Couple stays healthy by cooking their own meals

Trucker April Roberge with her husband, Matthew Roberge, and their dog. (Image Courtesy of April Roberge)

Cooking all of your own meals can be a daunting task even when you have a full-size kitchen. When you’re cooking in the cab of a truck, it gets even more complicated.

For trucker April Roberge, it’s worth the extra effort. Roberge has always had a passion for cooking. Since she and her husband, who team drives with her, started cooking all their own meals in the truck three years ago, she’s lost 40 pounds.

“I’m a foodie. I love cooking and trying out new recipes,” Roberge said. “I cook every single day. We don’t eat out at all anymore.”

They also eat higher quality foods now than they did before becoming truckers.

“Because we make better money than we did before we can afford better quality food. We eat organic as much as we can. Cooking has always been a favorite thing to do for me, so I cook every day,” Roberge said.

They make their meals from scratch and make it a point to cook a meal together every day. They want to combat some of the stereotypes about truckers being unhealthy.

“It’s important to us to not gain a lot of weight and get really unhealthy, because that’s how people perceive truck drivers,” Roberge said. “It takes a lot of dedication to do that every day. It can be really daunting sometimes, so we’ve managed to tweak it so that we have quick meals that we can do, but it’s been a real challenge to do.”

For other drivers wanting to cook more healthy meals on their own, Roberge recommends they build an action plan.

“Plan out your meals and dedicate storage in your truck for those things. Stock your fridge full of fresh foods and vegetables, and have a bin for dry goods. If you plan out your meals, that helps,” she said.

She’s constantly refining her own meal plan and adjusting recipes. She admits that getting used to cooking healthy meals in the truck had a huge learning curve. Over time, the couple has adjusted their diet to where they’ve gotten used to healthy foods and have cut down on their portion sizes.

“It’s tough, because people don’t like hearing that you have to have a plan, you have to plan out your meals, but that’s really what it boils down to: paying attention to what you’re eating and fixed portions. Eat whole, nutritional foods — your fats, your proteins, your fibers — so you aren’t super hungry at the end of the day and then you go in and eat a Big Mac at McDonald’s,” Roberge said.

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Roberge and her husband, who was her boyfriend at the time, were living in Salt Lake City when they decided they were tired of living paycheck to paycheck and wanted a recession-proof job. A friend of Matthew’s family had been a truck driver, so he had a positive impression of the industry and started looking into becoming a trucker himself.

Roberge had always wanted to travel, so she volunteered to ride along with him. The two talked about it, and decided team driving was the best fit for them.

“It’s weird because I wasn’t intimidated by it or anything, I just said sure we can give that a try,” Roberge said.

The couple jumped into trucking with both feet, she says. They went to school full time for three weeks and took a job with Pride Transportation after graduating, and they still drive for the company.

“I really enjoy having the whole country as my office. We can go anywhere at anytime,” Roberge said.

They haul a refrigerated trailer and often bring produce from California to the East Coast. Because they team drive, they’re able to take loads that need to go further, quicker.

As a woman in trucking, she’s seen the good and the bad the industry has to offer its female drivers.

“I’ve gotten the worst treatment and I’ve also gotten the best treatment. It’s been a whole spectrum of treatment for me. I‘ve had other people treat me like garbage but I’ve also had people treat me super nice and come over and chat and offer to help,” she said.

Roberge says she’s thankful for the opportunity to see the country. She says she would recommend trucking to anyone looking to see it, as well.

“If you’re young and you want to make a change and you want to travel the country, I would say this is a really neat way to do it,” she said.