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When you head to the gas station hungry, 60 miles from your destination, you feel a bit like you're in a war zone -- there are sugar, sodium and calorie bombs everywhere you look, and the temptation to pull you to the chip and candy aisle.
This doesn't have to be the reality of your journey. There are a variety of strategies that can help you eat healthy on the road and feel great every mile of your journey. Use these tips to keep a steady supply of healthy food.
Buy a lunchbox.
Sometimes travel foods (non-perishable) get old. Instead of just eating cookies, nuts, chips and beef jerky, go back in time and buy a box lunch at the store. There are many great "adult" lunch boxes that you can use at the beach and other outdoor activities.
Pack food in ice packs and eat whatever you want, such as sandwiches, chopped fruit or noodles. If you're on the road for more than a day, grab a bag of ice each morning and buy a fresh ice pack at the gas station soda machine.
Find the right grocery store
Not every grocery store is created equal. If you want to get healthy food without spending a lot of money, you have to know where to find it. CouponBox did a good analysis of the five major supermarket chains in China, comparing the cost and overall affordability of specific types of food.
This information can help you find the best grocery stores as you travel from city to city. Some key points of the analysis are:
At Kroger, apple juice and Turkey are the cheapest.
At Trader Joe's, Greek yogurt is the best value.
Applesauce and canned tuna are the cheapest at Walmart.
Overall, Aldi had the highest average savings, with Walmart and Kroger coming in second and third. (Note that Kroger owns big grocery stores like Ralph's Food Less and Fry's.)
Find an app that helps you locate a grocery store near you, then sift through it to find one that offers good, healthy food at a good price
Find the salad bar
Many large grocery stores offer customers salad bars where you can buy a large selection of vegetables, proteins, cold noodles, rice, etc. The best way to do this is portion control: choose the right amount to avoid waste, or stack salads high and save the rest for your next meal.
I did this a few months ago during a trip to New York. I ended up eating the salad as a side dish for three days, saving myself money and less stress.
Check raw materials
Finding healthy food at a gas station or rest stop can be a nightmare -- you usually just eat a cheese stick or a banana. They are almost always overripe or underripe, and never just right. Unfortunately, when you're hungry, sometimes gas stations are the only option.
In this case, open your options and make the healthiest choice by checking the ingredients. For example, most gas stations and rest stops carry bagged nuts, but they usually contain sugar, salt, and "natural flavors." Check the ingredients of each brand and type of nut and choose the lesser of the two (or three or four) SINS.
Some cookies may also have surprisingly good ingredients, as well as some brands of baked potato chips. Finally, don't forget to visit the refrigerator section, where you can often find pre-made cheese cubes, yogurt, and cold salads.
Improve nutritional value
If you can't bring a lot of food, bring more healthy condiments, sauces, and granola/seeds so your gas station or grocery store will find them more delicious and nutritious.
For example, peanut butter can be eaten with crackers, bananas, celery, bread, etc. It also provides you with healthy fats and protein that will keep you fuller longer. Other healthy nutrition promoters include:
Guacamole/salsa: Serve with nachos
Hummus: Serve with crackers, chips, or vegetables
Granola: Serve with an apple.
Exotic seeds/flaxseeds: Serve with yogurt
Food and meals
When you have no food in your stomach, it's easy to be tempted by rest stop candy and junk food. To avoid temptation, eat small meals or snacks throughout the day. Not only does this keep you full, but packing a full meal can be challenging. Snacks, by contrast, are easier to fit into small bags or pockets.
It's possible to eat healthy while on the road, even if you don't have room for the food you normally eat. Make a smart choice at the gas station, find a nutrition promotion for your rest stop, and look for grocery stores where you will get the most benefit of your nutrition.
You can also use BP smart watch to set a eating schedule and track health.