Hello there! Welcome back to Flawed yet Functional! My family and I recently took a vacation to Mackinaw City/Mackinac Island, and the number one concern with every trip is food. How will I stay free from cross-contamination without cooking constantly while on vacation? Here are my practical tips for eating Paleo on the go. Check them out!
Here’s a quick run-down of my diet because it’s not exactly Paleo. I eat the Paleo diet except eggs with a carb restriction to maintain stable blood sugar. I aim for less than 40 carbs per day and have had amazing, stable blood sugar since I began this new addition to my diet.
The tips below are for vacations in a cabin, camping, or a hotel stay with access to at least a microwave. When I vacation it is rarely an all-restaurants type of vaca, for budget and diet reasons. So if you are looking to do this type of vacation soon, these tips are sure to help you stay true to Paleo while on the go!
Pack Your Own Food
Duh, right? Well, let me flesh this out for you a bit just in case I have some new insight.
The biggest concern when I travel is cross-contamination. Since I am highly sensitive to gluten, dairy, and eggs, it only takes setting my food on a counter with bread crumbs to send my blood sugar high for a couple weeks. So it is very hard for me to trust restaurants to prepare my food in a totally clean environment.
The easiest way to eliminate that concern is to pack your own food as much as possible. For every meal that you will be at your cabin/campsite/hotel, plan and pack a meal to be eaten there.
It’s vacation though! You don’t need to cook every meal you eat, but you do need to be careful with restaurants. So…
Plan Restaurants Ahead of Time
It’s vacation, right?! You will eat out, and I dare say you SHOULD eat out. If you’re like me, you spend hours in the kitchen on a normal day. Vacation should be a break.
Do your health a favor, research restaurants before you head out on your trip so you’ll know exactly where you can eat when you get to your destination.
The internet is a wealth of information: detailed menus, honest reviews, and contact information for just about every restaurant. Use all those tools! If you can’t find enough information about the food online, pick up your phone and give them a call.
I called ahead for a smoked fish market and a fudge shop to make sure I felt comfortable feeding myself at those places. If the call didn’t satisfy me, I wouldn’t have gone. A quick phone call though put me (and my husband) at ease because we knew what we could trust.
Plan Treats Ahead of Time
Treats and vacation go together like ketchup and mustard. It’s vacation. You need a treat, but don’t ruin all the progress and healing you’ve worked so hard for! Plan what treats you’d like so you can enjoy them guilt-free!
Here are a few I planned into our trip:
- Homemade marshmallows for roasting over the fire
- Vegan fudge on Mackinac Island (Yes, it does exist! Dairy, egg, and gluten-free fudge at Ryba’s Fudge on Mackinac Island! It’s made in a separate room on separate equipment. Score!)
- Birthday brownies for my son (his birthday fell during the trip. Note: this recipe has eggs.)
- Smoked fish shop (my husband’s favorite, so we made it happen! It was awesome!)
Ok, here’s my best tip, hands-down, for a trip without a full kitchen: pre-cook as many meals as possible then reheat in the microwave.
I wanted breakfast to be very easy so I made a double batch of both Sausage Mushroom Hash and Egg-Free Pancakes. Dan cooked sausage links on the grill the first morning then we kept the leftovers in the fridge for reheating as needed. With these two options, I fed the four of us five breakfasts. Each meal (except the one where we cooked the sausage fresh) were on the table in less than 10 minutes. Win. Win.
Lunches weren’t exactly pre-cooked, but they were super easy to assemble with no cooking involved. Basically, we ate my standard on-the-go “snacky” lunch. It’s quick. It’s portable. It’s filling. Done and done.
Eat Easy Dinners
So we’ve covered treats, eating out, breakfast, and lunch, what about dinner? For the days you’ll be at your cabin/campsite/hotel, cook very simple meals of meat, veggies, and fruit.
At our cabin, we had access to a charcoal grill and a microwave. So for dinner, we’d snatch a grill, cook the meat first then grill the vegetable after the meat was done.
Here are our 4 combinations we ate that week:
- Hamburgers and asparagus
- Brats and dairy-free antipasto
- Hamburgers and asparagus
- Brats, pickles, and olives
Notice a pattern? The main meat was a rotation of two simple grilled meats: hamburger and bratwurst. Both are loved by the whole family and are simple and quick to prepare. With each of these meals, I also served fruit like cherries and apples that are easy finger food.
Note: We eat all of these without buns. I do not like processed food, so I do not serve store-bought gluten-free buns unless it is a special occasion. Hamburgers and brats are great without buns!
How do you stick to Paleo on the go? Bottom line: plan. Take the time to plan every aspect related to food, and you’ll be able to enjoy your vacation knowing you aren’t hurting your health while away from home. Do you have any other travel tips for sticking to Paleo while on vacation? Share in the comments below!