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On the road

  • k

I need some help. First emotional support and then ideas.

I just got a part in a touring children's theater company and I am leaving in a few weeks to travel in a van for about six weeks. I'm going to have to eat out every single meal. So the emotional support is needed in realizing that I don't get to cook for six whole weeks.

On top of that, I don't want to eat at nasty chain restaurants the whole time and am going to use chowhound to find local places where I can chow down. What I'm wondering is if besides fruit and nuts, do you have any ideas of things I can prepare that won't go bad and I can take with me to keep me healthy and energized (it's an INSANE schedule).

I'd love to have jerky, but I only eat organic meat (also gonna suck on the road) and have no idea if this is something i can make myself.

Someone should start a 'restaurant' where you do your own cooking...you bring in the food and your friends and you get a small station to mix, puree, saute and bake to your hearts content. Sigh....

Thanks in advance!!

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  1. I travel by car alot for work. Not for six weeks..but a few days at a time. I'm assuming that you'll have a cooler? If you can, invest in the coolers with the adapter that plugs into your cig lighter, then, you won't have to mess with ice or cold packs.

    I always bring granola bars, veggies and hummus, fruit and jerky. Jerky won't go bad, so bring it with you. Individual boxes of rice or soy milk don't need refrigeration. Same with small boxes/bottles of juice. Cereal for b'fast doesn't need to be cool, so that's easy.

    Alot of places that have a free continental b'fast have microwaves that you can use anytime. Good for heating up stuff.

    This is a great opportunity to stop at farmers markets, co-ops and natural/organic shops along the way!

    Congrats on the part! Break a leg!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Gayle

      I did a two week road trip a couple of years ago and to stay on budget, we packed some basics to keep us from having to eat out at every meal.
      One of the major PB brands sells PB in squeeze tube (think a really big toothpaste container). We used that, grape nuts, apples and whole wheat wraps and made really yummy (and filling) breakfast/lunch sandwiches. Individaul size servings of applesauce were a big hit, too.

      1. re: CeeBee

        A friend of mine did that exact same thing a couple years ago! A strict vegetarian who didn't give a toss about food...oy.

        There is organic jerky made of salmon and other stuff at my food coop, so it's out there. Of course dried fruits and nuts. But . . .

        the thing that made me happy in the wilds of america was having a box of Total breakfast cereal and a pack of those disposable tupperwares for bowls. You can find milk at any gas station (I don't love parmalat, but if you like that or little boxes of soy milk, all the easier for you)

        If you're going to be in the South, remember that pool halls have the best BBQ.

      2. re: Gayle

        BTW, those coolers that plug in to the lighter socket do require some ice packs and the food to be cold when it goes in. I bought one (Igloo) this spring under the same assumption and while it was better than a regular cooler but it does not really chill things.

      3. a cooler is an excellent idea. keep it stocked with ice. shop @ cool places for fresh stuff just don't buy too much at one time! bon voyage and asalam alekum abdul :)

        1 Reply
        1. re: furryabdul

          Buy a "high end" cooler. Use block ice. Vacuum seal and freeze what you can in anvance and then as you go. We lasted 2 weeks of camping easily that way. Ask companies who do float trips on rivers for advice. Recreational Vehicles websites? Have a great time!

        2. Might whole foods (at a price, I know!) sell organic beef jerky? Good luck - if I think if anything creative, I'll post - right now so obsessed with new puppy that I barely cook myself.

          1. Jerky is easy to make yourself. I bought a dehydrater just for jerky. You can also make it in the oven, but I haven't tried that. If you have a butcher where you buy your organic meat, tell him to slice whatever cut you use for jerky. I've used flank steak, rump roast, even sirloin. I like the mileage you get from a rump roast. You can buy rubs for jerky, or make your own. I like to marinate the meat overnight in Louisiana hot sauce or Teriaki, rub with equal parts salt and sugar, a little cayenne and whatever else appeals to you.
            I have no idea what organic jerky cost, but I would guess you would save more than the cost of a dehydrater in the first few batches.

            1. Lots of good advice. When we travel, I take my blender with me to make sure I can get my soy milk/yogurt/fresh fruit drink in the morning. At least I know I've gotten in a good breakfast. Of course that will only work if you can bring along a cooler. Good luck and enjoy the ride!

              1. Are you going to be staying in hotels? There are several national hotel chains that feature in suite kitchens -- Residence Inn comes to mind.

                1. ideas:

                  1) kefir (homemade drinking yogurt) --- is well adapted to the nomadic lifestyle. Ferments at room temperature in a day. If goatherds can manage it in a leather pouch, you ought to be able to figure something out.

                  2) rice cooker --- I used a Tatung model with removable stainless cooking pot to do rice, steamed veggies, soups, curries, pasta with sauce in my hotel room for several month out of town assignment. Several websites devoted to what you can make in a rice cooker.

                  3) primitive charcoal stove --- My $19.00 Thai bucket stove is the size of a 4 gallon pail. Works great as a grill (with the addition of a grate), add a wok and there are few things you can't cook, anywhere.

                  4) strombolis --- made like a pizza, this is a jellyroll form baked filled sandwich. Make a big one with your favorite foods in it, and bake it. The filling is steam cooked while baking, sealed up in the crust until you cut into it. If you could vac seal it and keep it in a cooler, you'd have the taste of your cooking to dig into a week into the road trip.

                  1. Get a stick blender and a hot pot (not just for college students anymore!) You can make soups, hot teas... I'm sure I've seen a cookbook geared towards college students and hot pots.

                    With the stick blender you could make smoothies, especially if your hotel has a free continental breakfast buffet. Grab a banana, some ice from the machine, throw in some peanut butter and you've got a fast meal, especially if you'll have to hustle out in the morning for warly performances.

                    1. j
                      janet of reno

                      When my son was in middle school, they were studying the westward expansion....and one of their assignments was to make jerky (I guess the idea was to learn about how food was preserved for the long trip in the wagons.....). Anyway, I forget the exact recipe...but it involved marinating the meat and then slow cooking for many hours in a very low temperature oven....Of course you sliced the meat very thin as well. It came out pretty good....so at least we know you *can* make jerky....maybe you could google for a recipe. It seems to me if you know someone with a smoker that might work as well. Where will you be staying? Will you have access to a refrigerator? If so at least you can have milk, cheese, cereal...etc....and

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: janet of reno

                        Fleabag motels, is my guess, although I'm not exactly sure. Our salary is ok but we only get $52 a day in per diem (this would be the starving actor paying their dues portion of the program). This means we share rooms and try to eat on about $20 a day. Oh god, am I going to have to listen to Rachel Ray now? The HORROR!!!

                        I'm going to try some jerky, I did find one recipe that recommended a 140 degree oven, slightly open, with a fan keeping the air moving.

                        I doubt we'll have a refrigerator of any type, which stinks...I'm not even sure there will be room for a cooler in the van (there are five of us and the entire set plus our suitcases with enough stuff for 6 weeks). Maybe one of my carry-ons will be a small cooler? We'll see how it goes.

                        1. re: krissywats

                          Alton Brown did a whole episode on making jerky. Not a huge fan of his, but it was really interesting. He made his own liquid smoke too!

                          Link: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/show_...

                          1. re: krissywats

                            If your staying in hotels and only have $20 a day to spend on food, maybe you could cook one or two nites a week. That would sure help all of your budgets. You will be amazed at how much food you can cook if you have an electric fry pan. They don't take up much room and someone prob. has one, or at least someones Mom does. This could be a real challenge for you to come up with creative menus, keep the cooking juices going and give you something to think about and plan when you in the van traveling. I bet your fellow actors will love you for it!

                            1. re: jackie

                              I second the suggestion of an electric frying pan. I travel for work, staying sometimes in places that have kitchenettes, but often in motels that have nothing. Lots of places nowadays have mini-fridges. I don't have anything to add, otherwise, though I certainly agree with most of the other suggestions, particularly the Emergen-C. I take that everywhere. When I was in Italy recently I tried to make my morning shake, but had to give it up in Pompeii and Perugia where I had no refrigerator whatsoever.

                        2. Nissan makes a line of stainless steel vacuum thermoses and travel mugs that are the cat's ass. They are pricey in general but Campmor.com has really good prices right now. I just bought the 2-liter size ($30; normally $50-60) to fill with boiling water in the mornings so I can siphon off what I need to make miso soup, tea, instant whatevers throughout the day. (Works for keeping stuff cold too, naturally.)

                          Tins of dolmas? They usually have a pull-top and so you don't need a can opener. Different brands vary considerably in flavor/quality so I'd try a few if the first one you find is not that great--and you know you do, in fact, like dolmas (Trader Joes actually has a pretty good one).

                          Bars (like Luna, Clif, etc.) can be trying if you have eaten too many of them. Worth checking out though because they are small, easy to deal with, and packed with calories. (I like Lara bars, certain Luna flavors, and the Oasis berry flavor.) Also I carry around a drink mix called Emergen-C that is a fizzy vitaminy stuff and good if I get wispy from low blood sugar.

                          Organically geared groceries (Whole Foods, etc.) might have organic/free range jerkies.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: cheyenne

                            Another thing I would add to you boiled water pack is a satchel of Yerba Mate. There is no better drink out there, filled with vitamins, and anti-oxidants. Hope all goes well.

                            1. re: red or green

                              No kidding? Vitamins? I knew there was a kick to it that was not caffeine, but didn't know about benefits. I believe you are to add hot water, but not boiling when making the tea. Do you sweeten yours?