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Save Money and Eat Well While Traveling

fort barrancas flag and cannon with titlesI’ve been working hard trying to restore my health – building my adrenals, healing my digestion, trying new exercises – and I didn’t want to wreck everything when we went on vacation. So I started planning ’cause that’s just what you have to do when you eat real food.  I mean really, I make a menu plan every week anyhow, so why not make one for traveling too? It keeps me on budget and keeps the family eating healthier food instead of last minute junk.

The plan was to be able to eat our own breakfast and lunch each day and eat out only for dinner.  I organized the meals, purchased the groceries and prepared some of the food ahead of time. I also had a special piece of equipment – a portable electric stove burner! This gadget is way cool, and I only just learned such a thing existed just a year or two ago. We bought one to electric stove burneruse for our Sunday School classroom kitchen, and then a friend of mine told me she bought one recently and used it to cook dinner in her hotel room for her daughter who is on a ketogenic diet for epilepsy. Brilliant! So we added the stove burner to the packing list along with our smallest cast iron skillet that just exactly fit the burner eye.  That meant we could have a hot breakfast every morning!

The days leading up to our trip made me feel like Ma Ingalls getting ready to go cross-country in her covered wagon.  The Ingalls family didn’t travel by interstate with exits leading to chain restaurants and fast-food drive thrus. But this also made me realize how crazy it is that if we wanted to be sure we were eating real food, even in this 21st century time of amazing technology, we still couldn’t count on finding it while on the road; and so we had to pack it with us just like the pioneers over a century ago. So I cooked and baked and planned and looked forward to a week of family fun without worrying about getting stomach aches, mood swings and depressed immune systems.

Breakfasts every day were pretty much the same – bacon, eggs and muffins, although I did use some Paleo vegetable pancakes to make myself a kind of breakfast sandwich that was super good – I heated up two of the pancakes in some of the bacon grease and filled them with a slice of bacon, a fried egg and some cheese slices – so delicious and way healthier than the fast food version!

Lunches were sandwiches for the kids, but hubby and I often split an avocado and topped it avocadoswith chicken salad or tuna. Everyone enjoyed fruit on the side and no one even asked me about dessert. (I think we are finally getting rid of the sweet tooth cravings, at least with the kids) In times past I would have made a couple dozen cookies or some other homemade sweet treat, but it wasn’t on the radar for this trip and I never got them made. Nobody seemed to care. In the evenings after our restaurant dinner, we occasionally stopped at a Publix and picked up a container of Talenti Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup gelato to take back to the hotel where we split it four ways, so we did get a little something special every now and then. 🙂

We spent our vacation in Florida’s panhandle so we were fortunate to get some terrific seafood for dinner! I tweeted two of the restaurants we liked the best – partly because the food was good, but also partly because they were able to cater to my need to be gluten free right now. (btw I’ve done a blog article for GNOWFGLINS about why I’m gluten free that is coming out in mid-September, I will try to link to it from here when it is published.)

Anymore we always travel with a cooler of some kind. I keep one like this in my car all the time just in case I need it. For the trip we took a larger hard-side cooler. We knew we would have access to ice every night at the hotel, but you can also get coolers that plug into your car and have their own refrigeration system.  I also packed a plastic storage bin with pantry items and the cooking equipment.

Foods I prepared ahead:

Chicken salad from a whole chicken, sandwich bread, two dozen GF muffins, and some Paleo-style pancakes/breads for myself (zucchini pancakes, sweet potato pancakes, coconut flatbread, sweet potato flatbread)

In the cooler:

A half-gallon of raw milk, kombucha, bacon, eggs, butter, mayonnaise, organic peanut butter, apples, raspberries, peaches, grapes broth, sliced nitrite-free ham, cheese, cut up carrots and celery, lemons, beet kvass, fermented pickles, lettuce, and yogurt.

In the storage bin:

The stove burner, skillet, knives, can opener, cheese slicer, kitchen shears, canned tuna, canned salmon, bananas, olive oil, non-GMO chips, muffins, avocadoes, sandwich bread, paper goods, and cutting board.

We managed to eat up nearly everything, I planned it out well enough that we only came home with a few eggs, some cheese and one muffin.  No one got sick and no one went hungry!  No one at any of the hotels said anything about cooking in the room. So I’m glad to have one more tool to use when we travel to keep our family well fed!

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