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Dec 1, 2011 12:50 PM

Kosher Shipping, or Foods to Travel Well

Heya Chowhounds, my husband and I are traveling to Austin for a wedding next month and staying for about four days. I know about the kosher deli there but we won't really have access to our own car and don't want to inconvenience people too much. We are vegetarians and keep cholov yisrael and eat fish.

Maybe this is a stretch, but would anyone deliver ready made meals to our hotel in Austin? I seem to remember hearing about a place that would be willing to do that wishful thinking or does that exist?

Alternatively or in supplement, what are some foods we can take that travel well? Besides the obvious granola bars, trail mix, cans of peanut butter etc. We can buy that near the hotel where we're staying, but I'm really something that might be a satisfying meal substitute. I'm thinking cheese sticks or something - we're on a 4 hour flight from Newark to Austin and I'm sure they would keep, I've kept them in my purse for longer.


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  1. I forget which brand it is (Star-Kist, maybe?), but one of them makes individual portion size cups of tuna. With a loaf of bread and a bottle of mustard, you can fashion tuna sandwiches for yourself. I'm not sure what the kosher supermarket bread situation is like in Austin, so you may have to take a loaf with you.

    Will your room have a refrigerator and/or microwave? If so, you may be able to make oatmeal (Quaker also has oatmeal cups that you add water to and microwave, but they may have dairy and would not likely be cholov yisrael). If there is a market nearby and you have the fridge/microwave, you can also microwave yourself some eggs - it may not be the most Chow-ish way to prepare eggs, but at least it will give you some protein and may be more filling than some other options.

    Dry roasted edamame are also filling and provide a lot of protein.

    For items that travel well, I'm having a hard time coming up with things other than sandwich fixings.

    Fyi, you cannot take peanut butter through security at the airport - it will be confiscated. I don't know if they will take sandwiches already with peanut butter on them, but I have seen more than one college student get very upset when TSA takes his/her jar of peanut butter from the carry-on. So, if you are planning on peanut butter, put it in your checked bags, or buy it in Austin.

    1 Reply
    1. re: asf78

      I can see a sandwich being a meal for lunch here or there, but for lunch and dinner for four days?
      Good idea for the eggs! I'll have to see if the hotel has microwaves.
      Thanks for the info about the peanut butter! However, I hadn't planned on taking anything with me that I could theoretically buy at a regular grocery store in Austin, so I don't think there is a reason for concern there.

    2. My Own meals makes veggie (vegan and dairy) no-refrigeration meals in a tray that you can heat in your hotel sink.

      Or, get a cab to take you to any supermarket in Austin, and you will find not only tuna, but cottage cheese, yogurt, cream cheese, probably smoked salmon, hummus and bread with hechscherim. You can pay the cab to wait and drive you back to the hotel, since Austin is not a taxi kind of city. There's lots of stuff you can eat without cooking.

      Unopened packages of hard cheeses keep fine during a long day of travel. If there's not a fridge in the hotel room, just ask the front desk to bring one up.

      Many caterers will ship dairy or fish meals to the hotel in a cooler on dry ice. It is a more expensive route.

      23 Replies
      1. re: AdinaA

        Adina, I'm looking at the website for My Own meals and it doesn't look like they sell the vegetarian ones in packs less than 20. And how would we boil water in the sink, or make it hot enough so that there's no kashrus issues? Have you done this before, and has it worked?

        The problem with the dairy stuff is that we keep chalav yisrael. So we plan on taking some hard cheeses, but unfortunately for yogurt or cream cheese we'd have to go to the HEB on Far West and that would be quite a trip. We're arriving on a Sunday night, sightseeing with family in one car all day on Monday, and Wednesday and Thursday is wedding stuff. Maybe one of those meals we'll go to the kosher store with family and stock up on SOME stuff, but I'm not sure what day that's going to be.

        1. re: ilanaR

          You can heat the my own meals to the same temp. as the hottest tap water in the hotel just by putting them in the sink and filling it with water, then draining and repeat.

          I'm adding other suggestions to that old thread.

          1. re: AdinaA

            But what if the hotel sink was traif? Wouldn't that be a kashrus problem?

            1. re: ilanaR

              You're not putting the actual food in the sink, just the package, I assume.

              1. re: queenscook

                Yes, but if the food got hot via hot traif water, that seems to pose a problem. Maybe someone baki in this can clarify? :) I'm just paranoid of heat frankly...I'd love to know the exceptions to the rule for this!

                1. re: ilanaR

                  I'm really not clear on what you are asking. Are you somehow imagining the food touching the water? If not, it doesn't matter how the food gets hot, as long as it doesn't have any contact with a treif surface. For example, any Rav will tell you that it's perfectly acceptable to heat kosher food in a totally treif oven, as long as it's double wrapped. Have you ever had a kosher meal on a plane? That's how they warm it up. It's not an exception to any rule; it is the rule.

                  1. re: queenscook

                    So what you're saying is these meals are double wrapped? If not, I would imagine its contact with traif would be the hot water int he sink, which gained the traif status through heat.

                    1. re: ilanaR

                      You put the whole box in the hot water, still in its packaging, to heat it up. Then you take it out and open it. The food makes no contact with the water (or it would get soggy).

                      1. re: zsero

                        Okay, just to clarify, the packaging has two wrappings - otherwise even if it didn't make contact, there still might be an issue with the heat.

                        And if it has two wrappings and is soaking in warm water...I'm having trouble seeing how that would make the food anything but decidedly, increasingly lukewarm.

                        1. re: ilanaR

                          There is no issue with the heat; as far as kashrus is concerned one wrapping would be sufficient, but as far as the food not getting waterlogged there might be.

                          And you make the water as hot as the tap will allow. Fill the sink with very hot water, and then soak the box (still in its plastic wrapping) in it. It should eventually get almost as hot as the water.

                          1. re: zsero

                            So you're saying generally speaking according to how you hold one wrapping is sufficient for kashrus reasons when heating up food in a traif keli, or is this particular scenario an exception to the above rule?

                            1. re: ilanaR

                              A sink is not an oven; in some sinks the water might not even get up to yad soledet bo. I'm sure the standards are different for an oven, but even in an oven, two wrappings are enough. Also, I don't know this particular product, but almost every product has a wrapping inside the box. That's one wrap. Then there's the box itself; that's the second wrap.

                              You seem very resistant to this; instead of people here trying to explain it further, I think at this point, it's time to ask your personal rav or posek, who can perhaps explain it better, or advise you on your exact situation.

                              1. re: queenscook

                                I must not have made myself very clear; I wasn't resistant, just trying to understand. My understanding was that heat transferred the traif status unless double wrapped, and I was wondering if heating in a hotel sink introduced some new element that would make it worth inquiring to a Rabbi about. If I encounter this situation I will indeed ask a rabbi. Thanks for your input!

                              2. re: ilanaR

                                Ilana, this is not the place to discuss kashrut. Please call your rabbi and ask him your kashrut questions about heating packaged food.

                                1. re: avitrek

                                  Got it, Avitrek, I will research outside of this forum. I was just hoping to clarify here what other posters were suggesting. Thanks!

            2. re: ilanaR

              The HEB is probably 10-15 minutes by car from downtown, maybe even less. And it has a good selection. It was my go-to Shabbat source last year when I was in Austin for a wedding.

              1. re: craigcep

                I grew up in Austin, and know that it is super duper spread out and that traffic is normally awful. The problem with going there also is that we would be relying on a family member to take us in their car and things will be very hectic with the wedding and we'd prefer not to take away from family time. Yes, it's a great resource, but things will be too hectic to make regular trips probably.

                1. re: craigcep

                  Actually, I sort of take this back. According to google maps it would take 12 minutes to get to HEB from the Radisson downtown. Maybe we can enlist someone with a car for a quick 45 minutes diversion here and there.

                  1. re: ilanaR

                    If you can do that, you're set. I was last in Austin a LONG time ago, but the HEB with the kosher deli also had a kosher bakery that made awesome bread; so good that I actually brought some back to Brooklyn with me!

                    1. re: ilanaR

                      Ilana...what about renting a Zip car for 2 hours?

                      1. re: vallevin

                        Good idea! But both of our licenses are expired.

                  2. re: ilanaR

                    I've ordered the My Own Meals from in the past and didn't have to order a case of one flavor. I don't know if they still do that, but I would call the My Own Meals company or email them to see who sells the product by the box. I don't know where IlanaR lives, but some groceries where I am sell some of the ready made shelf stable meals. I had peanut butter confiscated a few years ago at the airport. They said it was a gel!

                    1. re: sharonfl

                      Hi Sharon, I live in Brooklyn, I'll check that stuff out, thanks! I think I'm going to go with Noah's Ark shipped meals at this point.

                2. Once you have access to an American supermarket, you really don't need to stock up unless you want items that are hard to find outside of kosher stores, like cheeses and meats. (Cheese, FWIW, should keep fine in your luggage.) Don't bother carrying much, although if you want sandwiches, it's worth checking out what the kosher bread situation is in Austin, as bread with a hechsher isn't available in every American market.

                  We had a thread last year on meals you can make with access only to a supermarket, no kitchen:

                  In traveling abroad to places where I won't be able to get any kosher food, I bring a plug-in water boiler, a plug-in burner and pot, or both. With that, a knife, and a cutting surface, as long as I have access to electricity, something Austin ought to have in abundance, I can cook a much wider variety of foods. I think that'd be overkill in the USA, but if you're insisting on proper meals, it's a better way to go than shlepping prepared foods from New York. That said, the Meal-Mart shelf stable meals that I've tried have been remarkably decent. I've only ever bought the meat ones, rather than the pareve ones with fake cheeses, but it's probably worth it for you to try them out if you're checking luggage and can bring something that liquidy. Also, Bumblebee makes a line of prepared fish filets that are shelf-stable and not bad.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: GilaB

                    Noah's Ark.... be prepared to pay, but they will ship the food to the hotel (presuming you are in a place where there is A) A freezer to keep the food and B) An oven that you can re heat in... I believe they come double wrapped.


                    1. re: vallevin

                      Thanks for the info! Now that I think of it, this is exactly where I saw this sort of thing advertised! Spot on Val, thanks.

                    2. re: GilaB

                      Hi Gila,
                      Yes, indeed, we plan on stocking up at a regular supermarket and not buying things available in Austin in New York.

                      Thanks for that thread, I'll check it out!
                      Great ideas about bringing appliances instead of food. I think that may be our best bet. I really do need well rounded meals, I'd like a salad for lunch rather than a sandwich!

                      I've had the bumblebee fish before, it's pretty decent! Might buy that in Austin, thanks!

                      1. re: ilanaR

                        Once you have a plug-in burner and a pot, you can eat indefinitely. We've traveled in foreign countries without access to any prepared foods at all, and done fine on a diet of local produce, eggs, rice, oatmeal, and noodles, although admittedly this gets monotonous after a while. (Bring along cooking oil and seasonings if you're planning on doing this.) With access to a supermarket, as long as you're used to cooking vegetarian food (which you obviously are), the sky's the limit - soups, bean/grain dishes, stir-fries, scrambled eggs, etc. Were I you, I'd just skip most dairy for a few days, rather than worry about the rigamarole of packing it.

                        1. re: GilaB

                          Good points Gila. Yes, I am used to cooking vegetarian, obviously, and will be more than well-stocked with the local grocery stores' selection.

                          1. re: ilanaR

                            I second the Noah's Ark meals. Once, I was staying at a hotel that charged for each individual meal that had to be reheated. I was traveling with family, and the hotel surcharges added up to some ridiculous sum. I learned my lesson, and the nice people at Noah's Ark (Ben) offered to pack them for me family style on my next trip. If you find that they are too expensive, you may want to consider purchasing an electric skillet to shlep with you (I've been researching them for my next trip, and it looks like I'm going with the Presto with foldaway handle 8.5 lbs). They can be used as a frying pan, oven, or to boil food. You can even use it to reheat prepackaged food instead of using the hotel microwave. Just make sure the hotel is OK with you using it in your room if you don't have a kitchenette.

                    3. I find Trio bars to be more filling than granola bars. Costco sells them.

                      There is an Indian kosher restaurant in Austin but I believe their food is dairy (and not CY) rather than parve. There are kosher sections in HEB and Randall's in the Far West Hills neighborhood. There is Chabad and also a Hillel. (Hey, SOME Hillels have kosher food...)

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: SoCal Mother

                        We live in Brooklyn without a car and without a Costco membership, so if you know of another place or another type of bar, I'd love to hear a recommendation! I find the cholov yisrael granola bars generally to be chock-full of sugar and kind of grainy and strange.

                        Yes, Madras - I would eat Pareve things there and hope I get to hit it up with my husband during my stay! Unfortunately we run into the same problem of taking away from family time and no car to get around, so that may not happen.

                        Yeah, the HEB is great and the Randalls has kosher baked goods. I'm close with Chabad there, but I don't want to ask them to deliver home cooked meals to us, that seems a bit brazen. And last I checked, Hillel's kosher cafe for students was defunct :(

                        1. re: ilanaR

                          I don't know Brooklyn well but the Mrs. Mays web site says that their products are sold at Shop Rite and Stop and Shop, both of which are east coast supermarket chains. They are sold at Safeway also, but I don't know if there are Safeways out in NY.

                          Look at and see if any of those places are near you.

                          I don't know if all of the Mrs. Mays' products are kosher, I only buy the Trio bars. They are made with dried fruit and are parve and don't make me feel like I had cookies for breakfast.

                          Don't forget that the restrictions on gels and liquids do not apply to check through luggage.

                      2. Write to Rabbi Langer in Austin. I'm sure he'll be able ot be helpful.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: robocop

                          Thanks for the info, but I grew up in Austin and have lots of family there so I'm pretty aware of the kosher options. I also don't want to ask a Rabbi or their family to provide me with food, especially since four days should be pretty manageable.

                          1. re: ilanaR

                            How about self heating La Briute meals They have some vegetarian options. I'm sure you can find them in Brooklyn.

                            1. re: IsItkosher

                              Cool, the pics look decent! (Although I only see 2 vegetarian options...)
                              I'll take a look around for them! If anyone else lives in Brooklyn and knows where I can get these then please chime in!

                              1. re: ilanaR

                                I found them extraordinarily vile on the two occasions my husband tried them. I'll admit that I refused to taste them at all, but the smell was sufficiently off-putting that I'm comfortable judging them.

                                1. re: GilaB

                                  Thanks for the info! I think ultimately I'm going to go with fresh/raw foods I can just cut up or heat in a microwave. The self heating meals also give me a weird feeling, and if there's a weird smell....well...yuck!