Sunny skies and winding roads ahead!  It’s that time of year again, the much anticipated arrival of summer!  Many families, including mine, will be taking road trips to see the sites, visit family, or travel to sporting events.  Our first swim meet of the season is this weekend so it’s time to start planning!

Road Trip!Tempting as it may be to see what food fate lands you on the open road, it is often straight into the arms of a drive-thru or gas station. Too many snacks and meals off of these menus are not only hard on the wallet, but leave everyone feeling a little weighed down.  I would much rather pack snacks and a cooler, saving money for taking in the sights or a nice dinner out, than watch it disappear on candy bars, chips, and soda.

Afraid your family will resist your healthy efforts? Involve them in the packing process – let them choose some of their favorite snacks.  Have little ones help you make trail mix from cereal, dried fruit, and nuts.  Older kids can help wash fruit or chop raw veggies for the cooler.

Even though you are prepared, plan to make some stops on your route. Will you be driving through a town famous for their ice cream parlor or hitting a summer festival or farmer’s market? If there are certain places everyone is looking forward to visiting, they will be much more willing to eat what is packed along the way.

Here are some healthy suggestions for family friendly, belly filling food for the road!

Non-perishables:

  • Jars of roasted nuts (great source of protein that doesn’t spoil)
  • Jerky (a good protein fix to stave off hunger)
  • Squeeze fruit purees (a non-perishable serving of fruit)
  • Squeeze packages of nut butter (great for apples, carrots, whole grain crackers or eating it straight from the package)
  • Fruit that travels well (clementines, apples)
  • Whole grain crackers or rice cakes
  • Popcorn (pop it yourself and it is a healthy, high fiber, low-cost snack to cure the crunchy munchies)
  • Granola or granola bars (I like to stir it in yogurt for a quick breakfast on the road)
  • Energy or meal replacement bars (for when the unexpected delays create hangry people!)

For the cooler:

  • Frozen grapes (keeps the food in your cooler cold longer)
  • Cut up watermelon (a refreshing sweet treat when the temperature spikes)
  • Frozen yogurt tubes (helps keep food cold and is like having an ice cream treat!)
  • Hummus (great to dip and travels well)
  • Baby carrots and sugar snap peas (goes great with that hummus!)
  • Water bottles (we wash and re-use our own to avoid the plastic waste)

Packing food for the road gets easier every time you do it.  I’ve learned what the family favorites are and try to keep them on hand so I can pack a bag with little preparation.  Now that swim season has started, we will be on the road every weekend! I feel better when I know my hungry swimmers are loading up on nutritious snacks versus empty calories–and I really like saving money for the fun stuff!

What are some of your favorite healthy road trip foods?