The best ways to eat healthy on your road trip in the USA



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    When you think of America you think of fast food like Mc Donald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell and lots more. When you are travelling in the United States you want to make sure that you can continue your healthy way of eating and not just rely on greasy meaty burgers, pizzas or tacos. Here are my best tips about how to eat healthy without spending too much money, while travelling in the USA.

    Eat healthy at Whole Foods Market

    Whole Foods Market is a supermarket chain which is mostly known for its organic product selection. But it is also the best place to get vegan and gluten-free food. All their branches provide a fresh food section where you’ll find a hot bar, salad bar and a soup section.

    Some branches also have a burrito counter where they prepare a fresh burrito wrap or bowl on the spot. And if you don’t like the selection in the hot bar that day you can go to the section where they serve a main and 2 sides. Oh, I almost forgot, of course, there is sushi.

    Every day there is a different selection of food, like Indian curry, vegan mac and cheese, chicken, hot and roasted veggies and much more…. And the best part is, you can dine in at the supermarket. There is a nice seating area to enjoy your delicious healthy meal for approximately US$10 to US$12.

    More than just tasty bread: Panera

    Although the name suggests otherwise Panera Bread is not just a bakery. It is a great place to eat healthy while travelling in the States. They serve a wide range of baked goods like bagels, croissants and sweet pastries, but also soups, salads, bowls and pasta. And yes, they have plenty of vegetarian options as well.

    Panera is open from early morning for a healthy breakfast until late night if you need your healthy kick for lunch and dinner as well. And the best part is that you can order your meal via their app for pick up or dine-in in their lovely restaurant.

    Microwavable healthy meals

    I can already see you frowning when you think of microwave meals. But did you know that you can actually get some good and healthy meals from the freezer of the supermarket? Think of brands like Healthy Choice, Amy's Frozen Bowls (vegetarian) and Lean Cuisine. But also bags with steamed vegetables for just a dollar.

    When there is no Whole Foods Market or Panera Bread in the area you can still eat healthy while roadtripping the USA. As almost every motel has a microwave in its rooms, this option is a no brainer and also good for your budget.

    Roadtripper pro tip: bring your own reusable travel plates & cups (BPA free) and travel cutlery, then you will never have to use the plastic cups, plates and cutlery that motels in the USA provide at breakfast. These travel plates and cutlery are so easy, light-weight, washable and re-usable. They are really some of my favourite travel accessories. Never leave home without 'em.

    Eat healthy, eat local at local cafes

    When travelling through America you will visit all kinds of cities and towns in different states. But wherever you go you will find some nice local gems with some healthy food options. We discovered some nice eateries during our trip. Now you are probably wondering where to find these local healthy cafe's.

    My ultimate road trip tip to eat healthy: if there is a university in the area you have the best chance of finding some healthy local eateries. For example, tHe FuNkY tAco in Boise, ID, which offers a great combo of heavenly tacos and local craft beer.

    Vegetarian tacos in Boise
    The Funky Taco in Boise, ID combines tasty food with great craft beer

    Healthy Fast Food. Really?

    As the USA is the land of the hamburger, you can't skip a classic burger meal with fries and soda. But are there more healthy burger options in the USA? For example vegetarian? Well at the moment the vegetarian market is growing enormously. A lot of new meat replacement products have entered the (fast-food) market. Take for example, plant-based meat from Beyond Meat or Impossible, which is considered to be a more healthy substitute for meat.

    Fast food restaurants are following this trend by offering these products on their menu. When travelling around you might get stuck in areas where the only option is fast food. But with these vegetarian options you can make sure to eat healthy while travelling the USA.

     Beyond Famous Star at Carls Jr
    The Carl's Jr Famous Star burger now with a meat-free patty from Beyond Meat

    Here is a list of the restaurants that offer more healthy, vegetarian options:

    • Burger King: the Impossible Whopper, their traditional Whopper served with an Impossible Burger patty
    • Del Taco: the meatless meat tacos with Beyond Meat mince.
    • Carl's Junior: the Beyond Famous Star, their traditional Famous Star Burger served with a Beyond Meat patty
    • Fatburger: the Impossible Fatburger, their traditional Fatburger served with an Impossible Burger.
    • McDonald's: there's no real vegetarian option there, but you can easily remove the meat patty and add some extra tomatoes and lettuce. Btw isn't it interesting? When you remove the meat patty from your order at McDonald's the price stays the same.

    There are more vegetarian fast food options, but these are the ones we tried ourselves. With the Impossible Burger at Burger King and Fatburger as the winner. Simply because it's taste and structure gets closest to meat.

    How do you eat healthy on your trip?

    Of course, everybody has his/her own taste and opinion about healthy food. The above is just a shortlist of what we have discovered while travelling the USA. Feel free to share any other suggestions with us, we would love to try some new things when we go back to the USA for another road trip.

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    Esther is a Dutch Kiwi with a passion for travelling and food. Her blog posts about her foodie road trip adventures are always decorated with her own photos.

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