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Eating Organic Away From Home – What I Packed for 4 Days and 3 Nights

I am officially back from Mississippi and I have so much to share with you. I’d like to have my thoughts sink in a bit before discussing my all my discoveries and experiences… But overall, the trip was incredible – just incredible!

Before I left on Thursday morning – I made all my food for the 4 day, 3 night journey. Starting from scratch, it took me about an hour and a half to make everything. When I tell people that I made all my food, packed it a cooler and checked it on the airplane – I get looks of disbelief! I wouldn’t have had it any other way though, because my time down in Pickens, MS was precious. I wanted to spend as much time as possible helping the community versus trying to make and find organic food for myself to eat. Having my needs met ahead of time, meant I could really focus my time and effort on the community. It was amazing not to have to worry about where or when I was going to eat… everything was set from the moment I got there. The best part by far though, was sharing some of my homemade food with folks in Pickens…and then hearing “I want the recipe for that!”

Here’s what I packed…lucky for me none of it was confiscated by any airport authorities or TSA!

In the cooler:

  • 3 Parfait Porridges made with homemade hemp milk
  • 3 portions of Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad
  • 2 organic avocados
  • 3 organic lemons
  • 4 portions of homemade hummus
  • 3 bags of pre-cut organic vegetables (carrots, red pepper, green pepper and celery)
  • 1 container of organic baby kale
  • 1 container of my mom’s organic carrot halwa (recipe coming soon!)
  • 1 raw banana pudding (store-bought from Healthy Home Market)
  • Vitamineral Greens 
  • Probiotics
  • 3 ice packs complimentary from Healthy Home Market (TIP – ask your grocery store if they have extra ice packs in the back – they are usually colder than putting ice in ziplocks, which is what I usually do to keep the food cold)

In my luggage:

My meals went like this:

Breakfast – Lemon Water For Habit #1 + Tea/Coffee + Vitamineral Greens  + Parfait Porridge
LunchQuinoa Tabbouleh Salad + 1/2 Avocado
Dinner – Kale, Hummus, Veggies + Mary’s Gone Sticks & Twigs
DessertGolden berries, carrot halwa (FYI – I didn’t end up eating the banana pudding I took)

Unplanned snacks and surprises:

  • Fresh green juice made with local collard greens, celery, cucumber, lemon and ginger during a group field trip to the Rainbow co-op natural grocery store.
  • After a Hari Shake demonstration, I sampled one with the group
  • Chocolate covered goji berries from Rainbow co-op
  • A banana before the race (the first ever 5k in Pickens history!) donated by Piggly Wiggly
  • Nature’s path Heritage Flakes cereal after the race donated by Nature’s Path
  • 4 ounce wheatgrass shot at the airport Jamba Juice in Charlotte before departing and when I arrived

Eating this way makes me feel totally amazing… so I think the the extra effort is totally worth it. If you are traveling this holiday season… I hope the recipes and cooler ideas inspire you to make some of your own organic food and take it with you… it’s a great way to stay on track and something I’ll be doing again this week when I head down to the beach for Thanksgiving!

For more organic living travel ideas and tips – be sure to check out my Travel section here.

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53 responses to “Eating Organic Away From Home – What I Packed for 4 Days and 3 Nights

  1. I’ve never tried to travel via plane with a cooler before! I’m headed out on a 3-week trip to see family this Christmas and I’m SO NERVOUS about finding food to keep myself feeling healthy and happy.

    Do you have any particular advice when it comes to packing/checking the cooler? I’m a travel neo-phyte, so I’m feeling overwhelmed!

    1. Don’t be nervous! It’s super easy I promise…otherwise I wouldn’t do it! Get a cooler on wheels with a handle, secure everything inside in either ziplock bags or snap lid containers to prevent spillage and save enough room in there for at least 3 ice packs strategically placed between the food. I’ve kept food cold this way for about 8 hours – anything more than that will require a mid-travel ice pack change (in this case – you can fill ziplock bags with ice and put it into the cooler…) It’s totally worth it – please report back and let me know how it goes or if you have anymore questions!

      1. Vani,

        I will traveling to Europe for 3 weeks this summer what should I bring to keep me on track that I can back pack with and what probotics do you bring on a trip my required refriergation so I do not want to bring those

    2. I have traveled with coolers quite a bit (living in Hawaii several winters and shipping food interisland via checked luggage). Just grab a soft-sided insulated cooler (I like the rectangular Trader Joes variety for this purpose), load it with what you want to bring (sealed in plastic containers, tape around edges if necessary, and in ziploc bags), then add several hard cooling elements. A square/rectangular soft-sided duffel bag (like the green army parachute bags avail at outdoor stores) make for a great sturdy yet light-weight checked bag for this purpose. Also, if any of the food you are bringing is frozen(like steaks, frozen meals) or CAN be frozen in advance (butter, salsa, coffee, or similar) so much the better – those all will help keep cooler contents cold in transit. Consider the temperature at origin and destination and adjust the amount of frozen ice packs accordingly. Also, I tend to only ship food on non-stop and direct flights (plane stops enroute but you stay on-board) , no connecting flight itineraries, just in case ;).

    1. I put it in a ziploc and let it go brown in the fridge – the next day I just cut the brown layer off … so easy…and still delicious!

      1. I keep the pit in, then cover with plastic wrap – and tap it down with my finger to seal it against the cut side, then put in a small ziplock, removing as much air from the ziplock as I can. I’ve used one after 4-5 days and there is no brown on it!

      1. You have to keep it airtight and it won’t brown at all. The air oxidizes it. I put it in a ziplock, squeeze all the air out and seal it. It’ll keep for days .

      2. I learned this tip by accident but it works great! Leave the pit in….of course, avocados rarely last long in my house, between me and my kids. Love them…and hubby is turning the corner on them especially since he knows how good they are. My 4 year old will eat the avocado first off her plate and then tell me (with a huge smile), “Mommy, I didn’t get any avocado.” Of course, she always gets more after that!!!

    2. How do you eat half an avocado without eating the other half also? 😉 You can also use plastic wrap over the top. Mine usually don’t brown this way. But like Food Babe said, if they do, I just scrape it off and eat the rest.

  2. I went to Houston 2 weeks ago and packed my food. It was great! I had some frozen lentil soup (homemade) and even packed a little hot dip sized crock pot. I took steel cut oats and cooked those in the crockpot too. This is the best idea – taking your own food. Tomorrow we leave for Disney and I’m packing my food too. We’re driving so it will be easier and in addition to the crockpot my blender is coming too! YAY! Thanks so much Food Babe! One more thing – twice so far I have packed my own meals for the airplane and I think I am the envy of the plane when I pull out my fresh fruit salad with pineapple and grapes, along with my hummus and greens sandwich!
    Keep the fantastic ideas coming and I’ll keep sharing them!

    1. Karen, you should tell us your menu for Disney. I would love to take my own food for a trip like that but the length is what gets me. Unfortunately, Disney has now pulled all the fridges from their lower end properties and it will be months before they replace them. So you have to be in a deluxe resort OR do a fridge swap on the Disboards (or buy one when you get there). If you buy one, you could set up a new fridge swap on the Disboards and help people for months/years to come!

  3. Thank you SOO much for this post. Sometime I feel like “the crazy food lady” and you constantly remind me why it’s so important to eat the way I do. After reading your Thanksgiving foods post my MIL went and sourced a local turkey and agreed to let me change up all the sides. I’ll be packing food to make sure I have what I need for our upcoming journeys as well. I’m thankful to have wonderful food bloggers like you helping me along on my food journey. 🙂

  4. Our family of 4 flew to MS last year for Thanksgiving! The closest health food store was 35+ min away! I shipped some things to my husband’s grandmother’s house via vitacost, and brought a few things via a checked bag, but had to really make do while we there. The town we stayed in had a population of about 6000 and the Piggly Wiggly and Walmart were their grocery stores. We survived, but I really had to work at it. My kids are young and won’t eat that yummy quinoa you have pictured. I’ve been eating healthy since they were babies, but my husband still wants to feed the kids “junk” not as bad as most families, but they are soo picky! I would do this if it were just me!! Did you check this cooler?

    1. Same here. I have been eating healthy for the last two years but my husband will feed my daughter junk and she is picky. So me and hubby try to meet in the middle about food but it is difficult.

  5. Great idea! We traveled this past summer down to North Carolina from PA to stay at my brother in law’s house for a week. A looooonnnnng road trip. I had more food packed than I did luggage!!! With two young kids (who contantly eat) and the closest grocery store 35 minutes away it was a must. I couldn’t have done it any other way. We stayed at a hotel at the halfway point and I am sooo glad that I had my stash of food. The hotel’s continental breakfast was loaded with stuff that I couldn’t even imagine eating. I almost brought my juicer, but my husband talked me out of it 🙂
    Now I know that anywhere I travel my healthy food can come with me and I won’t need to compromise!!! Thanks for the tips!

  6. I just got home from Mississippi 2 weeks ago. I had a really hard time finding anything organic while I was there. I took a lot of food with me and my family thought I was crazy. I have found it is easier to say I have a food allergy than to explain about eating organic and why .

  7. I noticed that you pack your food in plastic containers and plastic bags. Do you have any concerns about BPA leaching into your food?

    1. I do not use plastic containers at home on a regular basis.. but because of the weight – I had to use some plastic (bpa free of course), otherwise my cooler would have weighted well over the limit with all the icepacks, etc…

  8. I never thought about checking a cooler of food on the plane. I think I’ll try that when we go to Hawaii. I’ve always packed a meal for us to take on the plane, and I’ve started packing my homemade pancake mix and homemade granola. I still have to eat whatever the rest of the family serves, which almost always means takeout or something microwaved from a box. At least I have my Real Food for some of the meals!

  9. I’ve prepared and packed enough food for a week’s vacation with my husband and four young children. I find we save on time, money and feel so much healthier when I prepare the food before our trips. It’s worth it! I love your blog!

    1. You can definitely bring a cooler! See if you can get a fridge in your cabin or share a fridge in the main kitchen… Otherwise – just bring a lot of fruit and other snacks that don’t need refrigeration… Have fun – sounds like a blast! Good Luck.

    2. Bring your food I went cross country on the train and awful food posioning. A lot of fruit anything you can think of. Not a good food selection. Good luck to u…

  10. You mentioned bringing probiotics. I’ve been looking around and there are so many options! What brand do you use or recommend? Thanks for all the great travel ideas!

  11. I once got on a plane with a litre of raw milk, a litre of yoghurt, homemade butter and a kg of vacuum-packed steak in a cool bag. I felt like I was carrying drugs, kept expecting to get stopped and questioned! The trip went smoothly and I was so glad that I brought my own real food 🙂

  12. Hi Food Babe.

    Saw your picture of Vitamineral Green. Just wanted to let you know that we carry that line of products.
    The 300 Gram Size is 33.20. The 500 Gram Size is 46.96. Thanks for the work that you do.


  13. It really is not as difficult as it sounds. I get the same reactions when I pull out my food when I travel. I travel about 25-30% of the time for work and I always pack my food. I freeze it 1-2 days before and pack in cooler bag with small ice packs. I make sure when I get to where I’m going my hotel has a frig. and microwave, or wherever I’ll be working. I then make a stop at the local farmer’s market or Whole Foods when I arrive and get my fresh greens and any other interesting fresh, easy to go snacks and voila! Real Clean Food! Thanks so much for sharing your tips, I’ll have to try these recipes on my next trip. Need the variety 😉

  14. Did you drink the Vitamineral greens with just mixing it with water? Thank you for sharing this great travel post. I often go to the mountains with my boyfriend, which is basically camping, which makes keeping my habit of always having a green drink in the morning/during the day difficult. Vitamineral green seems like a great alternative while away!

  15. I’ve done this with frozen breast milk before. Was at a conference and pumped 16 lbs of breast milk and carried it back home with me. The key to keeping things cold for long periods of time (consider flight delays/missed connections, etc.) is to freeze as much as possible. My flight was delayed, causing me to miss my connection and staying HOURS longer. I was freaking out that all the milk would be ruined. Since almost all of the 16lbs were frozen, everything stayed frozen in the cooler I packed it into. It also helps if you can afford to have a fridge in your hotel room when you land, or a fridge with a corner freezer.

  16. Vani,
    Awesome ideas for bringing food along.
    Just wondering but would the food still be considered organic due to irradiation through security?
    Oh well just making sure there’s no AVOCADO BOMB!!!! Just kidding love what your doing and keep up the good work!

  17. How are you able to bring more than 3 oz of liquids and gels aboard the plane? I once had a small jar of natural preserves confiscated from me, since it was over 3 oz and a “gel”. Also, if going outside the U.S., do they allow you to bring produce? Everytime we go abroad, they ask if we’ve been to a farm, are bringing any plants or animals, etc. I’d love to bring my own foods, but am always worried they will be taken during security. Thanks for you thoughts and ideas. Love you blog!

    1. I checked my cooler as luggage – I didn’t bring it carry on. If you are referring to the hummus – I’ve never had a problem bringing that on board. I don’t take it out of my bag before going through security and I don’t bring attention to it.

      As far as foreign travel – it’s a different policy for every country… so you’ll have to know their law before traveling… I’ve never had anything taken from me, however.

  18. Thank you so much for this. I remember seeing it a long time ago, and I decided to look it up as I’m preparing for a “Girls Weekend” with my mom in Vegas! I’m super-excited, but don’t want to shirk my clean eating for 4 days. This will be so helpful. Hope my quinoa salad and veggies make it through check in!

  19. I’ve been travelling with my foods for about 30 years. Tuna and chicken salad sammies, potato salad, pasta-quinoa salads hold up very well, and are easy to eat while travelling. Minced vegetable sandwiches. Nuts. Beets. Certainly do make as much food ahead of time that’s easily frozen and easily thawed, check the cooler/bag in (previous suggestion about a continuous flight is pertinent here), but we’ve done most of our travelling via vehicle, across 11 hours of road. Lining your cooler with brown paper bags or newspaper will keep the frozens frozen even longer. My family knows to clear some room out of their fridges before I arrive. I had the babes in tow for many of these trips, so they don’t think I’m weird or rude … just consistent.

    One day, driving half-way through a 6 hour trip, my driver side mirror cracked in half and was threatening to leave the planet, as it were. I hollered to my 8yr.son to grab one of those brownies from the back-seat and lob it to me. Driving 75 mph down the highway, I plastered the broken, dangling mirror back into place using brownie glue. Best function of a brownie I’ve ever known, and a ton of laughter when we arrived. My son was most impressed. 🙂

  20. Great idea to take a cooler but don’t you have to pay a $40 fee to check it, the same as if it’d be a suitcase? Of course carrying it on board is a great solution if you don’t have anything liquid in it, or at least if it is still frozen solid.
    Wish the airlines would cut us some slack…

  21. Just be careful if you try to carry on a cooler – I’ve had TSA confiscate my ice packs because they contain “gels”. Maybe bring empty ziplocks and fill them with ice from some place on the other side of security.

  22. What brands of probiotics does Food Babe recommend? I use Dr. Udo’s adult blend…. Any thoughts on this brand?

  23. Reading this page makes me feel less like a freak about all my food needs 🙂 I’m not the only nut-job packing a suitcase full of food.

  24. What a timely post to read. I am spending the day getting food ready for our weekend trip to my uncles house. I think he thinks that I am crazy telling him that I will bring a lot of our food, but since saying “clean” for the past year and a half I just can’t eat the way I used to eat and feel good. I am so used to packing up food for my family of four when going on trips that it doesn’t even phase me anymore!

  25. container of my mom’s organic carrot halwa (recipe coming soon!)…..have you posted the recipe yet for this? 🙂

  26. Did you take the cooler on the plane with you are check it as luggage. Just wondering how you got through security with ice packs.


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