Long car trips are much more enjoyable for the whole family when satisfying snacks and drinks are readily available! As a dietitian and mom of 3, I have learned some effective road trip strategies to keep kids happy, energized, and satisfied throughout the journey.
When thinking about the foods you want to offer in the car, consider what meals and snacks you will be travelling through to get to your destination. With younger kids, you may need to stop more often for washroom or activity breaks, which allows for a snack or meal stop as well. However, if your family prefers to continue long stretches in the car, it is best to plan for food items easily served and eaten on the go!
Bring a well-insulated cooler (and keep within arm’s reach in the car) to pack foods you want to keep cold such as veggies, individual hummus packs, cheese sticks, mini yogurt drinks or cups, and beverages.
Always plan to bring enough hydrating drinks for you and your kids, to prevent dehydration symptoms like headaches, leg cramps and exhaustion. A refillable insulated water bottle for each person works well to keep water cold and satisfying. My kids also love the mini drinkable yogurts that are easy to include as a part of a snack in the car!
Protein-rich snack ideas:
Snacks that are high in protein help to slow down digestion and will keep your kids satisfied for longer. I find this helps to reduce the number of “mum I’m hungryyyyy…” cries throughout the trip! Here are some simple, delicious protein-packed snacks that are easy to serve on the go:
- Trail mix with nuts, seeds and dried fruit (If your child is under 4 years old, nuts are a choking hazard and should not be served whole)
- String cheese with fruit (such as a baggy of grapes, apple or orange sections)- make sure you pre-peel the string cheese and halve grapes if your child is under the age of four to reduce choking risk
- Nut and seed granola bars
- Protein energy balls. Try these delicious Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Protein Balls
- Veggie and fruit ideas. Adding veggies and fruit to road trip snacks will give your kiddos that satisfying fibre boost to help stabilize their blood sugar levels and keep their tummies full. Not to mention all of those essential vitamins and minerals their bodies need for their growth and wellness!
- Pre-cut veggies such as carrots, cucumber slices, bell pepper sticks, and cauliflower florets
- Simply pack containers or baggies of mini veggies that don’t need to be cut like snap peas, mini cucumbers, mini tomatoes, mini bell peppers and baby carrots
- Fruit and veggie pouches are a quick grab-and-go option to add to any snack
- Apples, pears, bananas, strawberries, grapes and oranges are easy fruits to travel with and serve on the go!
Energy food ideas:
Energy foods provide an excellent source of carbohydrates (the macronutrient our brain, muscles and organs use for energy) to your kid’s meal or snack. Often, energy foods also provide satisfying protein and fat as well!
- Homemade muffins/ loaves
- Granola/ Granola bars/ fig bars
- Energy balls-take a look through these 20 Easy, Nutritious Energy Ball Recipes Kids Love!
- Dried fruit bars
- Don’t forget to pack “just because” foods!
- Including some “just because” food helps to add some excitement and creates fun memories when on the road!
Get your kiddos involved in choosing their favorite foods to bring. Here are some examples:
- Candies and gummies etc.
Serving “just because” foods alongside regular snack foods, help to neutralize these foods, putting them all on the same playing field. It gives you the opportunity to communicate to your child that all foods are morally equal, demonstrating there is nothing wrong with enjoying food simply for pleasure, rather than just fuel or nutrition. Here’s hoping your next road trip adventure is a delicious one!