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Noyes Health / About Noyes / News / Article

Road Trip Snacking

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

My family is headed out on a road trip in a few weeks and as is tradition in the Wichtowski household, mama will pack the snack bag.   Finding the right balance between fun and healthy foods is the key to keeping the troops happy.  After all, it wouldn’t be much of a road trip if all I had to offer the family was twigs and berries.  That being said, junk food full of salt and sugars but void of any nutrition is the perfect combo-pack for sugar highs followed by my tummy is empty and so is my brain lows.  With a little planning, you can save money, keep the family happy, and feel good about the food provided.  

A week before your trip, ask your family members what they would like for snacks and then involve them in putting together the goodies.  This is a great opportunity to fit in a little nutrition education in the context of everyday living.   Studies show that children who are involved in the planning and prepping process are more likely to eat healthy foods.  Depending on the age of the children in the household, it may make sense to package individually sized portions.  In addition, you can reduce litter in the car and in the landfill by storing snacks in re-usable plastic containers.   If you will be traveling all day before reaching your destination, consider packing a healthy lunch to save on time, money, and calories.  And finally, before you head out, make sure everyone in the family takes time to eat a healthy breakfast.   To make snacks and lunch easy, pack a variety of nutrition packed foods that can be eaten without utensils or just a spoon.

Before hitting the grocery store, consider the balance of snack bag foods.  You want some healthy carbs, fruits and veggies, protein, and drinks.  Finally, throw in a little bit of fun!   When you are ready to load, pack a bag for the non-perishables and a cooler for the perishables.  Here are some suggestions to stock your car for this summer’s road trip:

Healthy Carbs

  • Homemade popcorn (leave it unbuttered for the sake of your upholstery)

  • Whole wheat crackers

  • Whole wheat mini pitas

  • Whole wheat bread or bagels

  • Energy or granola bars – look for ones with whole grains and limited added sugar

Homemade popcorn (leave it unbuttered for the sake of your upholstery)

Whole wheat crackers

Whole wheat mini pitas

Whole wheat bread or bagels

Energy or granola bars – look for ones with whole grains and limited added sugar

Fruits and Veggies

  • Apples

  • Bananas

  • Grapes

  • Clementines or pre-cut orange slices

  • Baby carrots or carrot sticks

  • Celery sticks

  • Cucumber slices

  • Sugar snap peas

  • Grape or cherry tomatoes

  • Apple sauce – individual containers – no added sugar

  • Dried fruit – raisin, craisins, apricots, apples

Apples

Bananas

Grapes

Clementines or pre-cut orange slices

Baby carrots or carrot sticks

Celery sticks

Cucumber slices

Sugar snap peas

Grape or cherry tomatoes

Apple sauce – individual containers – no added sugar

Dried fruit – raisin, craisins, apricots, apples

Protein

  • Hummus – store bought or homemade – serve with pitas, crackers, or veggies

  • Cheese – string, cubed, or sliced

  • Peanut butter – individual size containers for celery sticks, apple slices, or crackers

  • Hard boiled eggs

  • Nuts and seeds – almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds

  • Lean meats for sandwiches or to top crackers

Hummus – store bought or homemade – serve with pitas, crackers, or veggies

Cheese – string, cubed, or sliced

Peanut butter – individual size containers for celery sticks, apple slices, or crackers

Hard boiled eggs

Nuts and seeds – almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds

Lean meats for sandwiches or to top crackers

Drinks

  • Water bottles for everyone – Freezing the water bottles the night before is a great trick for keeping the water cold and the slow melt keeps kiddos from gulping down all the water at once.

  • Low sugar juice boxes or low-fat, soy, or almond milk for lunch time

  • Caffeine drinks as needed for the drivers!

Water bottles for everyone – Freezing the water bottles the night before is a great trick for keeping the water cold and the slow melt keeps kiddos from gulping down all the water at once.

Low sugar juice boxes or low-fat, soy, or almond milk for lunch time

Caffeine drinks as needed for the drivers!

Something Fun

  • A bit of chocolate (small individual pieces instead of large candy bars - keep it in the cooler –take it from me, melted chocolate, white shorts, and  car upholstery do not mix!)

  • Gum (if the child is old enough)

  • Trail mix – make it with the children ahead of time- pop in a few chocolate chips amongst the nuts and dried fruits

A bit of chocolate (small individual pieces instead of large candy bars - keep it in the cooler –take it from me, melted chocolate, white shorts, and  car upholstery do not mix!)

Gum (if the child is old enough)

Trail mix – make it with the children ahead of time- pop in a few chocolate chips amongst the nuts and dried fruits

Even with planning, some fast food stops may be inevitable.  If you find yourself at one of these highway stops, consider these healthy fast food options:

  • Salad – light on the dressing

  • Choose a side of fruit or baked potato instead of fries

  • Ditch the bun and skip the mayo – save calories and fat by eating only half the bun and using mustard instead of mayo

  • Choose grilled chicken over a burger or fried chicken

  • Load up with veggies at the sub shop – choose a lean meat and then load on as many veggies as you like

  • Drink milk or water instead of soda

Salad – light on the dressing

Choose a side of fruit or baked potato instead of fries

Ditch the bun and skip the mayo – save calories and fat by eating only half the bun and using mustard instead of mayo

Choose grilled chicken over a burger or fried chicken

Load up with veggies at the sub shop – choose a lean meat and then load on as many veggies as you like

Drink milk or water instead of soda

Have fun this summer – enjoy the journey and as always, be healthy out there!

Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville.  If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at lwichtowski@noyeshealth.org or 585-335-4327.  

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