With gas prices as low as they are, now is the time to really start thinking about a summer road trip. And, of course, as any mom or dad knows, snacks can make or break any road trip, but what should you bring? Packing healthy snacks for the car is a great way to save time and money while having quick bites readily available for the kids.
Best Healthy Road Trip Snacks for Kids
When it comes to kids’ food options, convenience is key, but healthy options should also be a key consideration. It’s a good idea to bring food from home, then seek out healthy options along the way as needed. Look to the Grab ‘n Go section of a Petro or TA gas station for good picks like apples, bananas and fresh salads.
Healthy Snacks from Home
When headed on a road trip, consider foods that are healthy not just because they are a better option, but because you aren’t very active while on road trips. Poor food choices + many hours of sitting in the car = poor digestion. Here are some healthy snack ideas that kids will enjoy on your road trip.
- Snap peas, carrots with a side of guacamole. Avocado is full of nutrients and good fats. As a bonus, a cup of guacamole has almost five grams of protein. Snap peas and vegetables, in general, are also a good source of vitamins.
- Squeeze pouches. Yes, mashed fruit is all the rage. Mott’s makes a variety of Snack & Go products that make great on-the-go snacks. Since they store well and don’t go bad, I recommend these as a backup option. Eat the fresh food first.
- Grilled ham and cheese sandwiches on whole wheat bread. Since you’re grilling them, you’ll have less mess and they actually taste pretty good when cold. Choose nitrate free ham, “real” cheese and add tomato for an extra health benefit.
- Nuts and seeds. These are packed full of energy as well as nutrition. While they could get messy if they fall, they may be worth the risk since they won’t spread gooey-ness everywhere.
Healthier Snack Options at Convenience Stores
When you’re on that long drive, stopping at restaurants again and again can add up in terms of both time and money. Instead, grab snacks while re-filling the car at the gas station. When you can, bypass the aisle of candy bars and pastries. Instead, make healthier choices. It’s true, gas station food does not have to be unhealthy. Here are some good picks:
- Yogurt. Choose real yogurt with active, live cultures.
- Fresh fruit. Many gas stations sell apples and bananas available, which can be cleaned up quickly and eaten on the road. Since they bruise easily, eat them before any prepackaged snacks.
- Packs of nuts. There are tons of unsalted and less salted varieties, so check those out first.
- Hard boiled eggs. You’d be surprised but these are actually quite common on the road. Truck drivers love them and you can too. Check the expiration date on them, just in case.
- Whole grain cereal cups. These are becoming more readily available. Choose one that has fiber and whole grains. Skip those with artificial flavors and high sugar wherever possible. Many gas stations also carry single serve milk to go along with the cereal.
- String cheese. These are grab and go and you can drop them into your cooler for later. Just try not to overdo it on the cheese. The lack of movement in the car may add to any tummy troubles.
- All natural snack bars. Choose ones that have more nuts and berries than chocolate and grains. These can be tasty, full of fiber and protein. They taste pretty good too.
To make your road trip healthy, opt for water over sugary drinks and sodas. No slushies or fruity drinks. Instead, opt for plain water or even water with lemon. Not only is it better for you, but when you bring your own bottle from home, you save money too.
In the car, keep it healthy by saying no to mess. No one wants the stress of extra clean up. Keep a small trash bag in each row of the vehicle and expect all trash to head there. Also include:
- Baby wipes for clean up.
- Gallon size zip top bags for any items that need to be “taken care of later” (e.g., dirty clothing).
- Hand sanitizer in case something icky is touched before eating and you aren’t quite sure if the baby wipes did the job.
- Small size spray cleaner. You can keep this in your glove compartment, but keep some sort of cleaner with you so that in case of car sickness or just a big mess, you can easily clean it up without having to live with the smell for too long.
- Absorbent paper towels or microfiber towels. Whichever you choose, take it along in case there’s a mess that needs to be cleaned up. Prepare for the worst, but expect the best, right?
Have fun and enjoy your family time, but also set realistic expectations. Take your time, stop to stretch your legs, have a picnic at a local park along the way. Let the kids get some energy out, fill up their water bottles, then head back out on the road. Don’t forget to take along some fun in the car with you, grab some of these free printable travel games for kids.
In your opinion, what are the best healthy road trip snacks for kids?