Following on from my post on Eating well in New York City, I wanted to share some ideas on how you can easily eat well on a budget while traveling. For me a key way to doing this is preparing in some way my own meals.
Through my travels both domestically and internationally I have managed to prepare some of my own meals when staying both in hotels where I have no kitchen and other places where I have access to a basic kitchen. Here are some tips on how you can do this.
Plan what you pack
I take a whole food approach to my diet and I almost always still train a solid amount when I am away from home. Making sure I fuel well when I am away is important. So the food I choose to eat will reflect that.
The above is an example of what I packed when I flew to the Gold Coast for a conference and was going to be away from home for 4 days. I took two suitcases this small one and another larger one with my clothes etc in it. Yes I realise that is a lot of luggage for a short time, but I was going to be working pretty hard, so wanted to keep everything as simple as possible for me and having this stuff with me did that and it was in my allowed baggage allowance. I packed:
- Egg cooker
- Chopping board
- Sharp knife
- Tea bags
- Salt and pepper
- Ice bricks
- Food storage containers
- Large water bottles
- Homemade (frozen) larabars
You will see how I use these items further below.
Find somewhere to purchase fresh supplies
When I travel to the USA, a key factor in determining where I stay is an accommodations proximity to a Wholefoods Market. Not only do they stock such fabulous products, but they also serve cooked food to go as well which is reasonably priced and can help keep costs down.
A few of my favourite items to buy from Wholefoods on top of fresh fruit and veg are:
- House made fresh guacamole
- House made fresh salsa
- House made fresh cooked chicken breasts
- Coconut water
- Roasted almond butter or ABC spread
If I am staying at a hotel I will always buy:
- Bags of baby spinach for salads
- Pre-bagged salad mixes like coleslaw that have sauces in separate bags (which I don’t use)
The hotel fridge
One hotel I stayed at in Portland, Oregan USA, emailed me in advance of my stay and asked if there was anything they could do to help make my stay a great experience (fabulous customer service!) and I said I wanted to make sure I had a fridge in my room. Not all hotels in the US have a bar fridge. They actually put a small bar fridge (much bigger than a mini bar) in my room for me which was perfect.
Otherwise on arrival in my room, I ring through to the concierge and explain that I would like to use the bar fridge to stock my own food and drink and ask them what they would like me to do with the contents of the fridge. One hotel came and collected everything, others have just said to take everything out and put it back when I have finished, which I do.
Preparing meals in your hotel room
If I am at a hotel, the meals I put together are more of an assembly process rather than cooking and I generally make ahead meals and snacks for me to have the following day at the conference. I will usually eat dinner out, so my focus is on meals through out the day.
My dietary requirements are by choice and I don’t expect people to have to cater specifically to my needs, so always come prepared with my own food when attending conferences. If there is food that suits me I will happily eat that, but if not, I don’t have to worry as I have my own. For one conference each year, I am actually working at it, so having my own meals also gives me greater flexibility to eat when it suits my workload as well.
An example of a simple salad to prepare will be to use a bag of prepackaged salad, chicken breasts and avocado:
For some meals I use my egg cooker. The egg cooker is fab as it can cook eggs three different ways and can also be used to steam baby spinach and other veggies. This salad has eggs, capsicum, celery and apple :
Preparing meals in a basic kitchen
When I was in Boston and New York City this year I found accommodation using Air BnB. This was my first time using this service and it worked brilliantly for me. Each time I stayed in an apartment with the owner and had access to the kitchen. Neither of the kitchens were used much by their owners so I had limited range of appliances and cookware.
I also didn’t want to spend too much time cooking as I had lots I wanted to see and do. While I could have cooked fancier meals, this was not my focus. The focus was on nutritious meals that would:
- before the marathon fuel me well
- after the marathon aid my recovery
- fuel me for all the walking I would be doing each day sightseeing
When you don’t eat grains, sweet potato is your best friend when it comes to carbs pre and post marathon. To make sweet potato in bulk the most time efficient and tasty way, I chopped up sweet potatoes, placed them into a baking dish greased with coconut oil and then sprinkled with coconut oil and salt. Baked it for about 1 – 2 hours depending on the amount, stirring 2 – 3 times through out the cooking process.
This allowed me to cook once but have food for 3 – 4 days and make one of my favourite meals of sweet potato, guacamole with dukkah, baby spinach and fried eggs. With the sweet potato cooked, this meal only took me a few minutes to heat the sweet potato in the microwave, cook the eggs and spinach.
Some variations on this meal that I cook while away are a Mexican beef combo:
And I have also either bought or cooked white rice as the carb:
Almond butter and apple always works well as a snack:
And for snacks away from home base I will have fresh fruit and packages snacks like Larabars or a grain free cereal:
In terms of drinks, it is kombucha and tea:
So not too fancy, but solid whole food meals that sustain me and keep me feeling great when traveling. I then eat bought meals for the rest of the day and keep the budget in tact.
How do you approach eating well while travelling?