Summer is looming, and many of us will travel by car. Some of us connected to bands, or if we have family in distant states, already travel a lot by car. One thing I’ve learned as a veteran of I 95 and other routes is the fast food can really get old quick. Years ago I began to try to pack some easy fix food items for a couple reasons.
When we stop for fast food, it usually takes about 20-25 minutes. That doesn’t sound like a lot. But when you begin your trip 5+ hours away from your destination, that amount of time is something you’d probably like to shave off your itinerary. Personally, there are only a couple fast food places we even like, and both those franchises are always busy. Fast food can also be expensive if you’re trying to eat healthy. So I came up with ideas for quick fix foodstuff that will keep reasonably well in a small insulated bag.
I freeze a bottle of water to put in the bag. Before I pack our food, I stick the bag in the fridge with the lid unzipped so it gets nice and cold.
Pimiento cheese keeps well, and it’s easy to make. You grate then toss in whatever kind of cheese you like or have on hand, add some mayo (and cream cheese if you have some handy), stir in the drained pimientos and seasonings. I add a small amount—maybe ½ a teaspoon of Worcestershire to mine. Final step for me is Hungarian paprika. Served on wholegrain bread, that spread is hard to beat.
In Florida we have all sorts of oranges, and the small sweet ones are our favorite. I always peel a couple of those so the slices are handy. They keep well for about 6 hours or so in the bag we use.
Veggie straws, graham crackers with peanut butter, nuts—all these are travel-friendly. You can also make your own trail mix from just about anything you want. One we like is made with peanuts, plain M&Ms, and stick pretzels. If you have leftover cereal, throw that in. You really can’t screw up trail mix.
Cheese cubes, olives, whole grain crackers—these all keep well and are tasty.
Everything I fix is driver-friendly. That way we don’t have to stop to eat. That does rule out big sandwiches or subs, or anything messy.
For a very special treat, I sometimes roast pecans. I just place them on a foil lined baking sheet, mix some melted butter with sea salt and a small amount of raw sugar, toss that over the nuts, and slow bake at 250 degrees for an hour. I turn and stir them every 15 minutes. They’re worth the trouble.
I recently found a recipe at Land O’ Lakes for Raisin-Orange Nut Bread. This will be a new travel favorite. It’s the best quick bread I’ve ever made. It’s sweet, but not too sweet and the hint of orange from the zest gives it a nuance guaranteed to please. The recipe calls for raisins—I used golden raisins because we like those better, but any type should do. The loaf keeps well, and it’s good plain, or with butter or cream cheese.
Another challenge when we travel is coffee. We drink straight up coffee, not the designer drinks so popular today. It’s very hard to get a decent cup anywhere on the road unless you are willing to spend time heading off the exit to a Panera or Dunkin. We take coffee with us—my husband is fond of his Yeti cup. I bought a to-go cup from Dunkin years ago for about $8 and it keeps my coffee hot for hours. I try to take a bag of coffee with us so we can brew our own at a hotel or at our host’s home.
For cleanup, I pack a roll of paper towels. I shove a few plastic bags into the paper towel tube for trash.
Every now and then we stop for fast food, but bringing food from home is a comfort when you’re driving those long miles amid traffic that is insane. I often say I drive now as though everyone on the road is out to kill me. Thus far, that attitude has served me well.
We often detour on a secondary route when we decide to have our meal in the car. That’s a special pleasure for me, seeing all the small communities and leftover tourist stops from an era before I 95. Getting off the main road for a bit does take a little extra time, but it also provides a much needed break from all those other drivers wanting to kill us. 🙂
[No benefit of any kind is derived from mentions of products or businesses.]
(Kay B. Day/May 18, 2018)