Truck drivers spend multiple days in a row on the road. It is easy to get in the habit of just going to one of your favorite truck stops and eating whatever fast food happens to be available. However, constantly eating greasy food and drinking soda is not good for anyone’s health. Fortunately, healthy meal prep for truck drivers is easier than you may imagine. Keep the following tips in mind so that you can safeguard your health while on the road.
Eat Small Portions
A big part of staying healthy on the road involves the amount you eat. You need to control your portion sizes, so you consume fewer calories and carbs. Your biggest meal of the day should be breakfast so that you have plenty of energy to start your day. From there, you want smaller meals throughout the day. Dinner should be your smallest meal, and you should avoid eating right before going to bed.
As a truck driver, it is paramount to get a good night’s rest so that you do not become a danger on the road. This also involves avoiding any caffeinated beverages during the evening.
Stock the Cab With Healthy Snacks
Although breakfast, lunch and dinner are important, it is natural to get hungry in between meals. Instead of stopping at a gas station for a bag of chips, you should keep your truck stocked with healthy snacks you can enjoy throughout the day. Some great healthy snacks for truck drivers include:
- Low-fat yogurt
- Vegetables and hummus
- Low-fat string cheese
- Whole-grain crackers
- Unsalted mixed nuts or almonds
- Trail mix
- Beef jerky
You always want to check the label. Some brands of yogurt or nuts may seem healthy, but they actually pack a ton of salt or sugar.
Drink Water Instead of Soda
Instead of having a Big Gulp in your truck, you should have a large water bottle. Drinking soda and juices will add on extra, unnecessary calories. The problem with drinking sugary drinks is that your body does not process them as well. Your body doesn’t feel full, so you will be hungrier when dinnertime comes around. With water, your stomach gets fuller quicker. This allows you to eat smarter and healthier for the rest of the day.
Have a Nutritious Breakfast
Your trucker food list should include everything you need to have a healthy breakfast. As your first meal of the day, you want to be certain you are getting enough calories and nutrients to wake you up and get you going to be alert when you are on the road. Instead of starting your day at a restaurant with eggs, sausage, and bacon, you can keep healthy options in the truck. Some great options include:
- Protein bars
- Whole-wheat toast with peanut butter
- Oatmeal with fruit and high protein greek yogurt
- Hard boiled eggs
It is key to avoid sugar first thing in the morning, since that is a good way to crash halfway through the day. And of course, we would expect a truck driver breakfast to include some coffee. While coffee gets some negative press, in moderation, caffeine can help to improve mental alertness and mood, as well as increase your metabolic rate and improve fat burning.
Eat a Healthy Lunch
Lunch should be smaller than breakfast. Instead of making a pit stop, you can pack all the ingredients you need in a cooler. Here are a few examples of some quick and easy lunches you can prepare. Additionally, since you are making them yourself, you can better control your caloric intake.
- Salads - Don't limit your thinking to the stereotype of plain iceberg lettuce and ranch dressing. On the road, prepping a variety of salad-in-a-jar type lunches is easy and nutritious.
- Grilled vegetables and black beans
- Turkey taco meat with rice, corn, beans, and Pico de Gallo
- Chicken fajita lunch bowls
- Sandwiches - Yes, sandwiches sound boring but mixing things up with a wrap or a pita every few days can spice things up some.
- Thai turkey lettuce wraps - Prep your seasoned meat with onions, garlic, carrot, celery, shredded zucchini or whatever you like in advance before you depart. When lunch rolls around, heat up your meat mixture, spread onto a sturdy Romaine lettuce leaf and enjoy!
- Chicken Pita Pockets - Roast your cubed chicken thigh or breast with your choice of vegetables - peppers, onion, mushroom, squash. Cook and cover with pesto. To assemble, use a sturdy pita that won't fall apart when filling or sub in a whole-wheat tortilla to rollup.
- Peanut butter and jelly - Don't laugh; once in a while, a classic pb&j can be very satisfying. As grown-ups, we may use a healthier whole grain bread and a natural nut butter, but it may be just what you didn't know you were craving.
With some planning and preparation, these home-prepped items are much healthier than what you will get at a fast food restaurant. Additionally, since you are making them yourself, you can better control your caloric intake.
Finish With a Healthy Dinner
There are plenty of great, healthy meals to cook in the truck. Meal prepping for the week is a big help, and you should be able to heat it up easily with a slow cooker or hot plate. The best part is that you do not have to sacrifice taste. You can prepare pork chops, beef stew, barbecue chicken and pot roast ahead of time. Prepare yourself a side of beans or vegetables as a healthy alternative to fries. You could even go for a low-sodium soup. You may be on a tight schedule, but you should eat dinner well before you go to bed.
You can still eat out from time to time when you are on the road. However, you should typically choose healthier options, such as a salad, to avoid eating too much. With a little forethought and preparation, you can drastically improve your health. It may take some getting used to, but once you get in the habit of preparing your own meals as a truck driver, it will soon become second nature.