As you know, I'm a big fan of homemade babyfood, but taking a road trip didn't necessarily lend itself to that kind of luxury. Of course, Little J was practically a pro at finger foods by that point, but just because we were away from home didn't mean his diet should suffer (meaning I still wanted him to get a balanced intake of fruits/veggies/grains/proteins/dairy, even when mommy and daddy were enjoying their own "vacation foods" like In-N-Out). So what were we to do? Well, after six months of nearly 100% homemade foods, we broke down and bought some premade organic babyfood for the road. With some advice from friends and a post from yumnums!, we decided to go with a selection of Plum Organics and Happy Tot (by Happy Baby). We have to say they received mixed reviews from our little foodie. The fruit/veggie puree squeeze packets were a big hit (particularly the Plum Organics Spinach/Pea/Pear combo and the Happy Tot Sweet Potato/Carrot/Apple combo) but the Plum Organics "Training Meals" were a no-go (and also weren't quite as convenient as the puree squeeze packets).
We also brought along our fair share of bananas, applesauce cups, and oatmeal packets (stuff that didn't need refrigeration) and took one trip to the grocery store once we arrived at our final destination to stock up on some individual cups of organic yogurt (that we could keep in the frig at the hotel and pack for day trips). So as far as food went, planning ahead really helped ensure Little J had some decent meals along the way...it was really great having the premade purees to supplement meals that were lacking in the fruit/veggie department (so great that I'm contemplating keeping a few more packets on hand to throw in the diaper bag just "in case").
All in all, the whole trip was a success. There were definitely some moments when Little J had had ENOUGH of being stuck in his carseat, but we tried to stop when we could (usually around meal/refueling times so we could kill two birds with one stone) and always kept in mind that a vacation with a little one HAD to be taken at a much slower (and flexible) pace than a trip we might have taken in our pre-child days.
So here are some of our tips for minimizing waste/saving money on a road trip:
- Bring lots of food! You'll be less tempted to buy junk (and spend money) along the way if you have a nice arsenal of tasty snacks already with you. Also, peanut butter and banana sandwiches are the perfect, inexpensive in-the-car/on-the-go meal for the parents (or kiddos who are old enough to have PB) because you don't have to worry about refrigeration for any of the components (we usually buy PB that has to be refrigerated but we hunted down some that didn't for our trip).
- Bring along a couple hand towels or cloth napkins for meals in the car (making a PB and banana sandwich on your lap can be a little messy).
- Bring along a couple sets of silverware and a little container of dish soap so you don't have to rely on plasticware for the entire trip. If you're really crazy, you can bring along some non-disposable dishes too :)
- Minimize the number of individually wrapped snacks and bring along larger quantities...if you're like us, chances are you'll want to snack frequently in the car anyway, so large quantities won't go to waste (don't forget to bring along a couple clips or rubber bands to close up containers and keep foods fresh).
- Bring along some jugs of water to refill your reusable water bottles so you don't have to continue buying plastic water bottle upon plastic water bottle (and because tap water in other places just never tastes as good as it does at home...especially without a filtration system!)