Monday, 30 June 2014

The Frugal Files: Travelling and Food

Every now and then we do a long road trip.  Or Dh decides to spend a night or two in central Victoria to visit clients and we all tag along.  Whilst we are avid and committed caravan-campers sometimes it is not practical or cost-efficient to take the van.  In winter it's just dumb.  Sorry to all you winter camping lovers but we're not with you on this one.  We did it when Mr Busy was 1yo.  After freezing our way through a long weekend of gloomy pea-soup fog we decided only crazy people camp in winter.  Say what you will, we like to be warm and we don't enjoy Mr Busy's proclivity to chest infections and pneumonia when he gets too cold for too long.  And when you get a deal in a two-bedroom motel room with two bathrooms, a kitchen and laundry facilities that ends up cheaper than a powered caravan site you never drag your van half way across the country.  You would be mad to do that too!

Last time we did a long road trip we left half an hour after I got home from work.  Can I suggest to you, this is not helpful when it comes to organising yourself for travel food?  We ended up spending 3 days eating breakfast and lunch at McDonald's and dinner did not fare much better.  We were so desperate to eat normal food!!  What I learnt from that trip is that travel food takes some organising.  When you can do this it can not only be healthier, it is much, much cheaper.

Next time we hit the road, these are my plans:

Utensils:  You never know if your motel room's tea-making facilities are going to be wonderful or negligible.  In Australia they always have a kettle.  Mostly they'll have a toaster.  I would plan to take a sharp knife, small chopping board, bowls, spoons, plates and cups.  A picnic set would be great but if you're concerned about how to wash up then disposable will be the way to go....just this once. 

Breakfast:  take cereal, fruit bread or croissants, jam and butter. 
Buy a litre or two of milk wherever you end up (or you could buy UHT if your family isn't going to freak out about it) and I don't refrigerate the butter block we're actually using, so that will travel just fine. 

Lunches: stop in at any supermarket and grab some bread rolls, lunch meat and fruit. 
Alternatively, these could be bought the night before when buying milk and an ice-brick could be frozen in the motel-room fridge so things can be kept cold in a cooler bag for a few hours before lunch.

Food:  We enjoy things like crackers, chips and home-baked goodies.  All these things can be bought or cooked before you leave.  I stow some under my feet and some in a cooler bag right behind Mr Busy's seat (we have a wagon-style car so it's easy to get to all the time).  I also make sure I have fruit that isn't messy - think apples, bananas, grapes, mandarins.  Make sure you have some wipes and a plastic bag for rubbish.
Drinks:  take teabags, plastic mugs and a thermos which can be filled before you leave.  Either have small UHT (ie. 250ml) carton of milk or 300ml carton of fresh if you can keep it cold.
Each person refills and packs their own water bottle.

Dinner:  I have yet to figure out a way to do this self-sufficiently.  Next time we're on the road we'll be bringing breakfast, lunch and snacks and then buying dinner.  We have five adult-sized people now so it gets a bit pricey, but cheaper than buying everything.

What are your best tips for frugal food while travelling?


Crunchie's Mum said...

If I'm organized I make some double meals when I'm cooking dinner in the weeks before we leave and freeze them. I then use these frozen meals as the ice bricks in an esky. You can easily get three dinners done this way unless the weather is really hot. We invested in a really good ice box(holds ice for 6 days) for camping which has been great. We also have a 10 litre water container which has been on many a trip away. We fill it before we leave so we have good water for the trip.

Our daughter is vegetarian and often camps. She has a tiny esky which she uses for milk and cheese and maybe a frozen meal or two. Its amazing how much cheaper food is and how much easier it is to store safely when you don't eat meat.

Tracy said...

That's a brilliant idea for when this a microwave available.