Apple, orange, baby carrots, hummus, granola bars, protein bars, sunflower seeds, cookies, thermos of coffee, water bottle with a built-in filter straw …
The Amtrak car around me smells like aging fast food from the long-since-departed train station food court. However, thanks to a canvas bag full of the snacks listed above, I won’t be visiting the train’s overpriced dining car before my trip ends in New York City.
Eating On The Go
Lately, I’ve been more mobile than usual. I’m in the thick of my search for my next full-time job, and it’s easy to forget the cost of eating meals while on the go while racing around or to a city for interviews.
I’ve been trying really hard to plan ahead and pack food when I can. In addition to the snacks in my canvas bag, I also have some meals in my suitcase—instant soup and an instant oatmeal cup, as well as some more fruit. I’m staying in New York for fun over the weekend, and I would rather spend my money on leisure activities than overpriced meals three times a day.
In fact, by being more mobile, I’ve found ways to save for each meal.
Breakfast is easy to overlook when on the run. I already mentioned bringing a travel cup of instant oatmeal. Normally I’m against prepackaged single-serving meals, because they’re more expensive than buying bulk, but it’s necessary in some cases. Just add boiling water—voilà!
If you don’t add water before you leave the house, you can bring a thermos of boiling water or get a free cup of hot water from a convenience store or a café. I used to give it to people who asked when I worked in a coffee shop.
Another great portable breakfast is a smoothie. Use any recipe, but I’m going to share my secret ingredient. Add a quarter to a half an avocado to any fruit smoothie. It might sound crazy, but try it. Seriously. It adds the most amazing creamy texture.
Pour your smoothie into a plastic tumbler with a straw or a mason jar, and you’re good to go!
The Magic Of The Thermos
I mentioned bringing a thermos before, and it can be key for your breakfast and your lunch.
I actually found a stainless steel travel mug in the kitchen of my new apartment when I moved in and didn’t think it was anything other than an average travel cup. I filled it with coffee and threw it in a bag before driving a half-hour to an interview. I forgot about it until after the interview. When I went for a long swig nearly 2 hours later, I burned my tongue. This was no ordinary travel mug—it was a magical thermos perfect for fulfilling my caffeine cravings.
I have another thermos meant for food, as it’s great to pack homemade soup or reheated leftovers in the morning. That way, I can have a hot lunch on days when I won’t have microwave access later.
What To Do About Dinner
The hardest meal to eat on the go without visiting a fast food joint is probably dinner. My suggestions: natural instant soup cups, packets of Annie’s instant macaroni and cheese (it’s much tastier than Easy Mac, you just need your own cup/bowl), and ready-made packages of tuna salad. Or visit a grocery store deli and salad bar.
As long as you’re not at Whole Foods, it will be much cheaper than eating out.
How do you save money on food while on the go? Share your tips below.