Wow, clock is ticking. I am leaving for the airport in less than 2 hours...
My husband always laughs at me that I pack up my whole home when I go way, but in this instance, I feel I am justified. :-D It's icy cold where I'll be flying, and I'll need to be layering clothes in order to stay warm. On top of that, I couldn't just pack to bare minimum- I will be staying at people's homes instead of at hotels, so I bought along nice (and frugal) hostess gifts for each person that will be hosting me. (Post about this to come.)
And in addition to all that, I need to bring food for myself.
Because of my food restrictions- in addition to being gluten, dairy, and egg free, I currently can't eat any sugar, fish, processed foods, and legumes only if properly prepared... and many nuts and seeds either give me bad stomach aches or make me nauseous, or both- eating while traveling will not be so easy. I mean, I am sure with visits to health food stores I would be able to find foods I can eat, but I won't have cooking facilities where I am, nor time or money to be visiting health food stores... I also can't rely on the airplane to provide me with meals, so at the very least, I need to bring enough food to last me on my long flight.
My priorities were focusing on bringing starches that were easily transportable and shelf stable, as well as proteins that were also easily transportable and shelf stable. I tried to do this frugally as well, but when not possible, I spent more money on it...
Here's what I brought for myself:
Homemade beef jerky and homemade turkey jerky, both made from ground meat. I'll share the recipe hopefully tomorrow...
A box of gluten free crackers- these are very compact/space efficient, tasty, etc... A little on the pricier side, but not too pricey, so worthwhile. I wasn't going to bring something like rice cakes which take up a huge amount of room and aren't very filling.
Roasted salted shelled peanuts.
Homemade larabars, made with a mix of various nuts and seeds, but mostly peanuts.
I tried to make homemade energy bars with rice crispies, peanut butter, nuts and dried fruit, but unfortunately they didn't hold together well since I adjusted the recipe, so its now more "cereal like", instead of bar like, but I'll still be snacking on that.
Apples (I know these definitely won't be allowed in through customs- they're just for eating on the plane).
Instant mashed potatoes...
I also brought "real food"- some rice with veggie beef stir fry to eat as my real meal on the plane, instead of the airplane meal.
I had tried to make roasted peas to bring along, but they went from under-cooked to charred in the space of a few minutes, so they headed into the trash.
In some places I'll be staying, my hosts are making me meals, and in other places I will be arriving too late or leaving too early to eat meals there, so I'll be eating on the road, so hopefully will be able to supplement what I brought with some delicious home cooked meals by my hosts. :-D I am planning on going out to eat at a restaurant two times while I'm there...
In addition to food I prepared for myself for the trip, I also had to focus on preparing food for my husband to make for himself and the kids. My husband isn't exactly a cook, to say the least. He knows how to make eggs... and he knows how to boil things to death, and that's about it. I don't mind the fact that he doesn't cook ever, because he more than makes up his fair share of the burden by the amount of cleaning he does in our home (he is the primary dish washer, laundry doer, floor washer, etc...) and taking care of the kids. But at the same time, cooking isn't something he knows how to do...
So I was a little worried about how he'd feed the kids. For himself, he could just live off cereal and milk for 12 days straight, but my kids wouldn't agree to that, and honestly, in addition to it being expensive, I don't want my kids eating that little nutrition while I'm gone. I'm spending more money on the food for the family while gone than I normally would- I can't and don't expect my husband to prepare any legume dishes- but trying to keep the costs down by stocking the house in advance with things purchased more cheaply.....
So I packed the house will easy to cook foods that are relatively fool proof and "man friendly" to make. (His biggest issue is with defrosting frozen meat- he's given himself food poisoning attempting to fry frozen chicken thighs, etc... So we don't want a repeat of that...)
I bought a whole bunch of packs of hot dogs (that aren't so unhealthy, being gluten free, msg free, nitrate free, food coloring and flavoring free, etc...) which he can plop still frozen into a pot of boiling water, then boil to death if he desires. These weren't too expensive, actually are cheaper than the less healthy hot dogs, so this is a big plus.
I bought 90 eggs. I have no doubt that they'll be able to finish them all while I'm gone, as everyone in the family loves eggs, in any way- whether scrambled or poached or sunny side up or omelets or hard boiled... And this is something my husband is pretty good at making.
I purchased a few whole chickens, cut them up into meal size portions, and froze them like that. Mike can take a package with a thigh, 2 drumsticks, and a wing, stick it in a baking pan still frozen with some spices on it, and bake it until fully cooked- for an hour to two hours... I made packages of meal size chicken cutlets, and since this is something that does need to be defrosted first, I clearly labeled those packages with instructions (defrost first, then spice and then fry or bake).
I also got a few packages of hamburgers for cheap, which my husband can fry or grill while still frozen. Unfortunately/fortunately my kids aren't big fans of hamburgers, so we'll see what happens with that.
I stocked up on tuna fish, which is something else my kids love.
In terms of starches, we have instant mashed potatoes (just add boiling water and salt), lots of rice bakes, gluten free noodles, and rice. My husband has cooked noodles before- he tends to overcook them- he boils them to death, but practice makes perfect. Especially if my kids complain that it's too mushy.
I also taught Mike and my boys how to bake rice- relatively foolproof- 1 cup rice, 2 cups water, a teaspoon of salt, cover it and bake it in the oven for an hour. I taught 6 year old Lee how to do it- not because I expect him to be doing the cooking, but so that he can teach my husband how to do it in case he forgets. :-D
For breakfast, they'll be having cereal and milk. I stocked up on gluten free cereal that wasn't too expensive, and wanted to bake muffins to have in the freezer, but didn't get around to it, so oh well.
Mike and I are in disagreement about veggies- he tends to think they're unnecessary, and would gladly forgo the veggies. (Just take vitamins instead of wasting money on veggies is something he's told me years ago. He's changed his mind since, but still wouldn't care about skipping veggies for 12 days...) But I do care about my family having nutrition from produce, so I bought a bunch of cucumbers and tomatoes, which my kids can and will cut up into salad, and made some French dressing to keep in the fridge for them to pour on to the salad. I also made some homemade mayo to use for the tuna fish.
We also have some fruit for them to eat as well as frozen veggies, which he can defrost and serve as is.
I think they'll be totally fine, even if they eat a lot of the same meals... And my mom offered to stop by and bring supper for them one night. So thats even nicer. And I cooked tomorrow's supper already and put it in the fridge to rewarm.
And for the record, if you're wondering why I wrote this post in such detail... It's because I told Mike that if he forgets what there is to make, or how to make it, he should just look at this post for a reminder. :-D
Does your significant other know how to cook? If not, what would they do for food if/when you went away? What do you do for food while traveling, especially if you're on a special diet or frugal or both?