Does this ever happen to you? Without fail, about an hour into any road trip, I get hungry. I can hear the snacks and drinks from the gas stations calling my name as I drive past.
The trick to fighting off these snack attacks is PLANNING!
Healthy road trip snacks should be a well-balanced mix of protein and good-for-you fats, not those that add extra sugar, sodium and empty calories to your diet.
A little planning ahead will help you easily avoid the expensive and unhealthy convenience store foods – like soda, candy and chips – that contain sugar and carbohydrates and leave you wanting more.
This list of healthy snacks are easy to prepare, pack and eat on the road.
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HOW TO PACK AND STORE FOOD FOR A ROAD TRIP
Best Type of Coolers for Road Trips
We use a Koolatron in the back of the Jeep to store the majority of our healthy snack food and drinks that must be kept cold.
A small cooler is kept in the passenger area for easy accessibility while driving.
The Koolatron plugs into a cigarette lighter or use an AC/DC power converter. It sits horizontally or vertically for use as a chest or upright fridge, and includes a shelf for optimal storage and access to foods and beverages.
It’s perfect for the car or to use as a mini fridge in your hotel room.
How to Store Food and Road Trip Snacks
These healthy snacks are now easy to grab and also provide portion control.
The optimum snack should be no more than 100 calories.
HEALTHY ROAD TRIP SNACKS LIST
The following list of healthy snacks are best for a road trip because they will:
• keep you feeling full longer
• keep your energy up
• keep your belt-size intact
Water & Healthy Drinks
I’m the first to admit that I reach for a Diet Dr. Pepper to ‘help me get through the drive’ at times. But, I do know the importance of staying hydrated on a trip, even while driving in a car, and that water is really the best thing for you.
Soda is known as “liquid candy” due to the high levels of refined sugar and empty calories. It really is best to avoid soda.
Did you know that sports drinks and many fruit drinks also contain a lot of sugar?
Keep a few drinks in the smaller cooler in the passenger area for easy access while you drive.
Fresh Fruit, Dried Fruit and Fruit Leather
Fruit is one of the best on-the-go snack options you can find. Fresh berries and grapes are already naturally snack-sized and finger-friendly.
Prepare fruit by washing and cutting as needed before you start your trip. For less mess, avoid fruits with pits or seeds.
Use containers to store the fruit so it won’t smash in the cooler.
Single-serving containers of applesauce and fruit (not in heavy syrup) are also easy options.
Remember one cup of fresh fruit equals half a cup of dried.
ROAD TRIP SNACK TIP: Freeze seedless grapes the night before your trip and you have a delicious, cool treat as you drive. They also double as ‘ice’ in the cooler.
Protein Bars, Engergy Bars and Jerky
We all love a good candy bar right? Here are the facts about a Snickers bar: 2-ounce (58 grams) Snickers bar packs in 280 calories, 14 grams of total fat and 30 grams of sugar. That’s a ton of sugar and empty calories.
Replace your favorite candy bar with a protein or energy bar to boost your protein and fiber intake.
Some ‘granola bars’ are sugar-laden so be sure to look for bars that contain 3 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein and less than 35 percent of calories from sugar.
Jerky is a high-energy snack that contains a hefty dose of protein. Look for jerky that contains small amounts of saturated fat. Opt for low-sodium versions as well.
MAKE YOUR OWN HEALTY SNACKS:
Nuts, Popcorn & Rice Cakes
Say no to chips.
If you’re craving something salty and crunchy, opt for peanuts, pistachios, walnuts or almonds. Add in pumpkin or sunflower seeds and you have a good combination of healthy fats and protein.
Although nuts are packed full of protein, fiber and healthy fats, keep portions small (14 almonds or 20 pistachios equals 100 calories). Select unsalted varieties to keep sodium levels in check.
Vegetables and Healthy Dip
Pre-wash and prep raw vegetables for snacking. Or find pre-packaged snack size veggies.
Car-friendly vegetables include cherry or grape tomatoes, baby carrots, broccoli florets, celery sticks, snap peas, and sliced cucumbers.
Any of your favorite vegetables will stay fresh when sliced and stored in the cooler.
One cup of baby carrots (about 12) with 2 tablespoons of hummus for dipping is a good-for-you 100-calorie snack.
Cheese & Hard Boiled Eggs
Low-fat cheese like string cheese, single-serving cottage cheese containers, or cubes of your favorite low-fat medium-hard cheese such as Colby or cheddar are perfect car-friendly finger foods.
Two string cheese snacks or 1.5 ounces (4 grams) of cheese is just 100 calories, and also contains calcium and other important vitamins and nutrients. If you slice cheese into the shape of a domino, about two slices will equal 1.5 ounces of cheese.
Hard-boiled eggs add good fats to your body to keep your heart healthy. They also pack important vitamins to help protect your eyes and keep your bones strong.
Hard-boiled eggs are portable and can be eaten alone or added to other foods.
ROAD TRIP SNACK TIP: Scoop out the egg yolk to eliminate nearly all the fat and reduce the caloric intake by more than half.
Pre-packed trail mixes are convenient, but beware of their fat, sodium and sugar contents.
Trail mix is a quick and easy make-at-home snack that will keep well in a storage container with lid or baggie.
Combine granola, raw nuts, seeds, and dried fruits for a basic trail mix. Add a bit of sweetness with dark chocolate chips, or add a bit of spice with wasabi peas.
Protein Snack Kits
Prepare cheese slices or cubes (or use string cheese) and meat slices or cubes at home, then store them in an airtight container in your cooler.
Create single-serving portions of your favorite whole-grain crackers ahead of time to make this snack car-friendly.
There are portable protein snacks you can buy now.
ROAD TRIP SNACK TIP: If you crave salty and sweet, peanut butter (or another nut butter) and crackers or apple slices are healthy alternatives that provide protein, fiber and vitamins.
Yogurt is a wonderful snack that can also be blended into a low-fat smoothie, or mixed with fruit and granola.
Or enjoy a quick and easy smoothie bowl!
Yogurt adds calcium and vitamin D to your daily nutritional intake, which is good for the health of your bones, teeth and other bodily functions.
Many brands also contain probiotics that are live, friendly bacteria to keep our digestive system running smoothly. Check the label for live active cultures.
ROAD TRIP SNACK TIP: If you are prone to travelers’ diarrhea, yogurt with probiotics may help reduce the risk or severity of this condition and other infections.
Sandwiches & Wraps
Sandwiches can be a quick and easy way to control hunger and the urge to snack while adding some good protein and hearty grains to your daily nutrition.
I don’t enjoy soggy sandwiches. These tips help make your sandwiches withstand the wear and tear of road travel.
Finger sandwiches – The small size makes them easier to manage and eat.
Wrap or Pita – Bread can be tricky to keep fresh so use a wheat tortilla or pita instead.
Mix the veggies – Sometimes vegetables make sandwiches soggy. Toss them in tuna or chicken, rather than stacked on top, to prevent this from happening.
Salad lovers – Toss the greens and other ingredients of your favorite salad then wrap everything in a tortilla. Pack the dressing on the side and dip the wrap to avoid soggy lettuce.
ROAD TRIP SNACK TIP: Sandwiches made with meats and cheese or hummus and raw vegetables should be stored in airtight containers in a cooler. Peanut or nut butter sandwiches with honey or jelly on whole grain bread can be kept at room temperature.
When your car is packed with smart food choices, you won’t be tempted by the expensive roadside eateries or fast food chains.
And! If at one stop along your way you happen to be tempted by the local ‘must have’ ice cream, you won’t feel a bit guilty for indulging – just this once!