Tips + Tricks for Field Meals
I’ve never understood why the label of “farm wife” automatically seems to make someone an expert on all things domestic. I have women who will message me asking advice for everything from washing Carhartt overalls to the best crock pot meals to make for her husband during busy season from a farm wife not realizing that I am very, very, veryyy unmarried. But you know what’s crazy? Even without a ring on my finger, I’ve still been able to answer their questions because I’ve got 20+ years of experience on a farm and have been delivering field meals since I was tall enough to reach the pedals. So with that in mind, I figured I might as well share what I’ve learned over the years, and I’ve even learned a few things from other farm women along the way that I’ll share at the end!
#1 Only use containers that you don’t mind throwing away.
I know, I know, it’s not necessarily the most environmentally friendly option, but as someone who’s been on the other end of the field meal delivery the past couple years, I am very guilty of leaving containers in tractors. I’m telling you now that even the best food containers aren’t worth saving once they’ve sat in the planting tractor for a week with five different types of mold growing in it. The Styrofoam takeout containers work perfectly for sandwiches, wraps, and finger foods, but for anything that you wouldn’t want spilling, take your grandma’s advice. All those cottage cheese, butter, lunchmeat, etc., containers? Keep them. They’re perfect for delivering food because no one feels bad about pitching them.
#2 The best field meals can be eaten with one hand.
I’d say it’s a pretty even split between farms who stop to eat their supper on the tailgate and those that only stop long enough to grab the bag of food from whoever’s delivering it that night. We’re the farm who doesn’t stop. You would think with autosteer and all the new fancy gadgets that it would be pretty easy to eat a five course meal from the tractor cab, but without fail, mealtimes always come at the worst possible times – starting a new field or going around towers. No one wants to eat a cold supper, so it’s always nice to have it be something easy to eat no matter the job you’re doing.
#3 Tractor Oven.
I know people make fun of how obsessed I am with what is basically a heated tacklebox, but it’s literally the best money I’ve ever spent. If that food gets cold before you get a chance to eat it? Throw it in the tractor oven. Tired of lunchmeat sandwiches? Bring some leftovers and warm ‘em up in this thing. Want something homemade and not another fast food cheeseburger? Freeze a bunch of mini meals, use them as an ice pack in your cooler while they thaw throughout the day, and then pop ‘em in the tractor oven for half an hour. This thing is genius especially when there’s no one around to actually bring you food.
Link for tractor oven - https://smile.amazon.com/shop/ernholbert?listId=3CNLSBNALHLN4
#4 Plastic sacks may be bad for sea turtles, but they’re pretty dang handy for food delivery.
Even if you have an actual cooler, throw a plastic sack in there. They’re handy for food delivery, but they’re even handier for trash cleanup…..on the days that the cab actually gets cleaned up.
#5 Armrests are mini pantries.
Throw a few ketchup, mustard, and mayo packets in the armrest of all the tractors. They take up hardly any space, and they’re actual lifesavers when the local restaurant forgets to put them on your sandwich. While you’re tossing those in the armrest, don’t forget to throw in a couple silverware packets as well – make your own with little plastic baggies or buy them premade!
#6 Prep everything before you know what hits the fan and have it all easily accessible.
A lot of times someone at the shop whether it be me or one of the guys is in charge of getting sandwiches made up for a quick supper, and lemme tell ya, it may not seem like slicing a tomato would take that long, but when you’ve got someone needing seed ASAP, it seems like it takes a lifetime. Everything goes so much smoother if everything is ready to go – onions and tomatoes sliced, lettuce shredded, carrots and celery put in baggies, plastic containers filled with ranch dressing, etc., etc. Also, make sure that stuff is right out in the open if you’re able because I don’t know about everywhere else, but the guys here literally have to have it right in front of them for them to put their own snacks together every day.
Obviously there are plenty of others, but these are the top six (or at least my top six at the moment) tips for helping things go a little more smoothly during busy season. I asked Instagram for everyone’s best tips and tricks, and there were a lot of really good ones that I’ve never heard before! Crockpots (with the locking lids as someone suggested!) are always a huge help when I’m not the one actually in a tractor, and a lot of people really love their instant pots for a quick and easy homemade meal to deliver. Pre-cut aluminum foil sheets for making a bunch of sandwiches a little easier. I had no idea these even existed, and now I can’t wait to go to the store to get some for myself. Another really good suggestion was buying a bunch of the same lunchboxes that are collected at the end of the day, packed the night before by the person in charge of the food, and then distributed to everyone the next morning before they all get in their equipment. And lastly, use utility totes to put all the food in when you’re delivering it. We’ve always used clothesbaskets, but I love the idea of the totes because you’d be able to put a lid on it to keep the dust out of the food!
Share your best field meal tips and tricks in the comments to help make busy season a little easier for a fellow farmer or farm wife!