Road trips with the kids are one of the best ways to bond as a family. Here are some easy ways to feed your family healthy meals on the road.
The time in the car, free of the distractions of home, is valuable time. The anticipation of a new place, filled with the lure of new adventures, is exciting for the entire family. What’s not so exciting? The fast food options along the road. Sugar-filled, grease-laden, oversized food portions are all you seem to find!
Yes, I do this primarily because it’s healthier. However, it also saves time we would waste waiting for fast food. In addition, it saves money that we’d rather spend on nice dinners out once we arrive at our destination.
As a parent, we all know that can lead to kids with upset stomachs and ill tempers to match. Healthy eating on the road is possible. With careful preparation at home, you can have healthier alternatives on your road trip.
PLANNING FOR HEALTHY ROAD TRIP FOOD:
Good planning is the key to packing your own healthier foods. I have traveled all up and down the east coast with my family, and have used this method of planning.
You’ll want to calculate the approximate amount of hours that you’ll be in the car. Plan a small snack every two to three hours. Then figure out how many people will be with you.
A 10 hour trip for 3 people (my usual trip from my current residence to my hometown) looks like this:
10 hours/3 hour snack intervals = 3 snacks x 3 people = 9 snacks needed total. Easy!
Plus, I pack an easy, no mess lunch. You know the little pre-portioned lunch trays in the refrigerated section of your grocery? I make my own. Each person can pull out their lunch whenever they get hungry with no need to pull off the highway for food.
Enlist the kiddos to help you pack the snacks and lunch. They can even write their names their own bags to avoid arguments in the car over whose food is whose. I know this firsthand, so trust me on this one!
Also, plan to take a small pair or scissors to open packages, hand sanitizer, napkins, and a tiny trash bag. I stow all this in a small tote bag near the cooler so to keep my car tidy.
When you pack your car, you will only have your cooler and the small tote bag. Easy!
PREPARING HEALTHY SNACKS ON THE GO
I like to prepare my snacks in individual portions in my vacuum sealer for two reasons. One, the vacuum sealed bags take up far less room. Two, vacuum sealed bags won’t leak into the cooler or allow funky odors to seep out. You can use zipper bags if you like, the same principles apply!
Here are some ideas for healthier snacks you can seal up to take with you:
- Skip the expensive individually wrapped cheese sticks in your dairy section! Make your own by slicing off cheese in portions that your family member likes and vacuum seal your own cheese sticks.
- Buy a family sized bag of reduced-salt pretzels. Make little individually sized snack-sized bags of pretzels. I prefer pretzels on road trips because they don’t leave greasy stains on the upholstery like potato chips.
- Divide up a jar of unsalted peanuts, cashews, or almonds. They are very satisfying, fun to crunch on, and give you protein.
- Slice apple wedges up and treat them with Fruit Fresh. They will stay vibrant and crisp for the day and are a lighter alternative.
- Bring along some veggies like carrots or sweet peppers cut into strips.
Here are some ideas for a healthier lunch on a road trip:
- Wrap turkey, cheese, lettuce, and a light vinegarette dressing in a whole wheat wrap. Seal it up. The wrap won’t get smooshed by the vacuum sealer like bread. When you open it up, it will be fresh and flavorful.
- If Someone In The Car (my daughter) doesn’t like wraps or any kind of bread, make a finger-food lunch of chunks of chicken or turkey, cheese, and carrots. Vacuum seal all of these on a small paper plate that you can dispose of after consuming.
- Bake a homemade whole wheat pizza the day before your trip. Pack leftover wedges of pizza to take with you. Cold pizza is a family favorite (although I can’t guarantee a mess-free experience).
Finally, car trips can be exhausting for your body. Long periods of sitting take a toll! Staying hydrated is very important for your body. Skip the convenience store to avoid the temptation of soda or coffee. Plan to pack several bottles of water from home instead!
Following these suggestions will keep your feeling well on your road trip. Don’t let family fall into the fast food trap. Eating healthy meals on the road will help you arrive at your destination feeling ready to take on those new adventures as a family.
AUTHOR BIO: Nicole Vidmar is the mom of 2 energetic kids and 1 dog. She’s the publisher, graphic designer, and content creator for My Kitchen Adviser. She loves cooking and baking and loves sharing food tips!