Tacos, burgers, and take-out Chinese food are great. For a few days. When your family is stuck in a hotel or on base temporary lodging facility (TLF) for weeks on end, those fast food options get old really quickly.
If you are on the road, try to keep some essentials in the car. It will help you to eat meals that are at least moderately healthy and avoid eating out all the time.
In the car, bring:
- Instant oatmeal packs
- Cartons of shelf-stable milk
- Loaf of bread
- Peanut butter
- Small jelly packs, like the ones you find at a restaurant
- Fruit, fresh and dried
- Individual tuna packs
- Granola bars
- Fruit squeeze pouches
Bring a cooler or big insulated lunch box. Freeze your ice packs at the hotels or use bags of ice from the hotel ice machine. Pack:
- Cheese sticks
- Lunch meat
- Squeeze yogurt
- Store-bought hard boiled eggs
On your trip, you should also pack a few kitchen essentials. At a minimum, bring one good skillet, a small pot with a lid, a knife for chopping, and a butter knife. If you have space, think about including a slow cooker or Instant Pot-type cooker.
When you finally land somewhere for a few days or until your house is available, it’s time to stock up. Head to a local grocery store or the commissary. . . stat!
You’ll want to grab dry items for breakfast, like oatmeal, bagels, and cereal. For lunch and dinner, stock up on bread, fruit, long-lasting veggies that don’t need to be cold (think: potatoes, onions, squash, garlic), canned goods (think: tuna, canned soups), and snacks (think: popcorn, crackers, granola bars, nuts).
If you do swing into fast food restaurants, keep unused condiment packets. They will keep better than buying larger bottles. Plus, they’re free!
If you have a fridge and a cooking range or burners, you can also buy eggs, milk, lunch meat, cheese, and meat. You can also make items that require heating, like pasta.
Have a microwave?
Even if you don’t have a fridge, you have some options. Try:
- Microwave baked potatoes topped with canned chili, beans, or beef stew
- Tuna salad sandwiches
- Sliced hard salami, olives, and crackers
- Peanut butter and banana sandwiches
- Microwave steamed veggies and microwave rice
- Instant ramen
- Spaghetti squash from The Kitchn
Have a fridge and microwave?
You can make:
- Microwave eggs in a mug: scramble and cook in 30-45 second intervals until firm
- 30 Second Paleo Crepes from military spouse blogger Physical Kitchness
- Microwave enchiladas from Flippin’ Delicious
- Instant ramen: heat the water and let the noodles cook, then add in toppings like spinach, egg, chicken
- Easy quesadillas: stuff a tortilla with veggies, meats, and cheeses
- Muffins in mug from The Gingham Apron
- Salads: pick up prepacked bags of salad greens, precooked meats, olives, and veggies
If You Have a Slow Cooker or Instant Pot
Why don’t you make:
- Cheesy pasta bake: add pasta, tomato sauce, onion, garlic, and meat to the slow cooker; top with cheese and cook on low until the pasta is cooked through
- Crockpot Herbed Chicken from military spouse blogger Cosmopolitan Cornbread
- Chili and soup: combine your favorite chili or soup ingredients in the slow cooker, cook on low until the meat is cooked through
- Taco Soup from military spouse blogger Jessica Lynn Writes: sub pre-cooked meat for the ground beef
- Instant Pot Chicken Apple Sausage and Potatoes from military spouse Rebecca Alwine
Have a stove top?
The sky’s the limit! You can cook almost anything that you would cook at home. From stovetop steaks to sauted veggies, it’s all available to you.
- Physical Kitchness’ Greek Chicken Skillet
- Easy Beef Lo Mein from Cosmopolitan Cornbread
- Hawaiian Chicken Burgers from Physical Kitchness
By Meg Flanagan