Eating regular, balanced meals is a challenge for most new over the road drivers. The lure and convenience of truck stop buffets is strong, but there are many healthy, easy and cost-effective alternatives.
Like most aspects of OTR trucking, it takes planning ahead to maintain a wholesome diet in the face of the constant temptations of chili dogs and packaged sweets that shout at you at every truck stop. Given the somewhat unpredictable schedule of OTR driving, one of the best tips for new drivers is to keep a lot of healthful snacks within easy reach of the driver’s seat. Keeping a good stock of easy to eat foods such as apples, granola bars, bananas or nuts within reach while driving could be the difference between making it to a receiver site today and not getting there until tomorrow morning.
It’s also a good idea to plan out meals for the week; yes, real meals, not just a handful of chips and a stale pb&j. Keep an eye out online and at truck stops for some handy in-truck appliances that are designed for low energy use and allow you to cook regular meals in your truck. One popular option is the 12-volt Lunch Box cooker, which can be used as a miniature oven or as a slow cooker. These can be used to reheat leftovers, bake meats or vegetables, and simmer roasts, stews or chili. Planning your meals for the week and buying your groceries ahead of time will save you considerable time and stress during the week. Talking to veteran drivers is a great way to get recipes and ideas for Lunch Box meals.
Hydration is also huge in maintaining your diet on the road. Buying water and other low-sugar drinks in bulk will save considerable money and time. Especially with today’s strict hours of service laws, its crucial to do everything you can to minimize stop time. Being able to reach up for an apple and a bottle of water while your rolling down the road instead of spending half an hour pulling off into a truck stop means more miles on the odometer and more money in your pocket (in addition to the money you’ll save by skipping the Big Gulp at the truck stop).
It’s often tempting for new drivers to indulge in the all-you-can-eat buffet special, but it’s important to establish healthy routines early and stick to them. Doing so will save you time, money and your health in the long run. Being able to take regular comfort foods from home with you out on the road will also ease the transition into your new career and make your truck feel more a home away from home.