Meal Planning on the Road

You finally settle into a routine with food. You have a meal plan, you’re prepping your food every week then it happens, a business trip!

Anticipating 10 hours in conference rooms with bad catered sandwiches and mandatory “team building” dinners, you are guaranteed to toss out your meal plan and gain 10lbs on awful food that you don’t even really enjoy, right? Or not.  

For those of you that have ever googled “Meal Planning While Traveling” or “Meal Planning on the Road”; whether your job requires frequent travel, or you’re just a regular jetsetter this one’s for you!

1. Research the area you are traveling to: Know what you’re dealing with. Are there any obvious healthy options? Are there any grocery stores nearby? See if there is any way you can replicate the meals you would normally have at home. 

  • Deli’s, supermarkets and anywhere with a salad bar, sushi or a la carte protein and carb options are ideal.
  • Look at the menus for local resturants and decide what you are going to order ahead of time so you’re less likely to deviate from your meal plan 

2. If possible, get a hotel room with a microwave and a fridge (or even better a kitchenette!): If your restaurant options aren’t looking too promising, you still have a few options!

  • Go to the grocery store and grab yourself some protein (a rotisserie chicken, deli meat, tofu, tuna, hard boiled eggs,  or whatever proteins are in the salad bar), veggies, and carbs (bread, precooked grains, rice or veggies are great options).  

  • Pack your own meals and bring them with you. This is obviously more realistic with shorter trips but you can pack and bring a few days worth of meals. They will allow you to bring a cooler as a carry on, so while you might get weird looks, it’s absolutely allowed. If you have a fridge in your room, you will at least have a place to store fresh items. 

  • Augment your “poor” options with things you can bring from home. Tuna packets, protein bars and powder, wheat bread, microwavable rice packets, rice cakes, nuts, peanut butter and popcorn (or just kernels you can make popcorn with) all travel pretty well. Use these to compliment whatever options you might already have and minimize the amount of food you need to pack.

3. Meal Prep Companies: These are a thing now! Look to see if there is a local one nearby, or at least one that is willing to ship food to your hotel.

NOTE: I have never personally tried any of these options (but perhaps I will get around to trying and reviewing some of them at some point) but such a company could be a great option if you can’t find any local meal prep solutions.

4. Worst case scenario is having to navigate the options presented to you. If you’re stuck with a typical catered lunch with sandwiches, pastas and salads here’s what to do:

  • Stuck with all “bad options”? Be aware of your portions (usually half a sandwich or wrap is a serving).  

  • Fill up on veggies! Raw, Steamed and grilled veggies can be found in almost any resturant

  • Look for anything grilled that isn’t covered in oil, cheese or any sort of creamy/calorie filled dressing or condiment.

  • In restaurants or at dinner avoid anything with “crispy”, “sticky” or “sweet” or “crunchy” in their description, this typically means it’s either fried or has a sugary sauce.

  • If a portion is bigger than you SHOULD consume (not what you CAN, what you SHOULD) consume, ask for a separate plate, split it in half and have the other half packed up.
  • Don’t be embarrassed to ask for a simpler version of a menu item. Any grilled protein, veggies that are dry sauteed (no oil) or raw, a baked potato without any cheese, sour cream or fatty fixings and even pasta dishes without heavy sauces are great options that are offered by most places.

  • Steamed or Raw seafood are usually healthy options. Shrimp Cocktail, Steamed Oysters, Lobster and sushi/sashimi are very diet friendly (this should go without saying but avoid dipping them in butter)

  • If you order a sandwich or salad, get any dressings or condiments on the side

Traveling can be incredibly stressful and can get in the way of your goals if you let it,  but with a good plan in place and some simple planning, you can continue to eat for your goals while you travel. 

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