Eating healthy on a road trip is one of the most challenging and yet most important things to do when it comes to family travel.
Cranky kids are a parent’s worse nightmare and no one wants a driver who has reached the “hangry stage” either! In our house we are challenged with a dairy and a nut allergy, making restaurant stops out of the question, which means we need to be uber prepared when it comes time to hit the road!
Michelle from Westcoast Nutrition advised, “Packing plenty of protein foods helps to keep energy up and moods steady, and a variety of high fibre fruit and veggies will keep everyone’s tummies settled during trips that are sure to have some extra treats.”
Here’s how we break down road trip prep as well as some of our favourite foods to bring along the way:
Hit The Kitchen
Planning is essential before you head out. Get out the pen and paper and make a list of groceries you’ll need so that you know what food to take on a road trip. We often spend the week before we pack in the kitchen, cooking and baking up food and then freezing it. Freezing helps give it longevity in the cooler and helps keep everything else cool as well.
Here are some of our favourite items to prep before you head out on a road trip:
- Turkey Meatballs
- Beef Meatballs
- Cut up fruit and veggies
- Protein bites
- Homemade granola bars
- Homemade cookies (with chickpeas in them for extra protein)
- Hard-boiled eggs
Some easy camping meals we like to prepare include:
- Spaghetti Sauce
- Hamburgers / Chicken Burgers
- Scrambled eggs make a great satisfying camping breakfast and the protein will help stave off hunger throughout an active day. We like to pre-mix eggs, milk and spices in a water bottle or freezer bag to save space. Just shake and pour into a pan when you’re ready to eat.
- Dried lentil soup mixes are light to carry, compact and easy to prepare with just hot water when camping.
Stock Up on Supplies
After we’ve cooked until we can’t cook anymore we hit the grocery store and stock up on essential items that we need to bring for snacks in the car. Some of our favourite go-to items include:
- Mess-free fruits and veggies
- Carrot sticks
- Cucumber slices
- Apple Slices
- Sliced Deli Meat
- Sliced Cheese or Cheese Strings
- Yogurt Tubes
- Roasted chickpeas, homemade or store-bought, are a great crunchy high fiber and protein snack that are safe for nut free families.
- Fishy Crackers
- Cheese Buns
- Low crumble crackers and a thick dip like hummus will keep little ones busy in the back, without fighting over food or making a mess.
While on the Road
Expand your experience and stop along the way and fill up on local food. Whether that’s a fruit stand, farmer’s market or a specialty deli, local shops are a great place to indulge and experience a community’s culture.
After you know what food to take on a road trip and you’re stopped at a grocery store to stock up, make sure you have a plan. This needs to be a strategic plan to ensure not only that you have the right healthy food that you need, but also the places to put it all! There’s nothing more challenging than running out of cooler room and having to reorganize everything in the grocery store parking lot!
When we’re on the road here are the top things we like to stop and restock on:
- Healthy breads and buns
- Bagged salads (easy to make and the bag doubles as a bowl)
- Main course meals
- Deli meals! Whether it’s a cooked chicken or a pre-made salad, we always stop at a deli if we’re looking for a healthy meal without any prep!
Now that you know what food to take on a road trip… Need help packing for your road trip? We’ve got some great tips and tricks on how and what to pack as well as information for when airline travel might be part of your road trip! Perhaps you are heading camping this summer, we’ve got some great inspiration on packing for a last-minute camping trip, including our Ultimate Camping Checklist!
A special thank you to Michelle from Westcoast Nutrition who let me pick her brain, jumped in and shared some of her grab and go snacks and meals too!
Michelle Shepherd, RD