In my family, we go on vacation together. No. You don’t understand. This is not just immediate family we are talking about. There are around 30 of us who go to the beach (not quite) every year (but usually every other year). You see, years ago my grandparents created this tight knit bond of a family and 40 years later it is still going strong…to the point we vacation as extended-extended families!
We go to the beach and we don’t live very close SO that means we spend hours in the car…with three kids…who eat A.LOT.OF.FOOD. Honestly, sometimes road trip snacks are to keep kids satiated (feeling full) but sometimes it’s to keep them satisfied (not screaming and crying). You know what? On road trips, that’s definitely OK! You’ve got to survive and as a mom and a dietitian, I get it!!!!!!!
Question is, what should you pack for road trip snacks? Well, I’ve come up with a list of 30 foods that are kid proof (won’t make a huge mess in your car) and adults love them too!!! If you’ve followed me long enough you know there’s at least 1 list in each blog post! Hah! These snacks should be quick to open, easily eaten with the fingers, AND provide nourishment!
- Carrot sticks. Seriously these are a family favorite and delish! Bag them in small containers or baggies for each member of your family. Really little kiddos? Cut the carrots in to fun strips to reduce choking.
- Pepper sticks. Yes kids will eat them too! Try red, orange, or yellow peppers. Super sweet!
- Turkey jerky. Beef jerky is a great choice as well. Although expensive, this can be a great protein source…find it on sale!
- String cheese. They make tons of flavors so choose your favorite and snack away!
- Popcorn. Pop ahead and put them in individual baggies or containers.
- Granola bars. Kids Clif bars, Lara bars, and homemade granola bars are my favorite!
- Grapes. Make sure you cut them in 1/4ths for babies and toddlers and in half for younger children (choking hazard)
- Nuts. Peanuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews…whichever are your favorites!
- Raisins. The to-go boxes are great on the road. Sour raisins are Ah.Maze.Ing!
- Cranberries. A little more added sugar than raisins but still a great choice for a road trip
- Amanda’s Awesome Trail Mix: 1 cup cheerios, 1/2 cup raisins or cranberries, 1/2 cup nuts of your choice, 1/4 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips. Mix and toss in to snack bags.
- Peanut butter bites: Here’s the link to mine. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE BREASTFEEDING TO EAT THESE! My husband loves them (and my kiddos do too)!
- Sunflower seeds: not just for salads!
- Pumpkin seeds…all the flavors.
- Dried whole grain cereal. Seriously. Cheerios in a bag…stellar!
- Yogurt pouches! YUM! These portable packs are great for younger kiddos and older ones alike! AND they don’t need to be refrigerated…BONUS!
- Fruit/veggie pouches…so many brands/varieties! Choose your favorite grab-and-go flavor.
- Cucumber slices. So good and refreshing! Sure you can dip them into hummus or ranch but if you can’t trust yourself or younger kiddos plain cucumbers work great themselves.
- Apple slices. Wash and keep the skins on (there are tons of nutrients in the skins) get your kiddos used to it! To keep them from browning on the trip use whole apples for yourself and older kids or slice them and add a little ascorbic acid (vitamin C…name brand “Fruit Fresh”) to keep them from browning.
- Mandarines. Easy to peel and sooooo delicious! I like to peel mine ahead of time for the kids and then when they are hungry just hand them a peeled one so they can go to town.
- Edamame. Add a little salt and pepper to these amazing soy beans and YUM! These come in the fresh and frozen section. Sometimes when they are frozen, salt has already been added so make sure you check!
- Whole grain crackers. My favorites are Triscuits and Wheat Thins but there are tons of brands and varieties that are great and tasty!
- Cherries. Especially in season these juicy fruits are great! Just make sure you have something to spit the seeds into.
- Roasted chickpeas. So good! They are crunchy and come in tons of flavors.
- Pickles. Yep. In a bag. My kids love them! They’re crunchy and salty and ohhh soooo yummy!
- Apple chips. These freeze dried fruit crunchies are incredible!!!! You can also pack dehydrated apples. They won’t be as crunchy but they are super sweet and delicious.
- Tortilla chips. The varieties are endless. Black bean, blue corn, flavored, extra crunchy…whatever. Although they are fried they’re usually only a few ingredients and if you get the whole grain, bean, or higher fiber varieties they also have some protein in them. I NEVER DO BAKED CHIPS! The ingredient lists go on forever. Regular tortilla chips/potato chips may be fried in oil (which is usually heart healthy) but their 3-5 ingredients makes up for it by not having so many additives. Plus fat isn’t “bad” for you…neither are carbs. Moderation.
- Fruit cups. Yes I know with little little kids this is a nightmare but with older kids this is fantastic! Peaches, pears, mandarins, apple sauce…your possibilities are endless!
- Turkey rollups. If your cooler game is strong (and I mean very strong like you can keep these under 44 degrees the entire trip) go for it! Roll up a slice of turkey lunch meat with some cheese. If you’re feeling adventurous add honey mustard and a thin slice of cucumber…mmmm
- Yogurt. Again, you have to keep these bad boys cool BUT some Greek yogurt on a road trip not only hits the sweet spot but also keeps you fuller longer.
I hope this list helped to give you some great ideas on road trip snacks. Instead of loads of candy or tons of processed snacks this list helps to start vacation off on the nutrient rich foot. Look, I’m not judging…I like snacks the same as the rest of the population. I don’t say no to a good Blazin’ Buffalo Dorito (ever). But it helps to take snacks on the road that won’t give the kids a sugar high while you’re cooped up in a car!
Once you get to your destination, nutrition shouldn’t be your top priority…honestly. Enjoy it and your family/friends! Don’t worry about “what” is eaten as much as how it tastes and who is in your company. Calories, carbs, proteins, fats, aren’t my main priority…ESPECIALLY while spending time with family. My family is a healthy group of eaters, balanced with a ton of activity. Our beach house will be filled with people of all ages, love, donuts, gobs, cookies, snacky foods, salads, fruit, shrimp…a lot of shrimp, fun, and laughter.
Enjoy your summer vacation! Make it healthy but don’t obsess about it! Don’t like some of the foods on this list? Don’t eat them! Choose healthy snacks you enjoy. Life is too short and moments are too good to focus on how many calories you eat while life is flying past you. Take healthy road trip snacks and mix it in with other foods too #balance.