Staying Healthy on the Road – Part 1: Nutrition

Staying Healthy on the Road – Part 1: Nutrition

“Chocolate…what I wouldn’t give for chocolate. Or a baked potato with sour cream and chives…”

Keeping yourself healthy is a vital component to being a full-time performer. Whether a terrible cold or an injury keeps you from the stage, if you can’t perform, you don’t get paid. Having a strong immune system is certainly part of it. Yes, most contracts offer paid sick days, and even medical leave for illnesses and injuries that take a long time to heal. Though I’m not a nutritionist, doctor, or personal trainer of any kind, we generally know that nutrition and exercise are at the top of the “keeping yourself healthy” list. So here is part one of a two-part series on staying healthy on the road and some of the challenges and solutions that come along with it. In this episode—let’s talk turkey, or at least nutrition.

Our nutrition is a large component of our ability to stay healthy. Without easy access to our own kitchens, kitchen equipment, and favorite grocery stores, putting the “good foods” into our bodies while on tour can be very challenging. not to mention the financial burden of needing to eat out regularly. The Company Manager on your tour is in charge of booking your residence and can choose to seek out housing options with kitchenettes that are within proximity of the theatre and perhaps provide some breakfast options. If a kitchenette is not available, a mini refrigerator and a microwave go a long way. Sometimes these options are not possible, or less than ideal. Having a decent kitchen is one of the primary reasons people choose Airbnb over the hotels being provided by the producing company—it’s about nutrition and cutting down on meal costs.


While we are given a daily per diem, current Equity contracts do not require even the government standard per diem amount per city (something I hope AEA will change in future negotiations). On this contract, we are receiving $64/day – whether that is in Washington DC, San Francisco, or Des Moines, Iowa. Depending on your nutritional needs and choices, some people make this work reasonably well, but only by purchasing their own groceries and finding ways to cook for themselves along the way. This monetary figure does not allow for 3 meals a day of purchasing well-balanced meals at restaurants. If the restaurant is nice enough to have great, healthy meal options, the price is high. If the price is low or right, the meals often are not the most nutritious.

When I first started thinking about hotel eating, I dug into some online research. There are great articles out there including easy recipes with ingredients you can find at most convenience stores, recommendations of travel kits and camping gear to take with you, etc. One article was even about how a chef used the iron provided in the hotel room as a skillet… Can I say officially: yuck. Don’t do that. It’s gross. Plus, you ruin the iron for the next guest who might actually need an iron and doesn’t want your cooked-on salmon skin that is still attached to it ruining their business suit. Please, be considerate of others and make better choices.

Here are a few things you can do to make hotel eating more functional:

On the Company tour, we occasionally have hotel rooms with kitchenettes, which can mean any version of a microwave and coffee setup, fridge (mini or mid-size), and/or two-burner stovetop. The biggest bummer is not having an oven, and I definitely miss it. For access to an oven, you usually need to find Airbnb or corporate housing options.

Complimentary breakfast is helpful. When it is included with the hotel you can make it go a long way throughout your day. For the hotels that don’t, I bring an electric pot with me and a hoard of mini kitchen supplies. I cook soups and pastas, steam or sauté vegetables, eggs, chicken and salmon…I even “grilled” a piece of toast. I have a set of collapsible silicon bowls (that I recently discovered are not microwave safe…ugh), a microwave-safe plate, a set of utensils including chopsticks, miniature can opener, whisk, spatula, cutting board and a good knife, small Tupperware set, and re-usable silicone Ziploc bags.

I have a number of spices, oils, vinegars, and travel with some small jars of jam, peanut butter, honey, and protein powder. These things I use frequently will probably be used up quickly and may be easily replaced on the road. Some of my colleagues have brought along hot pots, instant pots, slow cookers, Nutri-bullets, and electric grills they bring in their trunk. Other cast members can’t live without their spices, Instant pot, Aero-press, coffee grinder, really good olive oil, and favorite bottle of wine or spirits. There are a range of options—you just have to figure out what makes the most sense for you. One thing I am certain of: you will get tired of eating “out” all the time. The ability to create even a small, favorite meal for yourself is a huge comfort.


Easy access to grocery stores can be challenging. Communicate with your tour mates and plan to share an Uber or Lyft to and from the store. Trader Joe’s is a favorite because they have many easy meals you can mix together. Instacart is also a big hit. Many of my touring mates have Instacart accounts and have someone else do their grocery shopping for them. A few others subscribe to pre-made meal plans; Factor is a popular one with our group.

Even while trying hard to eat healthily, you should enjoy finding great restaurants and great food along the way. You’re on tour! Go and experience food options in every city, there are some amazing cuisines available to you in these cities and you should take advantage of this fortunate opportunity! Budget for it and then take home the leftovers to your Tupperware and hotel microwave.

CJ Greer

CJ Greer is an assistant professor of Voice and Music Theatre at the University of Nevada, Reno and performs professionally in musical theatre and opera. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre Pedagogy and Performance, a Master of Music in Classical Pedagogy and Performance from Penn State University and teaches both classical and musical theatre/contemporary voice. She regularly presents research at NATS and MTEA conferences. CJ has performed on Broadway and across the country in regional and national touring productions. Favorite roles include Donna/Mamma Mia, Mimi/La Bohème, Fantine/Les Misérables, Florence/Chess, The Witch/Into the Woods, and more. Her students perform on Broadway, in national tours, regional theatres, theme parks, and on cruise ships. To find out more and get in touch, visit and @cjgreerstudio on Instagram.