- Look for healthier options when stopping at kiosks, gas stations, and convenience stores.
- Find a grocery store when you get where you’re going.
- Pick up some travel snacks and easy-to-make meals in case you have to fend for yourself.
- Choose lean meats and lots of veggies when eating out at restaurants (or just enjoy yourself and be better for the next meal).
- Substitute fruits or healthier sweets when dealing with the late-night snack monster.
Any type “A” personality that meal preps regularly will tell you there is no bigger nightmare than having to travel or having your meal prep routine disrupted.
You don’t have your normal groceries, your normal kitchen – sometimes you can’t do any meal prep at all.
Maybe it’s not even a long trip – maybe it’s just weekends when you’re on the go and haven’t prepared any meals. Or maybe you’re like me, and you’re taking a longer trip to visit relatives and even though they love you they refuse to cook for you and so basically every meal is a choice between Dunkin Donuts and Chinese food.
But rather than running to Chik-fil A or grabbing a donut and coffee at DD, I wanted to share some ways that you can stay within shouting distance of healthy when you travel away from home.
For better or worse, most gas stations, airport kiosks, and CVS/Walgreens pharmacies have similar options. Hopefully you have more discipline than I do when I travel and you’re able to resist the bright colors of the candy aisle. And if you can fight your way past the energy drinks and peanut butter cups, there are a few decent options to be found.
BETTER Convenience Store Options:
- Fresh vegetables
- Pre-made salads
- Plain, unsalted almonds
- Plain beef jerky
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Deli meat
- Tuna in a pouch
- Quest bar
- Pre-made protein drinks
- Greek yogurt
- Fresh fruit
- String cheese
- Dried fruit
- Dark (>70%) chocolate
- Unflavored sunflower kernels
- Unsweetened (or sweetened with stevia) Green Tea
Unsweetened (or sweetened with stevia) Coffee
WORST Gas Station Options:
- Candy & Candy bars
- Pastries (honey buns, cookies, donuts, brownies, sweet breads)
- Slim Jim’s/Meat Sticks
- Fried Chicken/Hot Dogs
- Energy Drinks
Now it’s important to note that if you’re traveling somewhere to visit some culinarily-challenged family, that grocery stores DO exist where you’re going. And apparently, they have all kinds of food available at grocery stores. And for just a few dollars, you can actually set yourself up pretty well for a fraction of the cost of eating out.
Snacks to buy at a grocery store:
- Fresh vegetables + hummus
- Pre-made salads
- Plain almonds, cashews, or walnuts
- Fresh blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries
- Low sodium deli meat
- Protein powder and shaker
- Tuna packets with olive oil
- Low sodium beef or turkey jerky
- Kefir drink
Simple meals to prep from the grocery store:
- Egg muffins – bake a dozen eggs in a muffin tin for 15 minutes at 360 degrees
- Turkey deli wrap – wrap sliced turkey, cheese, spinach, and olive oil in a high fiber tortilla wrap
- Berry Oatmeal – make 1-2 cups instant oatmeal (unflavored) and add fresh berries, cinnamon, and protein powder (if desired)
- Spinach salad – use 2-3 cups spinach, grilled chicken from the deli, and vegetables like peppers, carrots, tomatoes, and onions. Add olive oil and vinegar for dressing
- Frozen fish fillets (like salmon or tilapia) and frozen vegetables
Now, it’s important to note that none of these are “perfect” options for meals. There is no substitute for planning your meals, buying fresh ingredients, and then cooking and portioning them out. Or, failing that – letting someone cook them for you (Like Evolv!!).
Now if you’re FORCED to go out to eat at a restaurant, there are 3 simple concepts you can follow to eat healthy just about ANYWHERE...
- Start with lean protein like grilled chicken, fish, or turkey
- Get a double portion of vegetables (steamed, if possible) or greens (as in a salad)
- Get any sauces or dressings on the side
I know it’s not as delicious sounding as bacon mac and cheese. And look, if you’re only going out to eat once or twice and the bacon mac n cheese will make you happier than a pig in mud – then by ALL MEANS, go ahead and eat it. Just make sure you plan to eat better the next meal (and the next day). But if you can follow these concepts while eating out at a restaurant, you’ll stay within shouting distance of ‘healthy’ (and your ideal body!).
Ok, one more list! If you’re like me and you find yourself craving sweet things late at night when you’re away from home and your routine, then give some of these sweet snack options a try!
Sweet snack options:
- Dried fruit like mango, apples, or apricots
- Frozen fruit like mango, grapes, or blackberries
- Halo Top ice cream (320 calories per pint!)
- Frozen Greek yogurt with berries
- Fresh-popped kettle corn
- Fresh ground peanut butter with veggies or fruit
So there you have it: all the options for eating healthy when you’re on the go or hanging out with people that allegedly love you but refuse to cook delicious meals for you when you visit them!
To recap: Look for healthier options when stopping at kiosks, gas stations, and convenience stores. Find a grocery store when you get where you’re going. Pick up some travel snacks and easy-to-make meals in case you have to fend for yourself. Choose lean meats and lots of veggies when eating out at restaurants (or just enjoy yourself and be better for the next meal). Substitute fruits or healthier sweets when dealing with the late-night snack monster.
On an unrelated note – is anyone out there (with great cooking skills) looking to adopt?? 😀
And remember – use your powers for good!