I'm gearing up for my second week-long roadtrip into the mountains, and I'll be going without a cooler! Yes, it's true. I'm a no muss, no fuss kind of traveler, and I don't like to waste time or get dragged down by hassle. So, I thought I'd share my tips and even my entire list of provisions for this trip with y'all.
Alright, onto FOOD. The first thing I'll say is that it's super easy to find and buy food that doesn't require refrigeration. It's everywhere. It's now become the standard American fare. Unfortunately, nearly all of it is loaded to the gills with sugar and salt. This is NOT the good-in-good-out fare you should be putting into your body when traveling, hiking, and camping. So it's important to shop smart!
I take my cue from backpacking. Lightweight, healthy, easy to prepare meals and equipment. I used my REI member dividend to buy a MSR Pocket Rocket backpacking stove this year, and it's been one of the best purchases of my life. It folds down into a travel container the size of a sunglasses case and is ridiculously simple to use. You simply purchase a fuel canister ($5 at Walmart) and screw it on top. Open the valve slightly, light with a match, and boom - you've got heat!
My other purchase was a small, low-cost metal cooking mug. I think it was about $14. The handles fold down around the body of the mug. This is what I heat water with and constitutes the base of most of my meals. Pack along a spork and you're good to go! I'll also mention that when you're simply boiling water the cleanup is nonexistent. A lot of the meals I'll talk about below can be eaten straight from their package - no bowls to wash.
This section is about cooked meals. There is another section below about snacks. For now, the moment you've all been waiting for: the provisions photograph!
Freeze Dried Backpacker Meals - Mountain House was on sale at REI, so I loaded up. However, there are many other brands out there. Backpacker's Pantry and Good To-Go are some examples. I want to try Good To-Go as they are the new competitor on the market for the big brands (Backpacker's Pantry / Mountain House) and they promote healthier, low sodium meals. They even have a great selection of Vegetarian and Vegan meals. You simply add boiling water, close the package, and the meal cooks itself. They are damn tasty and very satisfying. The only downside is the high level of sodium.
Microwave Pasta - Annie's Organic Pasta is by far my favorite. I can pop into a gas station while filling up and use their microwave. Or, I can add boiling water from my MSR PocketRocket and get a similar result. Good for lunch or a snack, and it's nice to have comfort food on the road.
Instant Oatmeal - I grabbed a protein packed option with low sugar.
Soup - Get a low sodium can of soup, one with a pop top lid, and simply heat it up in your travel mug on the PocketRocket. Super fast way to get something warm into your belly.
Couscous with Canned Tuna/Chicken - Couscous is very light and cooks in a matter of minutes. All you do is boil some water (google the ratio), add the couscous, cover, and it cooks itself in about 5 minutes. Add some canned chicken (pop top lid) or tuna, maybe some canned veggies and spices, and you've got a yummy meal. Be sure to get eco-conscious tuna - it makes a huge difference. Not only for the environment but for your health as well. Low sodium chicken.
There are a multitude of healthy, non-refrigerated snack options out there. I'll share a few of my favorites:
Apples (Pink Lady, organic)
Oranges (Navel, organic)
Almonds - natural and unsalted
Clif Bars (my dose of chocolate. I love the brownie kind)
Stacy's Pita Chips (natural or cheddar)
Kashi granola bars (almonds + sea salt)
Multigrain bagels and natural peanut butter (awesome breakfast option!)
Necatines or Peaches (organic)
What are your staples? Please share in the comments below so we can all expand our grocery list!