Meal & Snack Ideas for Over the Road Traveling
For the past seven years, my husband Buck has worked as a flat-bed truck driver and spends several days on the road, returning home most weekends and occasionally some weeknights. Even though we’ve been together these past seven years, I’ve yet to go on a truck driving adventure with him and decided it was due time to see what his working lifestyle is all about! It worked out that I could take Thanksgiving week off this year to travel with him and as an added bonus, his company allowed us to make a pit stop at my grandpa’s for a few days to celebrate Thanksgiving!
Before we left for the trip, we went grocery shopping for our meals and snacks to have over the road. Hubby does this every weekend before he leaves so he doesn't have to rely on eating out or purchasing foods at gas stations. Luckily, his truck is equipped with a mini fridge/freezer, a microwave, and ample storage for dry goods. Here is a quick run-down of what we purchased:
- Granola bars (KIND, Lara, and Kashi brands are a few of our favorites because of the lower added sugar content and higher fiber)
- Cheese sticks
- Fruit (apples, plums, bananas and clementines hold up well and don’t have to be refrigerated)
- Bagged salad greens
- Freezer meals (i.e. Lean Cuisines, Amy’s Organic: a quick note about “low calorie” freezer meals like Lean Cuisines – they often do not have enough calories to be considered a meal for most adults so we paired ours with large salad and full-fat dressing to make a more satisfying/filling meal that didn’t leave us feeling hangry an hour later)
- Bagged popcorn
- Peanut butter
- Loaf of whole grain bread
- Cooked shredded chicken breast with barbeque sauce (mixed together at home post-trip)
- Several gallons of water to refill our reusable bottles
- Hubs keeps a stash of seasonings and condiments on board such as red pepper flakes, black pepper, mustard, and salad dressings so those were already in the truck
Some foods that slipped in that were not part of what we brought with us: Lion’s Choice original roast beef sandwich + fries because they are the best + it is tradition to stop by there when we are traveling through the St. Louis region; lucky enough, we got to park right next to one for a night! By day 2 or 3 (can’t recall – it was a blur!) we both got a slice of gas station pizza for a late lunch. It was a nice change from the frozen meals + salads we had been noshing on. We also did not have much time at that point to make lunch because we had to squeeze in a truck stop shower, so it was convenient.
The week leading up to the trip was pretty jam packed for me and I did not put much time or thought into meal planning. After a few days in of driving, I soon found myself burnt out and not entirely satisfied with what we bought for meals. Buck has been telling me he’s growing tired of the same ol’ foods these days too, so seeing as how I had plenty of time to kill as he drove, I spent time researching and coming up with ideas.
These are some of the meals/snacks I came across that we’re planning to try out over the coming weeks that are trucker friendly (and for the busy-wife-on-the-go who doesn’t always want to cook)! 😉
- Breakfast burritos (planning to take some tips from The Kitchn on freezer friendly versions: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-freezer-friendly-breakfast-burritos-234556)
- Overnight oats (mason jars are the perfect, portable option for this and could easily be heated up if in the mood for warm oats)
- Grain salad bowls (loving these simple, mix and match recipes from Fannetastic Food: https://www.fannetasticfood.com/grain-salad-bowl-recipes/)
- Chicken salad or tuna salad + whole grain wrap
- Home-made soups and stews (dished out into smaller containers for easy reheating – or, Santa might just bring hubby a little travel friendly slow cooker this year, like this one...https://www.amazon.com/RoadPro-RPSL-350-Quart-Slow-Cooker/dp/B0013IR88A)
- One-sheet pan meals (roasted meat + veggies + potatoes or a whole grain like instant brown rice or quinoa)
- Burrito bowls (meat + beans + veggies + cheese + salsa or diced tomatoes)
Other snack ideas:
- Boiled eggs (could also be added to meals such as breakfast or on salads for protein)
- No-bake energy bites
- Raw veggies + homemade Greek yogurt ranch dip or hummus
- Homemade trail mix
After getting a real-life peak into the world of a trucker, I realized how tricky eating over the road can be. I knew a little based on having several patients as truck drivers + Buck's insights, but it's one of those things that until you experience it yourself, you can only paint a picture in your mind. Per federal DOT guidelines, truckers can drive for 11 hours, work for 14 total, and they have a mandated 30 minute break from driving within the first 8 hours of on-duty time. Depending on delivery/pick-up times, traffic, schedule, etc. this can make it challenging for timing and preparing meals/snacks. For example, there were some nights we didn’t get to eat dinner until late (~9-10pm) based on the way the clock started and stopped + how far we needed to get to be on time for the delivery or pick up the next day. Also, when you are driving, you are often eating your snacks as you drive so they need to be portable/one-handed options. Meals need to be something quick that you can either eat cold, or if you are lucky and have a microwave like my hubby, you could reheat. If you didn’t have a microwave, there is the chance that you could be stopped at/take a break at a gas station that has a microwave for reheating – otherwise, you are stuck eating a lot of cold entrees or dining out if you want something hot. Which, I don’t know about you, but especially in the fall/winter time – I crave more hot foods vs cold!
Overall, I have a whole new perspective and respect for eating on the road as a driver. I believe that it is possible to honor your hunger/fullness cues and to eat nutrient dense foods but it certainly takes some thought and planning ahead. I’m looking forward to trying out some of the meal and snack ideas I came across and plan to prep them on the weekends. Real talk: I’ve never been big on “meal prep” on the weekends. This will be a big change but is one that I am ready and willing to tackle! #bringiton! The good news is that Buck is not a picky eater and likes to cook. Hopefully we can both have some fun with it.
Have you been on long road trips before? Or maybe camping? What kinds of foods did you bring with? How do you honor your body and your health when traveling?
P.S. I had been documenting the trip via my Instagram stories and thought I was saving the photos from the stories to my phone, but it turns out they weren’t saving! ☹ Sorry for those of you who didn’t follow along via Instagram – I have no photo documentation to share for this blog post! Darned technology!