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How to Eat Healthy on a Road Trip with Kids
Have you just started eating healthy…again? And, are about to go on a road trip with your family and are wondering ‘how in the world am I to get my family to eat healthy on a road trip?’
Well, good news;
You’re not alone!
Going on a road trip, with or without kids, can make eating healthy seem almost impossible!
You don’t have access to your kitchen, fridge, or freezer; so it’s easy to see some of the challenges that lay ahead of you as you take off on your adventure with your family.
But, just because you can’t make green smoothies or roast vegetables in the oven, doesn’t mean you have to stop at every fast food place you see, or stock up on processed snack foods for the ride!
There’s a way to still eat healthy on the road, despite what your family is trying to convince you of!
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8 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Road Trip with Kids
I’m not going to tell you that eating healthy on a road trip is easy.
You have to plan and prepare for it, just like you do for any other part of your trip.
But, the benefits of eating healthy on a road trip will far outweigh the negatives of relying on fast food or eating at any restaurant you happen to pass by on the road.
Some of the benefits are:
- not starving on the road and keeping your eyes peeled for the next place to eat
- energy to stay awake and drive, or keep the driver company
- not feeling horrible or having an upset stomach from not eating well
- no hangry passengers
- less cranky kids, because they are eating like normal and aren’t having any extra sugar or processed foods
- being able to save your money for ‘fun things’, not just food
- not feeling bloated from eating out
- and I’m sure there are more!
Check out the tips below to help you reap some of the benefits above!
Cut up fresh fruit and veggies
This is the first thing that comes to my mind when thinking about going on a road trip and trying to eat healthy, especially if it’s summer time!
There are so many delicious fruits in season in the summer time. And, bringing cut up fruits and veggies for everyone to munch on in the car, or at rest stops, sure beats processed snack foods!
Plus, they’ll help keep everyone hydrated on the trip, which is super important, and many people may not even think about staying hydrated on a car trip.
So, do yourself and family a favor and fill some containers with cut up fruits and veggies, store them in a cooler, and eat those instead of chips or crackers in the car!
Some easy suggestions:
- any kind of melon
- baby carrots
- celery sticks
- and more!
Whether you’re trying to eat healthy, or not, you can’t go wrong with bringing fruit and veggies!
Pack sandwiches, or picnic like meals, for when you stop
If you’re able to, pack sandwiches, sandwich ingredients, or other food that is easy to make or eat at rest stops.
Pretend it’s a picnic and pack like that!
This way you have control over what food you and your family eats. And, you can bring any special foods that any of your family members need, say for example, if they have allergies or an intolerance to certain foods; you can account for that and pack accordingly.
Bake healthy treats, prepare your own trail mix, and prepare other healthy food, at home to bring with you
Just because you want to eat healthy on your road trip, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get to snack!
Bake some healthy treats with whole ingredients before you leave and package them up so they’ll stay good the whole trip, or at least the first couple of days.
This could be healthy muffins, brownies with a hidden protein source, home made granola, fruit, or cereal bars, or more!
Make your own trail mix to bring, or other healthy food that will stay good in the car. Make sure to bring little bags or containers if you don’t portion everything out at home.
There’s really a ton of options, just choose something that you know your family will love. Something they’ll love so much that they won’t even want to eat out!
Avoid eating at fast food restaurants, or other restaurants, by stopping at a grocery store, instead
Even if you plan ahead and bring healthy food with you on a road trip there’s the chance that you may run out of food, depending on how long your trip is.
Unfortunately, some food will only last so long in the car; you can’t expect fresh fruit to last more than a day or so.
So, instead of stopping at the next fast food place, or restaurant, you see when you get hungry; find a grocery store instead.
Even if it’s a grocery store you don’t like, it’s sure to have healthier options, and cheaper prices, than eating out.
You won’t be able to make all the food you did before leaving home. So, you’ll have to look for more convenient options, such as pre cut fruits and veggies, and more ingredients for picnic like meals.
But, you’ll feel so much better doing this and after eating your healthy food, than you would if you went out to eat. Not to mention the amount of money you’ll save, and the headache you won’t get from the kids complaining of belly aches!
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Bring a pack of bottled water
You need to stay hydrated when on the road. Well, at all times really, but a lot of people forget to stay hydrated while driving.
Luckily, the best thing to keep you hydrated is also the cheapest and least messy; it’s water.
So, go ahead and grab a large pack of bottle water to bring on the trip!
Or, if you’re really trying to save money and reduce waste; bring your own water bottle and buy gallons of water to refill your water bottle when you stop.
You could always do a combination of both, too. Fill your water bottle when you stop, but if you run out of water before you stop, use the bottled water.
Whatever works for you and your family
Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time
Like mentioned at the beginning, you need to plan the food you eat on the road just as you’re planning all other aspects of your trip, maybe even more so.
Unfortunately, meal planning for a road trip is a bit different than meal planning for a regular week at home.
You have to account for:
- not having a freezer with you
- the heat in the car if traveling in the summer
- the size of your cooler
- the amount of space you have available for food
- how long things will last, which will determine the order you need to eat the food in
You also need to know whether or not everyone will get to eat inside the car, or if you’ll have to stop every time you need to eat.
I know if we ever take a long road trip in my husbands car, he’d want us to stop to eat so the kids don’t make a mess in his car with food. However, I also know that would change through out the trip as we try to make good timing and our sanity can only take so much when it comes to kids whining in the backseat that they’re hungry.
So, whether you decide to let everyone eat in the car right off the bat, or are ‘dead set’ on no one eating in the car; be sure to plan some food that doesn’t make a mess, or at least much of a mess!
Eat at the same times you usually do, unless the kids are asleep
I don’t know how your road trips are, but when we go on road trips, we’re usually up quite early and stay up quite late trying to make good timing on where we’re going.
This may require a little extra food for energy for us adults, but for kids; they should be able to eat at the regular times they eat at, for meals and snacks.
So, if possible, plan stops around the time they usually eat meals, unless of course if they are sleeping!
And, as a friendly reminder, make sure everyone uses the restroom and has a chance to stretch or run around when you stop.
Stop at rest stops for meals, so you’re not tempted to get fast food
One more tip to help you and your family eat healthy on a road trip is limit the temptation of eating fast food.
You can do this by looking for rest stops to eat at and use the restrooms at, instead of in towns. That way, when you pass cities or towns, you won’t be searching for signs for places to eat, just to get gas if you need it.
It is Possible to Eat Healthy on Road Trips with Kids
You may need to plan and prepare a bit more than you’re used to. But, it’ll all be worth it when everyone still has their energy and still feeling good once you get to where you’re going!
Just play it smart, stop at rest stops for picnic like meals, and only stop in towns or cities for fuel and to grab some groceries.