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Healthy Tip: Good Food for Car Travel

Does your holiday vacation land you in a car on the road again? No problem! You can stay alert and satisfied with healthy snacks you pack in a sack or in a cooler. Let’s face it: Your chances of finding healthy food along a highway are pretty slim! But with a little pre-planning, you can make the trip a whole lot tastier. Essential for your car: A large cooler! With our ideas, you can ditch the junk, can the chips and skip the soda. And remember, whether you’re traveling by plane, train or automobile, we’ve gathered our best tips for a 3-part “Eating on the Holiday Go” series. It’s a darn shame, but most airports, train stations and roadside stops offer little more than the standard American junk food fare. The good news is you can bring your own food, and it doesn’t have to be complicated! Today we’re focusing on car food travel tips. Yesterday we tackled plane and train travel and tomorrow we’re covering tips for when you are at your destination. Enjoy and please share your favorite tips too! Good Food Tips for Car Travel
  • Pack sandwiches, assorted cheeses, cold drinks, sliced deli meats, hard-boiled eggs and fresh fruits in your car-cooler.
  • Make-ahead snacks are perfect: Whole grain dishes such as pasta, brown rice or quinoa salads, prepared with veggies, nuts, tofu or tempeh are delicious at room temperature or straight out of your car-cooler. Here’s an idea for a Crunchy Fusilli Salad.
  • Small containers of organic or Greek yogurt make terrific travel companions. So do small packages of unsweetened applesauce. Just don’t forget to pack reusable spoons!
  • Cut up carrots, celery, radish, bell peppers and cucumbers. Take along some hummus for dipping!
  • All natural cup-o-soups made from legumes, grains and dehydrated veggies are easy to pack. They’re light-weight and don’t need refrigeration. Just add hot water and stir. A large insulated thermos keeps water piping hot for hours. This works for the soups as well as for a cup of tea … just don’t forget the teabags!
  • Got a passion for pretzels? Pack some all-natural whole grain pretzels to please your pallet. Oh, and you might throw in some whole grain crackers, too, such as whole wheat, spelt or whole rye crackers. Spread on some nut butter to turn them in to cracker sandwiches before heading out the door.
  • Think fruit bars, nut bars, natural protein bars and other shelf-stable goodies! These are perfect to have on hand.
  • Pack individual baggies of trail mix, either one that you purchase, or one that you make yourself. Here’s a favorite crunchy Granola Trail Mix.
  • Don’t forget some healthy additions of special treats such as natural oatmeal cookies, whole wheat graham crackers, and a bar of delicious dark chocolate! Start with these amazing Oatmeal, Coconut and Sunflower Seed Cookies.
  • If you stop at a roadside restaurant, choose oatmeal or cream of wheat over pastry for breakfast. Another good option is a vegetable omelet. Choose a side of fresh fruit over hash browns and toast.
  • At a convenience store, look for whole grain cereals, low fat milk, packaged nuts or any fresh fruit – they may even have a bran muffin or a protein bar. This is much better than pastry, donuts, sweet rolls or chips.
If you think it’s too difficult to eat and drive at the same time, simplify your choices. Perfect for you would be some string cheese or a natural nut, fruit or protein bar, or a ready-made smoothie you can keep in your cup holder. Are you headed on the road again this holiday? Got a favorite take-along snack or meal? I’d love to hear. Happy Trails!

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Norma says …

Instead of buying single-serving size anything, use your own small containers/bottles. Most convenience stores will let you have boiling water from the coffee dispenser at no charge - no need for a thermos. On my last trip, I ate fresh, raw green beans as a snack - gave me the "crunch" without the carb load... and was easy to access while I was driving. As parents of a small child, we have a package of baby wipes in each car for quick clean-ups.

Carmen Roa says …

Great article! We recently made an 1800 mile round trip and were appalled at the lack of real food on the road. I will save this article to use for our next trip!

AmyLu says …

Bring small Tupperware containers of rinsed and drained and ready-to-eat garbanzo beans, kidney beans, black beans, etc. to add to a drive-through restaurant salad to turn it into a meal.

saira says …

I recently went to Florida from new York .l packed my snacks and organic apples and banana they were great snacks and gave us lots of energy.

Bebe Meals says …

Great ideas! Organic dried fruits and 365 pretzles with PB is our go-to travel snacks. Plus I have found if you do a little prep and search local places in towns on your journey you can find some great places and avoid chains or gas station food!!

AmyLu says …

Naked Juice brand small-size juice bottles are available at some Starbucks and groceries. They are convenient for traveling, as are individual-size soy milk cartons with straws. Wash whole fruit ahead of time so it's ready to eat in the car. Unsalted raw almonds and walnuts are another great car snack. Take a baggie with wet paper towels to wipe your hands after eating fruit or finger food. Then put the paper towels back in the baggie.

Amber Kindle says …

I like to call convenient stores "convenient death" because all they sell is junk, most of the time. We always pack our own food when we travel. on our most recent journey to Ohio, there was not a morsel of organic food in sight! I packed prepackaged oatmeal, tea bags, trail mix bars, healthy cereal, shelf stable soy milk, and lots of pre-washed fruit. We always bring our own water too. We do not drink bottled water at home but I buy it for long trips. The groceries I packed were a life saver!

HelenH says …

Raw ginger slices are great for motion sickness. Just put a slice in the mouth and keep it on the tounge. If you or your child, are not used to the spiciness, ginger snap crackers could help, too. We always pack some when we go to the mountain or take a boat ride. My kids got used to the flavor now. It works like wonder.

Roof Rack UK says …

Thanks for sharing this nice tip. Now, when I going for travel then I keep in mind all this tips.

Lori says …

Some really good ideas here, it's always good to have a plan for healthy food when traveling cross country and these days road trips are cheap and fun! Our family favorite road trip grub are homemade granola bars, http://viafood.com/2011/09/17/gooey-nola-bars/ or as my daughter calls them NOLA Bars! Thanks Whole Foods, for the great ideas!

party crackers says …

Useful information. Lucky me I discovered your web site by accident, and I'm shocked why this twist of fate did not took place earlier! I bookmarked it.

P. Hudson says …

Thanks for the great suggestions. My husband is handicapped and it's much easier for us to find a scenic pullover and whip out lunch than to haul out the walker one more time. A geologist, my husband is always seeking out famous and not-so-famous mines to view from the car. Eating places rarely exist in such tough environments and my collection of healthy snacks has saved us time and again. Tough to stay organized when a bulky walker takes up so much room but the joy and flexibility of car travel outweighs the problems. Thanks again. Glad I found your web. Patty

Sara says …

I scoured the internet and this is by far my favorite list for car travel food tips. I take my daughter halfway across WA state every other weekend to visit her dad and it's hard to pack a variety of healthy foods for her. This has helped take out some of the guess work. Thanks!