My family has spent a LOT of time on the road lately, what with driving back and forth across the country over and over and whatnot. And because of our special food considerations, we have to pack everything we intend to eat. And because I’m picky about what I let the kids eat, and I don’t have an unlimited grocery budget, we have to get a bit creative when we do this. But, by the time we were settled here in Ohio, I felt like I had a pretty good handle on the snack supply. So I thought I’d share some ideas with you, my faithful readers!
10. Lunch meat – We should have bought stock in Hormel before we started this adventure! Their natural line of lunch meat is easy to come by in many grocery stores. It tastes good and is highly portable. And while lunch meat is a tad high in sodium, and price, it was a staple for us on the road.
9. NuGo Bars, Lara Bars, Enjoy Life Brand bars – If you haven’t yet discovered NuGo brand snack bars, you are truly missing out. All NuGo bars are based on the beneficial properties of dark chocolate, and oh my do they deliver taste! They come in several different varieties, with more or less allergens in them, so read carefully if this is a concern for you. But even without the allergen concerns, these bars are heavenly! My kids really love the Enjoy Life brand bars as well. They prefer the berry flavor, but will take apple in a pinch. And Lara Bars are always a good alternative, too. It is easy to come up with copycat Lara Bar recipes online, if you prefer to save money or just make it yourself. And homemade granola bars would also keep costs and processing lower, but I didn’t have time for any of that this go round.
8. Berries – My kids love berries, and they really were a great portable food! I had never thought of them for trips before, because they seem so delicate, but in the plastic clam shells from the store, they traveled quite nicely. They needed no dips or garnishes – just a damp wipe to keep in the back seat!
7. Raisins and/or dried cranberries – We eat a ton of these at home, and on the road was no exception. Dropped in a bottle, they were a great road snack.
6. Dried Fruit – my kids eat a TON of dried fruit. We regularly have dried mango, apricot, banana, pineapple and sometimes papaya. These are in addition to the obvious raisins and cranberries. And a friend makes dried apple slices that my children refer to as “apple pie”. This is so easily portable and non-messy that it was a must have for the trips.
5. Nuts – Protein can be the hardest nutrient for us to get when we are travelling, because it almost always has something in it that we can’t eat, and it can be hard to get protein to travel well. Nuts are a great option for us, since we don’t have nut allergies. My kids prefer cashews because they are easy to chew, but they’ll eat peanuts in a pinch. Toss them in a bag with some raisins and cranberries, maybe a few chocolate chips, and you’ve got a tasty trail mix! Just, watch those chocolate chips in a hot car. Not that I’ve had any experience with melted chocolate chips lately, or anything.
4. Ants on a log (or ants in a bowl) – This was one of my kids’ favorites on the road. We packed celery, cashew butter, and raisins and made ants on a log (peanut butter in the celery with raisins sprinkled on top, for the un-initiated). Walter thought up the idea of “ants in a bowl” too, and stirred up peanut butter and raisins, sans celery.
3. Cooked pasta – My kids can eat some serious pasta, let me tell you! I cooked up a big pot of plain pasta before we left, put it in a zip top bag, and the kids snacked on it the entire day. I could have made pasta salad by adding some beans, a sprinkle of cheese, peas, sunflower seeds, or other non-delicate add-ins. But, my kids like their pasta straight up. Even the baby chowed down on it.
2. Apples – We each eat an apple a day, most days, and seeing as they travel very well, we did so on the road too! More delicate fruit can be harder to pack in an accessible yet protective way, bruises or becomes overripe in a warm vehicle or water-logged in a cooler. But the hardy apple goes the distance! We prefer fujis or honeycrisps.
1. Carrots, celery, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes – These were my favorite of the trip foods! A pack of baby carrots was low prep (just open the bag), and my kids ate them for days. Cherry tomatoes were basically the same, only they did have to be picked over for freshness here and there. Celery required little more than a wipe and breaking off the ends, and again, even the baby loved chomping on it. Bell pepper is another of Walter’s favorites, and sliced up ahead of time and stored in a canning jar, they travel well too. Put them all in a row and you’ve got a little rainbow of nutrition, even in the car!
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This is the majority of what got us through. What foods do you pack for trips?