Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Road food

Usually when we travel, we take a bunch of stuff from home (pasta salad, sandwiches, fruit, nuts, etc.) and try not to buy very much. This time, however, since we were moving, we didn't exactly have a store of food to choose from. So we bought food.

We had a rotating store of chips, protein bars, dried fruit, fresh fruit, cookies, a box of Cheerios, and sandwich fixings--a loaf of bread with different kinds of meat and cheese, and a small squeeze bottle of mustard--supplemented with the occasional meal out. We spent a couple of dollars a day on hot coffee. We kept a cooler with frozen water bottles in it; the cooler held the meat and cheese, and we made sure to get hotels with a mini-fridge and cooler.

So every morning, we'd start with a protein bar and a piece of fruit (sometimes we'd get a little free breakfast with the hotel room). Lunch would be a sandwich with chips and whatever else we felt like eating. Ditto dinner, except for the nights when we ate out. I made sure to select food that could live in a car in subzero temperatures overnight, if need be. Warning: bananas won't work. The first bunch of bananas I left in a subzero car froze completely and turned black. After that, I stuck to apples.

Water bottles got refilled every night, and a couple would have a cold-brew iced tea bag added to them, so I could have iced tea. I also kept some tea bags, for hot tea. (Free hot water at the gas station plus my own tea bag = free hot tea.)

I was also keeping the cats in cat food and litter; even so, our food expenditures weren't any more than they usually are, even with all the coffee and fruit and whatever money spent each day.

Some lessons learned:
1. Try to stick to hotels with mini-fridge and microwave AND a coffeemaker or free coffee/breakfast in the mornings. Free coffee/breakfast means that's one less meal you have to worry about; a coffeemaker means you can at least make your own. (If that's the case, make sure you have a little good ground coffee with you.)
2. Bananas will freeze, and bruise easily. Buy them one at a time from gas stations (expensive) or stick to apples.
3. If you have pets in the car, be careful of the loaf of bread. It will get squished.
4. Cookies can make a fine breakfast.

We're currently staying with friends in a semi-finished guest house; there's no bathroom or kitchen facilities in the guest house, and we're spending quite a bit of time in Seattle looking at apartments, so we're now in the position of either having to eat out quite a lot or continuing to subsist on sandwiches and chips. I see a lot of cheap noodle bowls in our future. I'll keep you posted.

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