Road Food

by Laura on August 15, 2011

in Blog

We’re on the road, packed with everything from camping gear to Pillow Pets to food. I’ve planned breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next four or five days, and have filled our boxes and coolers with trail mix, made granola bars, marshmallow treats, pasta sauce, frozen burgers, Bags of Funky Monkey (for easy and healthful snacks), cereal, peanut butter, jelly, turkey, eggs bacon and of course, chocolate.

We have a 1,800 mile camping road trip ahead of us, and I’m determined not to spend and arm and a leg eating at restaurants. I’m also determined not to be tempted by the convenience of every fast food restaurant that lines the highway (and succumb the calories that go with it). As much as I can, I’m trying to maintain our usual eating semblance of eating order – with a few treats along the way.

It costs a lot of money to eat on the road, unless you are dedicated to bringing along your own food, and making it yourself. I know, it is harder to do when in a hotel, but when camping, it is a way of life. Regardless of where you stay at night, there is always a snack or lunchtime to be enjoyed in the car or at a rest stop.

Yes, we’ve allowed an occasional spurge – Klondike bars at the Navajo Indian Rest stop, chocolate treats packed in the backpack (which must be eaten before the heat of Oklahoma gets to it) or a stop at the kids’ favorite In ‘n Out Burger . . . which happened to be a big mistake . .  one that we’ll be sure not to make again.

As we headed into the Mojave Desert, it was lunchtime — and hotter than heck. We fueled up the car and kept an eye out for picnic tables and a shady spot so I could make sandwiches and we could eat. Of the many fast food restaurants jammed into a mile stretch, the kids spied an In ‘n Out burger. “Oh, that would be easy,” I thought, glancing over at Greg.

He looked at me, “So, do you want to do it?”

I hesitated, knowing all I had to do was make the sandwiches and we’d be ok. The only problem was that it was over 100 degrees outside and I just wanted to eat and get going. So, I opted for fast food.

We’ll, fast it was not. The line was out the door, and since we had already committed, and the kids were excited, we couldn’t pull the rug out from under them, and let them know I’d be making them turkey or PB&J sandwiches for them.

Ninety minutes and almost $30 later, we were back on the road. I was mad at myself for being tempted by the convenience of a fast food restaurant. I was mad because we spent $30 and we still ate outside (because it was so crowded and no room inside).

That was the only time in the five days of camping that I wavered. From that point on, we made the food we brought, and found grocery stores to refill the gap and move on.

The kids enjoyed pasta, ham, turkey and PB&J sandwiches. We had raw carrots and red peppers, and a bit of salad. We stayed full, satisfied and ate the kinds of food I wanted to eat . . . without spending a lot of money.

There was no need to plan anything complicated, just easy snacks and meals that ensure we would stay healthy, energized and alert during the long trips.

After five days of making meals in the car and cooking at the campground, find myself at my in-laws, with a full kitchen at my disposal, and it is taking a bit of time to reacquaint myself with a real kitchen. I’m sure just as I do, we’ll be back on the road, eating in the car and at campsites. Until then, here are a few of our favorite road food recipes:

  • Trail Mix: A healthy pick-me-up treat for the car.Choose your favorite ingredients – peanuts, almonds, chocolate chips, chopped dates, raisins, dried fruits and mix together.
  • Crackers and cheese – be sure to pack a knife to cut up some smoked mozzarella, farmhouse cheddar or Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  • A healthy dose of apples, tangerines and other easy-to-eat fruit.
  • Healthy snacks – such as Funky Monkey, tortilla chips, or our family favorite . . .
  • Granola Bars


Granola Bars

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  • 2 cups oats
  • ¾ cup wheat germ
  • ¾ cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup peanuts, crushed
  • 2/3 cups brown sugar
  • ½ cup honey
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. Kosher salt
  • approximately 8 ounces dried fruit

Crush peanuts – place in plastic bag, and smash them with a heavy mallet, measuring cup or saucepan.

Mix peanuts, oats, wheat germ, and sunflower seeds in a baking dish and toast in oven with 10-12 minutes, stirring every few minutes so they don’t burn.

Prepare baking dish (11 x 13”) for the bars, line it with waxed paper and lightly spray with nonstick spray.

Place brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla and salt into a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly.

Once grains are toasted, mix everything together in a large bowl. Place mixture into prepared baking dish and press out flat. Let sit until cooled, then cut in squares and enjoy.

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