If there are two things that go together on a road trip, it’s kids and snacks. As we make our way into the final days of summer and those energizing still-warm weekends in fall, here are some healthy snack ideas for both you and your kiddos!
Before You Go
While it may be tempting to stop at a convenience store or even a food stand at the airport, consider the advantages of packing your own whole foods snacks at home before you leave. With just a little extra planning and some creativity, it’s possible to pack family-friendly, healthy snacks to bring with you on your trip.
- Consider your travels: Your planned travel likely influences snack type – are you flying, driving, hiking? Are you able to plan a grocery stop for healthy snacks? Are you able to bring a small cooler on your trip or are you limited to dry goods?
- Make a shopping list: Which snack items are on your must-have list, and what items appeal to your kiddos? Allowing your kids to weigh in and gently steer them toward healthy purchases is a great way to set them up for healthy snacking for life! Making a shopping list can also save time and help you avoid making unhealthy choices.
- Make a “family snack pack:” Is there a healthy snack that you and your family can make together prior to departure? Consider getting the family together in the kitchen to make a protein-packed trail mix, for example, with nuts, whole grains and dried fruit.
Healthy Alternatives to Typical Convenience Foods
Since August was Kids Eat Right Month, we’ve been talking a lot about creative ways for kids to learn about nutrition and form lifelong healthy habits. So instead of chips and other “traditional” snacks, pack healthy, satisfying, travel-friendly snacks. Foods that are high in protein and fiber can keep you and your kids feeling full longer without the energy-draining sugar crashes that may follow if you reach for sugary, processed snacks.
- Edamame – dried and/or lightly seasoned
- Veggies: baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, sliced peppers or cucumber
- Ants on a log: celery sticks filled with peanut or almond butter and raisins on top
- Dried fruit – banana chips, raisins, etc.
- Boiled eggs – easy to make a batch ahead of time
- And our favorite, Zing’s healthy snack bars!
We approached our Registered Dietitian Nutritionist friends for their tried and true travel snack ideas. Monica Salafia, RDN and owner of Mind on Nutrition, recently embarked on a 26-hour road trip, clearly making her an expert on the topic of healthy snacks for traveling! Monica suggests packing dry oats, nuts and raisins in a baggie – with a quick stop at a gas station for hot water – poof, hot oatmeal! For dips and dunks, she suggests putting peanut butter or hummus in a baggie, then cutting a tiny hole from the corner and squeezing on fruits and/or veggies.
Kara Landau, the “Travelling Dietitian,” packs her own snack packs for flights. She often makes high protein, high fiber “bliss balls” such as these “Sugar-Free Nutella Gut Strengthening Bliss Balls.” Kara notes, “By incorporating some protein, prebiotic fiber and resistant starch, I know that my hunger will be kept at bay!”
Kara also suggest taking a small portion of leftovers from the night before, such as roasted vegetables and grilled chicken. She keeps everything in a “cooler bag” that keeps food chilled for up to eight hours.
Before you stock up for your next weekend trip, consider Registered Dietitian Nutritionists’ recommendations and pack plenty of healthy snacks for you and the kids. Zing Bars, whole foods such as fresh fruits and veggies, and plenty of water are an excellent way to keep your energy up for your weekend adventures!