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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
DH and I are headed for a weekend away from the city. We are driving to explore Ely, NV, a place we have never been.
I want to take some food with us so we don't waste money. We will be staying in a hotel and I'm assuming it does not have a fridge in
the room. At least the website doesn't say there is one. Anyway, I was wondering if anyone had some good road food ideas.
I have homemade granola and fruit to take, but I would like to take more. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
 

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When my kids were little before we would go on vacations, I'd freeze milk jugs with water in them so I wouldn't have to deal with loose melting ice. Then I'd pack the cooler with the frozen water jugs, meat, veggies, string cheese, reusable water bottles and large bottles of juice. We'd also take fruit, chips, bread, homemade beef jerky and candy treats. Now as adults they do the same thing when they travel. have a fun, safe, enjoyable trip!!
 

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This is my list for an upcoming road trip. DH and I will be in the car for 9-10 hours with only a cooler bag and ice packs. Then we move into a hotel for 4 days.

cereal (will buy milk when we arrive)
pita & hummus
carrot & celery sticks
apple slices
prepackaged juice singles
yogurt
pasta salad (oil&vinegar dressing)
soup cups (use hot water at gas station coffee maker)
instant oatmeal
bagels & cream cheese packets

Plus we'll have an assortment of chips, pretzels, breakfast bars, bottled water, a thermos of hot tea, trail mix, crackers, etc. I have a tea kit made up with tea bags, sugar packets, creamer packets and spoons in a waterproof tin. Just add hot water.

You can take bread, a jar of peanut butter, and jelly to make sandwiches. I don't usually do cheese because a cooler just does not keep it cold enough longer than a day. I don't trust cold cuts after 24 hours away from the fridge. I do sometimes pack them for the first day of a long trip, as lunch. If you put the mayo and mustard between the slices of meat or lettuce and NOT the bread the sandwiches will stay dry.
 

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You didn't say if there are any kids going.........so I guessed not.

I always freeze water in drink containers, then use it to keep the cooler cold...not ice packs. The cooler will stay cool enough to take yogurt---with either 'old spoons' from the house or plastic........sandwiches. Toss chips/crackers or other snacks in a bag and along with fruit you are set.

I always travel with cheese sticks, granola bars, sandwiches, chips, fruit, & juice--freeze this too.
 

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For a second there, I thought you were going to the OTHER Ely. Sounds like a fun trip.

We use five day coolers and a 1:2 ratio of ice to food, so there's twice as much ice as food. We've tried using less ice and it ends up not working nearly as well, plus costs more in ice in the long run. Larger coolers also keep ice better. Depending on temps where we are traveling, we typically get close to week out of our ice if we start with zero degree ice from our home freezer. Our 35-quart five day cooler does not keep ice nearly as well as the 70-quart and 100-quart do. Some trips we've taken, we brought home some of our original ice after two weeks. Of course we've added ice along the way, but we're still impressed at how well the coolers work.

We start out with everything frozen as much as possible, but not for an overnight trip. It takes quite a while to thaw something in a properly loaded cooler.

I pack a lot of stuff in Ziplocs because it's easier to squish things into odd spaces vs. using bowls, plus then we don't end up with a lot of partly full containers with a lot air in them that takes more ice to keep cool. Ziplocs allow more space to add more food and ice as needed too. As a rule I hate disposable stuff, but Ziplocs, paper plates, plastic spoons, etc, sure make life on the road a ton easier.

We also take pasta salad and raw veggie salad and pack mayo in a squeeze bottle and/or bottled dressing in its bottle separately. I make it up and put it in a big Ziploc, but we don't add the dressing till right before we eat it. We each add only to our own serving and never add it to the big bag. We mix it in some big plastic cups we got cheap at a garage sale once, or right on our paper plates. I like the cups better! Without adding the dressing till serving time, we can keep salads five days in the cooler without pasta getting mushy or veggies wilting.

Three bean salad works well in a cooler too, as does a rice/bean/corn salad. Easily served in a big cup, too. Those I add the dressing right away and they also keep for days.

Grapes are great for snacking and are easy to take in the cooler, and it won't hurt if they get a little bit frozen.

I make up seafood wraps and take those. Basically it's cream cheese mixed with some sliced ripe olives and seafood sauce, with chopped imitation seafood mixed in, then spread on tortillas, rolled up, and put in a plastic bag. Shredded cheddar is good in them, too. I usually use the bag the tortillas come in. Those keep three or four days in the cooler and are easy to eat in the car because they're not messy.

Be sure you stay hydrated. Travel is no fun if you're bloated with salt and not feeling well. Drink water, not carbonated beverages.

We also keep a supply of water in reusable bottles. Last year, we started using Bubba Kegs and loading those every morning with a slice of lemon and ice, then adding water. Two of them sit nicely on our center storage in the truck and keep us from drinking too much pop. I'm trying to eliminate carbonated beverages completely from our travel menus but my husband is a pop addict, so no luck so far. He's cut back a lot though. I dislike taking much canned beverages due to the space and ice it requires.

We try to avoid salty foods when we travel but it's difficult.

Raw veggies to snack on are also good and handy too. Carrots, radishes, cauliflower, celery, all go into a big Ziploc ready to eat. Bottled dressing or some other dip is nice if you're not eating on the road.

I haven't been able to talk my husband into letting me try some manifold cooking yet, even though my publisher has offered to pay to have the engine detailed because he wants the article that badly, so I can't offer any advice about that. Maybe this year I'll be able to sneak a piece of meat under the hood to have when we stop at a rest stop for lunch sometime. :D

We rarely eat out on trips, and we do a lot of day trips due to where we live. We often take sandwiches or wraps, and I have a picnic bag that's always packed and ready. It contains all kinds of disposable dishes plus a small Tupperware box with can opener, paring knife, etc, things we can't get in a disposable version. The bag also contains hand sanitizing wipes so we can clean up before eating in the car, and we also carry a partial roll of toilet paper for those emergency stops at little wayside rests where the TP is missing. Hand wipes are good for those situations, too. I bought a two-pack of little cheap scissors at the dollar store and put one in the glove boxes of each of our cars. Those get used a lot to open those bags of foods that refuse to be torn open. There are a couple chip clips kept in the cars too. The picnic bag has an assortment of plastic bags for use if we buy something en route that needs a way to be stored.

I hang a plastic grocery bag for trash from the ash tray, so we have a place to put wrappers and other trash as needed. Extra bags are folded and put in the glove box so we can just toss full trash bags when we stop for gas and have a replacement right away. I also hang a bag with snacks from the corner of the glove box. That keeps it handy but not under my feet to get stepped on.

I'm constantly fine-tuning our travel food methods even after thousands of miles. But I guess the main things I've done that have served us the best are using five-day coolers with enough ice, having the picnic bag stocked with everything we could need, using refillable water bottles, and having the trash bag and snack bag in the front passenger seat area for convenience and to keep the truck neater.

Dang, talking about this just makes me want to pack something and go somewhere!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The jugs are headed for the freezer. I have made a nice list for the store from these wonderful ideas.

Frugal Franny, It is just going to be my husband and I on this adventure. We are in the beginning of a new phase with our youngest DD being a freshman in college and our 2 other DD's no longer living at home.

Spirit Deer, I asked my husband if we could do some manifold cooking, but he has the same frame of mind yoyur husband does about it right now. Maybe the next trip. I actually love to experiment with stuff like that.

I think this is the start of some exciting new advetures for us, and I really do appreciate your ideas.
 

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The jugs are headed for the freezer. I have made a nice list for the store from these wonderful ideas.

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I keep two or three "liquids" (water, juice)out of the cooler and up close to me (in drink holders) while traveling. They are frozen but will usually unthaw fast enough for drinking on the road. As I finish one, I take another out of the cooler so it can unthaw. Put a paper towel at the bottom of your drink holders or it will get cruddy with condensation as the drinks thaw.

DON'T FORGET.............napkins and groc. bags/produce bags for trash. I just keep a roll of paper towels in my car as a 'just in case'...........then if I forget napkins I have something to use.
 

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bananas, napkins, papertowel, trash bags, lysol wipes, lysol, clorox wipes, hand wipes, purell, tea bags, insulated mugs, ...you have been given alot of great suggestions by all of the above posters. enjoy your trip
 

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About the manifold cooking, my husband is afraid something would explode and the truck engine would forever smell like sausage! He's such a wuss. LOL. I'll talk him into it eventually. I'm still looking for the sweet spot on the engine that would be hot enough and would also be easy to fasten the food to. He gets that worried look on his face every time we get home from somewhere and I whip open the hood of the truck looking for a good hot spot. Poor guy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I am so glad I asked. I didn't come up with even 1/4 of the items that have been suggested. I'm glad for the non-food ideas as well, since my brain didn't even go that way at all! LOL.

Spirit Deer, I just have to say my husband probably won't let me near the enging now that I asked him if we can try this. He will probably lose sleep at night now, worried that he'll start smelling food while we're driving! :)
 

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Oh, too funny! If you really want to torture him, wrap something in foil and have some wire laying nearby. ~cackle~

I hope you like your trip. We've had so much fun traveling around and seen so many things. We're looking forward to many more years of exploring North America. If you don't get out and experience it, you can't really comprehend how vast and varied this great country is (and Canada too.)
 

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About 10 years ago, we bought an electric cooler from Walmart. It plugs into the car's 'cigarette lighter,' and it has a wall adaptor too.

Here's an example.

We use it to keep stuff cool in the car.
We plug it in when we're at the hotel.
We use it on long grocery runs. (40 miles to Sam's Club).
And we use it as an 'extra fridge' to hold drinks when we have parties.
 

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We have a PowerChill as well and have found it to be unreliable. We've had several instances where ours froze up and quit. Aside from that, electric chillers will cool to only forty degrees below ambient temperature. That means if it's in an environment that's over eighty degrees, it will not cool to a food-safe temperature. Lots of people like them though. We're hoping to sell ours, but when we did use it, we used it mostly for pop and beer that wouldn't create a food safety issue if the PowerChill warmed to over forty degrees. We've also put in a jug of ice to help boost the PC's cooling power and that worked pretty well.

Be sure not to leave them running in the car for very long without the engine running, as they will drain the battery.
 

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Yeah, we got one of those coolers that plug into the car. It will not cool something that is warm, but it does a good job of keeping cold things cold during the drive. I use it for our first day sandwiches and drinks.

Be careful if you use an electric cooler in a hotel. Some places will unplug them during the day when you're gone.
 

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Somewhere in the deep dark archives of this board is a thread where I recounted our adventures of traveling and cooking while on the road - we used a converter for the cigarette lighter , and cooked in the crock-pot. I put the food for each day in a crock-pot liner, and froze it, then put the bags in our cooler. Each morning as we got in the car, we put a bag of food into the crockpot, (I secured the crockpot lid with rubber bands). Should have seen the amazed faces at the rest stops when we pulled out hot, scrumptious food to eat :)

Other foods - cheese cubes (I cut my own from block cheese), fruit, peanut butter (goes great on sandwiches, or as filling in celery ), we also took pop top cans of tuna and tiny bottles of mayo to make tuna salad. . .
 

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I usually make my own lunchables, a pasta salad with oil and vinegar, raw veggies...wraps are good..with left over fried chicken or grilled chicken fill with cheese and bag salad..tuna, egg, or chicken salad is good for the first day.

when Paige and I went to Tenn. the other day..we took homemade lunchables, chips, fruits, water and pop...it was only a 2 day trip..we ate out 2 meals and spent 20 dollars...
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
The trip was great. We checked out a new town (Ely, NV) that we had never been to. It was so quaint. We headed out about 60 miles and went to the Great Basin Nation Park. We did the tour of the Lehman cave. That was my first time in a cave, it was so interesting and glad we took the tour. Both DH and I love to be in the outdoors and enjoy what nature has given us to enjoy. We stopped at Cave Lake for a look, it was fun to see the one person ice fishing on the frozen lake. Over all we had a wonderful time and are anxious to start planning the next get away. Maybe Flagstaff, AZ.
 
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