Summer is here and so is the season many American families hit the highways on recreational adventures. Getting out and experiencing all the grandeur this country has to offer is a healthy experience. The limited food offerings along the way at gas stations, fast food and convenience stores are not part of that healthy experience. It’s fun to snack on a road trip, and with a little preparation you can drive right by those fast food restaurants and enjoy a variety of healthier options in your own back seat.
Every summer we drive from Colorado to California to spend time with family. How we get there varies. Sometimes we head north and stop at Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. Or we head south to visit Santa Fe and the Grand Canyon. However we get there, long hours in the car can be a challenge with a young son. We knew in order to enjoy these trips we needed to make sure he enjoyed them too. One of the ways I give him a little independence and choice while driving is to create his own snack bag using Hefty Slider Bags. The bags are heavy duty and have an area so I can write my son’s name on his bag. This is important because I also make bags for my husband and me to ensure we all have healthy options. My son knows he can have anything in his bag. I use the smaller Hefty Slider sandwich bags to put a variety of different snacks in reasonable portions within the larger Hefty Slider bag. This way he can’t just grab a full size bag of potato chips and mindlessly munch half the bag. It works really well. I make sure there are enough snacks for a couple of long days of driving or picnic options in pretty parks along the way. The bags are placed in a small cooler in the back seat where he can easily get to them. He’s never hungry and doesn’t feel like he’s missing out on treats.
What goes in the road trip snack bags varies. One thing I try to do is to not default the the foods my son always eats. I try to create a little adventure and accomplish this by adding some things to the bag he’s never tried. We make a deal with him that he can have something he wants (chips, crackers etc) after he tries something new. This has resulted in some fun food discoveries for him. He now asks for vegetarian spring rolls or sushi rolls to be in his snack bag. This same approach has worked well in restaurants too.
Making your own snack bags will ensure your family will enjoy the best healthy treats without all the salt, preservatives and other unwanted and unhealthy ingredients found in convenience store foods. Your gas station pit stops will be limited to gas not expensive junk food.
Here are some suggestions for the Hefty Slider “Road Trip Snack Bags:”
- Baby carrots in hummus – simply line the bottom of a big with hummus and stick the carrots into the hummus. It isn’t as messy as it sounds and it’s a tastier option than carrots by themselves
- Celery with cream cheese or peanut butter – celery stalks cut into 2-3 inch lengths and stuffed with cream cheese or peanut butter
- Tortilla wraps with chicken salad filling – wraps are easy to eat and you can fill them with anything. I cut them into smaller sizes that easily fit in the bags. Or if you don’t feel like making them Whole Foods usually has a great selection of wraps.
- Bite sized peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – make PB&J sandwiches and cut them into quarters for less mess.
- Homemade popcorn – Make a batch of homemade popcorn. For inspiration here are 10 Popcorn Recipes that are so good you won’t buy the bagged or microwave popcorn again.
- Homemade (or store-bought) granola bars – Making your own is easy and fun. This recipe for S’more’s Granola Bars will be a big hit with your fellow road trippers!
- Frozen grapes – I love frozen grapes. If placed near the bottom of the cooler they stay frozen the first day or two on the road.
- Potato chips – if you haven’t tried making your own, give this recipe for Homemade Potato Chips a try. So much better than the unhealthy convenience store brand of chips.
- Homemade or store-bought trail mix – Who doesn’t love snacking on trail mix. This link will show you how to make your own Summertime Trail Mix.
- Roasted Nori Snacks – Dried seaweed may not be your thing but these addictive little snacks have just enough salty oily goodness to replace potato chips in my house. You can find them at most major grocery stores.
- Cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls – Simply put them in the bag together. Add some fresh basil leaves to the bag for the perfect summer flavor
- Small yogurt drinks or tubers – The little yogurt drinks are easier to enjoy on the road then yogurt you eat with a spoon.
- Cereal – Enjoy as a snack or add a little milk to the bag for a bowl, or… “bag” of cereal on the go
- Juice boxes and chocolate milk – Just make sure the juice is 100% and anything you buy is good quality or organic
- Beef jerky – Because it’s not a road trip without beef jerky!
- California or Vegetarian Sushi Rolls – You can make them yourself by checking out this link, or get them from your local grocer. Just make sure to keep them cold.
- Cold fried chicken drumsticks– If I don’t have time to make the chicken, I buy the drumsticks at Whole Foods. Just make sure to keep them in the cooler.
- Frozen strawberries and pineapple chunks – Freezing the fruit helps make it last longer and is a nice frozen treat on day 1 of your trip.
- Cheese and crackers – Don’t buy those packaged sandwich crackers, make your own bag with sliced cheese and crackers
- Bite sized brownies or blondies – I cut brownies or blondies into small little cubes
- Bagels and cream cheese – Toast some bagels before you leave, add some cream cheese and cut into quarters
- Paper towels, utensils and Wet One’s to make sure the crumbs are cleaned up