This month I am participating in the Brown-Bag Challenge where the Food Network’s Healthy Eats blog is teaming up with fellow food bloggers to host a month-long initiative to eat consciously and save money by packing a lunch each weekday instead of eating out. You can join here and share what you’re eating on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #brownbag.
Before we get to today’s lunchbox post, which is about a travel lunchbox I had on Friday and how to pack food for several days of travel, here are my lunchbox posts from this week’s brown-bag challenge:
So, now Friday’s lunchbox and travel food talk. As I mentioned on Friday, my husband and I are in upstate New York this weekend to see his family and take care of some things. I have written before about how I pack food for roadtrips to upstate New York and travel generally. I change my approach with each trip. This particular trip, because of the flooding in Binghamton, I was not sure how well supplied grocery stores would be, so I actually brought enough food for four days. First, before we get to the specifics, here was my lunchbox for Friday’s lunch while on the road:
Lunch Friday: Stir-fry which my husband made on Thursday night, along with organic spinach that I picked up at the Hunt Valley Wegmans, along with some new-to-me crackers I ordered online before leaving. This was made all the more appetizing by having the leftover stir-fry atop some of the baby spinach:
To the right was the produce and hummus I picked up – some at the Hunt Valley Wegmans and some at the Wilkes Barre Wegmans – on the way to Binghamton. With the exceptions of some lemons we picked up at the Giant (now called Weis) in Binghamton, I was able to prepare all my meals with the food I brought with me:
My crate of food: the last of my crackers from the Café Gratitude cookbook, Whole Foods unsweetened almond milk, So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk, a couple of Lara Bars, some GoRaw bars (which are pretty high in protein and I discovered last year), some items I found on sale at the new Whole Foods last weekend, the new-to-me crackers, Mary’s Gone Crackers in caraway (great for hummus) , nut butter packets, and raw cacao nibs. For treats (because really, any lengthy time in the car requires chocolate), I packed Hail Merry chocolate macaroons and a wonderful mix from Nutsonline which is called White Chocolate Chip Almonds, Cashews and Cacao Nibs. I raved about it in one of my transatlantic lunchboxes (and you can see from the ingredients that the white chocolate is pure cacao butter) – it truly is the perfect treat for travel. In addition to my crate of food, I also packed the following in a cooler:
Figs, which were the last produce left in the fridge that would not survive the four days we were away, Shabby Sheik Hummus from Appetite for Reduction (which is low-fat and tastes completely differently from the Wegman’s hummus I was planning to purchase), Ricki’s Chocolate Bean Butter and the Amande yogurt I picked up on sale last weekend. To counteract the sweetness (even though it is just fruit sweetness) I like to add cacao nibs to the Amande yogurts.
Obviously, there are several meal options and combinations from all the above options. Mainly, though, I have had apples or figs with chocolate bean butter, salads with lemon juice and hummus (one or both kinds) with crackers, and bars as snacks. There used to be a fantastic juice bar in Binghamton, but sadly it closed recently (so recently, in fact, that its website is still live so I assumed it would be open). I ended up rethinking breakfast from green juice and smoothies, which I had planned to buy while here, but this post had already gotten long enough.
Here are my top tips if you need to pack food for travel and will not have many options in terms of going out to eat whether because of time, logistics, or Celiac or food intolerances:
- Pack your favorite foods – these last few days got a bit monotonous, but eating favorite foods helped.
- Pack a cutting board and knife – You can see my green cutting board on the picture of the produce above. It makes life so much easier if you are staying with family who do not understand gluten intolerance and cross-contamination.
- Be mindful of cross-contamination – this is the second time I have nailed myself with cross-contamination and a blender while travelling. You would think I know better by now (and I do, see cutting board, above). Next time I travel and foresee a shortage of smoothies and juice (which, to be fair, I did not know would be an issue with this trip), I am either buying a Tribest blender or just putting my Vitamix in the Zipcar along with my crate of food.