Eating on the road while maintaining our usual healthful habits can be a challenge. Toward this I thought I’d share how we ate on a recent camping trip through Utah to visit the national parks, as well as share some travel highlights. Below, looking out the back window of the van while driving through Nevada; so beautiful!
My boyfriend Avery and I headed out in May for an eight-day road trip from Northern California to Nevada and Utah to explore many of the national parks, as well as some other highlights along the way. We went to Great Basin National Park, Arches National Park, Dead Horse State Park, Canyonlands National Park, Natural Bridges National Monument, Capitol Reef National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Valley of Fire State Park. Yes, it was a lot for eight days, more of the sampler package vacation; but that’s what a road trip is all about I suppose: trying a bit of everything while you keep moving forward. The below photo is of Bryce Canyon, one of the most amazing natural wonders I’ve ever seen. And we got to hike down into the belly of those formations. It was like being on another planet. Unforgettable!
We planned on camping four nights and staying in hotels three nights. Avery did all the driving and I did most of the navigating, and that worked out really well. Having taken a couple road trips previously, we learned a few things that were helpful this time around about planning and preparing our food. And since we both love to cook and both eat the same way, we each had a hand in it. Here is a glimpse at how we planned and ate during our eight days. (If you have a great travel-food tip, please leave a comment below.) Below, our first day; what an exhilarating feeling to be starting a road trip of thousands of miles and unknown adventures! We ate Tu-no salad sandwiches, and cut-up veggies and fruit in the van so we wouldn’t have to take extra time at a restaurant or make food at a rest stop.
One thing we learned from our last road trip (to Yosemite) was to not bring too much prepared food, because even though we kept our ice chest cold, we found the prepared food less appealing after a couple days of being squished in there with everything else. We prepared about one-third of our food beforehand, which consisted of fruit salad, Tu-no salad sandwiches, a big batch of rice and beans (to last a few days), roasted potatoes, as well as a bunch of carrot cake muffins. Below is a photo of one of our dinners. We made a simple soup with a dried McDougall soup and leftover rice and beans, and heated it up with our small hiker’s stove. Also, some roasted potatoes and bread.
Cooked, cold potatoes and yams are great travel food for the first couple of days because they are so easy to pack and they are filling. We had ours with leftover beans and rice, and salads. We also packed some salt-free canned vegetables, such as corn, peas, and garbanzo beans. Below, at our hotel we made some oil-free pasta sauce and noodles, and a spinach salad.
One thing we ended up doing is making salads most every night, which I would not have thought very practical, but it was pretty easy if you have a bowl, a knife, and a cutting board. We only needed a couple stops at grocery stores along the way, which were easy to locate on our phones. Below, it was so nice to have fresh vegetables, which can easily get overlooked when traveling.
We only ended up eating out twice, and one of those nights found us at the Peace Tree Juice Café in Moab, where we both had a great meal. Avery had a veggie burger (with a peace sign toasted into the bun; very clever). Below, I had a vegetable quinoa salad with tahini sauce on the side. Great presentation and taste!
For breakfast we usually had oatmeal or muesli and fruit with soy milk, or a muffin if we were up early and on the road. As for snacks, we brought plenty since we knew we’d need easily packable and filling food for hiking and driving. Our snacks included: homemade (no-oil) granola, rice cakes, dried fruit (dates, prunes, apricots, apples), as well as fresh fruit. We also cut up some fresh carrots and celery, which were so good with a bit of hummus or just plain. Also good were a few LarBars, which are made of just dates and fruit. Below, both of these pictures were taken in Canyonlands in Utah, probably our favorite stop on the trip. We had just hiked three miles to get up to this point and we were so happy to be there!
Looking back, I think we struck a nice balance of (1) preparing a small handful of dishes before leaving home, (2) planning some easy main dishes during the trip (soup, stew, pasta), (3) keeping plenty of snack foods on hand, (4) always maintaining a small stock of fresh fruit and vegetables, and (5) eating out and stopping at grocery stores only now and then. We were happy to repeat some menu items, especially with breakfasts, snacks, and salads, and when we did prepare pasta or soup, we made enough for at least two meals.
We did eat some things while traveling that we normally would not (or not as much of) due to higher salt, fat, or processing, like olives, nuts, granola, baked goods, LarBars, and packaged soups; but we gave ourselves this liberty since we were on vacation, and knew that we’d be ready to get back to our usual way of eating once home.
Thanks for reading! I hope some good ideas were planted for your next road trip!