Those who follow my blog know that I work for IBM and that means a lot of traveling on business trips. This poses two challenges for me. Not only do I need to have real food I can eat while I am on my business trips but I also need to ensure that my family has real food while I am away. This is part 2 of my two-part series on business travel. Last week I shared my snack and meal ideas for traveling with real food (for the one traveling) and now I will focus on meal planning for my family while I am away on a business trip. Business trips aren’t like family vacations in that I don’t often have a lot of lead time. Sometimes I find out I am going somewhere two days before my trip. Sound familiar to anyone?
I am also not normally a meal planner. I never know how much time I will have during the day to prep or cook due to my busy schedule with my actual day job, this blog and my family. I often just look in my fridge and freezer 2 hours before dinner and make a choice. For obvious reasons, this approach doesn’t really work when I am out of town. The other issue is that because I do the cooking in the house, my husband is caught flat-footed when I leave town. I need to make sure he knows exactly what he needs to do so things run smoothly and he can just focus on our daughter as Mr. Mom while I am gone.
So how do I manage these challenges?
Here are my secrets
Prepare large batches, label and freeze
- It is important to have options in the freezer for these last minute trips. Add a label with not only what the item is but also directions on how to heat it up. For example – whole roasted chicken: heat in oven covered for 1 hour at 350 degrees F.
The day before the trip, make the main component of each school lunch
- Freeze bean tacos, grilled meats, and even sandwiches. Your significant other can take them out of the freezer each morning and by the time your child eats lunch they will be defrosted.
Provide detailed menus on your family calendar
- List what your family will be eating for meals and snacks for each day you will be away. Mix in some meals out at a restaurant for a little variety depending on how long you will be gone.
Stock the house with real food snacks
- Give your family options to eat quickly without you around. Make grain-free muffins, chocolate, popcorn. Your family will be less prone to snack on other fake food if you leave real food for them.
Avoid any ‘extras’
- Don’t leave anything like kefir or kombucha for your significant other to tend to while you are away unless they like that sort of thing. It will already be stressful enough with mommy away. I have found out through experience that there is nothing worse for your significant other’s self esteem than killing your favorite pet ferment. I just recommend putting it in the fridge to rest for the week!
What do you do when you travel for work (or fun) away from your family?