Ricky Nelson fans, please forgive me for that title.
I have been going through a bit of a bad luck patch regarding eating in restaurants that aren’t 100% gluten free. This is very problematic when I travel. Recently, Kim and I decided to experiment with me not eating out during a two day cross country trip. Basically, I would need lunch, dinner and snacks for day one and all meals/snacks for day two. Now, technically, I have done this before, but I basically ate food in bar form (larabars, kind bars, pure bars, etc.) for two days. You survive, but two days of fruit and nuts when you aren’t hiking really isn’t that great.
We decided to go with a beef and rice dish along with a course of sweet potatoes and chicken breast. These would be divided up as my five meals and for snacks, I took peeled hard boiled eggs and carrots. Kim got these great 5.8 Cup Sterilite containers and 2 Cup Ziploc Twist N Loc containersfor the meals. The Sterilite containers are the ones in the pictures with the orange trim, the Ziploc have blue lids. They stayed cold, microwaved well and didn’t leak at all, regardless of how my bag got thrown around.In case you haven’t noticed by now, I am not a vegetarian. Do I like eating animals? No, not really, but this works for me. If you can deal with eating meat, this is a great way to get good meals without running the risk of getting glutened. If you are going to eat meat, do get the healthiest available. For us, that is 100% organic grass fed beef and 100% organic chicken, both from Trader Joe’s. Most major supermarkets now carry grass-fed beef and some will special order it for you. Since we are carrying something that we plan on eating a day (or three) after we leave the house, preparations need to be made to ensure that your food makes it all the way through your trip. The bag you choose is important. We went with a Lunch Cooler from REI. REI sells outdoor and camping gear, so we figured it would be durable and effective while travelling all day. The containers fit perfectly, and got two of Sterilites, two of the Ziplocs and some ice. Speaking of ice. We refrigerated the items the night before I left. Placed the two large containers in, then a “sheet” of ice cubes. We used the Rubbermaid Blue Ice Blanket that we also picked up at REI. You have to balance how much you spend on these versus something like a reusable “Blue Ice” block. If you are flying and want to carry on the food, the TSA will not let any of the blue ice products through. Well, they say that if it is frozen solid, you will be okay, but I have about three hours between leaving home and getting to the airport, and my ice products are never solid by the time I get there. If have gotten ice packs through before, I would love to hear about it. Now I was through security, but iceless. As I said, I was already three hours from home. I ate a hard boiled egg and some carrots. This opened up enough room to move the remaining egg to the carrot Ziploc and fill with ice. Most coffee places are fine with giving you a cup of ice. I always buy a coffee anyway, so asking for an extra cup isn’t a big deal. The one time I couldn’t get any extra ice, I ordered an iced coffee and put the ice (when I was done) into the Ziploc container. Once on the plane, there is never a problem getting ice. The cooler I used had side pockets for plastic utensils. I grabbed mine in airport, but you can also get them on the plane. The beef and rice dish is tasty cold, so about halfway through the flight, I had some of that. I polished off the carrots and replenished the ice. Next stop was the hotel. Not all hotels have microwaves and refridgerators in rooms. It pays to call ahead. Since I started doing this, I have been able to ensure at least a microwave. Hotels will have ice machines, so, while not ideal, it will work.
This is certainly not the easiest way to travel, but if you plan ahead, you can guarantee a “gluten free” (and “bar-free”) trip. No suspect salads, no trying to explain your dietary needs while 20 hungry travelers impatiently stand behind you. Doing this has allowed me to have a lot less stress while on the road. Sure, the rental car often smells funny and the TSA guy is always too “handsy”, but not having to worry about eating is bliss.
Note: There are links in this post to Amazon.com and REI.com. The Amazon links are affiliate links (which means I get a small percentage when you buy the linked item), the REI ones are not. I am trying this out to see if there is anything to this. I will do my best to disclose when I do this in the future.