Re-Evaluating the Menu! Road Trip Rations, Sustainable Camping, College Bound Kids, and Back to School or Better Business Bagging

By Gretchen Morfogen

This month we all are moving and doing. With that come meals that tend to be sporadic at best. With a little planning and forethought our bodies could benefit from better nutrient rich foods. We will hike longer, paddle faster, read better, and focus our energy with clarity and diligence that a poor diet would not bestow.

When I was a kid my family’s road trips were frequent, long and arduous. What saved us from boredom were the ridiculous games we made up but even more so was my mother’s cooler packed full of “nutritious foods”. I write that tongue in cheek because the quality of food I grew up on was marginal at best. I fell into the age of industrial farming where the tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, eggs, meat, cheese, were all the same, industrial and boring. And there weren’t many other options where we lived. However, her motives were virtuous in keeping us away from the one fast food place that plagued the highways and gave a traveler few if any, options. Having a picnic roadside was always fun and a nice break from the traveling.

Nowadays, there are more options; many more places along the road to gather a healthier choice and even the fast food places are succumbing to a populous that demands some vegetal options on their menu. But there is nothing better than planning, packing and providing your own foods for travel, camp, or bagging it! Your body will fare better but the economic benefits will be evident over time. Food is getting so expensive and eating out whether you travel or not it can empty your pockets pretty quick!

A few tips on how to pack for optimum cooler/lunch bag performance:

  1. Use frozen bread to make your sandwiches. It keeps the sandwich fresh longer and will be prefect when you go to eat it.
  2. Instead of bags of ice; freeze your (reusable) water/juice bottles to keep your foods cool, plus you’ll have super cold water to drink and no extra gel packs.
  3. Freeze yogurt too, it tastes wonderful whether it’s thawed out or not.
  4. Freeze raw meats before packing up for camping.

These are basic tips but utilizing the cooler space for food instead of ice will allow more space for edibles. Same goes for packing a lunch for work or school. The idea is to get away from disposables. Reuse, pack-in, pack-out; your goal should be to leave nothing in the trash (aside from compostables) and only pitch your recyclables in their proper bins. It’s an easy habit to get into and one that becomes ritual before very long.

If you’re sending a child off to college, camp or even their first living away from home experience, arm them with the knowledge that they will do and feel much better if the food choices they make are smart ones. Avoiding convenience/fast foods that can not only pack on the pounds, but deplete their expenses faster than anything is a smart lesson they could learn before their departure. Even if they don’t abide, you’ve given them the advice that is in their best interest. So when they run out of money the first thing you could ask is “what have you been eating”?
The school lunch issue has been reticent for years and only now are the baby steps becoming leaps, and momentum is gaining to make real change. We all know it’s a matter of money and politics but the price will be too high if the children continue to eat poorly, fail in school and succumb to the diseases that have emerged from generationally nutrient deficient diets. If the food chain progresses like we (I) hope- my great grand children may not know what childhood obesity, diabetes, autism, or attention deficit disorder is… let’s hope.