This post continues on from my earlier posts about how to stay healthy on the road. In post one, I shared some general thoughts on how to stay healthy when you travel a lot. Post two focused on some fun breakfast ideas. Today I’d like to focus on…LUNCH!
This one is tricky because you’re trying to find the sweet spot between buying stuff that lasts in the car/bus, but doesn’t contain a million strange preservatives and sugary crap. It also involves a stop at a grocery store. And preferably a knife and fork.
1. Look for whole, natural foods.
My rule of thumb for travel snacks is to buy as many whole food snacks as I can before picking up a few healthy-ish processed ones like granola bars, dark chocolate, crackers, and very importantly, things to go on crackers.
2. Bread and bread alternatives.
This one depends on whether you’re in the gluten-free camp or not. If gluten isn’t a problem for you, then choose a nice fresh bread to eat on the day, and stock up on some breads that won’t spoil as quickly, such as pita pockets or wraps that come in a vaccuum pack. The vacuum packs will allow you a couple of days storage before opening, and then should last a day or two once opened so long as you reseal the packs correctly!
If you are in the gluten-free camp, there are plenty of alternatives that last really well in the car. Rice or oat cakes are my go-to, or else rye crackers such as Ryvita or Finn Crisp (these are easy to find in most supermarkets in Ireland/Europe…maybe not so much in the U.S.).
Not a grain-eater? Not a problem. Buy a big bag of apples or pears and a knife. You can cut the apples into slices and eat them with cheese or nut butter on top. Yum.
My usual toppings are usually avocado, hummus and nut butters. So, for example you could stop to make a pita pocket stuffed with avocado slices and hummus, or a couple of rice cakes with peanut butter and banana slices on top, or apple slices dipped in almond butter. Some of my favourite combos:
- Hummus on pita/rice cakes.
- Nut butter or cheese on apple slices.
- Nut butter on anything.
- Avocado on rye crackers with a boiled egg or tuna (see 4 below!).
- Rice cakes layered with peanut butter and banana slices on top.
4. Extra protein ideas.
If you need something more meaty, tinned sardines, salmon or tuna is a handy option (just make sure you buy a can that has a pull-ring!). You can either eat it with a fork straight from the (drained) can, or mash it up with the avocado to make a super-healthy tuna-“mayo”. Be warned though- your travel buddies will NOT thank you for that one, especially if you try and prep it in a moving car! This one is DEFINITELY only doable if you are pulling over to the side of the road to avoid assaulting your bandmates nostrils.
And if you want to get even weirder, you could bring a couple of boiled eggs. I know what you’re thinking, ew. And who has time to be that organised? The reason I mention it is that when I traveled around Japan last year, you could buy boiled eggs as a snack in every 7-11 and Family Mart. They even sold them along some of the hikes to temples! It was brilliant. We were able to eat eggs for breakfast while walking to the subway! So, if travelling in Japan, you can buy some boiled eggs to bring with you as a snack. Anywhere else, you may have to boil them that morning, and eat within a few hours.
5. Snazzy Extras
Just in case you’re reading through this thinking ‘there is nooo wayyy a few crackers are going to fill me’, this section is for you.
After having a few rice cakes covered in whatever you fancy, try adding a few extras to your lunch. Kind of like how in primary school we used to have a sandwich AND an apple AND a carton of milk. Try a grown-up version of this: a few avocado crackers AND an apple AND a handful of nuts AND a couple of squares of quality dark chocolate. You could also buy a few healthy granola bars to keep you going (more on how to choose these in the next post). And maybe finish it all off with a green tea.