19 Apr A Trucker’s Guide To Food Storage and Grocery Shopping
As an over-the-road driver, it can be incredibly difficult to find the time to cook a healthy and filling meal. Many drivers, as anyone would, resort to the Arby’s at the truck stop or a frozen dinner that not only doesn’t fill them up, but doesn’t supply the necessary nutrients to sustain a healthy diet. At Simon Transport, we install larger-than-standard refrigerator/freezer combos in order to support our drivers having a convenient place to store healthy food while out on the road. But that doesn’t mean anything if it isn’t clear what constitutes a ‘healthy meal’. So let’s dive into some easy, fast, healthy, and ‘truck-friendly’ meals that drivers can cook while on the road.
Let’s get the elephant out of the way first: it’s a challenge to store ingredients in a truck, even with oversized refrigerators and extra storage cabinets (as are standard on Simon trucks).
To store food efficiently, there are two important principles: getting rid of clutter and knowing where to store what.
When getting rid of clutter, we basically mean to trash all of the clunky cardboard boxes. It’s remarkable how much space opens up when you take, for example, your bag of rice out of the cardboard box and store it in a plastic bag. Doing this with all food – in and out of the fridge – can add enough space for you to store up to two weeks of good food in your truck.
It’s no secret that refrigerators in sleepers don’t have much space, so eliminating boxes can drastically improve your utilization. Outside of the fridge, however, it gets a bit easier. We measured the storage area under the bottom bunk in Freightliner Cascadias and found a great product to assist in food organization. This Knodel Trunk Organizer is reasonably priced and fits perfectly under the bed and even has a built-in cooler that can come in handy when storing bottled water or other drinks (which equals even more room in the fridge!). Using the customizable compartments will help when organizing food into snacks, grains, seasonings, and anything else you want to bring along.
But what about quickly perishable foods like apples and oranges? One easy storage hack for truckers is installing a fruit hammock like this one found on Amazon. By sticking a hook to hold the hammock, your fruit stays fresh, avoids being squished, and can move around as the truck moves.
Using the tips mentioned will greatly improve your available storage space. In the trucks we experimented with, we had room to dedicate an entire overhead cabinet or a large chunk of the under-bunk storage to cooking appliances like a small griddle, crock pot, or air fryer.
Now, good food storage and organization can only take you so far. It’s also necessary to watch the types of food that you buy. If you’re buying multiple different kinds of potato chips, those will obviously take up a lot of space while leaving you lacking in essential nutrients. Let’s take a look at healthy and space-conscious foods to take with you on the road.
- Nuts: Nuts are packed with nutrients, come in several compact sizes, and can keep you full without filling up your cabin.
- Fruit hammock fruits: Now that we’ve got our trusty hammock hanging under the microwave, fill it with healthy and easy-to-eat fruits such as apples, oranges, clementines, mangos, pears, and kiwi!
- Dried fruits: More resilient than fresh fruit, grabbing a few bags of dried mangoes, cranberries, raisins, or apricot is a great idea. They pack well into any storage area and are a delicious and easy snack while driving or waiting on a shipper.
- Cheese sticks: A pack of cheese sticks can fit quaintly in the fridge and provide a great source of protein and calcium. Protein battles hunger better than most healthy nutrients, so you’re left feeling full. Try to seek out the ‘light’ cheese sticks to avoid unnecessary calories.
Refrigerated shopping list
- Bags of pre-mixed salad
- Sliced deli meat: chicken, ham, and turkey are easy to turn into a quick sandwich!
- Sliced cheeses for sandwiches
- Your favorite sandwich dressing: mayo, mustard, or ranch (ranch can double to work on your salads as well!)
- Pasta and potato salads: most grocery stores or upscale rest stops stock these salads in convenient packaging
- Chicken and steak cuts: If you’re planning on utilizing your air fryer, hot plate, or crock pot, these are great options that are easy to spread across a few meals!
- Frozen meals: Try to stay away from the super cheap TV dinners. They’re more likely to have an insubstantial amount of actual food or contain outrageous amounts of unhealthy additives. Hungry Man meals are a great example of a full meal without too much sodium, sugar, and other unhealthy ingredients.
Dry shopping list
- Bread or tortillas (wraps are less mess than sandwiches)
- Dry spreads: peanut butter, Nutella, or honey
- Canned items: a staple for most drivers, canned items are easily stored, seemingly last forever, and make for easy meals.
- Single-serve soups
- Fruits: green beans, peaches, oranges
- Tuna (maybe not if you’re a team driver…)
- Instant rice
- Energy bars
- Instant noodles
One last tip: Buy a gallon of water. Drinking water is actually better for you at room temperature, so there’s no need to stuff it in your fridge or cooler. It also doubles as a cooking ingredient for those just add water items like instant noodles and oatmeal!
With a little planning and discipline, you can cook hearty and healthy meals every day in your truck, save a ton of money, and avoid the stomach jitters that come after truck stop meals! But be sure to bring along a few guilty pleasures like cookies or a Snickers — as the backbone of America’s economy, you deserve a little treat after a long day on the road.