We’ve UPDATED our famous “pack a cooler” article just for July Whole30 participants gearing up for their summer vacation plans. The post originated last summer, when Dallas and I spent three months (and drove 15,000 miles) across the US and Canada, while completing the Whole30. We faced plenty of challenges staying Whole30-compliant while on the road – the same challenges our readers face when life requires lots of travel, socializing or just a a super-hectic schedule.
So today, we’ve updated the contents of our theoretical Whole9 cooler – what’s in it, what’s in the travel bag next to it, and how we put things together to make delicious, Whole30-approved meals and snacks while traveling. We’ll break it down by food groups, and hope by passing these along to our readers, you’ll have an easier time Eating Good Food under any circumstance, whether at home or on the road.
What’s in the Whole9 Cooler
- Deli turkey/chicken/roast beef. Look for certain Applegate Farms versions, where the only ingredients are organic meat, water and salt.
- Albacore tuna. Whole Foods brand contains only tuna and water – no soy!
- Hard boiled eggs. We always have a dozen of these on hand.
- Smoked salmon. Wild-caught Alaskan (never farm raised), unseasoned.
- Shrimp. Buy pre-cooked wild-caught shrimp (or cook and peel them yourself) – portable and delicious served cold.
- Your local market’s brand of pre-cooked “simple” chicken breast or salmon, where the only ingredients are chicken/salmon, salt and pepper.
- Jerky. Primal Pacs makes the only Whole30-approved jerky snacks. Buy the whole snack kit, or just the protein.
- Sugar snap peas and snow peas
- Pepper slices (red, green, yellow and orange)
- Tomatoes (usually the small grape variety)
- Sprouts (sunflower, alfalfa, radish, broccoli, sweet pea shoots)
- Baby spinach, arugula or other leafy green (for on-the-road salads)
- Jicama (peel, slice into thin strips and munch)
- Kale chips – we like Kaia Foods. Again, read your ingredients.
- Sea Snax (or some other form of seaweed snack). Read your ingredients – no soy!
- Fresh salsa. Whole Foods and other stores sell fresh salsa with 100% approved ingredients.
- Canned sweet potato, pumpkin or butternut squash (where the only ingredient is the vegetable)
- Baby food! Sweet potato, butternut squash or other vegetable varieties (where the only ingredient is the vegetable) – perfect for post-workout
- Whatever is fresh, local, in-season and not too expensive
- Unsweetened applesauce (we like Santa Cruz Organic brand, or make your own)
- Larabars (a dried fruit/nut combination, used only in food emergencies)
- Olives. Lindsay Naturals in the can, where the only ingredients are olives, water and sea salt.
- EVOO (extra virgin olive oil). We bring a bottle everywhere, and pour over veggies, salads, meat, whatever.
- Fresh guacamole. Whole Foods and other stores sell fresh guac with 100% approved ingredients.
- Coconut milk (full fat, in the can)
- Shredded coconut, unsweetened.
- Coconut butter (sometimes called “creamed coconut”)
- Macadamia or hazelnuts
- Other nuts and seeds (to be eaten in moderation)
- Sunbutter or other nut butters (to be eaten in moderation)
- Stronger Faster Healthier fish oil (use the code “Whole9” to save 10%)
- Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice (for sweet potato, pumpkin, etc.)
- Salt, pepper
- Fresh chopped basil and cilantro
- Sharp paring knife
- Flexible cutting board
- Can opener
- Portable silverware and dishes
- One glass container, for microwaving on the go
Tips, tricks and adding variety to your Road Trip Food
- Protein is going to be the hardest to get in good amounts. Plan ahead and stock up – cook chicken or salmon the night before you travel, boil a dozen eggs, find deli meat and tuna packets that meet criteria.
- Smoked salmon is often overlooked, but the wild caught stuff is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Slice, roll around chunks of honeydew melon or mango, secure with a toothpick and go.
- Fruit is way too easy to overdo when traveling, so swap some of that fruit for portable vegetable sources. The flexible cutting board, sharp knife and plastic silverware help you branch out from just carrots and celery.
- Fresh salsa and guacamole are life-savers. Roll deli turkey around pepper slices, secure with toothpick and top with salsa and guac – delicious and totally portable.
- Frozen root veggies may also be a good idea, especially if you’re training on the go. Sweet potato and squash varieties from the can or jar are just as good hot or cold.
- Nuts are also easy to crack out on when traveling. Try olives instead! They’re portable, don’t need refrigeration and you can eat an awful lot for the same amount of fat as an ounce of nuts.
- Spices and herbs are an easy way to add flavor and variety to your meals, and don’t take up a lot of room in your bag/cooler.
- Planning and preparation are key! Take time to purchase, prepare and pack your cooler before a trip and you’ll have good, Whole30-approved meals and snacks at the ready.
We hope this peek inside our cooler (and, below, our hotel fridge!) helps to give you fresh ideas and inspiration for your own travels. Got a road-trip-worthy snack, meal or food idea? Post to comments!