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Packing Food for Road Trips
Living on a Dime
If you have some money saved for a trip but you know that the gas cost is going to eat most of your funds, try cutting your budget in another area, like your food. Consider taking your food with you. Going out to eat on a trip does not hold the excitement that it once did. Most families go out to eat so often at home that the novelty of it has worn off. The next time you travel try packing your own food.
Don't forget breakfast -- Sometimes getting on the road the first thing in the morning is such a rush that it might be easier to wait and eat breakfast after you have driven an hour or two. This works especially well if you have to start out in the wee hours of the morning.
* Muffins, banana or apple bread
Don't forget the butter or cream cheese
* Donuts, honey buns
If you think it will be easier for you, buy them individually packaged. I'm not sure why, but kids seem to love individually packaged things and it makes everything more fun.
* Bagels with cream cheese and jam
Mix the jam and cream cheese together and place in a small container before you leave.
When I was young I always thought that it was so neat to be able to cut the sides of the boxes open and use the cereal box for a bowl. My mom thought it was neat because she didn't have to bring extra bowls and could toss the boxes.
* Hard boiled eggs
* Little smoky sausages (the pre-cooked kind)
These can be eaten out of the package, but if you like them hot, place them in a small thermos and pour very hot to boiling water over them. Put on the lid and by the time you are ready to eat them, the water will have heated them through.
Lunch and Dinner
Sandwiches are always great for a trip. Use hoagie buns instead of regular sandwich bread. It makes them a little more special and they don't crush as easily.
Good old peanut butter is great for the kids. Pay just a few more pennies and get the peanut butter in the tube. No messy knives and it's smaller than a jar. If you have spare packets of jelly from eating out, use those or buy jelly in the tube, too.
If you put lettuce or tomato on your sandwiches, bag them separately and put them on just before you are ready to eat.
* Chicken or slices of ham
Fried chicken is always a good picnic stand by. See later tips on keeping it cold.
* Hot dogs
As with the little sausages, put the hot dogs in a thermos and cover with boiling water. They will be perfectly cooked when ready to eat. To me these are so much easier than sandwiches and everyone loves them.
* Potato salad or pasta salad
Keep them in a small cooler.
* Chips, crackers and cheeses
Buy chips in the cans. Slice or cut cheeses into cubes before you leave. Cheese sticks are perfect.
* Baked beans
Once again, they keep great in a thermos.
* Fruits and veggies
Apples, Oranges (already peeled) and firmer fruits.
Clean and bag carrot sticks, celery, broccoli, cauliflower or other vegetables.
* Cookies, brownies, quick breads and muffins
These are the best desserts.
Of course pop works great, but I like to freeze bottles of lemonade. Lemonade seems more refreshing. You can also have juice or iced tea in bottles and coffee in a thermos for coffee drinkers. Be sure to freeze all your drinks to help keep your other foods cool in place of ice.
Don't forget the water!
* Kids usually whine and fuss for one of two reasons. They are hungry or tired. This is especially true on trips, so bring plenty of snacks and a pillow for everyone.
* If you have room, box each family member's meal in his own box like the box lunches they give out at activities. This is really handy if you have to eat while driving. When finished eating, each person can put his empty wrappers in his own box for easy clean up.
* Be sure to bring those extra ketchup, mustard, salt, and pepper packets you get from fast food. Don't forget the plastic knives, forks and spoons along with napkins and a paring knife. Make sure just about everything is disposable.
* If money is tight, you don't have to have elaborate meals. I still fondly remember the trips when we stopped and bought a bag of chips, a loaf of bread, a package of bologna and cheese. We washed it down with an icy cold Pepsi and nothing tasted better.
* If you can, buy the gadget that you plug into the lighter plug in your car to heat water. It works well for instant coffee, oatmeal and hot chocolate.
In this day and age with so many convenience foods available, it isn't hard to pack a lunch for the road. Even using those convenience foods, it is usually cheaper than buying food for the whole family at a fast food place.
Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the editors of Living On A Dime.com. They have helped thousands save money and get out of debt by starting with just their grocery bill. To get their free mini e-course on Grocery Savings visit http://www.LivingOnADime.com/ .
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