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Man, I love a good road trip! Flying is great and all, but there is something really special about packing up the car, cranking up the tunes (or the podcasts), and heading out on the open road. We’ve always been the type that drive instead of fly. Not only is it often more affordable for us, but it’s also so much more fun!
This month, we’re road tripping up to visit my husband’s family in Canada, and I’m starting to finalize the plans for our trip. We’re building in a lot of travel time and stops to keep the little one happy, and of course, we’re packing tons of healthy road trip snack items.
In an ideal world, I would spend the days before our trip in the kitchen, cooking up a storm, and creating lots of healthy, tasty, and homemade treats to eat on the road.
Yeah, not so much.
I always plan to do that, but the last week before a trip is full of hair cuts and oil changes and clothes shopping and packing and house cleaning and booking hotels and planning routes and exactly zero time to spend in the kitchen making muffins to eat on the interstate. So I do the best I can, and search for lots of healthy, all-natural pre-made alternatives.
I thought I’d pull together a list of all of my favorite healthy road trip snack ideas (plus show you our favorite road trip lunch!)—most of what you’ll see here is prepackaged stuff from the store, but I’m also giving you some homemade ideas just in case you have the extra time to whip them up before you go. Hopefully, you’ll be able to find some goodies for your next journey!
Veggies and Fruit
I tend to be a boredom snacker on road trips, so fruit and veggies are where it’s at for me! I’ve been known to fill up a bag with cauliflower florets and go to town for miles and miles. Any fruit or veggie will do, but I recommend sticking with veggies that aren’t messy (I wouldn’t pack that juicy peach you just got at the farmer’s market) and avoid anything that bruises easily (I swear, the second a banana enters our car, the peel turns black). I’d also skip any produce that could stain if you drop it (berries, cherry tomatoes, etc.), because, hello, I totally will. Here are some of our favorites:
- Cauliflower florets
- Broccoli florets
- Baby carrots
- Snap peas
- Celery sticks
- Cherries :: the yellow, Rainer kind—to avoid stains
- Clementines :: bonus: makes the car smell amazing!
If you aren’t a fan of veggies straight up like I am, you can also pack some dippers:
- Ranch :: you can buy little cups in the store, or divvy some ranch into small containers at home
- Guacamole :: same as the ranch—we lurve those little guac cups for road trips!
- Hummus :: store-bought or make your own
And if you prefer to get your fruits and veggies in a different way than eating raw, there are other options as well:
- Smoothies :: look for ones with no added sugar, or you can make your own at home and put in recycled bottles
- Dried fruit :: look for fruit without anything added—no sugar, no flavor, no color, no preservatives
- Squeezable applesauce :: no spoon necessary
- Salads in a jar
Road trip snacking is so often carb city—that’s why you feel so hungry before you even get to the next exit! The key to road trip satiation? Protein!
- Yogurt :: look for higher fat versions with less sugar or make your own!
- Jerky :: there are lots of healthier version out here without much additives
- Almonds :: you can’t beat Blue Diamond’s snacking almonds for the road! Lots of great flavors to choose from.
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Roasted chickpeas
- Cheese crackers :: tasty, and surprisingly high in protein!
- Nut butter packets :: it’s like a shot of liquid energy
- Energy bars :: pick up your favorites, or make some granola bars or date bites at home before you leave
- Hummus and dippers
I can’t make it through a road trip without a little something sweet! Instead of grabbing a candy bar from the gas station, I like to pack my own (healthier) treats to grab in a chocolate emergency.
- Graham crackers
- Animal crackers
- Whole grain cookies
- Dark chocolate
- Chocolate covered fruit or nuts
- Fruit snacks :: grab the organic ones if you can
- Whole grain dry cereal
If you have some extra time before your trip, you can also whip up your own homemade goodies (some of which would also be great for breakfast-on-the-go):
- Muffins :: pick whole grains and keep the sugar content lower
- Scones :: same as above
- Homemade cookies
- Black bean brownies
- Chia pudding
I drink water 90% of the time at home (the other 10% being made up of coffee and beer), so I use road trips as an excuse to drink fun drinks! I’m all about the road trip beverages. Sure, it means we have to make pit stops more often, but that’s okay because it’s a good idea to stretch your legs frequently, and traveling is notoriously dehydrating. Drink up!
- Water :: I always take my filtered water bottle with me on trips—no worrying how the water from the rest stop fountain tastes
- Coconut water :: if I feel a headache coming on, a can of coconut water can almost always stop it
- Juice boxes :: a fun treat, but make sure you look for ones with less sugar, and no artificial colors or flavors.
- Natural sodas :: same as with the juice boxes
- Coffee drinks :: I like to have a few of these in case the driver gets sleepy
- Almond milk :: Almond Breeze has awesome shelf-stable, single-serving milks
Tips and Tricks for Healthy Road Trip Snack Packing
With family spread out all over the continent, we’re become quite the on-the-road eating experts. Here’s what works for us:
Ditch the Boxes and Bags
On most items, you can do some serious condensing if you leave the packaging it came in at home. Pull everything out and repackage what needs to be repackaged into smaller stackable containers.
We try not to store food in plastic at home much, but on the road is one place where we love plastic storage containers. They are light, they stack and nest well, and if you lose or break one? It isn’t the end of the world.
Make a snacking tote
Instead of throwing everything all willy-nilly into a bag in the backseat, head to the dollar store and pick up an open tote to hold your non-refrigerated snacks. That way everything is easily accessible and easy to see. No digging through to the bottom of the bag to get the crackers you want.
The tote does tend to get a little crazy at the end of the day, so each evening of the trip, I take everything out and reorganize and restock, if necessary.
Don’t forget accoutrements!
It’s never a bad idea to have a roll of paper towels, some baby wipes, some hand sanitizer, and utensils with you. Also, I recommend packing a few large, gallon-size zip top bags and plastic grocery sacks to work as trash bags. The gallon bags are particularly good to hold any food that would stink up the car!
Our Favorite Road Trip Lunch
We went for years packing a cooler with sandwich fixings for the road, and it always worked out well, but it seemed like more of a hassle than it was worth. Recently, I had an inspired road trip lunch idea—tuna! Shelf stable, tasty, healthy, packed with protein, and substantial enough to feel like a real meal. We mix our tuna with guacamole to make a salad, and serve it on crackers—you could also pack little packets of mayo and relish or a cup of ranch for mixing.
We pack little road trip bento boxes for on-the-go. Just empty it, mix up the tuna salad in the box, and eat!
Just make sure you get a pull-tab style of tuna so you don’t have to pack a can opener, and I recommend eating it out of the car—unless you want your car to smell like tuna for the whole trip. It’s a good excuse to stop at a park and stretch your legs anyway!
So there are my favorite road trip eats! I’d love to have you chime in with your favorites in the comments—I’m sure there are a few ideas I missed. Happy road tripping!
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