We recently returned from yet another great road trip to Montana. We’re not big meat eaters, so dining out is always a challenge in the interior West. As an alternative (and an economical one too), we ate a lot of picnics on the road.
Here’s what we were eating (along with some dust):
Our picnics were pretty basic: bread and cheese, sometimes some green onions, cucumber or carrots, and fresh fruit. But they were good and relatively healthy. The challenge was to find good bread and fruit. In light of that, I came up with a couple of rules for the road:
1. Never pass up a good bakery (you may need to search for one)
2. Never pass up a fruit stand or farmers’ market.
I did a lot less cooking than last year’s motel cooking extravaganza, but I still brought along the important supplies: electric tea kettle, cutting board, knife, can opener, lemon reamer, bulgur, olive oil and salt, which resulted in some nice salad dressings (my basic lemon, olive oil and salt dressing is good on nearly everything) and a couple of bulgur-vegetable salads.
Our picnics often took place outside a motel room.
As for eating out, a couple times we indulged in a milk shake as a meal replacement.
Steve particularly likes going out to breakfast, but after some disappointing breakfasts at promising-looking cafes, I came up with a guideline for telling when a place might be most likely to fulfill that promise: If a cafe offers hash browns or home fries made from scratch, rather than slabs of processed frozen spuds, there’s a better chance of a good breakfast.
(Apparently the phrase “home cooking” these days includes a lot of processed foods, so it’s not a good indicator.)
In regard to breakfast, another aspect that helped me out was bringing along a good stash of homemade granola.
On the way home, we stopped again at that fruit stand in Orondo, Wash.
p.s. Some places it’s easier to find good picnic food — I really like this post about picnics in Europe.