Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Travel - Food on the Go!

I have seen lots of questions where people ask their concerns about traveling with their toddlers and also ideas for travel food.
We have been doing lot of road and air trips since my son was 6 months, and I say each trip was better than the last. We learn from mistakes, right?
 Also I have realized that it is easy and time saving to have our food in the room, as the kids would be worn out and tired after a hectic day of traveling and hit the sack by around evening, which makes it difficult for us to go out for dinner. And we would also be tired at the end of the day, so we prefer a simple meal in the room so we can get a good nights sleep to be ready for the next day.
And since we like going to National Parks, the lunch options would be minimal in the parks, so it makes sense to pack a nice lunch to have by the wilderness.

Here are my learning and tips on travel food:
1. I always make sure that my cabin/room has at least a Microwave and Refrigerator, if not a Kitchenette.
(Most of the rooms inside the National Parks do not have them, so I always carry my travel rice cooker).
2. If going on a road trip, you don't have to be so tight on packing, as we would have a lot of space, so we can carry most of the stuff from home. But if going by air, I just carry the bare minimal and as soon as we land, we go to a local grocery store to pick up few things.
3. Always take a travel rice cooker ( small one - 3 cups) and if going by road you have the luxury to take your electric griddle along.
4. If your room has a kitchenette, make sure that they provide you with the basic utensils.

Food to take along / buy:
1. Bread , Jam
2. Fruits - Banana/ Apple
3. Snacks for kids - cookies/crackers
4. Cake (I always bake a simple cake, it would be a nice snack to munch on the way)
5. MTR Side Dish - They have a good range to select from in our local Indian Store. We personally prefer mild dishes like - Dhal, Palak, Rajma, Channa. I would avoid dishes that contain Paneer (as they are vacuum packed and have my doubts on how paneer would hold up, I would not want to spoil out tummy!)
6. MTR Rice - I have tried and liked Sambar Rice, Rasam Rice, Bisisbelebath. (I feel that the Biriyani is to much of spice and masala)
7. Pre-cooked Chappathi/ Roti or Tortilla. Also we once bought Naan from Trader Joes and it was good.
8. Cous Cous (Plain or Flavoured)
9. Pasta / Pasta Sauce
10. Soup
11. Raw Rice
12. Toor Dhal
13. Tamrind ( for making a simple rasam)
14. Rasam Powder
15. Pulikaachal, Tomato Thokku, Onion Thokku , Gongura Thokku
16. Salt
17. Oil and Ghee in small travel containers

Once we land there we always buy small packets of Yogurt, Chips and fruits. So we can buy them fresh every day or alternate days. Also if you have kids, you can buy the milk in tetra packs from Horizon. Theses do not need to be refrigerated.

Use of Electric Rice Cooker and Microwave during Travel:
You can do almost anything to cook up a delicious meal using a rice cooker. My small rice cooker is our best friend during the travel!

1. Cook Rice - If you are carrying pulikaachal, tomato thokku, Onion Thokku. Just mix the thokku to the rice and enjoy with chips and yogurt. I always carry atleast one or two thokku varieties. These make good lunch when packed.
Also enjoy rice mixed with yogurt if you are curd rice fan like us!

2. Cook Dhal - If you have kids and worried about their daily intake of protein during travel, just cook some rice along with rice.

3. Rasam - Just boil some water in the rice cooker along with tamrind. Strain the tamrind. Add the rasam powder, salt and allow to boil. If you find a tomato, then add few chopped pieces in. It might not be a perfect rasam, but it tastes really good while traveling.

4. MTR Food - The MTR Sachets of travel food comes really handy when you need a meal in 5 minutes. Just follow the instructions on the package and you are done. You either need boiling water or microwave.

5. Roti / Naan - The pre-cooked rotis / tortilla / naan just need to be heated up in the microwave for few seconds and you are done.

6. Upma - If you can make some upma kappi for arisi upma from home then you can make upma in the rice cooker. Just add the required seasoning along with the upma kappi, and pack them as single serve packets in ziploc bags. For vegetable Rava Upma, add the roasted rava, seasoning and vegetables like - carrot, beans and cabbage in single serve packets in ziploc bags. Add the required amount of water in the rice cooker, when it comes to boil, add the upma, salt and some oil/ghee. Cook and eat along with yogurt.

7. Pasta - Boil water in the rice cooker, add the pasta and cook till done. Strain using the vegetable steamer attachment of the rice cooker. Toss with some salt, marinara sauce and oil.

8. Soup - Heat the soup in microwave or cooker and serve.

9. Cous Cous - Cook the cous cous as mentioned in the package. You can take single serve packets of hummus available at costco which stays good for a day at room temperature and later you can store them in the refrigerator in your room.

10. Oatmeal - If your hotel does not have complimentary breakfast then cooking up oatmeal in the rice cooker makes a good healthy breakfast.

Food for Kids / Toddlers / Babies:
1. Kanji/Porridge - You can make it in the rice cooker. Just make sure to carry your whisk to keep stirring them. I used to take Puzhungal Arisi Kanji for my son.
2. Fruit and Vegetable Purees
3. Rice Cereals
4. Tetra Pack Organic Milk
5. Smoothies - Just add a cup of flavored yogurt and fruit puree with some milk in a smoothie shaker or a tupperware tumbler with lid. Shake it up and enjoy. My son loves smoothies and this is a must on our travel trips.
6. Rice with Dhal/Rasam and Curd
7. Always carry some toddler friendly snacks

That's all I can think of at the moment. I shall keep updating this page as I learn from my travel!

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