherries, apricots etc) and then delicious homemade pasta bake, muesli bars, dark chocolate…. It was fantastic. I felt so much more nourished and I could snack whenever I wanted. Oh, and I always drinks lots and lots of water. It’s definitely the way to go! :)

    Thanks for another great post.
    Lucy x

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