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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / To Go/Brown Bag/Picnic/Camping/Potluck / Train Travel...bringing meals and snacks on board?
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    Train Travel...bringing meals and snacks on board?

    Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:53 pm Groupie
    We are planning to travel by Amtrak this June from Texarkana, Ark. to Buffalo, NY for my MIL's wedding in Ontario. There will be 3 of DH, our son who will then be 3, and me. Due to the cost comparison of renting a van, hotels, etc., it is less expensive to travel by train. We will be leaving on Saturday evening and arriving Monday morning in Buffalo. Late afternoon Sunday until late in the evening Sunday will be spent on a layover in Chicago. We will probably eat dinner somewhere in Union Station. We looked at the menu both for the dining car and the snack car. Both are extremely expensive. We have checked with Amtrak and can bring a small cooler as one of the carryons. I am planning to bring enough food on the train for two lunches and two breakfasts, as well as snacks. I am planning on freezing gogurts and juice boxes to work as ice packs, but I am very interested in foods that do not depend on the cooler because I plan on using the cooler for mostly drinks. I would like to bring cold fried chicken for Sunday lunch, so that would have to go in the cooler. Has anyone traveled long distance by train and brought their own food? Any suggestions on food ideas? We have no allergies and for the most part are not picky eaters. I have looked at the other postings, includingthe to go forum bookshelf and have listed several options, but was wondering what would work best with train travel. The non-cooler stuff will be stuffed in various other carryon spots.
    Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:01 am Groupie
    Gosh! I can think of many things, but will try to keep it practical here. I once took a train in Russia from Moscow to St. Petersburg. Myself and a friend decided to make a party of the event, and we kinda went wild with fruit, pates, cheeses, crackers, cookies, wines, caviar, and even a bottle of vodka. We made it a huge grazing event, and even opened our room to the rest of the car.....but, you are doing a family thing! Besides, in Russia visiting a dining/drinking car can get you into BIG TIME trouble, and our car actually had security guards at each end to prevent us from well as to keep drunken locals from getting to us.


    -Fruit (oranges, apples, bananas, pears)
    -Individual serving fruit cups
    -Small jams/jellies (you can likely purchase a few from your fave
    restaurant, they may even give them to you)
    -Mustard/mayo/honey packets
    -Crackers/bread rounds or squares
    -Tins of sardines, octopus, even tuna or chicken in packets
    -Beenie Weenies (for the toddler, and they're pretty decent at room temp)
    -Granola (for munching or topping off your yogurt)
    -Oreo Minis (small plastic cups a the $ store)
    -Ritz Bits (small plastic cups at the $ store)
    -Cheeses (small individual ones, or a small pre-
    packaged "chunk"...enough to be consumed in one meal)
    -Pesto (small tube from the grocery store)
    -Anchovy paste (small tube from the grocery store)
    -Raisins (the small boxes)
    -Dry cereal (your fave, or the toddlers fave, for munching)
    -Small summer sausage
    -Pepperoni (small package)
    -Miniature candies
    -Small amount of deli meat (very flat, and should fit easily in the cooler)
    -Small jar of olives/pimiento
    - Picnic Bread (From South Africa) (one of my favorites on, and I "don't leave home
    without it" icon_biggrin.gif

    Hope this will at least give you some options/variety!

    Suggestions: Plastic storage bags can be your best friend when travelling....with some items above, you can just take along the amount that you'll need, not the whole box/package. You might even get an entire meal into a gallon bag for convenience They are also good for disposing of things that might smell after a few hours in your garbage can. Also take some disposable utensils,paring knife, small paper plates, napkins/paper towels/wet wipes.

    Make your trip fun! Be creative!
    Wed Feb 20, 2013 6:54 pm Groupie
    I am very intrigued by the picnic bread. Does it require refrigeration or time in the cooler? If I make it and freeze it, would it be okay to thaw at room temperature for the duration of our train trip (approx. 30 hours)? Thanks for the rapid and detailed response, DEEP; you gave me many excellent ideas I hadn't considered.
    Wed Feb 20, 2013 8:04 pm Groupie
    Yes! The picnic bread will hold up with no problem for 30 hours if starting from the frozen state. I have done so many times. That is an awesome recipe, and I keep it around most all the time for a pick up and run meal. It truly is practically an entire meal unto itself. I was also thinking last night that the grocery store packaged sliced cheeses like provolone or swiss will hold up quite some time without any least until they are opened.....there are 11 slices in the Kraft packages, and they are flat for easy travel. Was also thinking about one of the small packages of Oscar Meyer Bruanshweiger, but you'd want to keep that cool. It's a good substitute for pate. icon_wink.gif

    I may think of some other ideas to post.
    Thu Feb 21, 2013 8:11 pm Groupie
    Thank you so much again for your rapid response! I definitely plan on making the bread, especially since I can bake and freeze before it gets too hot to justify baking.
    Thu Feb 21, 2013 8:57 pm
    Forum Host
    Bento boxes are meant to be held without refrigeration, perhaps some of the ideas here will give provide some options
    Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:10 am
    Forum Host
    So many great suggestions have been offered already, so I don't know if I can expand much on new ideas.

    Except don't forget to bring wet wipes and/or a handbag size of hand sanitizer. If you're not dining in Amtrak's facilities, thorough cleaning can sometimes pose a problem. Wet wipes aren't exactly the best option, but it will keep hands at least somewhat clean and sticky-free for a while.

    For fruit, I would focus on oranges and grapes, for their multiple benefits. Many years ago, our pediatrician once recommended those 2 fruits for airline travel snacks, and it's something I've always stuck with when travelling. First, they are nutritious and most kids will eat them without much fuss. Second, they help to keep travelers hydrated, so it cuts down on having to supplement the kids with sugary juices or sodas. Also, they're easy to store without much need for chilling. And clean-up and trash are usually minimal, and they don't emit an offensive smell that can bother fellow travellers in close quarters.

    There are lots of those pre-packed lunch snacks, like duonyte mentioned. Including Lunchables and similar products that sometimes don't require chilling or special storage.
    Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:16 pm Groupie
    Yes, grapes are a very good idea. I think I failed to mention them because they they are vulnerable to being crushed if traveling with them in a carry on situation in luggage.

    Another idea is vetetables. Sticks of carrot and celery would also be great.

    You are so right about the "hydration" factor. It can be a booger, and it just creeps up on you before you realize it, and by that time it's difficult to recover.
    Sun Apr 21, 2013 8:09 pm Groupie
    We have now purchased our tickets! I am so excited! Little Bit now knows we are traveling by train (and I need to get a countdown thing going so that he won't think we are going to the train every time we go somewhere in the car). I have definitely decided to do the picnic bread, as well as Bisquick-sausage-cheese balls. I'm going to try to keep Little Bit in the "homemade lunchable category." He's going through a carrot phase right now. He wants a whole carrot to munch on, cleaned but not peeled, for each meal (including breakfast). So we will definitely be packing lots of carrots. I am saving single-serving water bottles (the thicker ones) to refill with juice and milk for breakfast (and the milk to place on cereal). I also plan to pack lots of olives, snack mixes, string cheeses, crackers, individual packets of honey and peanut butter (honey for tea, although wouldn't the train probably have that?). I am also thinking of purchasing a "Sam's pack" of individually packaged pickles, but I'm wondering if I will make many enemies of my fellow travelers if I do. We all love pickles, though. I also plan to pack shelf-stable fruit cups and pudding cups. The fruit cups will be for the way back down because the border people don't like for you to bring fresh fruit across the border even if you are entering that fresh fruit's country of origin. icon_wink.gif Grapes and oranges will probably be a must, as well.
    Mon Apr 22, 2013 7:24 pm Groupie
    Sounds like a well thought out plan to me. I wouldn't count on the train to provide you with anything. I also do not think the pickles are going to be an issue.

    Just remember the wet wipes, paper towels, plastic bags and utensils icon_exclaim.gif

    I'm sure you'll have a great trip icon_wink.gif
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