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Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Eating Well On The Road

My 22 month old is at that age when you can’t leave the house for more than an hour without bringing along a snack.  Coincidentally, at 26 weeks, I’m at that same stage in my pregnancy.  Eating well is a major priority for our family, and we try to keep it a priority even when we are out and about.   We’ve gotten pretty good at packing snacks to take on a walk or to playgroup – but what about when we will be out of the house for most of the day and will need to eat a whole meal on the run? 

Over the next week we will be taking a six-hour road trip across the state and a few days later will be embarking on a trip to Mexico which will have us boarding two flights and taking a substantial bus ride before arriving at our destination.  These long travel days (or even an all-day excursion to the zoo) require some planning so that we can stay on track with our nutritional goals – and feel our best as we tackle what can be a challenging day.  

The benefit of travel is that after so many hours of sitting in a car or on a plane - a snack is usually a pretty welcome distraction.  Here is my go-to list of healthy (and acceptable to my toddler) foods to pack for travel:

  • Fruit.  Some options that travel well include bananas, apples, mandarin oranges, grapes and berries (in a crush-proof container). 
  • Cheese.  String cheese, cheese rounds, or just slices right off the block of cheddar you have in the fridge.
  • Veggies.  Sugar snap peas are our all time favorite for the road - but you can't go wrong with carrot sticks, cucumber slices, or pepper strips. 
  • A bowl of... Anything really.  You can only eat so many snacks out of resealable baggies.  Even though packing a bowl (with a lid) and a spoon is usually too much hassle for a regular day, on longer days it can make a bunch of snacks feel more like a meal.  Leftovers from dinner the day before, hummus for dipping veggies, yogurt, cottage cheese, veggie puree soup and brown rice, or applesauce are all good choices. 
  • Sandwich.  The ultimate portable meal.  We like to make a batch of chicken, tuna, or egg salad with yogurt and shredded carrot or finely diced spinach and serve it on whole grain bread. 
  • Hardboiled egg.  Protein packed and self-contained. 
  • Granola bars.  We make our own (easier than you think!) and pack them full of oats, nuts, dried fruit and flax meal.  I sweeten them with a bit of honey and use peanut butter as a binder.  They feel like a treat, but really are quite nutrient packed. 
  • Water.  Of course.  We always have a tumbler/bottle/sippy cup full of water.

Choosing several items from this list usually will get us comfortably through the day.  Often we will supplement our packed meal with a purchased treat - like frozen yogurt or French fries.  I'm ok making a compromise on a treat if I know we are eating well overall. 

Do you pack food when you travel?  What are your favorite on-the-go meals?

by on Mar. 20, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Replies (11-20):
by Member on Mar. 20, 2012 at 1:55 PM


by on Mar. 20, 2012 at 2:04 PM

 we usually pack a cooler with stuff for sandwiches and have fresh fruits and veggies.

by on Mar. 20, 2012 at 5:17 PM

We don't travel much, but when we do it is cost effective for us to pack snacks and some food.  There are 7 people in our family.

by on Mar. 20, 2012 at 6:09 PM

We do sandwiches and crackers, and fruit.  Plus we usually always have some bottles of water with us.

by on Mar. 20, 2012 at 9:16 PM

 Fruit, granola bars and trail mix are our faves.

by on Mar. 21, 2012 at 7:15 AM

I pack food no matter where we are going.  Someone is always going to want a drink and a snack, even if it's a short trip to the grocery store.

by on Mar. 21, 2012 at 7:52 AM

We don't usually pack because our trips are not for very long and typically we eat before we leave. If we do bring food they are usually juice bottles and fruit chips.

by on Mar. 21, 2012 at 8:32 AM

pretty much a lot of what you listed above :)

by on Mar. 21, 2012 at 9:07 AM

I usually pack a loaf of homemade bread, lunch meat, cheese, some squeeze mustard, string cheese, dried fruits, nuts, homemade granola bars- it all fits in the cooler and is great for lunch stops while we are on the road.

by Carissa on Mar. 21, 2012 at 9:46 AM
Yep, we pack the same kinds of things.
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