Aside from gas, the biggest road trip budget buster is food. A quick stop at McDonald’s can easily run my family $30.
Even if you don’t mind spending the money, many of us dread filling our families’ bodies with calorie and fat-laden fast food on a day when the most activity anyone will get is walking between the car and the restroom during pit stops. All that salt and grease can make you feel sluggish and bloated–not how you want to feel on vacation!
Luckily, with just a little advanced planning and prep work, you can keep your family well-fed AND healthy. I just stocked up for our upcoming cross-country road trip. Here’s what I got:
In our picnic basket, I packed essentials like wet wipes for cleaning up sticky fingers and faces, disinfecting wipes for cleaning up sticky messes on seats and doors, paper towels to wipe up messes and double as napkins, plastic grocery bags to contain trash, trail mix, sunflower seeds, protein bars, beef jerky, Veggie Straws, peanut butter, whole grain Goldfish, Triscuits, and dill pickles.
Anything that wasn’t already portioned out, I removed from its packaging and put in a reusable (but also disposable) plastic container to help prevent snacks from being crushed or spilled. Items that were pre-portioned (e.g. trail mix packs and protein bars), I put in resealable sandwich bags so that I would have somewhere to put the wrappers once the snacks were eaten.
I tried to stick with foods that wouldn’t be messy on the road. This is why, despite our love of bananas, oranges, and strawberries, none of them are included. Instead, I chose blueberries, raspberries, grapes, celery sticks, baby carrots, sugar snap peas, shelled edamame, cheese sticks, sliced cheese and deli meat, and yogurt tubes. I also brought along some hummus for the veggies.
I know a lot of you are looking at these food items thinking that you could never get your kids to get on board with these options. Perhaps even you aren’t thrilled with them, preferring a greasy burger or bag of chips. If you ONLY have healthy options available though, that is what you and your family will eat! There is something in this assortment to satisfy every craving whether it be sweet, salty, crunchy, or creamy.
- Seeds (e.g. sunflower or pumpkin)
- Raisins or Dried Fruit
- Whole Wheat Crackers or Goldfish
- Carrots Sticks or Baby Carrots
- Celery Sticks
- Peanut Butter
- Yogurt Tubes
- Protein Bars or Granola Bars
- String Cheese or Cheese Cubes
- Peanut Butter Sandwiches With Jelly, Honey, or Nutella
- Deli Meat and Cheese Slices With Pickle Spears
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Snap Peas
- Water in reusable BPA-free bottles
- Flavor Packets (e.g. Mio or Crystal Light)
- 100% Fruit Juice Cartons
- Vegetable/Fruit Blend Juice Cartons
- Chocolate Milk Cartons
As you can see, you have plenty of healthy food and beverage choices that won’t make a mess in the car. Don’t forget to check out my other articles to help you prepare for family travel: