Melissa AuClair is a visual artist and lifestyle designer. We initially met online when, during a session of blog-browsing, I read about her desire to lead tours where we “eat and paint our way through Paris.” Naturally, I got in touch and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. You can follow Melissa in her pursuit of the location-independent artpreneur life at her website.
Don’t let high food costs prevent you from traveling this season.
It is possible to enjoy a good road trip, spend very little on food, and have a wonderful experience.
I say that as an unapologetic foodie.
I’m always looking for creative ideas to cut down on my costs of eating on the road so I can enjoy special meals at my destination.
Because great experiences are worth their weight in homemade chocolate chip cookies.
Last year I had one such experience: I drove to the East Coast in September, winding through the mountains of upstate New York and coming down into the coast of Maine. I drove into Old Orchard Beach, a popular place for families in the summer with its wide open sandy shores and fun-filled boardwalk.
Normally packed with tourists, the town seemed eerily quiet. I walked down the empty boardwalk and greeted the full harvest moon rising from far across the Atlantic.
Despite the quiet, the local restaurants were open.
I had my heart set on experiencing a Maine lobster. Behind the boardwalk and up the street I discovered a gem of restaurant that featured lobster. My very first lobster came out of the kitchen with its antennas extending over the plate.
The local couple in the booth next to me must have seen the wide-eyed look on my face as I tried to figure out how to eat the crustacean. The wife whispered (loudly) to her husband, “I don’t think she’s ever had a lobster before.”
That’s right folks, first-time lobster-eater here.
I looked up and smiled. They took the cue (thank goodness) and gave me some pointers.
It was an experience I will never forget!
To create your own memorable experiences (and splurge a bit on meals without feeling guilty), raid your pantry for the following:
1. Peanut Butter
I love peanut butter and crackers but I don’t eat them much at home. However, PB and crackers is a perfect snack for the road. Because of the protein and fat- it keeps our brains awake and our tummies fuller for longer drive times.
Bring a spoon and you can enjoy a few quick “sandwiches” at any rest stop.
2. Trail mix
I choose the “healthy kind:” banana chips, dried fruit, seeds, coconut, dates and nuts.
Trail mix is a great meal or pepper-upper for when you start to feel a bit sluggish behind the wheel. Once again, the protein and fiber are good for the road.
3. A box of granola bars
There are a variety of flavors, brands and health choices: Choose your favorite . If you are traveling with a group, choose two or three and mix it up.
4. Cranberry-Pomegranate Juice
Do I see raised eyebrows? I didn’t used to be a big fan of this sweet and bitter combination either BUT these dark berries together is one of the best ways to get your nutrition fix on a road trip.
The pomegranate originates in Persia (modern-day Iran) and the cranberry hails from colder climes like those in Wisconsin, the leading producer in the U.S.
This delicious marriage of fruit is a great countermeasure to the typically fat and sugar-filled offerings available along the interstate.
5. Bag of M&M’s (or your other favorite candy)
Make a custom dessert mix.
I bought a 16-ounce bag of M&M’s and used approximately half of it to bake a batch of cookies. That left me with 8 ounces of candy to divvy out into 6 bags. I added leftover nuts and raisins and made a delicious mix tailor-made for my sweet tooth.
6. Ingredients for a batch of your favorite healthy bread
Bake it, slice it, wrap it, and take it along with you. On my last trip I made my favorite pumpkin bread.With nuts and raisins, it was a great breakfast “let’s go” bread.
And, if you run out of snacks, avoid paying marked-up prices at gas stations. Stock up at discount stores like Wal-Mart, the Dollar Store, or Target for refills.
Eating creatively at low cost on the road does require advance planning and effort. But at the end of your journey, both your wallet and tummy will be happier and healthier.
What favorite foods have you found work well on road trips?