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12 healthy snack ideas for a summer road trip

Posted on Jul. 19, 2016 ( comments)
Road trip food and key

Road trips are often portrayed as carefree, spur-of-the-moment adventures with your best friends. In reality, they often involve finicky toddlers and tired parents, so planning ahead is best — though not always possible.

Whether you have time to pack a pantry of snacks or you’re dashing out the door at the last minute, here are some tips for eating healthy on a road trip.

Planning ahead?

Well-chosen snacks can contribute to a day’s nourishment. Smart snacks, readily available in our cars, can help us avoid convenience stores and the ubiquitous fast-food drive-thru.

Here are some suggestions for packing healthy road trip foods that both kids and adults will appreciate.

If you want something sweet…

  • Freeze-dried berries such as strawberries, raspberries or blueberries
  • Dried fruits such as mangos, dates or raisins
  • Fruit and veggie puree in squeezable containers

If you want carbs…

  • Low-fat popcorn seasoned with herbs
  • Whole-grain crackers
  • Individual cereal boxes (eaten dry)
  • Energy bars
  • Packets of olives with spices and herbs

If you want protein…

  • Ready-made tuna salad pouches
  • Turkey, salmon, pork, beef or tofu jerky
  • Nuts, seeds and nut-based bars
  • Shelf-stable cheese and hummus

Don’t forget to hydrate!

Be sure to pack plenty of water. If you’re looking to treat yourself to spa water on the go, try Hint Water. The blackberry flavor is our personal favorite!

For the kids, pack juice boxes made with 100 percent juice.

No time to plan ahead?

When you run out of time, here are some things to look for at convenience stores and fast-food joints.

Convenience stores

Time to fill up on fuel and grab some snacks for the family? Look for yogurt, milk boxes or 100-percent juice. Other options:

  • Triscuits and Wheat Thins
  • Bananas and other fresh fruit, if available
  • Fruit and veggie pouches
  • Fig Newtons, graham crackers, vanilla wafers
  • Peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds or pistachios
  • Energy bars with nuts

Since it’s summer, children will undoubtedly head for the ice cream section. Keep an eye out for popsicles made with yogurt or 100-percent juice.

Fast food

Remember, we don’t have to accept fries on the side. More fast food restaurants offer a variety of sides, and they’ve become healthier for kids’ meals, including items such as apple slices and yogurt. Salads probably aren’t a realistic side for kids, but adults will appreciate the option.

Baked potatoes and chili are good fast food choices to consider. And when ordering breakfast sandwiches, choose those with lean meat options, such as turkey bacon or Canadian bacon.

Additional tips

Pack car snacks in a convenient car tote, which can hold glass containers if you are concerned about carrying food in plastic containers that sit all day in hot temperatures.

Finally, remember to savor your snacks even if you are multi-tasking on a road trip. Aim for 200-calorie (or less) snacks so they remain a part of a healthy diet.

This story was originally published in July 2015 and updated in July 2016.

About The Author

Bev Utt, MS, MPH, RD
Bev Utt, MS, MPH, RD, is a wellness nutritionist and health educator with MultiCare's Center for Healthy Living. More stories by this author
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