(Almost) Waste Free Travel Food Kit

Have you ever noticed, that the more you try to cut down on your waste… the more you notice how much waste there is? I have! Trying to cut down my single-use plastic has given me a fresh set of eyes on how I consume. On a recent road trip, this became so obvious to me. Even though I’d packed snacks we still had so much to throw away after reaching our destination. Which sparked the thought, “How could I travel locally and not leave any plastic packaging behind?”. It starts with the minimalist idea of using what you have and then filling in the gaps if you need to. After scouring my kitchen cabinets and visiting Faithful to Nature, I can share my (Almost) Waste Free Travel Food Kit with you!

The basic idea of this kit is that take what you need on the road for a local trip, then you don’t have to buy snacks and meals that come in plastic packaging. This would on a smaller scale if travelling by bus or train, I’m lucky to mostly travel in private vehicles. I suggest scaling down this kit for international air travel to keep it light.  Putting it into practice I found that it didn’t just help with the environment; we cleared what was in the fridge, I got to pack healthier options, my anxiety about what food I’d be able to find on the road was gone and we saved a few bucks too! While I was prepping and packing food the night before, I was reminded of the family trips of my childhood. For drives longer than 4 hours, we would leave pre-dawn and so the night before, once the bags were packed, my mom would head to the kitchen. For years, she would lovingly make sandwiches, pasta salads, pack up leftovers, make sure there were fruit and snacks alongside the drinks in the cooler box.

The minimalist idea of starting with what you have really helps here.

As young parents, it was about saving money while showing my brother and I the best of South Africa. When we got older and fast food got cheaper and cheaper so we’d stop off for takeaway burgers instead. The nostalgia here got me big time as I realised that sometimes, doing thing old school really pays off. Like I said earlier, the minimalist idea of starting with what you have really helps. So using your office lunch box and water bottle is ideal here. Already have reusable straws and a steel water bottle? You’re on a roll! Here’s a list check list of things I find helpful for my list. Feel free to tailor yours for your needs and to each type of trip. 

For me the most logical way to start was to think of what I already had that I could use on a road trip. If your day to day life includes a reusable coffee cup or flask, using those for the first sip of tea or coffee, as the sun starts to peak over the horizon on an early morning trip is the perfect way to get your caffeine fix and respect the world you’re going to explore. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to wash my reusable cup before switching to tea at our first service station stop, so my morning coffee was in the flask with my empty cup in my handbag. If you want to pack light one will do but if you know that you’re watching your caffeine intake and space isn’t an issue, consider packing both. We have tons of water bottles so packing filtered tap water in our cooler-box-come-picnic-bag was a no brainer. Stainless steel bottles have made the biggest difference in keeping cold water cooler for longer periods- I highly recommend giving them a try. This also meant leaving no plastic water bottles behind!

On the food front, there some exciting innovations taking place but sometimes traditional is still the best. I have been slowly collecting reusable containers, jars, wraps and bags. My preference for glass food containers is because with only the tops being plastic, more of the end product will biodegrade long after I’m gone from the earth.

On the food front, there some exciting innovations taking place but sometimes traditional is still the best.

Glass ware also lasts much, much longer. Just think of how long sturdier glass cooking sets last, compared to flimsy plastic ones? I know not all plastics are equal and some give decades of use, but with exception of accidentally dropping her glassware, my mom’s glass cook wear has outlasted plastic counterparts. I’ve noticed the same in my kitchen.

To any moms out there, sighing in frustration that glass is not ideal for children, read on to find a great alterative. Glassware is heavier though, so maybe stick to reusable plastic packaging that food comes in for activities like hiking. (My always kind and obliging boyfriend did not appreciate the glass food containers in our day pack during our last 4 hour hike.)  Finding the Duralex range of Lys Carre stackable bowls on Faithful to Nature made me gleeful in a way most over 25-year-old millennials will relate to.

They are stackable to save space, are twice as strong as normal glass and can withstand temperatures of up to 70 degrees Celsius. You know what else they have that is so exciting?! Consol’s new Jar In Jar!  I completely geeked out at this. So your good old reliable Consol jar now comes with an itty-bitty, mini jar inside- that screws into the same lid! Perfect for dips, dressings, toppings that need to stay crunchy seeds and nuts or even croutons. 

In a worldwide viral food storage sensation
last year we learnt about the Stasher Bag. This clever little bag is the most healthy and eco-friendly solution for plastic bags. It’s free of BPA, latex and phthalates making it safe for food and great for anyone with a latex allergy. Made for platinum cured silicone,
it’s lightweight, flexible and can’t shatter so safer for kids. Uses are so varied, it can be frozen, defrosted and reheated, used to sous vide on a stove top and is dishwasher safe. The multitude of non-food uses makes this endlessly reusable additional to your home a real keeper. I used mine for popcorn (to avoid the call of greasy chips during petrol stops) and got a perfectly sized portion.

 Having seen bee wraps online, I’m so glad I tried Janice’s Kitchen Bee Wraps. The switch from plastic wrap is really simple, these are stiffer than plasticwrap but a quick fold does the trick and they perfect for sandwiches, covering leftovers or keeping half-used veggies in the fridge. All they need is a quick rinse before being used again (and again and again).

The Ecorific Roll Up Cuterly Pouch comes with a napkin and ties up with a ribbon. I used cutlery from an existing picnic set because you really can take what you already have instead of getting something new that does the same job. The difference is having a dedicated spot to keep those things organised when travelling! And of course, never ever forget your reusable straws

Why have I called this an almost waste-free food kit? Well, I wouldn’t feel completely transparent if I didn’t take into account the packaging the food came in before I put it into my reusable products. Sadly, Joburg doesn’t have any waste-free retailers just yet and to me, that has to be part of the equation. In terms of what to pack, I suggest starting super simple with roasted veg and hummus sandwiches in bees wraps, popcorn and fruit to snack on, the rest of that hummus in your consol Jar In Jar with vegetable crudites (made with whatever is in your fridge) and if you have a sweet tooth, pack in some protein with chickpea cookie dough balls. 

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