Healthy road trip snacks can be a challenge to plan and prepare. We get it. You’re busy.
There are, however, some quick and simple strategies that will maximize the “healthy” in all your future road trip snacks.
As parents, we know that ensuring our children eat healthy and learn to make healthy choices at home is challenging on a good day.
We’ve logged over 10,000 miles in the last few years with our children in the back seat. We’ve learned a few things on the road!
Here are 25 healthy road trip snacks for kids (and hungry adults) which are easy to buy and prepare and which won’t leave your kids unhealthy and drained during your awesome adventures!
With a little effort you can avoid a gas station diet.
Eggs are chock full of “good” cholesterol and packed with protein.
A single egg provides 4 to 5 grams of protein, a measly 17 calories and almost zero fat. [source: VeryWellFit]
That means they’ll keep your kids feeling full.
They’re easy to prepare and super easy to store and eat along the way.
We like to sprinkle a variety of different seasonings on them for more flavor fun on the road.
What more could anyone need?
It’s so American! It’s also so good.
Try to buy organic jerky which is made with just meat and essential treatments. Avoid gas station jerky which is soaked in sugar and preservatives.
If you’re vegan then there are some great options – check out our Guide to Vegan Jerky for more information.
Or try out some Kelp Jerky. It’s a great sustainable option that tastes better than it sounds!
The protein in jerky gives kids energy and makes them feel satiated.
They may not be the most exciting of foods but they’re tasty, refreshing, full of vitamins and absent of sugar.
And with nearly “zero calories”, your kids can eat as many carrots as they want. They are a crunchy and tasty snack.
Carrots are a great source of beta carotene, fiber, vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants.
Carrots have also been linked to lower cholesterol and improved macular health. [source: Healthline]
We love grapes on family car journeys but make sure your kids are old enough to eat them – they are a choking hazard for very young children.
And don’t go overboard as they do contain natural sugars.
Grapes are also a great source of low-calorie fiber.
They are very healthy and are chock-full of antioxidants. [source: Healthline]
Cereals | Granola And Meusli
Not any cereal. Sorry. You need to make sure that the cereals you pick are high in fiber and low in fats and sugars.
This can mean spending a few minutes browsing the cereal shelf in the supermarket as there are many bad cereals out there.
Making your own Muesli or Granola is the healthiest choice.
Mix up your favorite combination of whole grains, nuts and seeds and you’ve got an excellent source of protein as well as fiber, vitamins and minerals. [source: SELF]
One of our all-time favorite cereals growing up was Alpen.
You can get their no sugar added version on Amazon here. But I’m pretty sure it was a suger added version we fell in love with as a child.
Don’t hand out tons of chocolate of any kind on road trips. Especially on hot days!
But dark chocolate lowers the risks of heart disease and boost serotonin levels in the brain which makes people happier!
Sunflower seeds are packed with healthy fat and are also an amazing source of dietary magnesium.
They’re also a lot of fun to eat.
The majority of calories in sunflower seeds is from fat. There’s over 19 grams of fat in a quarter cup of sunflower seeds.
The good news?
Most of that is healthy fat – polyunsaturated – with just a little bit of saturated fat.
Yogurt is a super source of protein!
If your kids are a little too young to handle a spoon you can always buy yogurt pouches they can just squeeze into their mouths.
We recommend you get some reusable food pouches and fill them with a variety of flavors.
We use the colorful ones available from Simple Modern on Amazon.
You need to keep your portion control in check with avocado as too much can be fattening.
But half-an-avocado is the ideal travel snack which is packed with healthy fat, fiber and potassium!
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one serving of avocado contains:
64 total calories, 6 grams of fat, 3.4 grams of carbohydrate, less than a gram of sugar and 3 grams of fiber.
Single-Serve Packs Of Olives
Olives are a super treat on the open road.
In single serving packs they should only account for about 50 calories which makes them a good “between meals” moment.
Olives are full of healthy monounsaturated fats too.
My wife is a big fan and says this is one of my best road trip snack ideas.
Oats are probably best consumed with a little liquid.
Some people like to add water to unflavored oatmeal, but we think that’s a bit dull for little taste buds.
Instead, stir the oats into some yogurt and they gain a super texture with a sweet tinge without becoming sugary and unhealthy.
If’s funny to think it but popcorn contains almost no calories.
It’s a whole grain and can be completely filling too.
However, to keep it nutritious – you need to salt your popcorn very gently and don’t use sugar or butter to give it flavor.
Fruit Infused Water
Often when kids say they’re hungry, they’re not hungry – they’re thirsty but they haven’t learned to differentiate those feelings properly in their heads.
Water with a little infusion of fresh fruit or cucumber can quench their thirst and the taste makes it feel like they’ve eaten too.
Fruit water goes great with any of the healthy snacks on this list.
You need to spend some time reading the boxes to find a muesli bar with good ingredients.
You want one with fewer than 4 grams of sugar in it AND with more than 3 grams of fiber to get the right balance for little bodies.
We like the Kashi Crunchy Chocolate Chip Chia Granola Bars.
It sounds like it’s made for travelling and it is made for travelling.
You can choose a million trail mix options in the store or you can blend your own for your family’s tastes.
We make our own some of the time and sometimes we just buy it.
If you’d like to make your own trail mix check out the recipe on The Healthy Maven.
There’s something to be said for convenience at times, right?
Peanut Butter Sandwiches
You don’t need the jelly for these – all jelly is is a form of sugar delivery system.
The last thing you want to stuff into kids on a road trip is a ton of processed sugar.
So, pick a peanut butter (and make sure it has no added sugar) and slather it on some whole wheat or whole grain bread.
That’s protein, carbs, complex fats and a bunch of other good stuff in a tasty dose.
Note: We do occasionally add a little sugar to our road trip peanut butter sandwiches – in the form of sliced bananas.
Nuts are always good, but they don’t half pack in some calories when you serve them in quantity.
The exception to this is the pistachio nut which contains just 4 calories per nut.
So, your kids can eat a big handful without worrying about the impact on their dinners.
Hummus (With Celery/Carrots)
Hummus is a great choice for road trips.
It’s too viscous to spill in the back of the car, unlike many liquid foods, and it’s super healthy too.
Hummus has plenty of protein and is dripping with Vitamin B.
We like celery or carrots for dipping in our hummus – low calorie, tastes great and has a high water content – which is a win in our book!
You don’t want to give out too much string cheese, but it is filling and full of protein and the good fats.
We like to add a few slices of apple to our string cheese snack packs to throw in some nice natural carbs to round the snack out nicely.
We highly recommend the Smoked String Cheese from the Wisonsin Cheese Company.
Chickpeas make for a truly delightful snack. You’ll need to do a little work at home to prepare them but not too much.
Drain them and dry them and then toss in olive oil.
Season them to your tastes and then pop them in the oven for about 35 minutes on 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Then after they’ve cooled pop into bags for consumption in the car later.
Strawberries With Almond Butter
Ooh… now we’re hungry. This is the perfect sweet treat for your road adventures.
Strawberries are yummy, almond butter is yummier still but put them together?
Your mouth will think it has died and gone to heaven.
Your kids will go silent while there’s a supply of strawberries and almond butter to be had.
Use it when you need a little peace to focus on the road.
Don’t flinch. Baked beans are super tasty when eaten cold from the can.
And yes, they are perfectly safe to eat in this fashion.
They’re a little high on sugar to be a staple snack but they’re also packed with iron, fiber and protein to offset that damage.
Kids will happily gorge themselves on cold baked beans all day long in our experience.
We love the Organic Baked Beans from Seeds of Change.
Don’t serve the stuff in oil. Just get small packs of tuna.
Marry the tuna to crackers if you need to bulk it up a bit.
If you’re worried about mercury in your fish then grab a can tuna from Safe Catch.
You shouldn’t allow your kids to eat unlimited amounts of fruit because it does contain sugar and that sugar can cause tooth decay.
However, there are very things you can take on a road trip that are going to be healthier for them than their favorite fruits.
We love to make up a big bag of bananas, apples, oranges, kiwi fruits, strawberries, etc. and then let the kids dip in to the bag at least once between meals.
Dried fruit is also an acceptable addition to the bag.
Cranberries, raisins, sultanas, etc. should be kept to smaller portions (because they contain more sugar than fresh fruit) but they are also delicious full of fiber and vitamins.
You could always make your own but if you’re anything like us you won’t because it’s too much effort.
That means when you choose your protein bars you want to be careful about what’s in there.
Many of them are really just sugar snacks in disguise.
What you want is a bar which is low in sugar and packed with natural ingredients.
That will keep your kids from getting hungry and keep them healthy at the same time.
We really love the creamy peanut butter bar from Think!
Final Word on Healthy Road Trip Snacks
It turns out that it’s not so hard to keep the family eating healthy food on a road trip.
All you need to do is a little food planning and buy the right healthy snacks to go.
Only one of these snacks, the chickpeas, takes more than 5 minutes to source or prepare.
That sounds about perfect for the busy mom, right?
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