This post isn’t about where to eat, it’s about what to eat in the car. Food: the second reason we all love road trips! Noshing as we cruise down the highway is what keeps our boredom at bay, keeps the driver alert, and keeps the kids happy – at least for a few minutes.
Over the years we would purchase sacks full of convenience store junk food every time we stopped for gas. Now we bring our own road food from home. Why? Because by bringing our own, we are able to make healthier choices (not that we always do), and we save money. We’re not saying don’t ever buy anything from the gas station. After all, they are nice enough to let us use their restrooms, and that’s a real guilt thing for us. If we stop just to use their restrooms, we think it’s rude not to buy something. Now we buy a bottle of water and voila, goodbye guilt. Besides, we can always use another bottle of water; it’s our drink of choice while traveling.
Above are some of the snacks that we like to take with us on the road. Notice that almost all of them are in single-serving packages (most of the ones that aren’t are in resealable packaging) and there is nothing that will melt or spoil if left in a hot car. One great thing about these types of snacks is that they can easily be tossed in a backpack for a hike or tucked in a pocket or purse for an outing. Travel tip: the bars, nuts, and meats provide protein to tide you over until your next meal. (Disclaimer: no, we’re not nutritionists; we just know what works for us.) Travel tip: combining some of these foods can result in a fairly decent meal…you know, in case you’re stuck in a blizzard in the middle of nowhere, somewhere between Cheyenne, Wyoming and the Nebraska border…just sayin’. Picnic lunches can be supplemented with them as well. (Olives, yum!) And, all of these snacks are 220 calories or less per serving!
We carry our snacks in this great felt caddy. It has removable dividers in the large center area, three pockets on the front and three on the back, and wide side pockets on each end. It holds a lot and also fits perfectly in the middle of the back floorboard for easy access from the front seat. This caddy folds flat to pack in a suitcase when we fly to where our road trip is going to start. (On that same note, we have a soft cooler that we pack in the suitcase, too.) We love the grab-and-eat convenience of having our road food all in one neatly organized place, and we leave it in the car for the duration of the trip. Travel tip: if you’re hitting the road from home, a snack caddy can be assembled weeks ahead of time so it’s ready to go when you are. Keep a few resealable baggies in your caddy, too, in case you need to bag half of an uneaten snack.
Look for a caddy or other container that meets your needs. Dollar stores have lots of bins and totes, and so do Walmart and Target. You might want to try a cute shower tote or gardening caddy. Heck, a large, lidless, shoe box would work well, too. Anything would be better than throwing it all in a paper grocery sack, which is what we used to do, and it was always a mess! What we’re getting at here is this: make the snacks easy to carry and easy to reach for everyone in the car. And, by the way, we are not getting paid to endorse any of the products featured here. It’s all just stuff we like!
Our Top Picks for Shelf Stable Road Food Options
Nuts — Smoked Meat Snacks — Jerky — Dried Fruit — Chips — Saltine Crackers — Individual Cups of Peanut Butter — Pretzels — Nutrition Bars (not chocolate or chocolate covered) — Prepackaged Olives — Veggie Straws or Chips — Nut Butter Packets — Fish Crackers — Oyster Crackers — Animal Crackers — Popcorn — Mini Cookies — Trail Mix — Cheese or Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers
If you don’t want to buy the single-serving size snacks, which can sometimes be expensive, use resealable baggies and portion out your own servings.
Parents of small children will know what snacks to pack to keep their young ones happy in the car, but we think those squeezy pouches of fruits and veggies are great for kids on the go! Let kids help with choosing the snacks and packing them for the trip so you’re less likely to hear complaints in the car.
Our Top Picks for Road Trip Cooler Snacks
→Sliced zucchini, sliced cucumber, celery sticks, grape tomatoes, and baby carrots mixed together in zip top baggies.
→Strawberries, grapes of all colors, and blueberries mixed together in zip top baggies.
→Shelf stable single-serving milks. These don’t have to be kept in a cooler, but we think they taste better chilled.
→Chocolate. If you need chocolate (and who doesn’t), keep it in the cooler so after an hour on the road it doesn’t melt all over the only pair of jeans you brought on the trip. (Yes, this actually happened…ahem, to somebody we know.)
→Fresh fruits such as apples and pears. Cuties are good, too, but peel and section them before you leave home.
→Cheese sticks or cubes.
Travel tip: before you go, freeze bottled water to use to keep your cooler cool then drink them when they thaw. We also use reusable ice packs and bags of ice to keep everything in our cooler cool. More on that in a future post.
Well, that about covers it. We would love to hear your suggestions for road food tips and tricks, too. Send us your comments.
Travel safe, travel smart, and we’ll see you down the road.
Mike and Kellye