Travel Essentials: Fit Food For Families On the Go

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I have not been here long enough to give you clean, healthy, yummy Cayman style recipes. Instead I am gonna give you some sturdy travel tips. Do not fear, I will work some island magic in the kitchen either while I am here or when I get home. There are fun flavors to explore on this island. The Cayman folk like their plantains, conch (a giant sea snail) curries and spices. The people here are vibrant with colorful personalities and foods.

Until then…..lets talk about the trip over…….

No matter what kind of day it is (travel or not) I have a few principles I live by. It makes me a happier person when my energy levels are sustained throughout the day. Same goes for my kids. I feed them and myself mini-meals during the day to prevent crashes and I try to keep it clean! We tend to travel early in the day so I always make sure we leave the house with breakfast in our bellies and plenty of food in our travel bags.

I don’t like the “food” selections in the airport and I sure don’t want to purchase any over priced junk on the airplane. With a little extra effort and preparation I bring what we need in our carry on to sustain us during the trip over and I pack our Healthy Travel Essentials in our checked baggage. This makes for a happy, well fed mommy and very happy, less tantrumy kids. It is always best to be prepared.

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Fit Food Essentials

A few things need to remain constant for me to keep the daily balance.  Whether I am home or on vacation these are conditions that need to be met:

  • Coffee
  • Daily Exercise
  • Mindful, clean, healthy, delicious foods
  • Healthy fats, lean proteins, fruits & veggies
  • Time Spent with my family.  Both active and by myself

So that said, even while away, I continue with a similar day to day meal plan and exercise regime that I implement at home.  You might be saying to yourself  “Why stick with your usual shtick while on vacation?” Because it is my lifestyle and it makes me feel good.  I want just as much energy while I am away as when we are home. Perhaps even more. There is so much more to see and do when we are away on vacation.

In order to fuel a strong appetite and sustain great energy levels I stick to a meal plan filled with minimally processed whole grains, lean proteins, fresh vegetables and a bit of fruit. As a family we love active travel. From Telluride to the Caymans, heck even on city trips, it is so easy and fun to stay fit and on our meal plan. When I head out for a day of skiing the last thing I want is a over full belly and a sluggish brain.

More reasons why I pack our own foods…….because these are my favorites. That’s why. A cheaper, well managed, yummier way to grab a quick bite.  You can use these suggestions as part of your New Years resolutions.

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Healthy Travel Tips

  • I always pack healthy foods in our carry on bag. Pack more than you think you will need for any travel delays.
  • Pack ingredients for the first mornings breakfast in your checked bag.  I am usually awake by 4:00am and the kids are up by 6:00am.  Markets and restaurants are not open this early. Myself and the kids wake up hungry. When I bring our own food, it is a form of insurance. We have our stuff, when we need it. This also helps us cut travel costs….in a big way.
  • Make sure all food that you bring is well sealed in zip top bags or Snapware.
  • Try to stay somewhere that you have access to a kitchen & market.  A mini-fridge can hold essentials if you are in a hotel.
  • Usually you can find access to a microwave or a coffee maker, something that can boil water to cook your oats.  In a pinch, I have even used really hot tap water to cook my morning oats.

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  • Bring what you can and ship ahead.  I always pack organic peanut butter, oats, stevia, whole grain bread, nuts and protein powder in my suitcase.  If we are delayed or have no access to a restaurant or markets we know that breakfast and mini meals can be had on the fly.
  • For longer US based trips (a few weeks,) I ship packages of non perishables ahead of time.  Whole grain cereals, sauces, nuts, nut butters, healthy snacks, etc.  I sent huge boxes out to Telluride last summer for a very small cost via UPS.  Shipping food costs less then trying to track down the items in the veeerrrry expensive markets there.  When I go to the store, the focus is on the perishable fresh items, fruit, veggies, dairy and lean proteins.
  • Stick with mini-meals to prevent energy crashes and to keep from overindulging and feeling icky.  Mini meals work for the kids to.  No one enjoys the belly aches that come from over-eating and the mindless tantrums that come from too few calories.
  • ENJOY MEALS OUT TOO: I prefer just one meal out a day and that is usually dinner.  If you eat most meals out, just be mindful of what you order and portion sizes.  I love to sample regional flavors, but still I do not over eat.  Taste new flavors, eat your favorites, but try not to overindulge.  You will feel so much better.  For me, overeating at night means a really bad night of sleep. The goal is to wake up refreshed and hungry, not groggy and still full from the night before.

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Healthy Foodie Travel Essentials

In our carry-on tote I pack:

  • Nuts (Almonds, Peanuts, Pecans, etc.)
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Sandwiches
  • Cheese Sticks
  • Apples
  • Whole Grain Pretzels and Chips
  • Small Yogurts (be careful, sometimes they want to confiscate these at security)
  • My Oatmeal Survival Packs
  • Instant Coffee (Starbucks individually wrapped VIA is good for travel)
  • Various Tea Bags: Black Teas and Green Tea

Here are the goods that go in my checked suitcase:

  • Organic nut butter
  • Stevia drops and stevia powder (this keeps my sweet cravings at bay and they satisfy my sweet tooth)
  • Instant Coffee (of course I prefer a fresh brew, but again I am up before the birds and I need my cup a joe!)
  • Various nuts and Sunflower Seeds
  • Spices (Garlic Salt, Smoked Paprika and Cinnamon being the top three)  Other spices that often make the cut are are Cumin and Chili Powder.
  • Whole Oats (Unsweetened Quick Oats if you only have access to hot water and no stovetop or microwave)
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • Vanilla Protein Powder
  • and sometimes…..depending on what I can fit in my luggage
  • Mini bottle of Olive Oil or Cooking Spray
  • A loaf of Sprouted Grain Bread
  • All Fruit Jam
  • Honey or Maple Syrup

With all this I can make oatmeal.  PB sandwiches.  Stevia sweetened hot cocoa or my Coffee Frappe-a-Shake (if we have access to a blender.)  This is enough to get us started until I make a trip to the market.

Other Essentials

  • Cheesecloth: for straining yogurt. Often when we are traveling I can not find thick greek yogurt.  When I have my cheesecloth I can thicken the runny stuff on my own and sweeten it the way I like.  Topped with oats and fruit this makes the perfect breakfast or mini-meal!  Click out this FFC post to learn more about Quick Thick Greek Yogurt.
  • Digital Kitchen Scale:  To maintain mindful portion sizes and for occasional baking.  Take out the batteries for travel!
  • Measuring Spoons

Healthy Travel Links

~ Marla Meridith

Join the Conversation

11 thoughts on “Travel Essentials: Fit Food For Families On the Go

  1. Terrific tips! I’m headed to Mexico for a week in the 2nd week of this challenge. I plan on bringing some of the things you mentioned and trying to stay away from the empty carb-laden parts of the Mexican food.

  2. Marla! Thank you for the essentail travel packing list. I have printed it off and popped a copy in each of my suitcases. I have also forwarded this fabulous list to each of my flight attendant friends. I can not tell you how much crap I ate as my 15 years as a flight attendant. This is so simple and well prepared we can all eat clean, healthy mini meals no matter where we are! These foods and snacks should be as important as packing a toothbrush. Thank you! Love the photos from the Grand Caymans. Sooooo beautiful and colorful.

  3. I love your gorgeous tropical pics! And I love your eating philosophy! I compeletely agree with you about eating healthy, even on vacation. I find that if I eat something I shouldn’t, skip meals, or overindulge I can feel groggy, lethargic, bloated, and moody…and this can last up to 3 days for me! For me, it’s just not worth it. I’m excited for your healthy Cayman-style recipes!

  4. OMG Marla, this was a fabulous post!!!!!!
    Love the tips, the vacay beach shots!, the “constants” in your life, i.e. exercise, coffee, clean eating (me too!!) and all your packing and planning ahead tips. I do these things but just not quite as laid out and orderly as yours. And ok girl, tell the truth, do you really bring your kitchen scale with you on vacay?!!! If you do, you’re way ahead of me: I dont even own one, but would like to 🙂
    We fly home tomorrow. God help me. It’s a longgggg day. 18 hrs with layover. Sigh 🙂

  5. Grand Caymans are beautiful, enjoy! Love your travel tips! And I agree with your vacation “needs” — I need coffee, exercise, great, healthy food, and book/family time!

  6. Ah…wonderful, wonderful shots…missing the beach and everyone already!! We’re trying your chicken masala tonight…I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂