Healthy, portable on-the-go snacks for your kids on road trips
Families are busy booking camping and road trip getaways more than ever this summer. It’s cheaper, more environmentally friendly and healthier to pack some road trip snacks for the kids (and yourself!).
It’s a great idea to bring along a mini cooler with ice packs. Then you’re able to pack sandwiches, yogurt tubes, cheese strings and other items that need to be kept cool.
But my list of suggestions includes foods that don’t require refrigeration. Many are shelf-stable so that you can bring extras for the trip home.
While nutrition isn’t a top priority during vacation, it’s a bonus if you can get some fruit/veggies, fibre and protein while still being tasty.
Here’s your healthy road trip food ideas to bring along:
Tortillas with peanut butter & jam sliced into pinwheels
These make good bite-sized pieces to serve for a lunch on-the-go. Tortillas are a bit easier to pack and keep their shape better than bread so I like their portability.
If your kids don’t like nut butter or are allergic, try cream cheese and jam pinwheels instead.
Beef jerky or pepperoni sticks
Dried meat like a pack of beef jerky doesn’t require refrigeration until opened. It’s high in protein and iron, an important nutrient for growing kids.
Roasted chickpeas or lentils
These tasty, crunchy snacks are easy to find prepared and bagged ready to go. They’re high in protein and fibre and come in various flavours.
You can also easily google a recipe and make your own!
Just be cautious of serving them to young children (4 and under). Don’t serve hard round objects like dried chickpeas while driving, as they’re a choking hazard. Save them for a break or picnic time.
Freeze-dried fruit & veggies
Fresh fruit is easy to grab and healthy. But can be a mushy, juicy mess at the bottom of your diaper bag or purse. Firmer fruits and veggies like apple slices, carrots, snap peas and bell pepper slices tend to travel best.
I love freeze-dried fruit or veggies for on-the-go. They are super light to lug around! And becoming easier to find in stores and through companies like Thrive Life.
Dried fruit also works and stores well, but is a bit sticky.
Dried nuts and fruit are energy and nutrient-dense. And don’t take up too much space.
Beyond dried fruit and nuts, you can make your own snack mix with add-ins like:
- whole grain cereal,
- pretzel sticks,
- sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
Muffins, cookies or granola bars
I’ll often double the baking recipe and throw an extra bunch of cookies of muffins in the freezer. They’re easy to grab in the morning and thawed by lunch or snack time.
Here are some recipes for Chia Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins and Cosmic Cookies here.
These are so easy: no-baking required! And not usually as crumbly as muffins or cookies. Plus they are a tasty & healthy snack that includes a balance of protein, fat and carbs. Check out my prune energy ball recipe here.
Frozen yogurt tubes
If you keep yogurt tubes in your freezer, they turn into freezies! They also serve as an ice pack and you don’t have to worry about the yogurt going bad quickly
Fruit & veggie pouches can also be stored in the freezer and help keep your other snacks cool for the trip to your destination.
It’s hectic trying to get everyone organized and out of the house! If you don’t have time to bake your own energy balls or muffins, it’s always good to have some packaged granola bars on hand.
Check the ingredients and nutrition facts tables. I look for a bar that is higher in fibre and protein and lower in sugar. Some of my favourites are KIND bars and Lara bars.
More on snacking for kids…
Another tip for snacking is to have a scheduled snack time. If your kiddo is snacking all day, they won’t have any appetite left for their meal.
Plus, it encourages eating for reasons other than hunger (like boredom) and is bad for dental health. This is a bit harder when stuck in the car for hours, of course your kid is going to get bored! Just have activities other than eating at the ready.
If you have a kid that loves to snack all day and refuses meals, check out my post about why you might have a picky eater and what to do about it here.
Founder of First Step Nutrition | Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Jen believes raising happy, well-nourished eaters who have a healthy relationship with food doesn't have to be a battle! She is an author and speaker with 18 years of experience specializing in family nutrition and helps parents teach their kids to try new foods without yelling, tricking, or bribing.