September 2nd, 2011

{parenting} Eating While Away From Home

Eating while on vacation

Well, hello there!

The hungry family and I are just back from another vacation. This time we were away for 15 days—4 of them unplanned thanks to hurricane Irene. I’ve barely been back for 24 hours, but have tons to share with you starting with these thoughts on eating while away from home. I know, I know. We’re coming to the end of vacation time, but I thought this might be useful if you’re going away this holiday weekend.

I was just reminded of how hard it is to stay healthy while traveling, but a little creativity—and time for food shopping—make a big difference. It may sound nuts, but I hit the supermarket about every three days while we were away. I took my time, but you don’t have to linger. A quick 10-minute trip can make the difference between being at the mercy of restaurants and room service and eating healthily.

My list was simple:

  • fruit
  • healthy on-the-go snacks (to keep us from having to buy snacks at concession stands and such; e.g., walnuts & stuff to make trail mix, organic crackers, low sugar kiddie cookies, veggie booty, veggie/fruit squeezies, etc.)
  • whole wheat bread, nut butter and jelly (unless you can pocket some small packets of jam from a breakfast joint)
  • string cheese
  • veggies that don’t require refridgeration (or can fit in a mini fridge; e.g., baby carrots, cherry tomatoes)
  • a small bottle of dish soap (to keep everything clean)
  • and my favorite of all: ripe avocados

Traveling often means not knowing where you’ll get your next meal or whether it will be healthy. And, keep in mind that even healthy sounding restaurant options are often loaded with butter and oil. That’s how they get it to taste so good! Taking control of snacks and finding ways to boost the nutrition of restaurant or room service meals is key to feeling good about your family’s eating while away.

I literally carried an avocado everywhere we went, along with a knife and spoon. I’m lucky enough that the hungry boys will eat avocado plain—we scooped it out of its peel at snack time—but it also made a great addition to purchased cheese sandwiches and restaurant pasta. That’s right, I once cut cubes and added it to a restaurant pasta tossed with roasted red peppers and zucchini. (Think avocado doesn’t go with pasta? This recipe will make you think again!) It was delicious.

In addition to buying a lot of our food, or supplemental food, as it were, I also asked for healthier options even when it didn’t seem like any existed. Don’t be afraid to do the same, especially hen it comes to casual and hotel dining. Many restaurants only offer kids fried foods, mac ‘n cheese or greasy grilled cheese, but you’ll be hard pressed to find one that won’t whip up a PB&J on demand. Or skip the “grilled” in grilled cheese (i.e., the tons of extra butter). Ask for an old fashioned cheese sandwich and whip out that avocado! Think kiddo will be disappointed? Not if you treat them to a handful of fries along with their baby carrots. You can make those kinds of calls more comfortably when their entire plate of food isn’t grease slicked.

I enjoyed ice cream with the kiddos, we gobbled an ungodly number of marion berry scones and even broke some of my own golden rules of eating over this vacation (no, we did not eat fast food—but perhaps the Hungry Toddler tried his first Oreo). I also broke out bags of baby carrots in the middle of busy restaurants and plonked cherry tomatoes from the local farmer’s market onto our plates. It worked out beautifully.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend, whether home or away. Treat yourself, and stay healthy.

S, xo

4 Responses

  1. These are great tips. Traveling is always a challenge for healthy eating.

  2. Rosie says:

    Great post. I loved your comment about adding avocado, baby carrots or tomatoes at the table at restaurants. Bravo to you for doing something that most people would be loathe to do, me not being one of them as I have done this plenty of times-just not with an avocado! :-) Also, I applaud you for breaking some of the regular ‘rules’. Everything in moderation with flexibility being key.

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  4. Joy says:

    It’s funny you should write this. We just came home from being away for the first for five days with two small solid-food eaters. I bought strawberries, full-fat yogurts, avocadoes, Muenster cheese, corn tortillas, a few bananas, carton of organic milk and a lime to keep in the fridge at the motel. That along with a happy selection of containers of salsas from a meal we had kept us in tasty healthy food in between oddly-timed restaurant meals and instead of the kinda gross fatty and not really tasty food the hotel served for breakfasts. Only a little bit of milk had to be left behind. I was so glad we had a kitchen to work in.

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