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As a child, I survived hundreds of miles each summer in the backseat of the family station wagon, wedged between my sister and brother. Nowadays, my children are logging major miles. In anticipation of the cacophony of “Are we there yet?”, “I’m bored” and “I’m hungry”, I’ve collected a few of my favorite snacks and games to keep the kids (and adults) happy.
Crunch, Nibble, Munch
When it comes to snacking on the road, avoid rest stop regrets and plan ahead. Pack a cooler of sandwiches, refreshing drinks and fruit. (Apples, oranges, grapes, cherry tomatoes and baby carrots are easy to eat.) These snack recipes feature some of my favorite ingredients from the bulk department, making it easy to buy only the amounts I need.
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Having a handful of games at the ready is another trick of the trade. Here are a few tried-and-true games to get your road crew away from their cellphones, tablets and DVD players and playing nicely together.
Grocery list. The first player says, "I'm going grocery shopping and I need to buy _____" and names something that begins with the letter A (like apples). The next player repeats what the first player said and adds a grocery item that starts with a B (like bananas). Continue through the alphabet starting at the beginning of the list each time. If a player forgets a grocery item, they’re out.
Seven foods. The first player points to the second player and says: "Name seven_____!" (Fill in the blank with a phrase like “breakfast dishes,” “types of pie” or “things you can grill.”) As the second player lists the seven items as fast as they can, everyone counts along ("One!" "Two!"...) The second player picks a new phrase and the game continues with the next player.
Storytelling. Create a story together. Start with “Last night I was so hungry that…” The first player finishes that sentence. Then each player contributes a line. Or have each player only provide one word, so you’re making sentences together. Go as fast as you can!
Play with pipe cleaners. Pack multicolored pipe cleaners. Challenge players to bend, twist and shape pipe cleaners into items of food, full meals or place settings.
20 questions: food edition. Is it hot? Cold? Can you buy it ready to eat? Is it grown on a farm?
Food-lovers sing-a-long. Take turns thinking of food-related songs and sing them together. See who can come up with the most songs. (Examples: On Top of Spaghetti, Found a Peanut and I’m a Little Teapot.)
This or that. Take turns finding new uses for everyday food. A banana could be a phone, a headband, a smile or a unicorn horn!
License plates. Look for plates from different states, and then name foods the state is known for. Hawaii = Pineapple. Fish. Shave ice.
Rest stop dance party. Everyone out of the car, open all the doors, blast a fun song on the car stereo and dance off some of the road weariness for a few minutes.
Plan stops at food-related roadside attractions too! A visit to the world's largest peach-shaped water tower with tasty treats and fun games is the ultimate trifecta to turn the backseat brigade’s complaints into a chorus of “On the road again. Just can't wait to get on the road again.”
Let’s roll! What road trip snack or car game do you never leave home without?