How To Eat Real Food Away From Home
Anyone who follows a real food diet of any sort will eventually find that eating away from home can be tricky. There are many pitfalls to eating a real food diet when not in the comfort of your own home where your well-prepared, real foods are easily available and accessible. This series will address the issue of eating away from home while following a real foods diet and offer tips to make eating real food easier away from home.
Real Food Road Trips
Have you ever tried packing a day’s worth of food for five people–three of them very hungry boys? Yeah. Exactly.
The good news is that if it’s important to you, you will find a way! Now, I’ll make the disclaimer that we haven’t completely stopped eating out. We haven’t eaten at McDonald’s or Burger King since starting our traditional food lifestyle, but we have had Subway (until we knew better) and we do occasionally eat at a local chicken place. It’s part of our 20%. We could technically call a day’s worth of restaurant food part of our 20%, as well, if our diet was otherwise perfect the rest of the week. That’s absolutely feasible for our family because we eat very well at home. However, to us, eating a day’s worth of meals out seems like a great way to end up feeling sick on the long ride home. We try to reserve our eating out for social situations that cannot be avoided, as those do happen from time to time. I’ll post more about how to handle those situations later in this series.
So, how do we avoid eating out on long trips away from home? It’s simpler than it sounds. We prepare and pack our own foods.
Here are five tips for avoiding restaurants while away from home for a day:
1. Plan Ahead
We usually have advanced notice of events that will require us to be away from home all day. I make an extra batch of soaked pancakes and freeze them for a quick breakfast before we leave. I’ll even cook bacon the night before if we have to leave early in the morning. Sometimes I’ll save leftovers from the week and freeze them for the day we will be out of town. Regardless of your food choices, planning ahead is an essential move for avoiding restaurants while on the road.
If you haven’t purchased a cooler large enough to hold a day’s worth of snacks and meals for your family, now is the time.
2. Pack Healthy, Real Food Snacks
I don’t know about your children, but mine are ready to eat the moment we get to where we’re going. This is after eating snacks in the van the whole way there. My boys like to eat and I love that they do. But, because much of their snacking on road trips stems from habit and boredom, I try to keep snacks on hand that will not dip into our lunch and dinner meals.
We pack plenty of fruit and easy-to-eat vegetables. My family’s daily diet does not revolve around fruits and vegetables. We have fruits and vegetables daily, but my preference is to get as much animal protein into their busy, growing bodies as possible. When it’s hot outside and no one is craving cheese or raw milk, having a cooler full of baby carrots, grapes, cucumbers, oranges, bananas, apples, etc helps us to stay full throughout the day. Pistachios are also great for a quick snack because they require no soaking. Try to find them unsalted and add your own Himalayan Pinks Salt or Celtic Sea Salt if desired.
3. Pack Easy-to-Eat Foods
Our lunch and dinner meals away from home consist of easy-to-eat foods like chicken drumsticks. This has to be one of the easiest foods I prepare for away from home meals. Pop 8-10 drumsticks in the slow-cooker the day before, season them and forget about them. Put them in a glass container in the cooler and while you’re away from home, you’ve got an easy-to-hold, filling lunch or dinner.
Of course, chicken drumsticks are not your only option. Anything that can be eaten easily is good.
On the other hand, paper plates and plastic utensils exist for a reason. Be kind to the planet and use them only when you must, however.
4. Bring the Bread
Sourdough bread travels easily and can be pre-sliced for easy to eat pieces. Butter placed in a glass container in the cooler is handy for adding the wonderful saturated fat that helps us to stay full. Don’t leave home without sourdough bread and butter!
5. Don’t Give Up–It Gets Easier!
Yes, in the beginning there was much complaining and whining from our boys who were used to being served 2-3 chemical-laden, restaurant meals when we went on these day-long road trips. But, when they saw that we were serious and that no amount of tears would persuade us, they asked what we had in the cooler.
I admit that there is a huge paradigm shift to overcome before being able to eat home cooked foods away from home. Many of us simply do not want to stop eating out. If you feel sad at the idea of giving up eating out, except for special occasions or unavoidable circumstances, then maybe you aren’t ready. Give it time. When we first started eating a traditional foods diet, we weren’t ready either. It took months to get to where we are. I can say for certain, though, that it has been worth it.