“Summer time and the livin’ is easy,” or so the lyrics go. Summer time usually means road trips and eating healthy on the road isn’t always easy. I’ve come up with a few ways we like to eat healthy on a road trip that also saves you time and money.
Side note: Can I just tell you I love driving versus flying? I know you can bring your own food (within reason) to the airport. But I much prefer to have a cooler full of my own food or be able to stop at a grocery store rather than be stuck with the options from a food court. And, what I bring tends to be much healthier or at least less expensive than what you’ll get at the airport too.
So, with that, here’s how we eat healthy on a road trip:
Pack a cooler
Pack a cooler for easy access to munching on the road. When driving long distances, we make eating times flexible and allow for snacking in between meals. For snacks and food eaten in the car, we try to avoid anything that might make a mess, mostly in the form of crumbs. Save crackers, granola bars and the occasional cookie for rest stops. Pack in individual disposable bags (I don’t want to do dishes on the road!) Bring along some wipes to clean hands before and after.
Some good cooler items
- String cheese
- Hard-boiled eggs, peeled
- 100% Juice – limited to 1 or 2 per kid per day.
- Yogurt (don’t forget plastic spoons!)
A list of dry snacks that are not messy
- Milk – Chocolate, white or strawberry. In the dry milk aisle of the grocery store they sell individual servings that do not have to be refrigerated. (a treat in our house!)
- Apple slices –either the pre-cut kind from the store, or make your own and sprinkle with a little lemon juice to prevent browning
- Dried Cranberries, raisins or cherries
Plan a picnic
We usually plan to stop at a rest area along the way for a picnic lunch, dinner or even breakfast and it is an ideal way to eat healthy. Not only do I know what is going into my family’s tummies, it is less expensive and often takes less time, allowing us to get back on the road and on our way.
Many of the rest stops along the interstate have shaded picnic benches and plenty of space for little ones to run off some energy away from the parking lot and traffic. Some of the larger welcome centers are often beautifully landscaped making it a nice place to take a break.
- Homemade hoagie or sub sandwiches – hoagie bread won’t get as mushy as traditional sandwich bread
- Make your own Lunchable – cheese cubes, pepperoni or salami and whole wheat crackers
- Veggies – cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, cucumber slices
Eat at the Fast Food Chain
They’re everywhere and inevitable. And there will be times where you’ve run out of food. But the good news is many of the fast food chains are trying to appeal to the health conscious eater. Salads, smoothies and fruit cups are options. However, if you can’t pass up the “I want fries with that” for yourself or the kids, keep driving on.
Additionally, if you want to get out of the car (a good time for a stretch anyway) you can pop into one of the healthier sandwich shops for a quicker healthier bite to eat.
Don’t forget to plan for the return trip home. Bring extra plastic baggies and give yourself enough time to stop at a grocery store the night before you leave.
What does your family eat on road trips?