Active Travel on a Budget: Food and Food Prep
In the past three months, I’ve been in 16 different spots. And even when we are settled for a few weeks, it’s never actually at home. So, we travel with a lot of food and food prep supplies when we can. It saves a ton of cash to be able to whip up a couple of your daily meals in your hotel room, and when you’re traveling for training, being able to make some of your own ride food rather than solely relying on gels and bars can save even more. So where do our biggest saves come from? Let’s dive in!
A Solid Coffee Setup
I cannot tell you how much money we have spent on coffee in the last couple years. It’s probably our biggest expenditure some months! (That’s partially because we sometimes need to just use shops for the wifi, and I love a good cookie, but still.) Now that we have a traveling coffee setup that we’re both happy with that doesn’t take up a ton of space, I’ve noticed we don’t spend nearly as much time in shops, and we subsequently save a ton of cash! Our setup:
- Pourover: I love this rubber travel one that folds down into almost nothing. It fits everywhere! (Pro tip: DO NOT put flavored coffee in here. The taste will never come out and your husband will never forgive you.)
- Filters: We’ve tried the ones you wash, but honestly, they were a huge hassle. I like unbleached ones, personally.
- Hand coffee grinder: At home, we have a super fancy grinder, but on the road, we realized we are almost always the first people up when sharing a house with people, so we had to swap out an electric grinder for a hand grinder so we weren’t waking everyone up. It’s also just a little more meditative. We got the Hario Skerton Ceramic Coffee Mill a while ago and even Peter hasn’t been able to break it!
- Electric kettle: I also drink a ton of tea, so traveling with this is a no-brainer. I would love to get a slightly more streamlined portable one like this small Bodum one, but for now, we have a super cheap one from Target. (Secretly, I can’t wait til it breaks!)
Bowls and Sets of Utensils
The amount of times we would stop and have to get food at a restaurant or fast food chain has dropped considerably since we started traveling with a couple of sets of utensils and bowls. Peter got me these cool collapsible storage containers, and we’ve been really pleased with them the last few months—but really, any will do. These just take up less space, but any storage container can serve as a bowl or plate for making salads out of a quick grocery shop versus paying for pre-made ones somewhere pricey, or store leftovers better than the crappy takeout containers you inevitably throw out without eating what’s inside. It’s also ideal for us picky athletes on race days, since it’s hard to find your specific pre-race meal at a restaurant near your race venue—packing your own is cheaper and smarter for your stomach!
To save $$ but avoid boredom by eating the same old stuff, you can’t beat this cookbook that’s full of sweet and savory recipes for ride bars (or on-the-road snacks for road trips!). And if you’re on the road a bunch, I highly recommend opting for the Kindle edition, even though it’s a fun one to feature on your cookbook shelf!
We also have a hot plate, but if you’re tight on space, a rice cooker will cook most of your staples—rice, quinoa, eggs plus veggies, etc… I’ve even made it a mini-slow-cooker! This is the rice cooker I got this year, and I love that it has a steamer with it for veggies. I’ve been heavily into quinoa breakfast bowls lately, and this makes cooking quinoa less of a gamble. (It’s also a huge thing for making rice bars with the perfect consistency sushi rice!)
I love getting places and having my go-to foods already there! If you’re going to be somewhere for a while and don’t have great access to grocery stores, Thrive Market is an awesome option for ordering harder-to-find healthy “stuff.” For example—last year, we were up in Lake Arrowhead in California for a couple weeks, and while we could drive down the mountain to a big grocery store, it was a lot easier to just go to the smaller market up there. But the options were pretty limited for stuff like bone broth and specific teas that we like. It was really easy to have a box delivered for free (and a lot of the stuff on Thrive is actually cheaper than you’d find in stores like Whole Foods!). Overall, we’ve found the membership fee totally worth it: if we know we’re going to be somewhere for a few days, we’ll even order ahead of time so when we get to the place, the box is waiting or arriving the next day. (If you already have an Amazon Prime subscription, you can get a lot of the same stuff on there as well.)
Photo courtesy of Naomi Hébert via Unsplash