Food for the Road

Highway food can be fun for a while—eating forbidden french fries at a fast food joint or sipping iced tea in the cool muffledness of a restaurant. Normal dietary restraint often takes a vacation when we do. (The only time I ever saw my father drink coffee was on road trips.) But after a few such meals, home cooking starts

sounding mighty good.

Food is not something to overlook when you are packing for a trip. Because eating on the road often tends to provide desperately needed breaks from cramped quarters, it fosters psychological as well as physical refreshment. Thankfully, it is possible to eat nutritious, winsome meals on the move.

While traversing the wide open spaces of America via bus, bicycle, Vega, and, most recently, Amtrak, I have been collecting ideas for delectable travel meals. Possibilities multiply when you push the range of "portable" food.

First, the basic kit: You’ll need some sort of insulated tote bag to keep cold things cold for the first two days. Find two plastic quart jugs with screw tops, one for water (which will be frozen before departure), and the other for mixing juice or storing wine later on the trip. Wrap up some silverware and include a sharp paring knife for cutting fruit, cheese, onions, and tomatoes. Don’t forget a can opener.

Bring mugs to use for cold or hot beverages as well as for soup. Find portable containers (film canisters, perhaps) for salt, pepper, chili powder. Tuck in a few old bread bags and twist ties for trash or leftovers. A cloth, nice or otherwise, is good to have for padding, a tablecloth, or for wiping up spills. Round up various sizes of sealable plastic containers. These are the treasure boxes you will fill with good things to eat for your trip.

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Sojourners Magazine July 1994
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