Monday, February 13, 2012

Healthy (ish) Eating With Just a Microwave

Between ballet, graduation and our graduation celebration trip, our family will be spending a lot of time eating away from the kitchen this spring.  It would be easy to try a new fast food place three times a day, every day, but is that what we want?  "Not I," said the Little Red Hen.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good burger just as much as the next guy, but I'd rather it be a treat than a way of life.  Because we will be demanding a lot of our bodies--especially the dancer--I want to make sure we are putting things in them that will give us strength and energy instead of sapping it away.  In other words, I don't want our diet to make us tired.  Plus, it is expensive for seven people to eat out that much!  How to do this without pots and pans and a stocked spice cabinet?
Well, at least not all of the time!
Many of our hotels will have a microwave in the room and a coffee pot which I can use to boil water.  If I am careful, I think we can eat pretty well as we travel.  However, being one who doesn't use the microwave for much more than re-heating, I started to study.
My anticipated kitchen, plus a cutting board, knife and glass bowl with a lid.
Here we are on the cusp of travel season (okay, we aren't really on the cusp, but it makes February feel so much less dreary if I think the tulips are just around the corner) and I know many people are planning vacations.  There is also a fair number of people who eat from the microwave every day on their lunch break.  This isn't an article for Eat Raw magazine, but it is definitely better than fast food.  Plus, it is all food my family will eat.  Maybe my research can give you new ideas.

Vegetables/ Sides
Sweet Potatoes
Acorn Squash--actually it is easy to steam pretty much all vegetables
Green salad "kits", fruit salad, and other "no cook" salads
Potatoes (to make a meal of it, add chili)
There are some boxed sides that aren't too unhealthy such as stuffing and rice.
Cold vegetables with (limited) Ranch

Main Entree
Rotisserie Chicken (chicken salad or just the meat)
Those BBQ pulled pork buckets for sandwiches
Chicken salad (using the rotisserie or canned chicken)
Sandwiches with whole grain breads, turkey and veggies
Hot Ham and Swiss
Quesadillas and wraps

Yogurt with Granola and berries
Bagels and Cream Cheese
Egg McMuffin

Hummus and fresh vegetables
Fruit, both fresh and dried
Tomato with basil, mozzarella and balsamic vinegar
Tortilla with cream cheese and smoked salmon

I'm sure we'll have our fair share of Fig Newtons and Pringles, but if we keep those things as treats and not as meals, we'll be doing pretty good.

What other healthy on-the-road food ideas to you have?


  1. This is a great list! We are traveling soon and I'm glad for your ideas.
    As far as brown rice goes, I cook 4 cups at a time and then freeze the rest to reheat by microwave for future meals. This would be easy to do ahead of time and take along, since it would last a while.

  2. You should talk to my mom, she's the queen of on the road "real" food. Our favorite is somehting called "Colorado Kraut Burgers". Its like a hamburger/cabbage mix (don't worry, it sounds not so good but its really really tasty) cooked inside a bread pocket, I haven't met anyone that doesn't like them. They would have to be prepared ahead of time at home, but they are easy to haul, easy to re-heat, and easy to eat with one hand.

  3. We travel with our crock pot when we go to the beach - not at the beach but at the hotel near the beach. We put a pork butt in the slow cooker, top with a bottle of barbecue sauce & a little water. It bubbles all day & is ready when we come back to the room. Shred with forks. Layer buns, pork, & coleslaw (YUM!) together & enjoy. I think the crock pot liners make things immensely easier.

  4. Oooh, I love the crock pot idea! I found that soup mixes and oatmeal work great with a coffee pot to boil water in- but you've got that covered. Otherwise we usually do a lot of sandwiches and fruit. One thing to be aware of is keeping hydrated- especially when you spend all day at the park. Fresh fruit helps with this, but make sure you all drink enough water. When you get dehydrated you can feel more tired and get sick easier.

  5. A few years ago, I was working down in Pullman. It was an assembly line job, didn't pay very well. I was still living at home, so on Monday I would drive down, rent a room in a motel for the week, and drive back on Friday after work. I did the fast food thing for a while, but it gets old fast.

    My advice, invest in a removable electric skillet. They're easy to clean, since the pan part can be removed from the base electric part. A 12x12 is a good travel size, but might be slow for a large family. I used that for myself when I was working. Now I've got a 12x16 that I still use.

    Here's the 12x12

    The 12x16 I use is made by Rival, and I found it at Target.

    You could also go with a portable burner. My parents used that for a while when they turned the upper level into an apartment for my sister. They turned the laundry room downstairs into their kitchen, and used a portable burner for their cooktop. It worked really well. I could even check and see if they'd let you borrow it, since they don't use it much anymore.

    Microwaves are ok, but they don't cook food really well, they just heat it.