TodayMay 9, 2022

Top ten healthy snack foods to eat in the car on a road trip

Eating while driving on a road trip

What is your favorite food to eat while driving? What about things to pack on a road trip? It was the question on the last Washington Post chat line and there were plenty of answers.

Many of you will remember driving around in a station wagon. The whole fam damily packed into a station wagon. I was the tiniest in the family so I road in the back next to the cooler on the long cruise, staring out the back window. When we got hungry we would stop and eat, no going into a restaurant with five kids for our family. No, my Mom would pop open a can of Campbell’s vegetable soup, scoop off the top liquid and I would eat it cold out of the can with a white bread sandwich. Those were the days!

In the chat, Warren Brown, the host of the Real Wheels chat, thought one chatter could be his Sister-in-law, “Bananas are our usual snack for long drives. We always keep a plastic grocery bag handy to discard the peels. Also whole almonds. If we are heading off for a really long drive, I will make sandwiches ahead of time, nothing messy – usually ham and cheese or sliced turkey. No messy foods are allowed in our cars. If we have to have a burger and fries, we will stop and eat inside.” Brown retorted, “Goodness, are you Tanya, Mary Anne’s sister? She and Mary Anne do exactly the same thing.”

Another chatter reminded us that we need at least one hand on the steering wheel, “I have learned that the best types of snacks are those that are easy to eat with one hand and don’t make a mess.”

What are some snacks that allow you to be satisfied yet keep your eyes on the road? I’ve made a list of the top ten snacks I would recommend for road tripping. When I make these snacks I put them in single-serving size plastic bags that are easily accessible. I also keep a couple of larger plastic bags in the car to throw the garbage in.

I am including some that would require refrigeration in a cooler, but most people have room for coolers in their cars.

So what are the top ten healthy snacks I like to take on my road trips?

1. Bottled water – I keep bottled water in my car all the time. If I am going on a long road trip I will freeze bottles of water the night before and put them in a small cooler while traveling.

When I finish the water I either refill the bottle with drinkable water or non-potable water in case my radiator has problems. If I put water in the trunk I wrap a hand towel around it and put it in a plastic bag.

2. Fizzy water – Non-caloric flavored water can be good if your stomach decides to go sour on you. Of course, saltine crackers are always a good idea on a road trip.

3. Nuts – Salted nuts are a good protein and the salt adds another layer of taste. I like to put these in separate baggies about a 1/4 cup each, that way I can keep track of how many calories and sodium I consume.

4. Veggies – Each veggie is in a separate plastic bag. Carrots are great. Hummus or peanut butter are great for dipping. For some reason, I love carrots and a hard-boiled egg together. Make sure to peel the eggs before you put them in the cooler and once again, in a plastic bag.

Sliced cucumbers can stay fresh and can be coupled with grape tomatoes.

5. Fruit – My favorite fruit is a Fuji apple sliced with cinnamon and salt. That fit’s perfectly in a plastic bag fulfills that sweet and salty taste and is easy to grab when it is sliced.

Have you ever tried frozen grapes? Put them in the freezer next to your bottles of water and put then in the same cooler. They are so delish and refreshing.

Oranges are another favorite but a little juicier. The smell can work wonders though if you are tired or the car is getting that musty – ha hum – smell.

6. Energy bars – There are plenty of already made bars that are high in protein, and low in sugar. If you’re starting off early consider making your own muffins. The ones in the store are full of fat and since you’re doing nothing but sitting all day you don’t want your tush to start looking like a muffin by the end of the day.

7. Sandwiches – My husband, Stretch, loves Almond Butter and jelly sandwiches on Dave’s Killer bread. We cut them in quarters and you guessed it, put them in plastic bags. They are his comfort food. That and a bag of chips and some iced tea or water and his good for hours.

Any other type of sandwich is fine as well, but be careful about adding mayonnaise or any other condiment that might go bad in the heat.

8. Pretzels filled with peanut butter, fruit strips, popcorn – easy to eat, and popcorn doesn’t have to be greasy. Instead of putting butter on your popcorn try Parmesan cheese and black pepper.

9. Trail mix – bought or make your own. Just the right amount of nuts, chocolate, and dried fruit can satisfy you for at least an hour. I mean, really, can you go on a road trip and not have chocolate?

10 Chips – There are plenty of healthy chips out there and many are in a box or bag. Think of the chips that go best with the sandwich you are taking with you.

Don’t forget the hand wipes, napkins, plates, utensils, paper cups, and oh – and a barf bag. You never know when you’re going to need one of those and you can’t make it to the side of the road fast enough. Just saying…

What’s your favorite snack to take on a road trip?

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.