I’ve been on a lot of motorcycle camping trips, both solo and with groups, and one thing I’ve noticed is that my eating habits take a dive while traveling.
So, how do you eat healthy while on a long motorcycle trip? Eat as clean as possible. Avoid gas station foods, greasy spoons, and processed foods. Shop at local grocery stores for a few days worth of fresh foods. Keep foods cold in a small, insulated lunch bag. In this article I talk about how to eat healthy while on the road.
When I first started motorcycle camping, I would take the easy route and resort to eating junk that was quick, easy and loaded with too many calories. It’s much too easy to eat fast food, greasy spoons, and processed foods. While this might be ok for short trips of one or two nights, eating like that on an extended trip can take its toll on my health.
So, I started thinking about what kinds of foods I can eat when I’m on a long motorcycle tour that is weeks, or even months long. That’s a tough one, because, on a motorcycle, you’re not able to pack up a lot of food. So, I’m looking for is food that is easy to pack, easy to prepare at a campsite, but is still as clean and fresh as possible. There will be nights where I’ll stay at a hotel, so I’ll need to learn how to eat healthy based on what’s available at the time.
Avoid Gas Station Food
It’s tempting to grab a snack or meal at the gas station when you stop to fill up. It’s so convenient. I mean, it’s right there and you don’t have to make a special stop just to eat, and a lot of rest stop style gas stations have hot burgers, burritos or hot dogs ready to eat. Stop. Don’t do it. Those foods are high in calories and very high in sodium. If you want a snack at a gas station, look for a piece of fruit or a bag of nuts instead.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, grab a small bag of trail mix, or a small bar of dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has antioxidants and is a much better option than a regular candy bar. Often you’ll find smaller pieces of chocolates or other candies at the cash register. Buy just one piece to satisfy your craving, instead of buying a whole candybar. Plus, the last thing you want is a melted Snickers bar in your tank bag.
Avoid the huge refrigerated wall of drinks. Stick with your plan of drinking only water during the day instead of sodas or energy drinks.
Shop at Grocery Stores
Whether you’re looking for something to eat for lunch or you’re buying food for a few nights of camping, one of the best places to stock up is at a grocery store, just like when you’re at home.
A lunch break at a grocery store can give you a lot of options, assuming you’re traveling in a well populated area. But, even small, rural towns will have a decent grocery store. They will often have deli counters where you can get a sandwich, and a lot of stores are providing soup and salad bars.
If you’re loading up on food for camping, there’s no reason why you can’t eat clean and healthy. Here’s a list of healthy, packable foods to buy.
- Go to the butcher counter and ask for a single chicken breast, steak or hamburger, just enough for one serving.
- Small bag of baby carrots
- A small head of broccoli
- A handful of fresh green beans
- Tomatoes are easily bruised, but roma tomatoes are a bit more sturdy. Store it at the top of your bag to avoid crushing.
- A small sweet potato, red, or white potato, which usually come smaller than russet potatoes.
- Bagged salad mixes. These come with dressing and all the fixin’s. Don’t make the entire salad at one time. Instead, portion it out before you put the dressing on.
- Single serving pack of tuna. Avoid cans which are heavy and bulky, and instead buy the envelope style packaging.
- If you like cheese, grab hard cheeses, like parmesan. They keep well without refrigeration. Babybell cheeses, those little wax covered single servings, will stay fresh for several days without refrigeration.
- Oranges and apples are perfect fruit choices. Grab a banana if you’re going to eat it right away, or store it carefully so it doesn’t get bruised.
These are only a few suggestions for fresh, clean, healthy foods that you can grab at a grocery store and take with you into the woods for a few days of camping.
How to Keep your Food Cold
When you buy fresh vegetables and meat to take into the woods, you’re going to need a way to keep it cold, especially the meat. Raw meats will begin to spoil after only two hours without refrigeration and must be stored at below 40°F, so, if you’re not going straight to your campsite to cook it, you must keep it on ice.
I carry an insulated lunch bag to use as a cooler. I fill a few heavy duty zip lock bags with ice whenever I need to keep something cold. You can grab some ice from a soda machine at a gas station, or from a hotel ice machine, but sometimes you’ll have to buy it.
To prevent cross contamination between different kinds of meats and between meats and other foods, keep the meat in individual, leak proof bags, and store them at the bottom of the ice container. If they do leak, they won’t drip on the rest of your food spoiling it.
As long as it’s not 100° outside, and you keep the cooler bag out of direct sunlight, the ice will melt fairly slowly and the food will stay fresh for at least 24 hours. Eat up your most perishable foods first. Most fruits and veggies will keep much longer with only moderate refrigeration. If you’re able to refill your bags with ice, of course your food will stay fresh longer.
Freeze dried, packaged foods are popular with backpackers and they are a good option for motorcycle camping too, however, keep these types of food to a minimum and don’t make them your everyday meals. While they are great for backpackers who are burning 3,000 to 4,000 calories a day, they are too high in calories and sodium for someone sitting on a motorcycle all day.
So, limit your intake of freeze dried foods like Mountain House or Backpacker’s Pantry. They are excellent options for an emergency meal or when there is no other option available. While you don’t have to completely avoid these foods, they shouldn’t be your main staple.
Prepackaged pastas are a pretty good choice and you can make them healthier by adding fresh vegetables. Usually these packages are enough for two people, so consider dividing it in half.
Order healthy options when eating a restaurants. Avoid greasy spoon diners. If there are no healthy restaurants in a small town, go to the grocery store.
Limit Freeze Dried Foods
When asked what kinds of food people take on a motorcycle camping trip, they will often suggest backpacking foods such as freeze dried meals. It makes perfect sense because they are easy to prepare, just add hot water, and they don’t spoil. However, they are high in calories. A day of backpacking can easily burn 3,000 calories or more, so refueling and putting those calories back into your body is important. Not so much on a motorcycle. An average day on the motorcycle is not going to burn 3,000 calories if you’re cruising down paved roads.