Your Colleagues Speak: Specific Food Suggestions
Foods for Special Groups
An International View of Conference Food: An Australian Viewpoint
Appendix A: Checklist of Recommended Foods/Beverages to Pack
Starve at a Conference? Nah!
By Laura Larsson, HAS Newsletter Editor, and Colleagues+
Your Colleagues Speak: Specific Food Suggestions
Fruit. Itís often hard to get enough fruit, so bring some fresh fruit. Preferred fruits include apples, oranges, and pears. Soft fruits like nectarines and peaches and even bananas do not travel well. And, thereís nothing like cleaning out a well-ripened banana from your bag to make you remember this.
Power bars. Power bars are "quick snacks," not replacements for meals that are needed and not to be skipped. Powerbars, in particular, have consistency of a Tootsie Roll, but Cliff bars and many others are like a basic granola bar in texture and form. Basically, they are all 'energy bars'/granola bars - high calorie, with a good mix of protein and carbohydrates. They are popular mostly among athletes. Some attendees like them as a small meal-replacement or large snack.
Cereals. I'm not crazy, but, I always take a box of Quaker Crunchy Corn Bran cereal. It is a great breakfast cereal, but doubles as a munchie dry and very neat snack. It is just sweet enough to taste a little like graham crackers, and has dry fiber that is sometimes difficult to get on the road when traveling. As a dry fiber source, I think it is superior to any natural food I know -- not harsh, doesn't cause bloating or gas, and is gentle. As a snack, there is not a tendancy to overeat it either; a little is satisfying. It can be carried in a small zip-lock bag in a purse and eaten neatly anywhere. Does make a little crunching noise however, when you eat it. Please don't take my Crunchy Corn Bran away!
I always take Blue Heron bakery rebel crunch granola (non-fat, non-sweet), Luna bars, roasted almonds. Sometimes I add cheese sticks, a apple or two, a grapefruit, a box of soy milk.
Dehydrated soups. In most hotels you can heat water with the coffee maker to make soup from Fantastic Food and Nile .(Spice dehydrated soups). Donít forget to pack a spoon!)
Crackers and breads. Another good traveling item is Ak-Mak whole wheat and sesame crackers. Very high in fiber, pretty good on protein and low fat.
I usually take bagels, fruit, soy chips, soy beans and try to find a local source for yogurt. I recently found dried yams which were great for travel. If the conference serves fruit I usually take a couple pieces to replenish my supply. Tuna is nice, but I can't stand those smelly tins. For longer trips I might bring my hot pot in order to make good tea.Peanut butter. Whenever I travel I carry with me freshly ground peanut butter. I bring tortilla wraps as they are light and stay fresh in their airproof bags. Along with some raisins to add sweetness and some type of fruit that carries well (apples, bananas) and a liter of seltzer I'm all set. This is my staple for meetings, trains, planes etc. A plastic knife is all one needs and this is breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. In addition to having food available, it saves me alot of $$$.
Sweets. For those liking something sweet on occasion fresh-baked cookies usually fit the bill, but a granola bar or some gummies will work just as well.
Multiple suggestions.†I always take dried fruit ... apricots, flavored prunes; sometimes mixed nuts; herbal tea and regular tea along with a coil, and granola bars. Those things I take on the plane. If I'm driving of course I can take a cooler with fresh fruits, baby carrots, milk and juice. Then I take cereal in a baggie and a plastic bowl and spoon so I can eat breakfast in the room if it's not included in the registration; saves time and money. Dinners I eat out since there's a limit to what you can pack and I really don't care to sit in the room and have dinner after a grueling day of sitting in meetings.
Here are some of the foods I bring or try to buy as soon as I get to a local drug or grocery store: water bottle, dried fruit, fruit juices, breakfast and granola bars, peanut butter and cracker packages, and trail or cereal mix. These come in handy if you get delayed at an airport also!
When I travel I like to take or buy:
Whenever I travel for anything (I just returned from 3 weeks in Germany/Aust/Czech Rep/Swit yesterday) I always take some food. Instant oatmeal, instant cup of soups/potatoes by Nile spice, the Sunkist chicken salad/crax ready to eat in the can, REI back pack tube filled with peanut butter, granola bars, tea bags and cocoa packets. You never know when you will be delayed by a flight or circumstances, and if you have a little immersion heater and cup, you won't starve. I just pop it in a zip lock back and know that I have enough for 1-2 meals should the need arise. Not too gourmet but beats a growling stomach at 3:00 am. Or a delayed flight and everything is closed at the hotel they put you in.Munchies. Typical munchies may include trail mix, nuts, dried fruit, some fresh fruit that travels easily, and water. If I have homemade baked goods at home like muffins or cookies, I usually bring that too.I also may bring a couple of small pieces of chocolate for a treat. I don't buy desserts or sweets away from home as the portions are way too huge.
I never bring meal-type food. I generally pack dry fruit treats, nuts and jerky. If I am lucky enough to be near a store, I will pick up fruit and some 'Slim Fast' for a quick pick me up. Best of all if the room has a refrigerator and/or mini-bar, I store my "goodies" there.
I travel with cashew nuts because when you're hungry, they feel like "real" food. I'm in the habit of picking up a bag in the airport and keeping it in my carry-on.
Keeping food cold. I often request a refrigerator for my room - sometimes they give it to me free, sometimes it is $15 for the stay. I scout out the nearest "health food store" or natural foods grocery where I buy things like grapefruit juice, yogurt, salsa, chips, tofu spread, cheese spread, an avocado, some peanut butter, whole wheat crackers. The refrigerator also allows me to safely keep my leftovers from lunch or dinner, if I did make it to dinner at a locally owned Mexican or Thai cafe.
If I get there and have a mini fridge in the room I try and find a grocery store and stock up on some perishable items like yogurt, cheese, and other fun items I don't usually buy for myself (like ready to eat wraps or veggie sandwiches). Then I don't feel like I have to eat out every night and I can veg in my room, which I never get to do when I'm home!
Use a lunch box with a freezer pack, then hotel ice in Ziploc to keep foods cold.
I like string cheese, juicy-juice juice boxes or red grapefruit juice, v-8 or tomato juice (low sodium or spicy); grape tomatoes, baby carrots, raisins, nature-valley granola bars, graham crackers, and pull-top water bottles that I can refill - to carry in by ballistic nylon conference bag.
Kiosks and food courts. Most conference centers have kiosks with quick food...as I said, none of it "healthy"...and coffee. Most also have some kind of cafeteria or food court set up inside the conference center...in my experience, there are always healthy options like salad.
Saving food from one meal for another. I usually hook the cheese and apple from the snack in the airplane, just as a fallback, and bring cashews.
The trouble with yogurt is it can burst in your bag. (Editorís note: This person asked for suggestions for preventing burst yogurt containers. Send it to me and I will add it to the article.)
I also sometimes find myself getting VERY hungry, but usually wait till I can actually order real food, and drink water meanwhile.
At FASEB there seem always to be receptions with hors d'oeuvre type food in the evening---often that turns out to be dinner. But if not, I actually do make sure I have a real dinner, even if it's really late, even if it's in the hotel.
For your ease of use, all food discussed in this article is listed as a checklist in the Appendix.
The next section deals with food for special groups.