Food is maybe the last thing in our mind when we plan our road trip. After all, don't we want to savor the local flavors? and with so much to do and see, who has time to prepare meals?
However, the cost of food, when not managed carefully, can quickly break your budget... and your diet.
I am not a chef but I like food with flavor that is easy on my body though I am yet to reach agreement with my 12 years old son on what that means. One thing is certain, without a game plan, we'll be sucked into ready-made meals and fast foods that are neither great in flavor nor good to our body.
So I came up with some guiding principles that help me plan my meals and, after several months of trying them on the road, I can share them with you along with 5 of our favorite meals. Enjoy!
Plan a flexible menu before the trip and review during the housekeeping day.
Prepare food in advance. Consider stew, rice, boiled eggs, mashed potatoes, etc. that can be reheat without losing flavor or texture.
Use fresh ingredients as much as possible but do not feel guilty when a tradeoff is needed
Spend 20 minutes or less preparing each meal. Go out and make memories!
Meal #1 - Express Meat Tacos
Honoring my Mexican origins ☺️
This requires some advance work. You could skip the salsa and the beans but let me share a secret: a taco is only as good as the salsa.
Step 1: In a sauce pot, put 2 medium sized tomatoes and 2 small serrano peppers with water to cover and bring to a boil for about 2 minutes
Step 2: Peel the cooked tomatoes and put in the blender together with the peppers and 1 small onion cut in quarts. Pulse a few times using the coarse function, we are not looking for a tomato shake here, we need texture
Step 3: Add a handful of cilantro and salt to taste and pulse one more time
Listo! Let it cool down and refrigerate covered until needed, it will last for about 4-5 days
(Optional) Pinto Beans
Beans must be cooked at home because although they are easy to prepare, they take time to cook.
Step 1: Take one small bag of pinto beans, select and wash with warm water
Step 2: Put beans in a sauce pan covered with water. Water should rise about two inches higher than the beans
Step 3: Add one small onion cut in quarts (if you have an onion bag, much better) and two large garlic cloves whole
Step 4: Bring to a boil, cover and let them simmer until fully cooked
Step 5: Salt to taste
Let them cool and refrigerate until needed. They will be good for about 4 days or you can freeze them.
Step 1: Prepare the milanesa (thin cut) with salt, pepper, and sprinkle with lime (or beer) on both sides. Let it rest while setting up the grill/skillet
Step 2: Chop about half cup of onion and about half cup of cilantro, set aside
Step 3: Prepare on a dish some slices of lime and some slices of avocado, set aside
Step 4: Re-heat the beans
Step 5: Grill the meat and when ready, cut it into small pieces (or let each person cut their own)
Step 6: Heat up a few corn tortillas (NOT hard shell)
Step 7: Make each taco using a warm tortilla, adding meat, onion, cilantro, some beans, and a slice of avocado. Based on preferences, add salsa and lime
In my experience, people eat about three tacos each.
BONUS: The leftover salsa and beans can be used for breakfast with scrambled eggs
Meal #2 - Pesto Chicken
Option A) Find your preferred pesto recipe and make at home
Option B) Buy a small bottle of pre-made pesto sauce
Step 1: Pat dry two chicken breast and cut lengthwise
Step 2: Rub chicken with one or two tablespoons of pesto sauce and let them sit for a few minutes while the grill is ready then cook about 2 minutes on each side. Note: you can also cook on a regular skillet just use a cover to protect from the sprinkling
Step 3: In a separate sauce pan, bring one cup of water to a boil and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Add your favorite veggie ( green beans, spinach, or asparagus) to steam
Step 4: Re-heat rice or mashed potatoes
Meal #3 - Egg and avocado sandwich
Step 1: Prepare egg based on preference or use a boiled egg
Step 2: Toast two slices of grain bread using a frying pan unless you brought a toaster
Step 3: Cover one toast with slices of avocado and add some salt to taste
Step 4: Add the egg
Step 5: Top it off with the second toast
Add some sliced red onion
Meal #4 Pasta Marinara with Meat (optional)
(Optional) Meat - prepare at home
Step 1: Put your sauce pan on medium heat and add one teaspoon of oil
Step 2: Add ground meat. Turn until all cooked then drain
Let it cool down and refrigerate. I fill zip-loc bags with right sized portions and freeze otherwise it can last about 5 days in the fridge
Option A) Prepare your favorite recipe at home
Option B) Buy a bottle of marinara sauce
Step 1: Bring one quart of water to boil, add salt and olive oil
Step 2: Add your preferred pasta and let it boil for about 5-8 minutes, check often to reach al-dente, then drain
Step 3: In a sauce pan, heat up the meat and cover with marinara sauce
Step 4: In another sauce pan, bring one cup of water to a boil and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Add broccoli florets and cover, let them steam for about 2 minutes
Step 5: Serve pasta and cover with marinara sauce and meat, accompany with broccoli
Meal #5 - Lemon Pepper Chicken (credits to my Vshred diet)
Step 1: Pat dry two chicken breast and cut lengthwise
Step 2: Mix 1/4 cup of flour with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and some pepper
Step 3: Toss the chicken breast in this mix to coat
Step 4: On a skillet over medium heat, add one teaspoon of olive oil
Step 5: Sauté the chicken for 3-5 minutes each side until golden brown sprinkling with lemon pepper seasoning directly in the pan
Step 6: Remove chicken from the pan
Step 1: Wash and chop a bunch of asparagus
Step 2: Add them to the skillet while it is still warm and sauté until bright green. Sprinkle additional lemon pepper seasoning if needed. Remove from the pan
Step 3: (Optional) add few slices of lime to the pan and cook without stirring until they caramelize. Let them pick the browned bits from the pan
Serve while hot. Lay veggies and lemon then top off with a chicken breast and accompany with rice
I hope you like these quick meals. Let me know in the comments what you think and feel free to share other ideas, I would love to hear from you!