Outside of the words “I have to go to the bathroom” and “How much farther?”, “I’m hungry” can change the mood from road trip fun to road trip meltdowns.
If you plan to hit the road this summer, consider ways to avoid fast food by making your own munchies for the road. It saves time and money, lets you make fewer stops, and breaks up the boredom of long car rides. Plus, eating nutritious foods is healthier.
Whether you are traveling in an RV or a car, here are some tips for the best foods to pack that the whole family will enjoy — and that will keep you on the road longer.
Hard-boiled eggs: Prepare in advance and keep chilled, and you are good to go! Make hard-boiled eggs more kid-friendly by peeling in advance (you can even put those kiddos to work with this preparation), and cut into bite-sized pieces for little fingers. Add some whole wheat crackers for a filling snack or to make it part of a finger food meal.
String cheese: A great food for on the go! Easy to peel, string cheese contains healthy fat and good proteins. Serve with apple slices to add variety.
Protein bars: Choose carefully. Look for bars that contain natural ingredients, and avoid the ones with high sugar.
Ham-and-cream-cheese wheels: To create, lay out a piece of ham, spread it with cream cheese and roll up. Slice into bite-size pieces.
Tuna: Purchase packets that are pre-drained and ready to eat. Serve with whole wheat crackers.
Snacks that Satisfy and Complement Proteins for Lunch or Dinner on the Road:
Carrots: A good source of fiber and nutrition, carrots are also a great food choice as a boredom buster on the road. They are crunchy, keep mouths busy, and don’t make a mess. Be sure to cut into bite-sized portions appropriate for your crew.
Grapes: Naturally healthy, sweet and easy to eat, grapes are another great go-to for a family with the munchies in the car. Be sure to cut up in advance to reduce the risk of choking (cut lengthwise, NOT in half).
Strawberries: Another sweet treat that when washed, sliced and stored in containers will compliment other foods. Serve with a little almond butter for a super sweet treat.
Bell peppers: Slice up sweet yellow and red peppers for easy eating. Pack some guacamole to pair with these vegetables.
Dried fruits: Purchase and pack. Just be sure to avoid dried fruits with added sugars or preservatives.
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans): Instead of bags of chips, consider baking chickpeas and packing them in snack-sized containers to go. Drain and dry chickpeas, then toss with olive oil. Season with salt and other spices and bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 450 degrees. Let cool before packing.
Homemade kale chips: Before you load up and head out, rip washed kale into pieces, then toss with olive oil. Spread onto a baking sheet, bake for approximately 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Let cool and pack into snack-sized bags for easy sharing.
Pretzels: A better choice than chips. Dip in peanut butter, almond butter or buy peanut-butter pretzels (look for more natural versions and try to avoid the ones packed with extra sugar).
Cereal: Choose the ones that are high in fiber, low in sugar, and organic if possible. Pack in sandwich bags for easy sharing. Single-serve cereal bags also make an easy, low-cost breakfast when paired with a single-serve carton of low-fat milk.
Hummus: Forget the ranch dressing. Buy or make your own hummus, a great protein-packed compliment to veggies and crackers.
Peanut butter: Forget the jelly — it doesn’t add much except loads of sugar. Slather on whole wheat bread or even a whole grain tortilla. Add sweetness by topping with slices of banana.
And the Sweet Treat?
Dark chocolate: Sometimes, you just need the ultimate sweet treat. Choose the chocolate with the most health benefits — dark. A little will go a long way in satisfying those sweet tooths on a road trip.
Jeannie Fleming-Gifford has a MA in family and consumer sciences with a specialization in child development and is the executive director at Fairmount Center for the Arts. Her passions include outdoor adventures, volunteering to raise potential autism service dogs, and writing. She recently published her first children’s book, “SymFUNNY.”