As many of you know, my husband is an over the road driver. Our lifestyle, especially his while he’s away is unique and requires a lot of planning to make his trip run smoothly. Quick and easy meals are just one of those struggles my husband faces on the road. Making meals healthy is a whole other challenge.
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Being married to an over the road driver is a unique experience, one that I don’t think many couples can handle. My husband and I had a year to prepare for his transition into truck driving, but nothing readies you for the actual time being apart.
By the way, if you’re a trucker’s wife, I think you’re a strong cookie! Not all of us can handle being apart from our spouse that long, especially with kids in the mix. You’re proof that true love does conquer all.
One of the biggest challenges for over the road drivers are falling into unhealthy habits. Sometimes I worry my husband thinks I’m babying him, but I know he’s making the best choices when he’s away to keep himself in shape.
The first step to making quick and easy meals is pre-planning them. It might be inconvenient to spend an hour pre-planning your meals, I totally get it, but there are so many benefits that come out of it.
- Saving Money. Those restaurant and fast food bills add up!
- You get to control what goes in your food.
- Not having to stress after a long day of driving what you can snack on
- You have total control over what you put in your body
I’m obviously writing this blog post from the perspective of a trucker’s wife, but some of you reading this may be a truck driver yourself or just looking for tips on how to make fast and easy meals.
First of all, I want to applaud you for taking your health seriously! The meal ideas I share with you below are flexible and guided towards people who don’t have a lot of time to prepare quick and healthy meals for themselves.
Work as a team to create a healthy eating plan
For all my trucker wive’s out there, I think it’s so important to work together as a couple to create a healthy eating plan for your spouse who’s out on the road. My husband is entirely responsible for himself when he’s miles away from me, but I want him to know that I’m still a supportive part of his life. I’m grateful he involves me so much in his trucking life since it can sometimes feel super lonely when you’ve apart for weeks at a time!
I have a responsibility, just like my husband does, to make sure my family eats healthy and stays in shape. Below, I share with you some of the things that we do to make sure he has all he needs when he’s out on the road.
Slow Cooker or a Microwave?
I purchased Danny a 12-volt portable stove from RoadPro on Amazon that kept his food heated last year, and he enjoyed it during the Winter time. It’s on Amazon as a portable stove, but it’s just a portable lunch box. That stove doesn’t make muffins or casseroles…so yeah it’s just a lunchbox. It was a great purchase because Danny was a delivery driver, and he didn’t need much more than that.
I think microwaves are also a great option, but nothing compares to have a cooked meal that reminds you of home. They do come in handy for reheating leftovers, though!
I really like this Slow Cooker from RoadPro. We purchased ours on Amazon, and we were surprised to find out that they also made portable frying pans! That’s crazy, isn’t it! I don’t think life out on the road has ever been easier than it is now.
I know that a lot of trucking companies don’t have APUs for their drivers, so you have to look for appliances that will work with your truck. Most of the products I recommend in this article can be plugged into most standard 12v lighter type sockets.
Purchase RoadPro RPSL-350 12V 1.5 Quart Slow Cooker from Amazon
Slow Cooker Recipes–Ingredients you can just throw in the pot
There are tons and tons of recipes on the Internet that you can get creative with, but a lot of them involve chopping up vegetables and shredding poultry. Let’s be honest if you’re driving for 10 hours a day, the last thing you want to do is take out a knife and a cutting board. The four recipes I’ve gathered below have a very minimal amount of preparation.
We recommend purchasing skinless, boneless chicken (same goes for the salmon) so that you can just throw it in the pot easy-peasy.
Tip: Freeze your meals in slow cooker liners beforehand so you can save on prep time. Take your food-filled liner and pop it right into the slow cooker for a meal to remember. Easy as pie. Some great ones are the PanSaver EZ Clean Multi-Use Cooking Bags Slow Cooker Liners
Some of my favorite slow cooker recipes
All the recipes I’ve gathered for you involve minimal chopping of vegetables and meat, so these are pretty much just dump in it the crock and let it cook! It’s worth it to have staples in your truck food pantry, like rice, dried beans, potatoes (try to go for sweet potatoes since they include lots of antioxidants), and onions. Have seasonings that you can keep with you as well.
Staple Seasonings To Keep in Your Truck Pantry
- Garlic Powder
- Black Pepper
- Onion Powder
- Ground Parsley
What if I don’t have a slow cooker?
If you don’t have a slow cooker, and you prefer meals you can make in five minutes or less try having instant rice on hand and canned beans on hand. Canned tuna also packs a lot of protein. You can always heat your food up in a microwave at a truck stop or keep your own in the cabin.
Canned foods are a great way to supplement your meals, but bear in mind that canned foods do tend to be high in sodium. Forgo adding salt if you’re going to be going this route. Store bought canned foods are convenient, that’s true, but you can also learn how to preserve your own food at home.
Canned Food Staples
- Beans (Black, Kidney, and Pinto)
- Vienna Sausage
Canning Produce Yourself
I’m not going to lie; I don’t have a lot of experience canning my produce. It’s not like I’m Suzy Homemaker, but canning is something that I’m going to incorporate in our lives very soon. You can preserve anything. Jellies, fruits, meats.
Canning your produce is great because you get to control what goes into your body, and let’s just be honest about this next one. It’s probably more fresh and flavorful than the canned goods you purchase from the grocery store.
Preserving your food is something that will take time, and you’ll have to do it when you’re at home. You need some basic supplies, most that you should have in your kitchen. Below I’ve listed some resources that I think will be helpful resources to get you started canning. I’m telling you, this practice will save you a ton off your grocery bill!
Mother Earth — Home Canning Guide: Learn How to Can Your Own Food
Freezing Your Meals
Freezing your meals is another way of preserving food, and saving on prep time while doing it. Investing in a quality freezer, if you don’t already have one, is worth it. Trucking is already like a home away home. Why not make it more comfortable for yourself?
There are tons of recipes online you can follow; they key is not overloading on too much of one thing. Follow the basic rule of including one of each group below in your meals:
Carbohydrate (Quinoa, Brown Rice, Pasta)
Vegetable (Broccoli, Lettuce, Spinach, Carrots)
Healthy Fats (Salmon, Mackeral, Avocado, Pumpkin Seeds, Eggs)
Lean protein (Turkey, Chicken, Fish)
Freezing your meals ahead of time goes hand in hand with using your slow cooker. Throw all your pre-cooked ingredients into a zip lock baggie, and all you gotta do is heat it up for a meal.
Believe it or not, rice can be frozen.
I prepare brown rice in a big pot and flatten it out on a plate to cool. Then I divide the rice into quart sized Zip Lock baggies that I can easily store in my fridge and label them the day I cooked them. Take as much air out of the bag as possible, and lay them flat in your freezer.
Keep in mind that some foods freeze better than others. Foods with a high water content tend to do worse compared to those that don’t. Different foods also last different amounts of time frozen.
There’s an excellent web page up on FoodSafety.gov with safe handling tips and cooking tips. It’s a valuable resource for anyone, not just truckers.
Give the USDA’s article on Freezing and Food Safety a read if you plan on freezing your food. It’s a short read but contains so much helpful information on how to handle your food safely when freezing and how to thaw safely too.
Salads on the go
Salads are a great way to get your nutrients on the go. I love these salads from Organic Girl. You can tell I’ve eaten some already from the photo below.
I love to get the Organic Girl brand because I can eat and make my salad on the go. Each salad comes in an easy to eat plastic container. Throw in some sliced almonds, dried cranberries, dice up some tomatoes, add some oil and vinegar and you’re ready to go! Yum. And you don’t have to worry about washing these greens because they’re triple washed. They come with a bunch of different mixes like Baby Spinach, Kale, and other sorts of blends.
Quick and Easy Snacking Options
There are so many healthy snacking options for our truckers to munch on. If you’re going to be purchasing packaged snacks, learn how to read ingredient labels to avoid sneaky ingredients that aren’t good for you. For example, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 11-13 grams of saturated fat and no more than 1,500 mg of sodium based on a 2,000 calorie diet. The AHA also recommends that you stay away from foods with trans fat as much as possible. There is a short read on heart.gov on How to Understand Food Nutrition Labels that all truckers should read.
Healthy Snacks You can make yourself
There are tons of things you can make on your own, and save money by doing it. Here are some ideas below
- Apple Slices and Peanut Butter
- Carrots Dipped in Ranch
- Pita Bread and Hummus
- Trail mix (Think dried cranberries, sliced almonds, cashews, and yogurt bits)
- Whole Fruits. These are probably the best options for you if you want a healthy and quick snack on the road. Fruit keeps you full because of its fiber-rich qualities, and you get a bunch of antioxidants and vitamins with it. Shop for what’s in season so you don’t get stuck in a rut.
What’s in season during the Fall?
- Passion Fruit
What’s in season during the Winter?
- Mandarin Oranges
What’s in season during the Spring?
- Honeydew Melon
What’s in season during the Summer?
Visit FruitsAndVeggiesMoreMatters.org for a more in-depth article on what’s in season!
That’s it for my blog post on how to eat healthy without sacrificing your time! Do any of my readers have tips they can add? Let’s hear your ideas in the comments!