Traveling can be challenging to maintain healthy behaviors, especially when kids are along for the ride. Here is a healthy road trip food list that is sure to please both kids and adults alike.
Kids often LOVE junk foods and sweets. The long car ride often wears parents down to give in to these temptations!
My own family is guilty of derailing from health a little bit while on vacation.
Traveling with kids doesn’t have to be a nutritional disaster with weight gain at the end.
Why Eat Healthy On Vacation?
Research shows that even single indulgences may be damaging to the body. So, what to do? Do your best to eat sensible, but do allow an occasional treat if it makes your trip memorable.
With spring break coming up, as well as lots of travel for kids’ spring sports, meals on the go are even more common and present new scheduling and maneuvering.
Road food for sports
Sporting activities are often surrounded with unhealthy options. So many of them have highly processed sports drinks and junk foods!
Highly-processed foods are linked to all diseases today, including obesity, diabetes, cancer, and liver disease.
Highly processed foods to minimize
Highly processed foods can include:
- Sports drinks
- Fried foods
This is a call to action to parents and coaches. We can do better.
Some strategic planning for a road trip food list can go a long way to keeping you healthy while on the go. I am providing a list to make life easier.
Strategic plan for your road trip food list
The night before:
- Hit the health food store the night before and go organic.
- See the list for healthy snacks to include under Healthy Snack Time
- You may find yourself busy gathering up clothes and laundry, so perhaps do this 2 nights in advance.
- For meals, you can pack in some serious nutrition by planning ahead
- Prepare the food the night before as follows:
- Slice up some veggies and fruits.
- Pack chia seeds or ground flaxseeds in single containers for your yogurts
- Sunflower seeds are a nice, inexpensive option to add to your list
- Grab some sprouted grain or seed crackers. I suggest gluten free. See my blog about gluten.
- How about adding some sprouted lentils, bean sprouts, and sprouted broccoli?
- Snag some string cheese or pre-sliced age cheeses, non-dairy if you prefer
- Organic dried meats are another good option
- Add individual yogurts, coconut is a nice option (plain)
Here is a handy grocery list:
- Broccoli sprouts
- Organic string cheese or presliced cheese
- Organic dried meats and deli meat
- Foil pack tuna
- Place all items in sealed containers
- Bring forks and spoons!
- Snag a bag handy for disposal in the car
- Pack dry goods, non-perishables in the cooler
- I bring Certified Therapeutic Grade essential oils like lime or orange essential oil to add great flavor and health to my yogurt. They also can help curb sugar cravings and are truly delicious. Click here to find more information about how to get these oils.
The day of travel
- Pack the cooler
- Stop at the gas station, buy some ice, and throw it in the cooler.
- You are good to go.
Healthy Snack Time
Here are a few tips if you are going on a short trip and only needing snacks
Have protein and fiber-rich snacks handy before you leave. Gas stations are notorious for poor selections with these items.
To avoid over munching on junk food, pack:
- Individual yogurts
- Trail mix
- Seaweed snacks
- Trail mix
- Homemade granola * See below for recipe
- Dried fruits and fresh fruits
- Boiled eggs
Watch out for sugar drinks while traveling:
Drinks can make a trip a fast way to gain weight and develop poor habits. Studies repeatedly show this about sodas, energy drinks and other sugary beverages.
Fancy coffees and coffee kiosk drinks can have over 1000 calories!
Healthier drink options to pack:
- To-go tea from home
- La Croix
- Sparkling water
- Spring water
- Plain Coffee!
Make-Your-Own Electrolyte Drink
Sometimes your trips are very active physically where you sweat a lot. In that case, do consider electrolyte replacement by making this recipe.
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup organic juice of choice: I like pineapple or grape
- 1/2 tsp Real or Himalayan Salt – Half level teaspoon
- 1 drop citrus essential oil (only use food grade: contact me)
Stir the mixture until all is combined.
This truly is more nutritious and has MORE electrolytes than your Gatorade or Powerade.
No-Added Sugar Homemade Granola Recipe
2 cups oats (I use gluten free)
½ cup almonds, cashews or nut of choice
¼ cup chia seeds
½ tsp Real salt or sea salt
1 Tbsp Cassia cinnamon essential oil (find food grade here)
¼ tsp cardamom
1 tbsp virgin coconut oil, melted
1/2 tsp stevia
3 egg whites
Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Mix all ingredients except egg whites in a bowl, tossing well to distribute. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Mix in to the rest of the ingredients. Place the mixture on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 40-60 minutes, tossing occasionally to prevent burning.
Find out more!
My lovely friend and dietitian colleague, Yentl, has some amazing advice about traveling with pets.
You can find her information and her blog about traveling here: www.younfolded.com
Heidi Moretti, MS, RD is The Healthy RD. A registered dietitian for 20 years, has a passion for functional nutrition and natural medicine. Has researched supplements and plants as medicine throughout her career. Loves helping people gain function and vitality by tackling root causes of illness.