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First, let me start by saying I don’t eat animals or animal products. But wait! Don’t go, because what follows may be helpful to you as you plan what to pack in your pantry for your next weekend or weeks long getaway.

Whether vegan or omnivore, eating clean and healthy while living in a metal box on wheels is both challenging and imperative. Staying healthy and nourished is your best defense against getting sick or run down when you’re thousands of miles from home. And good food is the best fuel to get you through a long day of driving, hiking, or inner-tubing down that secret river.

Before I just start grabbing all the shelf-stable, needs no refrigeration food items from my home pantry, I think about a few things before I stock my camper’s pantry. Here’s what I consider, in no particular order:

  • The weather. Will it be hot while I’m traveling? If so, proper refrigeration is vital to keep your food from spoiling or chocolate from melting all over the place.
  • The length of the trip. Obviously, a quick overnighter to the coast requires less prep and food than a 3-week tour of the canyons of the west.
  • Variety. Food diversity is a must—not only to avoid boredom but also to ensure that you are getting a wide range of nutrients.
  • Snacks! This is an essential and potentially dangerous category. When I’m driving for long stretches, I could eat all the cookies—all of ‘em! So, I am deliberate in my snack choices. Yes, there will be chocolate, but mostly bags of premixed nuts and flaked coconut, dates, and other healthful goodies.
  • Available space. Here’s where I need to get all Tetris on my van pantry planning. How much can I take and still have room for the other things I need for my trip?

After I consider all the above, I start pulling together what I already have: pasta, canned beans, and soups, corn tortillas, dried fruits, granola, nuts, and seeds; fruit and veggies that travel well like apples, potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots, and the like.

Some of my favorite foods/brands to bring are:

I take a variety of items from Trader Joe’s like individual packets of coconut oil (good for skin, too), organic refried beans, corn tortillas, breakfast bars, nuts, and dried fruit.

Also, I shop from the membership site, Thrive, for organic dates and nuts, coffee, spices, etc. Although there’s an annual fee, you can join for a month for free. Overall, it’s worked out to be a great value for me, and they donate food to those in need—they’re a company with integrity (and the prices are great).

Once I’ve made my purchases and pulled items from my kitchen, I lay it out on the table (see photo) and make a list of meal ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Everything has to be able to be used for more than just one recipe—I can’t deal with food boredom!

I don’t cook from recipes, despite the fact that I wrote a cookbook (or maybe that’s the reason), so I just write down the meal ideas and wing it once I’m on the road.

A few pro tips:

  1. If you bring pasta, make it capellini. It cooks in 2-4 minutes, and no, you don’t need to use a huge pot of water to boil pasta water is a premium commodity and you don’t want to use your last jug of it for pasta.
  2. Freeze bottles of water instead of bringing a bunch of ice.
  3. When ice melts, capture the water in a basin and boil it for doing dishes.
  4. Sprouted grains and beans cook quicker than unsprouted and they are more easily digestible.
  5. Add fresh veggies or rice and beans to canned soups and stews.
  6. Good quality chocolate and hot temperatures don’t mix. A very messy experience.

Now, what about you? How do you plan for the food you bring on the road? Do you have any tips to share? Hit me up with questions or comments, here.

note: links, above, are affiliate links. i won’t link to it if i don’t love it.