The Best Travel Meal-Prep Ideas
Talia Koren of @workweeklunch recently road-tripped from Colorado to New York. How'd she get through it? She got creative with her travel meal prep by packing tons of highly portable snacks. The best part: They're all minimally processed. Who says you have to live on protein bars on the go?
Aim for Better, Not Perfect
Something else Koren practiced on her long haul? Balance. On long trips, even the most amazing meal preppers have to make some compromises. After all, it's a little much to prep all your food for an entire trip, especially if it's going to be a week long.
That's where the idea of "better, not perfect," comes in. You don't have to be *perfect* to stay on track. Just make a few better choices. Pack some of your meals, but remember there's room for indulgences and eating foods that are convenient on the go—like the occasional bagel or burger and fries.
Get Strategic for Air Travel
Airplane food is basically the worst—and not just because of its taste. It's packed with sodium, which is why many health-minded travelers prefer bringing their own meals on board.
That's easier said than done, though. There are some requirements to consider: No liquids (thanks, TSA), nothing that will smell weird after a few hours without a fridge (you don't want to be *that* person), and no need for extra condiments, sauces, or toppings. (Check whether your meal is okay on the TSA "What Can I Bring?" food guide.) One meal that satisfies all of those requirements? A healthy, veggie-packed pasta dish like @mealpreponfleek's vegan arugula pesto pasta.
Plan Ahead to Avoid Splurging
One of the biggest advantages of planning snacks ahead of time for travel is that it allows you to make choices that can help you stay on track with your goals. While splurges are definitely worth it during travel, would you rather have an indulgent treat while rushed in transit, or during a special meal once you arrive at your destination?
Here's the perfect example from Amanda Meixner aka @meowmeix. You could buy a muffin at the airport or train station...or bring all of these snacks with you for the same number of calories and 40 grams of protein. Seems like a no-brainer! (You also can't go wrong with these nut and seed butter packs.)
Make Your Own Granola Bars
There's nothing wrong with grabbing a store-bought granola bar in a pinch. But if you make a batch of your own, you'll be set for snacks for your whole trip and you'll know that there's no BS inside. @Mealpreponfleek's recipe is totally customizable, which means you can add mix-ins of your choice for bars that suit your taste. (Boom—here are 10 recipes for healthy homemade energy bars.)
Pack a Bento Box
Rather than toting several different snacks, create a bento box that you can munch on throughout your travel day, à la Rachel Maser of @cleanfoodcrush. This is also a good option for a full meal that doesn't require any cooking time, meaning you can assemble it in the a.m. pre-travel, without so much as turning on the microwave. (More bento box lunch ideas, right here.)
Don't Knock the Classics
Sandwiches might seem like been-there-done-that travel food, but you can make them colorful, exciting, and super healthy with minimal effort. Caitlin Shoemaker of @frommybowl's rainbow veggie version is proof. Wrap it up in parchment paper, then stick it in a plastic bag to keep it fresh until you're ready to eat it.
One of the hardest parts of staying on track during a trip is simply not having access to the foods you usually eat—so why not bring them with you? That's what Sarah Greenfield of @fearlessfig did on a recent trip to Las Vegas. By stocking your suitcase with your favorite go-to snacks, you'll be sure to have what you need when hunger strikes. (Try these healthy packaged snacks that are dietitian-approved.)