Saturday, May 25, 2013

Summer road trip (RV/trailer, grain free, dairy free)

Last spring we acquired a travel trailer, and over the past year I've enjoyed settling into it a bit and figuring out a different way of traveling with my large family.  While pulling a little home behind us has its own set of difficulties I love that we do not have to pack and unpack for hotel rooms along the way. With food intolerances having our own kitchen is a huge help as well.

This spring we spent three weeks on the road going from the South West to the Mid-West.  With 9 in our family I had to plan well to get all of our clothes and stuff neatly stowed away.

*Clothes for 8 of us are in this closet.  Hubby has his own small closet.

*Each of these two drawers holds PJ's, socks, and underwear for 4 people.

Needing even more careful planning is the food.  Of course I'm wanting to help my family eat healthy and keep our budget low, but two of us also need to stay as wheat and dairy free as possible.  With limited space I needed to be creative and plan reasonable items and ingredients to be purchased along the way.  I also needed to be thoughtful of the fact that we are on vacation, treats and special meals should be planned so we are more likely to resist temptation on the road.  I also needed to keep in mind that we would be needing to pack lunches for meals on the go when we were at museums and such.

*Non-perishables stowed away under the dinette bench seat for later in the trip.  Mixes are made up as well for pancakes and anything else I think we may need to bake up along the way.

*My kids consider PB&J sandwiches treats.  Some begged for Kraft EasyMac, if ever I was to allow it, now was the time (a box of dye free Mac&Cheese was purchased so that our dye free kid could enjoy along with others when aunties made up the "real" stuff).  Crackers and cookies are simple easy treats that will keep the kids from asking for worse junk.

*Keeping plenty of water bottles and 100% juice for the kids will keep us hydrated and keep the kids from asking for other "juices" and sodas along the way.  The Hansen's sodas will keep hubby and I from being tempted by other sodas at gas stations.

*Our snack drawer;  applesauce/berry pouches and freeze dried fruit will make fairly healthy treats on the road when we run low of fresh fruits and veggies.  These will also be easy for me to grab for snacks to put in my purse/diaper bag to keep the little ones from melt downs when we are out and about.

*Careful thought was given to what we would be putting in the fridge.  Salads in a jar make a great lunch for hubby and me (maybe not as space efficient as other things, but the health factor outweighs that this time) home made salad dressings are all set for making more salads along the way.  Pre-cooked meats and sausages will make meals fast and easy when we stop.  Hard boiled eggs make for a fast, easy, healthy breakfast along with some fruit.

*Pre-cooked hamburger can be added to the crock pot in the morning without the bother of cooking it up and dirtying dishes.  Grain free muffins, breads, and cookies make the trip easier for those of us with dietary restrictions.  The pancakes-on-a-stick are another one of those treats that the kids begged for, they will make a fast breakfast one morning, then they will be gone and we will not have them again. ;)

Nut balls
aka grain free cookie dough
1 cup nut butter (I used 1 cup macadamia nuts and 1/4 cup coconut oil)
1/2 cup nut flour (I used almond)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 Tbs. honey
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt (unless your nuts or nut butter are salted, then you may want to skip this)
1/8 cup (or more) mini-chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life brand)
*The kind of nut butter and nut flour you use will effect the flavor of your nut balls.  I find the macadamia nuts give a mild flavor that more closely resembles the flavor of a sugar/chocolate-chip cookie dough.  I found almond butter to almost give a PB taste, but if you want PB cookie dough just go ahead and use PB.

Mix all ingredients in a blender (I use my vita mix).  Transfer to a bowl and mix in chocolate chips.  Form into balls and chill in freezer until hard.  I store mine in the refrigerator or freezer and pull them out as I need them.  These will last well on trips as long as they are kept chilled/frozen.

Diapers and wipes enough to last the trip as well as a few toys for the kids are stowed up above the girl's bed (they don't really need much in the way of toys on trips, but a few do come in handy).  When going on a road trip this is also a handy place to stow treasures picked up along the way.

I'm always asked about sleeping arrangements first when someone asks about our trailer.  Our basic theory on the trailer is that this is a major improvement over tent camping.  If we were tent camping we would all be sleeping in one small space.  What we have here is a major improvement on that. ;) If a road trip; it is an improvement on getting two hotel rooms or cramming into one if allowed.

*The three girls all sleep on the queen size bed that is a slide.  They all end up squishing together so if we have another girl there is still room for her to eventually join them. ;)
*The couch provides a bed for one boy. (but it seems the toddler wouldn't mind joining him)
*The "baby" sleeps in an extra small pack-n-play that just fits in the trailer.
*The u-shaped dinette converts to a bed that is maybe full sized (it is an odd size).  Two boys sleep on it.  I think there would be room for a toddler.  There is also floor space available that we are not yet using.
*The toy-hauler portion of the trailer also houses a fold down queen sized bed.  This area can be curtained off from the rest of the trailer giving mom and dad our own room with some privacy.

There are so many configurations for trailers and RVs, I think the key is flexibility and creativity when packing a large family into one  of these.

We are fairly new to using a travel trailer.  I'd love hear the tricks and strategies others use for packing and doing meals for a large family in a small space.  So far I think we're about 50/50 as far as using it for road trips or actual camping trips.  

1 comment:

  1. Looks Awesome!! I hope you guys had a wonderful trip!!