Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Road food

As I prepare to go off into the wild blue yonder with my sweetie for Thanksgiving weekend ("wild blue yonder" = Joshua Tree National Park, Sequoia National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Big Sur), I'm preparing a lot of food to take with us. The plan is to be out seeing things all day long, sleep in cheap hotels, and not spend any more money than absolutely necessary. I spent much of the summer eating out and eating classic road food like beef jerky; I'm excited to be able to travel with "real" food in tow.

My family couldn't go shopping for the morning without bringing enough food for each person to eat at least two meals, "just in case." It's ingrained; my in-car road-trip food stashes are bigger than a lot of people's entire pantries. I fully expect to have more than enough food to feed two people 3+ meals for 3 days on this trip, with plenty to spare. It sounds like a lot of effort and planning, I know. Many people wouldn't bother, would take a bottle of water and eat a lot of fast food. But this food is way better than that, and guess what? cheaper. Plus, it really doesn't take long to assemble. How long would it take you to pull off the road, find a restaurant, and eat crappy food for 3+ meals a day? Times however many days? Wouldn't you rather spend ninety  minutes at the front end, before you leave, and not ever have to worry about it?

I'm taking the usual stash of non-perishables. Water, juice, powdered Gatorade, Emergen-C, tea (iced and hot), coffee. Granola bars, chocolate bars, nuts (almonds, pistachios, peanuts), dried fruit. A couple bottles of wine. Napkins, cups, silverware, trash bags. In addition to that stuff, here's what I've made:

A batch of blueberry muffins, for breakfast. Can be eaten cold or reheated in the motel room microwave.

Pasta salad: orzo, feta, black olives, sundried tomatoes, mint, basil, a little red onion, some olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Quinoa salad: quinoa, edamame, a little red onion, dried cranberries, some reconstituted dried mushrooms.

Potato salad: I left the skins on, for extra fiber.

Burritos: a big batch, filled with a combination of black beans, brown rice, corn, cheese and salsa, wrapped up in big flour tortillas and then individually wrapped in plastic wrap. These can be eaten directly out of the cooler or reheated in the motel room microwave for a quick, filling dinner.

Sesame noodles: just like the kind you get with Chinese take-out. Combine peanut butter, sesame oil, chili oil, soy sauce, a little fish sauce, cayenne pepper, and sesame seeds into a smooth sauce, and add cold cooked spaghetti. Garnish with more sesame seeds (and more chili oil, if you like it hot, like I do).

Between all of this, plus all the aforementioned non-perishables, we'll be able to road-trip for three days solid without purchasing one. single. thing.

Cost: in a sense, nothing, since I already had all the ingredients in my pantry and all I had to do was combine them. But if I had to guess, I'd say the entire stash didn't cost more than $10, and that's including all the granola bars and coffee and stuff (all purchased in bulk, natch).

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