Homeless for a Month: How to eat healthfully with just the pack on your back
Homelessness. It can be a terrifying idea.
The instability of not knowing where you’ll stay, what you’ll eat, or even how you’ll fill your time is daunting.
Homelessness and health seem to be juxtaposing ideas. Homelessness is a mystery. Health is knowledge and planning.
I experienced a type of homelessness last month. However I still managed to eat nutritious food and maintain my health.
I didn’t always know where I was going to be the next day, week or month. I didn’t know what I was going to eat the next day. I didn’t know what I was going to do with my free time.
But I’m here to say I did it and made it out in one piece.
So even if you can’t plan your meals hours or days in advance, health is still possible. Health is always possible if you have creativity, flexibility and determination on your side.
Join me as I recount my experience traveling from East Brisbane, Australia to New Orleans, USA.
Location one: St. Lucia, Brisbane, Australia
Dates: May 8-May 9
Before we head down to Ulladulla, Australia on a road trip, Rob and I stay at a house in St Lucia, Brisbane for two nights. Upon arrival, we see a workable kitchen with one flaw: there’s a tiny fridge.
Our hosts explain that their regular-sized fridge broke and until they purchase a new one, they’re stuck with the mini fridge I view before me. An open fridge door reveals that the tiny space is already jammed full with food.
Okay. No fridge access then.
Rob and I head to the grocery store with one of our hosts, who’s kind enough to drive us to the closest Woolworths. We’d normally purchase fresh or frozen vegetables, but that’s not an option since there’s no room to house them. Rob and I pursue items that are cheap and not bothersome to prepare. We’re sharing the cramped kitchen with 6 others so we can’t — and don’t want to — spend much time preparing food in the kitchen.
After weighing our options, we decide to purchase a bag of whole wheat flour, 4 cans of Heinz’s Baked Beans (no salt added) and a 5-pack box of bakers yeast. Fortunately, our hosts have a bread maker. Our plan is to bake bread with the flour and yeast. We’ll top the bread with the baked beans. Voila: baked beans on toast for 4 meals for less than $13. It’s not a bargain but not expensive either.
Rob and I eat lunch before we bake the bread. Lunch is sourdough rolls filled with dates and brown rice that we made at our home in East Brisbane the previous day. We enjoy an effortless, delicious afternoon meal on the sunny patio.
Our next task is to bake bread for our next two meals. The bread maker is slightly confusing to use but we eventually figure out the array of buttons. We add loads of herbs and spices to flavor our bread.
The first loaf of bread is yellow and disfigured.
The color isn’t surprising, only the shape. One of the spices we added was turmeric, which imparts a yellow pigment to everything it comes in contact with. We don’t know why the bread was a misshapen.
For dinner on May 8th and all our meals on May 9th we eat baked beans on toast. We adjust our recipe for the second loaf but it still comes out looking rather odd.
Oh well. The appearance doesn’t affect the taste. The only negative aspect about the deformed bread that we note is a small amount of indigestion due to the lack of fermentation.
All our meals are prepared within 15 minutes as we only have to heat up the canned beans and toast the bread. One meal per day we sprinkle pre-ground flaxseeds on our food to keep our omegas balanced.
Our meals so far are minimalistic but nevertheless wholesome and enjoyable.
Location two: on the road
Dates: May 10-May 11
We arise at 5 A.M. on May 10th to meet Rob’s mother to drive with her down to Ulladulla. We are up before the sun is. We gather our few possessions and ready ourselves to leave for the bus stop. Our host is kind enough to drive us to the bus stop. The journey from St. Lucia, Brisbane to Garden City in Upper Mount Gravatt will take an hour, our reason for waking so early in the morning.
Rob and I don’t eat before we depart because it’s too early and hunger has not yet struck. After some confusion and phone calls, we meet her at 7 A.M. at a shopping center on the outskirts of Brisbane. We load up all our possessions (2 suitcases, 2 backpacks and 3 cloth shopping bags) into her SUV and begin the drive to Ulladulla. It will take us two days to journey from Brisbane to Ulladulla. The distance is around 1,200 km and total driving time is near 13 hours.
It will take us two days to journey from Brisbane to Ulladulla. The distance is around 1,200 km and total driving time is near 13 hours.
We prepared a variety of travel-friendly food options our last days in East Brisbane. We packed dehydrated pears and pineapple; raw, unsalted peanuts; homemade cookies; homemade wasabi peas; and sweet potato chips. Our first meal on the road are the cookies as they’ll spoil the quickest.
The cookies are a bit crumbly but that’s to be expected with 3-day old food with no added preservatives. They taste fine as I watch the Australian landscape and morning roll by. I eat nearly an entire bag of cookies. Rob finishes around half a bag of cookies for breakfast. The rest of the morning passes by uneventfully.
Around noon Rob’s mum decides to stop at the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour. We take pictures, buy an overpriced bottle of water ($5.50!) and check out the gift shop. Rob’s mum decides to buy a sugary banana spread for her partner. We stick with our water and dig into our dehydrated fruit when we hop back into the car.
We polish off our cookies and nibble on various other packed foods like dried pears, pineapple and dates. We each eat a portion of peanuts to keep us satisfied until dinner. The rest of the afternoon passes by lazily as we drive over the dry Australian landscape.
We stop for the night at Port Macquarie between 4 and 5 pm. Our motel room is small but satisfactory. Before we eat dinner we take a stroll down the main street of the tourist town. Rob and I pass by a medium produce market. Unfortunately, Rob and I discover it’s already closed for the night.
We feast upon our variety of food selections for dinner. We eat anything and everything we want. Pears, pineapple, wasabi peas, dates, peanuts, sweet potato chips. We grab whatever food fits our desire at the moment. Our feasting concludes when our bellies are content. We sip warm tea as we watch a movie before we tuck in for the night.
We are up with the sun again. This time we arise around 6 A.M. Rob and I don’t eat before leaving but rather have a cup of tea to jumpstart our bodies into wakefulness.
After an hour on the road we dig in to our remaining food supply once again. Most of it’s tasty. The only exception are the sweet potato chips which are slightly burnt. I’m beginning to crave hydrated food. I wish to eat soft rice, stewed beans, fresh strudels, saucy vegetables and juicy fruit rather than travel-friendly foods devoid of water.
Lunch is the same as breakfast. The wasabi peas, pineapple and Anzac cookies are extinct. Pears, dates, sweet potato chips and peanuts remain to be eaten another day.
We arrive in the modest town of Ulladulla between 4 and 5 pm. The next chapter of our homeless life begins. It takes place in the guest house of my mother-in-law, Traci.
Location three: Ulladulla, Australia
Dates: May 12-17
Since we didn’t go to the grocery store before we arrived at my mother-in-law’s house, we eat a small breakfast of two packets of quick oats (which we found in the cabinet) cooked with two large handfuls of sultanas. We overload on the sultanas because the quick oats packets are tiny. Both of the satchels wouldn’t even be enough for one, let alone two.
Stopping at the grocery store is our first task after breakfast. Our main spoils are whole wheat flour, rice, frozen veggies, onions, and cans of tomatoes. We arrive home and put our groceries away wherever we find empty cabinet space.
As we didn’t have any groceries when we arrived, there is nothing soaked, sprouting or fermenting for lunch. We prepare a quick meal of corn on the cob and a sauté of lentils, carrots, capsicum, onion and various spices. After eating dehydrated food for the last 3 days, it’s mouthwatering. The corn is sweet and juicy. The colorful sauté is hearty and spicy.
I soak brown rice after lunch and feed our sourdough starter in an attempt to revive it. We cross our fingers the starter still has life in it.
The next six uneventful days pass by slowly. I treat the sourdough starter by feeding it two times a day. We treat ourselves by chowing down pancakes each morning and a selection of other sourdough products such as pizza, strudels, empanadas and nameless — but delicious — food creations. Stir fries are a regular meal as well.
One special meal whilst in Ulladulla is a vegetarian satay. This is the first satay I’ve ever eaten and it was mind-blowingly delicious. Rob used the leftover peanuts from the road trip and a found can of coconut water to make a crunchy, plant-based satay. Sliced mushrooms and finely cut carrots provide nutrition and brown rice is the base.
The night before we leave, May 16th, I fashion a lunch for the next day. Rob and I will be travelling and don’t know when we’ll arrive. We prepare sourdough rolls similar to the ones we made before going to our first location in St. Lucia. We also make rice milk for our breakfast the next morning.
Location four: Haberfield, Sydney, Australia
Dates: May 18-21
Today, Monday May 18th, we’re headed off to Brisbane.
There’s no time for pancakes as we need to be on the road early this morning. Rob and I eat homemade bran cereal (that we made in East Brisbane) with sultanas and rice milk instead. It’s a healthy equivalent to Raisin Bran that isn’t quite as sweet as the commercially sold, over-sugared cereal.
We leave a little later than we planned, so we’re rushed to buy our tickets and catch the train. With a few minutes to spare, we grab our tickets and haul all of our possessions onto the train. We barely settle into our seats before the train departs.
Luckily our journey is relaxed from there. We transfer to the next train without a fuss and manage to find our way to our Airbnb accommodation.
We munch on our delicious rice- and date-filled sourdough rolls when we arrive at our accommodation in Haberfield, Sydney — the ones I made the night before. The lunch perks me up because I’m feeling dissatisfied with our room selection. Briefly put, it wasn’t what I expected.
We peruse the grocery options nearby after we settle in. The main contenders are an IGA, a small produce shop and a large produce store.
We debate the idea of brown rice and veggies, but instead settle on a large pumpkin and a bag of soup mix. The pumpkin and soup mix cost $6.
In the style of St. Lucia, our subsequent four meals are the same: Pumpkin and Mixed Legume Soup. We stretch our nutritious soup by purchasing a small loaf of wholemeal bread at a nearby bakery. I’m extremely impressed with the prices and produce availability in our location. Even though our room isn’t what I expected, the neighborhood and availability of quality food cheers me up.
One day while we’re exploring the city we dine out at a Lebanese restaurant. I’ve never had a real kebab before and desire to taste one before we fly to the US. For a mysterious reason, kebab shops are everywhere in Australia but a rarity in the US. Rob and I split a kebab and the special for the day: a saucy green bean curry.
The kebab is wonderful. The thick and creamy tahini sauce is better than mayonnaise. The lettuce, tomato and falafel are fresh and crunchy. The green bean curry is subtly but perfectly spiced. My only complaint is the amount of oil in the curry.
After the pumpkin and soup mix we purchase a bag of frozen vegetables, rice and split green peas. We concoct a soup and a stir fry with our groceries and limited kitchen supplies. I buy an additional bag of brown rice on our second-to-last day in Haberfield for breakfast the next morning.
Location five: Roseville, Sydney, Australia
Dates: May 22-24
Our breakfast is a Quick Breakfast Risotto (QBR) made with rice, and the dried fruit and spices we had at hand. We don’t rush to be out in the morning but we do want to move onto our next location. There’s no reason to stay in Haberfield any longer.
Rob and I walk the short distance to the bus stop with our ever-present luggage in our hands and packs on our backs. This morning I’m lucky I travel with my large hat I bought in Morocco for it keeps the rain out of my eyes. I can’t say the same for my feet.
We hop on the bus, off the bus, on the train, off the train. Our train stop is Roseville station.
We accidentally depart the train station from the wrong side so Rob and I spend half an hour in the rain figuring out where our Airbnb host lives. We’re cold, wet and hungry when we arrive but don’t have anything to eat. We decide to have a pizza party and order Domino’s pizza online.
We order two pizzas. One has a spicy BBQ sauce and the other has the traditional pizza sauce. They’re both topped with spinach, pineapple, red onion, red chili flakes and oregano. Unfortunately the pizza crust is white, but eating white bread once in a blue moon isn’t the end of the world.
Pizza isn’t the most economical lunch as we usually spend less than $10 on food per day. However, in terms of cost of eating a meal not cooked at home, $10 is cheap.
While the location of our accommodation itself is homey, it’s a 15-minute walk away from both the nearest shopping center and a grocery store. When the rain lets up we venture out to buy food. Rob and I return with a couple of cans of baked beans (no salt added), a loaf of bread, a bag of sultanas and frozen veggies.
Dinner is baked beans and veggies on toast and our breakfast the next morning is simply baked beans on toast. We grocery shop again and buy rice, frozen vegetables, custard apples, black beans, sesame seeds and chickpeas.
Lunch is a simple vegetable stir fry. Dinner is another stir fry with vegetables in a thick and spicy black bean sauce. Rob puts the two of us and our host into a fit of coughing after sautéing dry chili flakes in the wok. Warning: do not try this at home.
After a haphazard (but delicious) dinner, we soak in the dazzling sights of Vivid Sydney, Sydney’s annual light show.
Rob and I relish our custard apples and QBR for our late morning brunch. The ensuing meals consist of more QBR’s; stir fry’s and failed ugly falafel.
Sadly lacking a US visa for Rob in our hands, we organize our trip back to Ulladulla to seek Traci’s free accommodation once again.
Location six: Ulladulla, Australia (again)
Dates: May 25-30
The morning of May 25 we travel back to Ulladulla. The adventure requires a bus, two trains and an hour-long car ride. On the train we drink our homemade amla tea and eat a lunch of dried dates and sultanas.
“Didn’t expect to be back here, did ya?” Traci jokes to Rob and me in her Australian accent.
No, we didn’t.
We settle into the familiar guest house once again. For dinner we make falafel. But this time they actually turn out well. In fact, this time, it’s fantastic. We use a quick soak method to soak our dry chickpeas. Then we utilize our portable food processor to pulverize the chickpeas into coarse sand and combine with various herbs and spices. I fry each side of the falafel in the electric fry pan. We transform dinner into an Asian-Middle Eastern fusion meal by serving the falafel on top of brown rice and a black bean sauce.
After dinner Traci comes by and tells us Max, her partner, has had a heart attack so she’s driving him to the hospital. Rob and I can barely believe what we’re hearing. After the news soaks in we discuss his current diet and what we’d recommend he change to prevent another heart failure.
Breakfast the following morning is our usual QBR as it’s simple to prepare and it’s the only thing we have all the ingredients for. Lunch is QBR again because the car won’t start and Traci isn’t home to help us. Around 5pm Traci returns so Rob and I head to the grocery store to pick up rice, potatoes, legume soup mix and frozen vegetables. Dinner is a stew made of potatoes, chickpeas and some of the mixed legumes.
The next few days we eat QBR for breakfast and a variety of potato and rice dishes for lunch and dinner. These dishes include hash browns, potato wedges, stir fries and soup. Our second-to-last night at Traci’s I offer to cook her a healthy meal of Loaded Lasagna so she doesn’t have to worry about dinner for a night.
Making the lasagna is a long process of boiling, blending, slicing, chopping, sautéing, layering and baking but we know it’s worth it. Traci’s skeptical of the “weird” cheeze spread on top and questions us of the ingredients while it bakes. Rob gives her no answers and tells her to wait until she tastes it.
Despite her wariness, she tries it and absolutely loves it. It’s a fabulous party in my mouth. The chickpea/cashew cheeze on top is icing on the cake. Between bites she peppers us with questions about what’s in the lasagna and we reveal the ingredients because she already adores it.
There are enough leftovers for us to enjoy it again the next day for lunch.
We drive to the Ulladulla Woolworth’s one last time to stock up on potatoes, legumes and frozen vegetables. We also grab a combo bag of rice and quinoa that’s on sale. We create more stir fries, potato wedges and soups from our array of groceries. We try not to purchase too much as we don’t want to be hauling food around.
Location seven: Chili Blue Backpackers, Sydney, Australia
Dates: May 31
Instead of cooking something for breakfast, Rob and I eat leftovers. We purposefully made more than we could eat the previous day. This way we have enough leftovers for breakfast early this morning. I pack the leftovers we don’t consume into a plastic bag and take it with us.
Traci, Rob and I depart Ulladulla for Sydney early in the morning. Instead of driving one hour to the station in Nowra, we drive two hours to Wollongong instead. Max was moved to the hospital in Wollongong earlier that week and Traci is making another trip up to visit him. Thankfully, this time leaving Ulladulla is less rushed and there’s no hurry to catch our train.
Our final train trip to Sydney is uneventful. We arrive at the hostel, find our room and head out with our remaining food to eat lunch. We can’t find the kitchen or dining room in the maze that is the hostel.
After lunch Rob and I explore the area and do necessary (and unnecessary) shopping. We find raw peanuts and dehydrated apricots, dates and pears for our 14-hour plane ride to the USA tomorrow. We pick up two large bags of frozen corn on the cob for effortless dinner and breakfast.
We’re lucky we picked food easy to prepare and eat. After we find the kitchen, we’re confused by the lack of utensils, bowls and plates. Rob and I shrug it off and boil half our corn for dinner. We serve the corn cobs on a large cutting board and eat it with our hands. It’s not the tidiest dinner we’ve ever had. On the other hand it’s not the messiest either. The simple dinner is sweet and satisfying.
Location eight: Planes and airports to Fargo, ND, USA
Date: June 1
It’s the day. We leave for the US today, what our entire homeless lifestyle has been leading up to.
Before we depart we eat an extremely filling breakfast of corn. We’re not hungry enough to finish our food so we attempt to give it to other guests at the hostel. None of the other guests who are up are interested in our leftover food, so we sadly toss it into a trash bin.
We don’t have too much time to dwell on the excitement of flying to a new location. We have errands to run before we go to the airport. We’ve made an arrangement to meet at the train station and a backup plan in case we miss each other.
Rob and I part our separate and head into the city to complete our respective tasks. Our plan runs smoothly and we meet at our designated spot on platform 23. One last time we sit on the Sydney train together with all of our possessions beside us and on our backs.
The time leading up to boarding the plane is relaxed. We check into our flight without a hassle, walk through security sans intrusion and board our plane. The one notable event is the loss of our kombucha SCOBY I forgot to transfer from my backpack to my suitcase.
The seemingly never-ending plane ride is broken into segments of sleeping, watching videos and eating.
The first meal United Airlines serves is pasta salad, white rice, a chickpea and potato curry, a bread roll and a fruit cup. I wish they served wholegrain rice and pasta, though I didn’t expect it.
The first meal on the plane is satisfactory. It’s nothing to rave about but not much to complain about either. Instead of using the hydrogenated margarine spread that I’m served, I dip my bread roll into the curry for moisture.
When I open up my warm package, I have absolutely no idea what I’m looking at. The second meal United Airlines is nearly unrecognizable.
I poke my fork into the dish to find that the substance on the left is spongy. The substance on the right appears to be a sort of sauce. I’m hungry, so I chance it and place a forkful of the “food” on the left into my mouth.
It’s some sort of Indian bread concoction with spices to match. I read on the cover that the “food” is supposed to be an Indian semolina dish.
I’m displeased with both the substance, appearance and the taste of my second meal. Orange juice, another bread roll, water and Greek yogurt are served with my semolina. I hand the yogurt back to a flight attendant because it contains dairy. While I can’t say it’s the first time I’ve been served non-vegan food for a supposedly vegan meal, I’m still disappointed they did.
I can’t be too dissatisfied with my two meals though. Something went wrong with Rob’s flight booking so no vegan meals were packed on the plane for him.
While I was eating my two meals, he ate the dried fruit and peanuts we packed. During the second meal, he managed to snatch a fresh fruit salad from one of the flight attendants. Other than that, the flight attendants didn’t assuage Rob’s lack of food whatsoever.
I’m hungry and Rob’s ravenous when we step off the plane in San Francisco, CA, USA. Funnily, we land in the US before we took off from Sydney 14 hours earlier. Immigration is a hassle we both want to forget.
We’re joyful our first stop is San Francisco. The airport is one of the healthiest and veg-friendly airports in the country. We easily find a meal at a Mexican restaurant in Termainal 2, Andalé.
Rob orders a Tofu Burrito stuffed with serrano salsa ranchera, cilantro and black beans. I order a Veggie Burrito filled with black beans, cilantro rice, guacamole and serrano salsa ranchera. My burrito is served with a side of greens and baked chips.
After the food we ate on the plane, our unconventional breakfast is welcomed into our mouths and bellies.
After a plane from San Francisco to Denver and Denver to Fargo, our dried fruit and peanuts have vanished. Rob isn’t hungry when we land in Fargo. I eat a small baked potato and an apple at my parent’s home.
Location nine: Fargo, ND, USA
Dates: June 2-5
After an exhausting and action-packed June 1, June 2 is quite the opposite.
We sleep in and relax for a change. The days blur together and I make simple banana bread, sourdough bread, pancakes, black bean hummus and overnight oats. We combine our homemade items with frozen vegetables, fresh and frozen corn and a 10-lb bag of apples.
One night my mother mentions they’re ordering pizza from the restaurant my brother works at, Uncle Maddio’s. My mother says that Rob and I can order some too if we desire. I haven’t heard of them so I decide to check out what they offer. I’m pleasantly surprised by their selections.
The choice of wheat bread excite Rob and I the most. Rob and I have never seen a pizza place offer a wholegrain crust before, so we’re immediately impressed and decide to investigate further. While the crust isn’t 100% whole grain, this crust is the most wholesome pizza crust we’ve come across at a restaurant.
We’re delighted with the number of vegetable and sauce options the create-your-own-pizzas have. They offer a vegan cheese, 4 vegan sauces, a multitude of fresh veggies, grilled tofu, black bean corn salsa and fresh herbs to top the pizza with. Uncle Maddio’s also has a vegan gluten free crust available, but it’s not whole grain.
It’s difficult for us to decide what to top our pizzas with after viewing all of the tempting choices. We order one pizza with tomato-basil sauce, portabella mushrooms, black bean salsa, pineapple and fresh cilantro. The other has a zesty BBQ sauce, portabella mushrooms, red onion and corn. Both have a whole wheat base. To our delight, the employee we call at the restaurant allows us to have an extra vegetable topping if we opt out of a cheese.
Whole wheat crust and an extra topping? Double score.
Our last night in Fargo, June 5th, my parents host a gathering so family and friends can catch up Rob and me while we’re in Fargo. 95% of the food is plant-based and healthy.
We serve a variety of fresh produce such as watermelon, apples, and a fruit salad with mango dressing. Fresh vegetables are served with homemade hummus. My mom manages to allow them to serve a few items Rob and I won’t eat such as s’mores, corn chips and salsa.
Rob and I fill up on fresh produce and hummus. We haven’t had this much produce in ages, so I ensure to eat as much fruit as I desire.
Location 10: On the road to New Orleans, LA, USA
Dates: June 6-8
Rob and I eat overnight oats we prepared the previous night before then depart my parent’s house. Our first stop is to be Minneapolis, MN. We’re taking a slight detour to New Orleans (NOLA) in order to see my friend Jordan while I’m in the Midwest.
The drive to Minneapolis is relaxing. After a few incidences of confusion in navigating construction and weaving Minneapolis roads, Rob and I finally find the restaurant at which we’ll have lunch with Jordan. It’s called Hard Times Café.
I order a simple black bean and rice burrito and the soup of the day. I relish the Indian-spiced cauliflower and chickpea soup. I eat half of it before I remember to take a picture. My burrito is simple yet delicious.
I’m content with my meal.
Rob orders a vegetable tofu scramble. Rob finds his scramble to be lacking in flavor. Since I don’t plan on eating the chips served with my burrito, he uses the salsa to provide a kick.
After our long overdue meeting with Jordan, Rob and I get back onto the road. The highlight of our driving today is getting stuck in Minnesota. It seems as if Iowa rejects us or Minnesota wants to keep us.
We arrive at our motel in Cedar Rapids, Iowa between 8 and 9 pm. It’s later than we expected, however we didn’t expect to encounter so many road closures. We’re both extremely hungry. Luckily we don’t need to search for food.
In our downtime the day before we made apple sourdough rolls for our first dinner on our American road trip. The gooey, fruity rolls are gobbled greedily. We prepare breakfast and lunch for the next day before snuggling in for the night.
Instead of apples and oats this morning we have banana oats instead. I steal two Styrofoam bowls from the motel lobby to eat our oats from.
The oats aren’t flavorful, but getting out spices isn’t worth the effort. I wash and stash the bowls with our possessions to reuse for our lunch.
And we’re off.
We stop for lunch just out of St. Louis, Missouri. We eat our oats in the corner of a McDonalds. We choose McDonalds for its air-conditioning and free Wi-Fi… not the food or free smells. The road calls us after we finish our oats. Rob and I return to our road trip once again.
The next stop is Memphis, Tennessee. Unfortunately, we don’t have any dinner prepared, so we must find food to eat. Fortunately our motel is just across the highway from a grocery store. We stop in to buy Styrofoam plates, canned beans and microwave brown rice.
Cooking in our motel room is a challenge we manage to surmount. We find a large plastic container in which to cook the rice. Rob cuts the cans of beans open with a knife and microwaves them on the plates. When both the rice and beans are cooked to our satisfaction, Rob and I eat.
The beans are utterly disappointing. According to the package, they’re chili-flavored beans. Our taste buds disagree. They’re bland. We attempt to improve the flavor by sprinkling spices on them. Doing this helps little.
On the other hand, the brown rice tastes like brown rice and the familiar flavor is welcomed over the beans. Once again, we prepare our lunches and breakfasts of oats for tomorrow before heading off to bed.
Replaying the day before, we quickly eat our oats—this time made with apple—before we pack up our things and return to the road.
We’re less rushed and more excited today. Less rushed because we only have half a day of driving left. More excited from the anticipation of arriving in NOLA for the first time. Rob and I have traveled so far.
We’re almost there.
We pause for a late lunch at the Louisiana welcome center on the border of Louisiana and Mississippi to eat our overnight oats with apple.
We eagerly drive the rest of the way to NOLA. With minimal confusion we locate the homey hostel housed in an updated Victorian home. We bring in our necessities then leave to view an apartment for rent.
The place isn’t for us so we fill the rest of our first night in NOLA by searching for places to rent and managing dinner. I enjoy a light snack of bananas and an apple while Rob eats a full dinner. He cooks a minimalistic rice and apple dish for himself.
Place 11: Auberge Nouvelle Orleans, LA, USA
Dates: June 9-11
Once again our breakfast is overnight oats. The oats aren’t as satisfying as they were in Australia. We sprinkle our overnight oats and apple with warming spices to make them more appetizing. We eat overnight oats like this for the three days we’re in the youth hostel in NOLA.
Lunch at the hostel our first two days is watermelon. My mother gave us the watermelon we didn’t cut for the party to bring with us. Since it was impossible for us to cut and eat it while on the road, we’re just now getting the opportunity to eat it. The watermelon has ripened over the 3-day road trip.
The dinners at the hostel are a mix-match of foods we already have and buy in NOLA.
Our first night we prepare a sweet banana and rice concoction. The rice is the brown microwave rice we bought in Nashville and the bananas are the bananas we bought in Fargo. We add in our favorite spices (cinnamon, black pepper, turmeric, etc.) and enjoy a sweet banana and rice dinner.
Our second night we combine a leftover quinoa and rice mixture from Australia with apples to transform the ingredients into another sweet rice and fruit meal. The apple and rice dish is served with sweet potato cooked with herbs and spices.
We spend our days at the hostel house-hunting. After an exhaustive search of Craigslist and a handful of viewings, we settle for renting a 2-bedroom house half an hour outside of NOLA. On Thursday, June 11, we pack our items into the car one last time.
Our move-in time isn’t until later so we grab lunch at a restaurant called The Gumbo Shop. The restaurant is located in the soul of NOLA: the French Quarter near Bourbon Street. We choose this restaurant over other, veg-friendly restaurants because we want to taste the flavors of the local cuisine.
We order the vegetarian dish of the day. To our amusement, our waiter unwittingly recommends the “vegetarian” dish containing seafood. Rob and I them him we are sticking with our selections.
Our identical plates come out containing Creole-seasoned black beans served with white rice and salsa after a few minutes. While tasty—and slightly salty—we’re not impressed. With the correct spices, we could have easily made this lunch ourselves.
Wandering the French Quarter eats up a few more hours before we depart NOLA to move into our residence outside the city.
Saying goodbye to traveling is bittersweet. Not knowing where we’re going to be the next hour, day or week was exciting.
On the other hand, not living out of a suitcase is a relief.
Our first dinner is a modest vegetable stir fry with brown rice. We appreciate our simple dinner on real plates, at a real table in our new home.