Sunday, May 11, 2014

My McVansion Food Shopping List

A favorite lunch or light dinner; a fresh, REAL tomato that I salt liberally on 15 grain bread slathered with Miracle Whip and a bottle of water flavored with Pomegranate-Cranberry powdered drink mix.  

My last article offering three tips for simplifying included comments about how I've simplified my diet as I travel in "My McVansion." Madmike, a blog reader, sent in a comment that he would like to see the list I have developed for my personal diet and tastes while traveling the highways and byways of America. So, to follow up on that article and to respond to Madmike's request, here is my shopping list.

Ed Helvey's My McVansion Travel Food & Sundries Shopping List

Meat (Protein):
            Canned Chicken*
            Canned Salmon*
            Canned Tuna*
            Pork including bacon (occasionally)*
            Fish, fresh, various
            Hot Dogs, all beef or turkey based*
            Sausage, beef or turkey based*
            Cold Cuts, prefer turkey based*

            Progresso Soups, Lite/low sodium*
            Yakisoba Soup

Cereal (Grain):
            Great Value Grape Nuts
            Great Value Honey Oat Crunch with Almonds

Bread (Grain):
            12 or 15 Whole Grain Bread*
            Rolls & Buns - Various*

            Dannon Lite & Fit Greek Yogurt or equivalent*
            Blue Diamond Almond/Coconut Milk
            Cream Cheese - various*
            String Cheese
            Other Cheeses*
            Butter (real - Land of Lakes)*

Crackers & Snacks:
            Carr's water crackers*
            Snyder's of Hanover pretzel pieces*
            Chocolate Chip/Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (one kind/small packs)*

            Black or Breakfast Tea*
            Chai tea
            Green Tea
            4C Lite to Go powdered drink*
            Bolthouse Smoothies*
            Juice, fresh squeezed, sugar-free
            (Never any soda type soft drinks or coffee)

Vegetables & Fruits:
            Celery Sticks*
            Romaine Lettuce
            Sweet Potatoes*
            Corn on the Cob
            Green Beans
            Other veggies as available
            Salad Fixings*
            Navel Oranges
            Fruit Cups - Del Monte, Dole or similar (in water)*
            Other fruits as available

Condiments, Spices, etc.
            Miracle Whip*
            Pepper, coarse*
            Chili Pepper*
            Onion Powder*
            Garlic Powder
            Italian Seasoning

            Peanut Butter*
            Jelly or Jam*

            Paper Towels*
            Paper Plates*
            Plastic Cups (reusable)*
            Plastic Eating Utensils*
            ZipLoc Bags (usually two sizes)*
            Aluminum Foil & Plastic Wrap*
            Toilet Paper*
            Lysol Antibacterial & Air Freshener Spray*
            Lysol Antibacterial Towelettes*
            Dawn Dish Washing Soap*
            Gain Liquid Clothes Detergent*
So, there you have it. Everything with an * is either currently on board or has been on board in the last year.

Important Notes

Now, let me make some important notes to clarify things a bit. I know there are some readers who are going to question my choices on how healthy and/or nutritious the items are. Let me first reiterate, these are MY choices and I am not suggesting or recommending that you have to consider all or any of these items for you and your lifestyle.

Second, everything on this list I have chosen very carefully. Not everything is on board all the time. There just isn't enough room (or weight capacity) to carry all of this all the time. 

Anything canned or packaged like soups, hot dogs, cold cuts (or lunch meat for those not from the New Jersey/New York metro area) and other foods are vetted by me on a few criteria. The criteria include, the amount of sugar, sodium and other ingredients that I can't pronounce. I look for packaged foods that have the least amount of these items. Another criteria is space. How much room do the items take up in a vehicle with limited space? Still, another criteria is convenience in preparation. I'm not always in a place where I can easily start an open fire to cook and grill on. Additionally, I don't have a full complement of cooking pots, pans and utensils, so I make my choices partially based on what I have to prepare foods with.

I like fresh meats, fish, veggies and fruit, however, I don't really have any serious freezer space in my 2.7 cu. ft. refrigerator. To be honest, a 2.7 cu. ft. refrigerator offers very little space to keep much of any of the items that must be refrigerated. I don't refrigerate catsup, mustard, Miracle Whip salad dressing, certain fruits and veggies, peanut butter, jelly/jam and other items most people refrigerate. These items (and others) don't actually require refrigeration, but I try to use them up reasonably quickly.

Repackaging to Conserve Space and Items Not on the List

I repackage some items eliminating bulky boxes and other containers and use flexible ZipLoc bags (that I often can reuse depending on what is kept in them). This list also allows me a fair amount of variety. Since I can't keep everything in the van all the time, I simply change certain items from the list to keep eating from becoming boring. And, if I see something that's not on the list as a standard item, I might buy it so I can enjoy the flexibility.

For example, I like sauerkraut, pork & beans, baked beans, chili, beef stew and homemade soups like 15 bean soup with sausage and split pea soup with ham and potatoes. I don't usually have a way to make large pots of chili, bean soup or pea soup, but when the opportunity presents itself, I jump on it. I love sauerkraut on hot dogs and with various kinds of sausage.

I also love baked beans and pork and beans, however, they usually have a lot of sugar in them, more than I like to eat very often. Plus, I attempt not to eat certain items like those when I'm going to be in close proximity to other people for reasons I'm sure you're aware of. So, they are occasional treats, along with a small pie or a couple donuts or bear claws from time to time.

I'm NOT a Newbie at this

Remember, of my nearly 50 years of adult life, I've spent about 50% of them being fully responsible for my own nutrition and meal preparation. I've been considered a very good cook by a lot of my friends. However, there is a significant difference when one goes from a well equipped kitchen to living off the grid in roughly 50 sq. ft. So, I know what I like. I/m careful to maintain a good level of quality nutrition and I balance that with the necessity to conserve space and accommodate a convenience factor. I feel that I eat well. My doctor finds no deficiencies in all of my medical lab work. Could I do better? Absolutely! But, I'm not going to deny myself the pleasure of eating the foods that sustain me and I enjoy.

Of course, this kind of diet/menu also allows me the freedom to enjoy a nice pizza, other Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Polish, Cajun, German, traditional American food as well as others from time to time. Life is to live. Food is fuel and is necessary for proper functioning, but in my book, it's also part of the pleasure of living.

Share Your List and Ideas

I hope this list and my notes are helpful for planning your own culinary delights, especially if you're a nomadic traveler. Submit your comments about my list and what you like on your list. I may be missing something that you're already enjoying. 


Fireman428 said...

Like yourself I carry the things I like, not all of those things would be carried by someone else, but they're in MY van 😱
Sound like we have similar tastes. I have one tote that is the "kitchen" and another that is the "pantry". Everything is organized and easy to use in the van, or deployed onto table outside.
Hope to see you on the road!

Madmike said...

Thanks for the response to my query. As I am serving as my elderly mother's caregiver, I am mostly living unfree, but also living vicariously "free" through blogs like yours and vandwelling groups.

I get out a few times a year and have been trying out things like cup of noodles and spicy noodle bowls. They are ok, but get old quickly. I have experimented with the Mountain House meals. Much better, but cost is significant. I wonder what a freeze dried sauerkraut with kielbasa would be like :-)

I micro RV in a Prius, so I look for ways to avoid need for refrigeration.