You may have noticed from my photos that most of our travel has happened so far in India and southeast Asia. What you might not realize is that we did it with a baby and then toddler. Feeding a kid in a foreign culture can be tricky. What helped me was thinking in food groups. Carbs were always the easiest as she loved bread, crackers and rice. It was also easy to pack up leftover naan at lunch to bring for an afternoon snack. Produce was trickier. In India in particular, fruit and veggies are not always safe. Early on I’d bring fruit/veggie pouches. As she grew older, I’d bring carrots (travel really well) and individual applesauce. Often at breakfast I could get her a banana (peeling it made it safer). She liked sauteed or steamed zucchini and I could often request that at a restaurant even if it wasn’t on the menu. I had to be VERY specific about no seasonings. For protein, I was lucky that she loved eggs and peanut butter. I could often get her scrambled or hardboiled eggs for breakfast. For lunch I could normally get her some grilled chicken plain. Dinner we fed her peanut butter….yup….good ol’ pb. Why? Most restaurants in India and the rest of Asia don’t open for dinner until later, after her bedtime. So I’d bring a jar of pb in my suitcase and she’d eat that with some carrots and leftover rice or bread from lunch. Often every night….oh well. I highly suggest bringing ziplocs for storing extra bread and transporting food from home and also a few small plastic storage containers with lids holding favorite snacks to hold off on the fussies. We particularly liked bringing mixed nuts, Goldfish, pretzels and M&Ms when you needed to bribe!
So, in sum, my top things to bring related to food when traveling with small kids:
- Food that is hard to get in the region. For me, it was produce and protein at dinner. Carrots, individual applesauce (don’t forget a spoon!), peanut butter and mixed nuts were lifesavers.
- Favorite snacks to prevent or stop meltdowns. Goldfish, crackers, raisins, mixed nuts (great for lack-of-protein crankies our toddler would get), and M&Ms and jelly beans when bribing was necessary (yes, we’d tell her she’d get a jelly bean if she just let us see one more temple!)
- Ziplocs or other resealable bags for holding leftovers from meals or for transporting liquid things in your luggage (no one wants pb all over their clothes)
- Small Tupperware or other plastic containers with lids for holding snacks and for storing left overs.