We often find ourselves on long road trips. My husband travels quite a bit for his work, and we’re fortunate to be able to go with him at times. Two big challenges seem to always loom: 1) how to keep up with school work, and 2) how to eat healthy food on the go.
For now, I’ll address number 2 and share what we’ve done to try to eat healthy on the road. I’m almost hesitant to write this because we have a long way to go and certainly haven’t arrived yet. I’m eager to hear what ideas you have as well, so be sure to add your ideas at the end of the post or on the Facebook page.
On our last road trip, which lasted 2 1/2 weeks, these are some of the things we did to try and eat healthier on the road.
Bring Healthy Snacks
Take lots of healthy snacks so when the hunger pangs come we aren’t tempted to grab junk food from the gas station. Here are some of our favorites. While you may not have these brands where you live, look for snacks with non-GMO ingredients, whole grains, low or no added sugar, no high fructose corn syrup, and no hydrogenated oils or fats.
Limit snack times. Grazing all day isn’t good for the stomach. Healthy snacks can minimize food you have to buy along the way or make a rest stop into a lunch break too.
Crunchmasters gluten free multi-grain crackers
Nature’s Bakery All Natural Fig Bars or other healthy fig bars
Trail mix: Sometimes we make our own with almonds, cashews, and raisins or dried cranberries.
Kashi Chocolate Almond Sea Salt with Chia (I told you we aren’t perfect yet.)
Pack Fresh Fruit
Pack some fresh fruit. Apples and oranges travel well and last many days on the road. When we stop to eat at a sandwich or burrito shop, I stash some oranges in my bag. Then I have the kids eat them while waiting for their order. The double bonus is they get good nutrition in first and we don’t have to order as much food, which helps with the budget.
Grocery Store Meals
Skip the restaurant or fast food for a quick meal from the grocery store. Many stores have a deli that makes fresh sandwiches. Or, grab some bananas, granola bars, and applesauce.
Juice Break Instead of Fast Food
Take a juice break instead of a meal. Many grocery stores and even gas stations now have fresh vegetable/fruit juices and smoothies. While some are nutritionally better than others, they are certainly better than French fries and soda by far. Look for cold pressed if you’re really wanting a nutritional boost. In parts of the USA, Trader Joe’s has some great options. Otherwise, look for a vegetable/fruit mixture with no added sugar, artificial flavors, or preservatives. Be sure not to leave leftovers out for later as these can go bad quickly. We like to take a small insulated cooler bag with ice to keep our juice cold, as small tummies fill up quickly.
Stretch and Exercise
Take exercise breaks often to stretch the legs and keep the blood circulating. Long trips are hard on the circulation even for little people. Play jumping games or tag at rest stops.
Salad Bars to the Rescue
Seek out buffet style restaurants that feature big salad bars. We love Sweet Tomatoes, aka Fresh Choice, for its fantastic salad bar.
Share Gifts of Good Health
When staying with friends and family, bring some fruit or healthy snacks and give them as a gift. They’ll want to offer them to you while you’re there, and will help keep the healthy food flowing even if not everyone’s on board.
Graciousness and Healthy Limits
Remember that relationships are more important than food. Be gracious and thoughtful of anyone who hosts you along the way. Give kids limits they can abide by and still be polite — for example, “take only one cookie after dinner.”
Like I said, we are certainly not the poster family for healthy road trips. We have frequented too many fast food chains and eaten too many Doritos. But, we are making strides to improve. I as a mom am elated if we can make it through a long road trip without anyone getting sick. The time and effort it takes to keep everyone well fed with nutritious food does pay off. Happy and healthy traveling!