Avoid dietary potholes as you travel to your destination and arrive feeling great.
Whether you’re heading out of town with the family or for a weekend getaway with friends, no one enjoys traveling with hungry and angry passengers.
A road trip requires some planning for healthy meals and snacks to keep everyone in the car satisfied. Fortunately, it’s possible to maintain good eating habits and enjoy tasty, nutritious food on the road.
Here are seven food tips to help everyone enjoy the journey.
- Have a meal and snack plan ready before you go
A road trip doesn’t mean throwing your healthy habits out the car window. However, eating better along the highway requires some planning. Whether you pack foods in a cooler or scope out restaurants along the way, there are ways to eat healthy when you’re traveling.
As part of your planning, research rest stops, grocery stores and restaurants along your route. Think about how often you’ll be stopping and jot down places that may have healthy food options.
- Carefully pack your food for the road ahead
Would you enjoy an overripe, bruised, or dented banana? Probably not. Certain foods require a little more attention than others. Before you pack the car, take time to properly package your food for the road:
- Clean all produce before packing it in a cooler. Don’t forget to wash produce with peel-away skins or rinds. You don’t want any grime or dirt contaminating other produce.
- Keep foods at proper temperatures. Ice and frozen gel packs can help keep your cooler below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have space in the car, consider separating beverages and perishable foods into separate coolers. Find a spot in the car that is close to the air conditioning and out of direct sunlight.
- Morning departures can be hectic, so save time by preparing foods the night before. Put a reminder note near your keys so your food isn’t left behind.
- Always follow the basics of safe food handling
It’s so easy to neglect food safety when you’re focused on getting to your destination. But food poisoning and viruses can make a journey miserable.
If you have time to stop, wash your hands with soap and water before you eat. You can also squirt sanitizer on your hands and rub them for 20 seconds. Always use potable water for drinking and food handling.
Follow the “two-hour rule”: Eat hot or cold foods within two hours. After that, bacteria can rapidly grow. Set a timer on your phone as a reminder. And don’t forget plenty of napkins and wet wipes to keep everything clean.
- Maintain a regular meal schedule
Avoid the temptation to keep driving instead of stopping to eat. This may seem like a good idea, but you’ll likely regret it. Try to keep your meal times as consistent as you would at home. You will enjoy your trip more if your stomach is full.
Even if fast food is your only option, it’s better to eat something than to skip a meal altogether. Plus, many fast-food restaurants now offer healthier options.
- Focus on refreshing drinks that are better for you
It’s fine to enjoy some soda on your journey — especially if otherwise you’re drinking enough water. Look for the many carbonated beverages that don’t pack a lot of sugar.
If you need a coffee drink, consider cold, unsweetened or low-sugar ones. Many of the coffee beverages in convenience store freezers have a lot of added sugars, which can cause extreme highs and lows in your energy levels.
Healthy beverage options include:
- Unsweetened tea
- Organic 100% juice
- Coconut water
- Include snacks that will leave you happy and satisfied
Road trips and snacks just seem to go together. And let’s be honest: If you’re not used to eating raw veggies at home, you’re not likely going to munch on baby carrots 250 miles down the road.
Choose snacks that aren’t messy and which sound good to you. Maintain balance by combining foods from different food groups.
Examples of satisfying healthy road trip snacks:
- Peanuts and apple slices
- Popcorn and small chocolate candies
- Jerky and crackers
- Chips and salsa
- Carrots and hummus
- Bagel chips and cheese
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Avoid foods that you know won't sit well with you
Your body may react differently to certain foods. Think about any foods that affect your digestive system. Whether a specific food causes bloating or extra trips to the bathroom, you’ll want to avoid them when you’re heading out on a road trip.
Follow these suggestions and hopefully, your next road trip vacation will be free of unhealthy detours and digestive potholes. Happy travels.