Summer is a time of road trips, long weekends and vacations — and if you’re a foodie on the go, it helps to be prepared.
Frugal Foodie usually packs plenty of sandwiches, drinks and other snacks for the road, and makes it a point to hunt down the best local eats upon arrival. Inevitably, once she reaches her destination, there’s also some jam, cheese or other local delicacy that’s just begging to be brought home.
Transporting all these foodie finds requires some specific equipment, including some of these must-haves for traveling foodies:
“My biggest rule of thumb is to always have a cooler,” says Lisa Meyers McClintick, a travel writer. “Soft-sided ones work the best.” (They’re easier to transport, whether folded flat in a suitcase or packed full.) A few we like: the $20 PackIt! Cooler because the entire unit can be frozen, and the $40 TrakPack, which has side ports to dispense canned drinks without opening the cooler.
There’s a huge market of custom-shaped containers for everything from cupcakes to sandwiches, but it’s generally simpler (and cheaper) to stick to a mix of basic containers, foil or plastic bags as needed.
Rubbermaid has a new Lunchblox line for $4.49 and up that intersperse with ice packs. If you are interested in stainless steel options, there are also LunchBots starting at $15. Frugal Foodie likes the $19 BottleWise wine totes, which keeps bottles secure in transit — particularly those in checked baggage.
Apps can provide some of the easiest answers for which spots have the best local fare, cheap restaurant deals, or bargain cocktails. Food and travel blogger, Megan Wood of “I Run for Wine,” who is currently planning a trip to NYC, says she usually looks to Yelp, Urban Food and Foodspotting for the best local spots.
“I still carry an old-fashioned ice pick,” says Janet Groene of BoatCook.blogspot.com and CampAndRVCook.blogspot.com. “I can punch holes in an aluminum foil roasting pan to create a spaghetti strainer, holes in a paper cup to strain lemon juice, and holes in clean tin cans to create luminaries for use around a deck or campsite.” (Granted, that’s not exactly TSA-friendly, so skip this item in your carry-on bag.)
A few of our other picks: a $4 citrus juicer that fits into water bottles, a $9 dual bottle opener and resealer, and the $8.50 Bobble water bottle with a built-in filter.
…And one to skip:
There’s no need to buy this item. McClintick suggests freezing water bottles to use as cheap chillers. Frugal Foodie also likes frozen fruits, particularly grapes and strawberries, which double as tasty and refreshing snacks.
Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie.