As soon as I mentioned to people that I was going on a road trip, one of the first things they asked was what I was going to eat. First off, I’m broke. I wasn’t even sure how I could possibly afford to go on a month long road trip. Second off, I’m vegan. Not normally an issue but you can always run into issues. Third off, I like to stay true to a minimally processed diet, based on fruits, veggies, and whole grains. This rules out a lot of the on the go easy packaged vegan varieties of road trip classics (poptarts, “beef” jerky, ect). However, planning meals and whipping up snacks is my guilty pleasure. I absolutely love to cook and throw together new foods. But for some, a trip like this can be daunting. Eating a balanced diet is extremely important to keep you fueled up for endless exploring, long hikes, and taxing climbs.
This list is not exhaustive but here is a broke vegan’s guide to eating a balanced diet on the road.
We’ve all heard it “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” This holds true on the road. If you want to power through your full day hike, you need to be well fueled. Starting a demanding excursion on an empty stomach isn’t only stupid, it’s dangerous. The obvious choice is oatmeal. Oats aren’t always my favorite but they are great on a cold morning. Once we hit Utah and hot food lost it’s appeal, overnight oats were a great use of the 5 lb bag of oatmeal I brought with me. Using small cartons of vanilla soy milk, 1/2 cup of oatmeal, and a mason jar, you can have breakfast ready and waiting for you when you wake up. I topped my oats with banana slices and/or peanut butter to add extra calories, healthy fats, and carbs. Since we weren’t consistently in the back country, I had a little bit more freedom. Bread with peanut butter and a banana, homemade granola, and “cereal” (trail mix, fresh fruit, and soy milk) were frequent options. I packed homemade granola and banana bread that lasted the first half of our trip. When we happened to stop at a grocery store in the morning, I splurged on an avocado for some trail head avocado toast with tempeh bacon (one of my favorite breakfasts at home). We tended to wake up early and hit the trail as soon as possible so I tried to keep my breakfast quick and filling.
Lunch is probably the most skipped meal of the day. When you’re on the trail or half way up a multipitch route, it’s easy to forget to eat. The easiest thing to pack is a sandwich (duh, thanks for a great recommendation Julianne). A PB&B is my favorite. I kept a loaf of sprouted whole grain or Dave’s PowerSeed in the car the entire trip. Hummus or avocado with veggies is another filling and fueling sandwich or wrap option. If you have time to take out the camp stove, easy cook/dehydrated meals are quick options. I purchased a few flavored quinoa 5 minute packets, black bean soup, and a rice & beans packet before I left from Wegmans. If the packet doesn’t have enough protein (I usually look for about 20 grams per serving) or calories, I added beans or tempeh for extra flavor, texture, and nutrients. Tempeh is technically supposed to be refrigerated but, it doesn’t kill you to leave it in a cooler for a few days. If you have the energy, salads or sauteed veggies are great lunch options. Recently, shelf stable hummus has appeared on the market which I kept on hand for when I could get my hands on a fresh cucumber and pita chips. A few lazy times, my lunch consisted solely of a can of garbanzo beans…but you know what, after some of our hikes, I literally would have eaten grass if you had offered it to me
Veggies. Always. If you are close to a grocery store, get a small head of lettuce or mixed greens and make a bomb salad. Squash, sweet potato, bell peppers, onion, and mushrooms hold pretty well for several days unrefridergated. I used canned chickpeas or black beans, tempeh, or storebought veggie crumbles as my main protein source. At home, almost every meal contains a vegetable which is a hard adjustment to life on the road where that’s not always practical or feasible. So I tend to focus on my dear veggies at night. I would normally saute my veggies and make a nice bowl with a protein and grain. Quick cooking quinoa and rice, bean-based pasta (red lentil and black bean are my go-tos), and whole grain pasta were stables on our trip. After a day of under-eating and under-fueling, having a filling and nutritious dinner is key.
Snacks are the top priority of any road trip. They’re there when your ravenous in the middle of Kansas at 3 am, they’re there when your hike is taking 3 hours longer than expected, and they’re there when you are just too damn tired to open the trail stove. Trail mix is probably my all time favorite. I splurged at Trader Joe’s and got this Trek Mix that I rationed out. It’s full of healthy fats, simple carbs for fast energy, fiber, and plant protein. Apples, bananas, and oranges are quick energy and easy to throw in your pack. In the hot states, replacing electrolytes is VITAL. Dehydration can hit you quickly and turn a nice hike into a potentially dangerous situation. To combat this, I carried electrolyte powder with me to add into my water as well as Fig Newtons and Pita Chips. Neither of which I consume normally at home but they were super great to have on the road. Bars are a great quick source of energy that slide easily into your pack, My personal favorite are Lara Bars (if you can’t tell by looking at my snack pictures below). Their flavors are great, they stay well in heat or cold, they’re not easy smushed, they’re vegan, and they’re a great source of fiber, vitamins, carbs, and protein. When you’re too busy to eat a full meal, a Larabar and an apple can fuel you for miles. When in the car, I like to pack a cooler with veggies and hummus or berries for a refreshing snack. Lastly, I made a big batch of protein energy balls before leaving that were great to pop in when we were rushing from the car to the trail. Snacks are the easiest option on a road trip and there are endless options depending on your preferences.
Well, there are my meal ideas. I tend to just cook and eat and not really think about things but hopefully, this list can help you plan your next trip on the road. If all you take away from this blog is this tips list, hopefully you’ll survive your next trip
- Stop daily or every other day to pick up fresh produce
- Always have a vegan snack with you
- Pack easy sources of plant protein and eat them frequently
- Be open to cooking or eating slightly different than you normally do at home
- Eat good snacks
- Plan ahead
Stay vegan, stay wild ♥