On the Road Again...But With Healthful Snacks

image If you are going to be on the road for any length of time, you'll need food. While you can pack a lot of stuff in the car, you can't squeeze in your kitchen. Does that mean at each fork in the road, you are stuck choosing between fast food or donuts? It doesn't have to. Here are some ideas to help make your next road trip healthful and delicious.

Snacking Suggestions

  • Drink plenty of water— Water is much easier on your body than caffeinated soda or coffee. And remember, if you need caffeine to stay awake, it likely time to pull over and call it a night.
  • Pack some vegetables— Vegetables are a great source of nutrients, providing fiber, vitamins A and C, and complex carbohydrates—all for very few calories. And you just need a bit of time beforehand to wash and cut them up into bite-size pieces. In plastic baggies, pack things like:
    • Bell peppers
    • Broccoli
    • Carrots
    • Cauliflower
    • Celery
    • Cucumbers
    • Jicama
    • Snow peas
    • Squash
    • Zucchini
  • Take all kinds of fresh fruit— Fruit is low in fat, and a good source of vitamins A and C. Some fruit you can bring whole; others you might want to cut up. Some ideas are:
    • Whole fruits
      • Apples
      • Bananas
      • Grapes
      • Nectarines
      • Oranges
      • Strawberries
    • Cut-up fruits
      • Cantaloupe
      • Mango
      • Pineapple
      • Watermelon
  • Bring along some finger foods— Foods that are easy to snack on and don't make a mess include:
    • Crackers with cheese slices
    • Pretzels with a small container of peanut butter
    • Dried fruit (raisins, apricots, banana chips)
    • Energy bars (eg, Power, Luna, Clif)
    • Pre-popped popcorn
    • Small boxes of dried cereal
    • Nuts or trail mix
  • Pack some juice boxes— Boxed juices are a great way to add some flavor to your trip. And they are less prone to spill. However, fruit juices tend to be quite rich in sugar—even those that are 100% juice, so vegetable juices are preferable.
  • For long trips, take an insulated cooler with you— You can pack low-fat meats and cheeses, yogurt, and milk. To keep produce fresh and crisp, put them in the cooler too. If you are driving for a few days, replace the old water and ice with fresh ice daily.

Some Additional Tips...

  • Plan some time for physical activity— Every couple of hours, pull over and get out of the car. Take a walk and stretch. This will break up the monotony of driving and help keep you feeling refreshed. It will also improve the circulation in your extremities preventing formation of blood clots.
  • Make time for meals— On longer trips, take the time to eat a meal—don't just snack in the car. Bring a picnic blanket and find a park along the way. You'll feel relaxed and enjoy your meal more.
  • Bring clean-up supplies— Make sure you have plenty of napkins. Baby wipes work great too. And always bring a few bags for trash.

What if, despite all this great advice, you still want to stop at a fast food restaurant? Here are a few tips to make it a bit more healthful:

  • Order regular-size portions. When you "super-size" the fries, burger, or soda, you are adding more calories, and most likely, more fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
  • Choose grilled instead of fried options.
  • Skip the French fries and opt for a salad as a side order. Or split one order of French fries among several of you.
  • Order sandwiches or salads dry, ask for condiments on the side, and apply them sparingly (they are usually high in salt and fat).
  • Stay away from sodas, which run about 150 calories per 12 ounces. Grab water instead.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, never let eating get in the way of road safety! Always make sure to have your eyes on the road and your hand on the wheel.


American Dietetic Association

Food and Nutrtion Information Center
United States Department of Agriculture


Canada's Food Guide

Dietitians of Canada