The big & awesome post with easy on the go meals for busy moms and farm wives is here!
From handheld food ideas to quick meals for busy weeknights, to dinners in the tractor, you need this guide!
If you deliver field meals to farmers or plan for family meals on the go, this is for you. Chopping silage? Gotcha. Seeding season? Yep! Soccer practice? That works, too!
With planting season upon us and our general obsession with tackling all things kitchen - I figure it's time to chat about how we deliver easy meals to the field.
The tools we use that help make the long days bearable, or at the very least, tide over hangry family members & workers.
Now I’ve delivered my fair share of meals for farmers.
I've gotta say I've experienced the good, the bad and the ugly, and in the process I've perfected a few things. I've come to understand which tools are a mainstay in the back of my Suburban.
Today, I'm super excited to share them with you.
Let's review my top 5 on the go meal tips:
These are good reminders for seasoned veterans and newbies alike. I serve these up with a dose of heartfelt compassion and encouragement!
- Cook foods that can be ready 30 minutes early, or served two hours late. If the equipment is acting up, if the weather changes in a heartbeat - speed or longevity is in your best interest. Maybe both.
- Don't expect rave reviews. Honestly my farmers are good about telling me they like my cooking but the reality is, it's a means to an end.
They're there to eat and then get back in the tractor. Or sometimes, they just grab the food and head back to the tractor.
Give 'em a quick kiss or a high five as you cross paths. It'll keep you connected.
- Send a snack for later. Call me crazy, but I like to send a healthy snack that will keep until later. Sometimes our farmers will work late into the night. I feel better knowing if they have a stream of semi - healthy food.
And yes, life is better with a Snickers bar but that will only get you so far, you know????
- Use the "no knife required" test. Almost anything can be a portable field meal. I've served some really crazy things that worked. Just make sure it's fork friendly. Spoons - well, maybe.
No runny soups but sometimes a spoon is nice for fried rice or something. Knives are a no - they're too much trouble and just not practical.
Your best bet is foods that you eat with a fork or picked up with hands!
- Keep track of what works. If there's a meal that gets rave reviews (see tip #2), or something goes over really well, make a note of it.
When times get tough and you're running on fumes, you'll want to refer to these meal ideas. Write them down in a recipe tracker - they're like your insurance policy.
Trust me, when you're feeling stress and in the midst of the busy season, you won't be able to recall them from memory..
Okay, now that we've set the groundwork, let's talk about tools for healthy portable meals!
My favorite heated lunchbox
Dishes for Meals on the Go
First off, you're gonna want some dishes for your meals (obviously). I have total Earth guilt with styrofoam to go containers, plus storing them takes up a lot of space.
My solution? Dishwasher, microwave and freezer safe containers are the way to go. They have lids which is great for drop and go, AND they can be stacked for storage. Make sure they're BPA free.
I’ve used several brands and styles and my favorites by far are these 3-compartment meal prep containers for lunch or dinner with side dishes. They have lids that snap shut tightly and they hold up for years! I suggest owning enough to have an extra set on hand. You'll be amazed how much you use them.
The meal prep bowls are an awesome tool for sloppy joe stuffed baked potatoes, pastas and stir fries. Yes, I serve stir fry in the field.
Coolers can keep hot foods hot but they also keep cold foods cold. There are two schools of thought here. You can use a traditional style cooler like this which can double as a seat in a pinch. The downside is that they're heavy and pretty cumbersome.
So my cooler of choice in the case is the collapsable coolers. They have sides that are sturdy enough to hold up but they aren't total space hogs. There are cute patterned coolers, too. I think you deserve one, wink wink!!
Fold Up/Camping Chairs
If you've been to a ball game or a backyard BBQ you probably already have these fold up chairs. Keep them at the ready. Sometimes people like to sit, sometimes people like to stand. I usually have our two littles
in tow and they like to have a seat on Nana and Papa's lap.
Oh, and make sure you get them with a cup holder for drinks. You can get double use of them and have it hold a beer when the work is done!
I like to keep the smaller thing like the dishes, silverware, paper towels etc. in a large canvas tote bag. I like this one in particular because it's vinyl lined and water resistant which means easy clean-up.
This tip is practical but super helpful! I use a smaller square laundry basket to transport some meals. I'll put a crock pot, Instant Pot, or casserole dish in the basket and know it will arrive still intact. Sounds weird but it works!
Garbage Duty - it's not pretty, but this works.
Where there's food, there's garbage. I use this container from the Dollar Tree but you can use any box or container you have hanging around. Line it with a plastic bag (the kind your groceries are packed in at the store. When you're done, pull it, toss it and repeat!
I actually run with two of them. One for garbage and one for dirty dishes.
I've been known to take my slow cooker or Instant Pot into the field and serve on the tailgate.
But....I can't be there at every beck and call. I'm running busy, too! So sometimes I'll send a prepped meal along and with a heated lunchbox. Seriously, it's a thing!
Ours can plug right into the cigarette lighter or outlet, though in a vehicle, we go with the lighter version. I'm sure there's a more technical name for that.
Other field meal necessities...
This is not the time to pull out your best silver serving spoons, but I bet you figured that. I use sturdy serving utensils when it comes to meal delivery and serving. They'll last forever provided they don't fall out and get run over a tractor. Hey, stuff happens.
Utensil & Napkin Holders
I keep a rectangular snap shut container stocked with plastic forks, spoons and napkins. I love that it stays stocked for the week and is enclosed to keep the dirt out and the contents in.
A few more things
Waterproof, Roll Up Blanket
We have one of these blanket in ALL our vehicles. They take up hardly any room, they are great to throw on the ground wherever you need them and they wash up super easy. Plus, the dirt or whatever from the field doesn't stick to the waterproof side like a traditional blanket. That's pretty much a no brainer, don't you think??!?
A big ole thing of water
For filling water bottles, for washing hands, for rinsing whatever, you can fill this container at the beginning of the week and you're set! Water will be at the ready for hand washing.
HANDHELD FOOD IDEAS
While hot sandwiches and cold sandwiches seem like obvious choices, here are some portable meals you may not have thought of! These will taste better than anything you'd get at the fast food restaurants.
You can find more slider recipes
Make Mississippi pork roast in the slow cooker and pile it up high on French rolls.
Sloppy Joes - add some cheese to these loose meat sandwiches to hold everything together. Oh, and be sure to send extra napkins.
You can find more hot sandwiches here.
Perfect for making ahead, cold sandwiches are easy to tuck into packed lunches. No boring peanut butter and jelly here!
Ham Salad Sandwich
Egg Salad Sandwiches
You can find more cold sandwiches here.
Wraps are a delicious way to mix up a plain old sandwich routine. Whether you use a whole wheat tortilla, a flat-out wrap, there's sure to be something for everyone!
Chicken Bacon Ranch Wraps - Juicy chicken, salty bacon and tangy ranch all wrapped up in a large tortilla. You can make these ahead of time and serve chilled, or serve warm right off the bag.
Roast Beef Wraps - Use leftover roast from last night's supper or deli meat from the grocery store. Add some cheddar cheese and a little horseradish if you like some spice!
Chicken Avocado BLT Wraps - Creamy avocado, juicy tomato and you guessed it - chicken! Everything comes together in a tasty, handheld wrap.
Chicken Nugget Burritos - This is my favorite hack...using frozen chicken nuggets to make the easiest chicken burrito. Work smarter, not harder!!
What's not to love about a quesadilla? Everything in this portable meal is held together with one of my favorites...cheese!
Taco Quesadillas - I love taco recipes of any kind. This is some taco love taken on the go.
Bacon Quesadillas - bacon and cheese, pulled together in a winning combination. You can make bacon ahead of time and freeze it. It'll be a cinch to pull these quesadillas together!
Making things is muffin tins is a great way to do family dinners on the fly. Not only are there traditional muffin options here, but some meaty ones, too!
Banana Pecan Muffins - I make a double batch of these ahead of time. Let them cool, then pack two to a sandwich bag and freeze. They thaw quickly making them a perfect snack or meal add on.
Lasagna Cups - Just because we're eating on the go doesn't mean we can't show some lasagna cup love! Try these portioned out mini lasagna muffins and the eating is good!
Muffin Tin Meatloaves - these filling but portion controlled meatloaves are tasty and can be eaten easily on the go. They're great at room temperature, too!
These easy breakfasts are a good idea to keep on hand. They can all be made ahead of time for grab and go options, too!
You can find more portable breakfast recipes.
Do you need handheld foods ideas so you can keep things rolling? Check out these posts with ideas for you!
PACKED LUNCH IDEAS
If you need a meal that can be packed for cold lunch or dinner with no heat required, you'll want these recipes and ideas!
EASY ON THE GO SIDES
Tools for Meals on the Go
How to organize your meals on the go
I hope these easy meal ideas help you on busy days.
Questions? Ask below and I will reply to each and every one!