Friday, October 5, 2012

Our Solution to Healthy Eating on the Road

Yesterday, I shared about our healthy, economic, enjoyable and good for SPD family food goal.

Today, I thought I would give a practical example of how we work towards that goal even when we are buckled into our minivan, running from appointments to classes or taking family road trips:

Mini-Meals on the Go

A Road Trip Mini-Meal:  Chick Peas from a Can, Fresh Peach Chunks, Raspberries and GFCF Pretzels
During Staples back-to-school sale time, we purchased pencil cases for each of the kids for a mere $1.  When they were on sale, we bought single-serve apple sauce containers.  After finishing off the apple sauce, we cleaned out the containers and popped some into the pencil cases as mini-serving dishes.  Now, when we know we will be out for a meal time, we spend a few minutes filling the kids' mini-meals-on-the-go cases with gluten-, casein-, additive-, preservative-, artificial dye-, white sugar-free choices akin to those we used to use for our Mix-and-Match Picnics.  Then, we close box lids, carry them to the car (without shaking them up or turning them over, of course), buckle in and are off. 

When ready to eat, the children open their Mini-Meal boxes and enjoy.  There is  need to stop for unhealthy fast food, no need to munch on overly processed car snacks, and, thus, no bags, wrappers or bits of food floating all over the car.  When the kids are finished eating, they just snap the lid  back down, corralling any leftovers and containers inside.

On Road Trips

On a Road Trip, Snacking on GFCF Corn Chips, Grapes and True North Nuts
For longer trips, our process is much the same.  The only difference is that as well as readying a Mini-Meal for each child to take to the car, I also pre-pack a canvas bag with extra empty apple sauce containers, napkins, a small cutting board, a can opener and a knife, as well as some shelf-stable items such as nuts, canned chick peas, chips, apples, pears and special treats. In addition, I pack a cooler with fragile fruits (such as raspberries, blueberries and grapes) and as other items to keep cool.  Then, at potty stops, if anyone's Mini-Meal container is empty, or if at least the produce cup in it is, I take a few minutes to refill the whole container.

Accommodating, to a Degree

Processed starches often go first with Luke.
To keep in-car consumption balanced, I usually include produce, protein, a starch and, sometimes, a treat in the kids' Mini-Meal containers.  However, since all of our children are most likely to eat their treats first and our "sensory kid" always goes for processed starches before anything else, we usually abide by three simple guidelines:
  1. Treats cannot be eaten until last.  If it is, you won't get the next treat offered to others.
  2. Refills only happen when produce has been eaten.
  3. You can make requests for specific food items, as long you include some variety.
With these three guidelines for mental structure and the actual pencil box and mini serving dishes for physical structure,  eating on the go has become a lot easier for our family.

What strategies do you use for healthy eating on the road?  

This post is being shared at Life as Mom's Frugal Friday as well as Frugal Tuesdays.


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