Have Plan, Will Travel…Even If It Is a Pain

Larry and I went to visit the kids and g-babies in Pittsburgh last Saturday, and as usual I brought along my little cooler of food. While holding Baby Luca, I asked my daughter Cassie if she’d heat up the leftover grilled Boca I’d brought. An hour later, we sat on the deck enjoying the sun, and I ate a serving of barbecue beans. Cassie giggled at me. A little while later, I went back in the house, heated up a corn on the cob and brought it out to the deck. Cassie said, “I love how you have the most random cooler food.”

Ah, that’s the beauty of a well-executed menu. It seems random and laid back, but really it’s carefully – nay, painfully – planned hours, even days in advance.

I have a love/hate relationship with my daily food plan.

I love it because having a plan takes away the guess work, and I know at the end of the day that I’ve eaten enough to satisfy both my nutritional and “comfort” needs. Without a plan, I’m lost. By suppertime, I can’t remember what I had for lunch, let alone breakfast, and would have no clue if I’d eaten enough protein and not too many starchy carbs.

I hate it because it’s time consuming and a pain in the butt when I’m going out of town.

Whether it’s a day in Pittsburgh or a week in Minnesota, planning what I’ll bring along to eat gives me an eye tick. It stresses me out. It takes me less time to shower, get dressed and do my hair and makeup then it takes me to prepare food for a day trip. What will I take along in the car? What will fit in my little cooler? Did I remember to make ice the night before?

While I don’t eat it (or at least often), I understand the appeal of fast food and pre-packaged meals. How much easier it would be to drive through McDs for a crappy salad – even with all its sodium and low-nutritional content – than pack my own salad, dressing, bowl, fork and napkin when I’m going on a picnic. Alas, easier isn’t usually healthier, and because eating healthy is a priority, I get my butt up early and plan (and, yes, b!tch a little).

Because I spend a lot of time driving, I’ve learned to eat some foods you wouldn’t think to eat in the car. You can eat a spinach omelet like a burrito, wrapped in plastic or tin foil. A fruit smoothie is a bit tricky if it’s really thick, but if you let it melt a little (and providing the fruit is blended thoroughly) you can drink it through a straw or drink it from a travel mug.

Some foods aren’t meant to be consumed while driving down the highway, though. Broccoli slaw, for instance. A whole lot of it will end up on your lap if you don’t scoop it up just right and land that fork directly in your mouth the first try. Not that I’d know that firsthand…

Today, I’m going on a hike in the forest. On a pink sticky note next to my computer I wrote, “Bring on hike: water, apple, almonds, Hershey Kiss.” Yes, I plan right down to the Hershey Kiss. (**Patting self on back**)

I know a lot of you plan and pack and tote food with you to work and on the road. What’s your strategy and how to you execute your food plan without succumbing to the fast food monster?

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