We go on so many trips- both longer vacations and lots and lots of local trips around California. I have become a pro at packing up snacks for our family that are portable and healthy-ish. Packing your own food gives you control over what and when you eat and can save so much money. I also like the convenience of using our time for activities and not wasting it in lines for quick bites or hunting down a place we can all agree on.
I try to pack healthy options with a few treats here and there and I thought I would share some of our favorite options when we are on the road.
The items I use when packing:
- Ziploc Bags (storage size and sandwich size)
- Food Storage Containers (about $3 for an 8 pack at Target)
The food storage containers are disposable but can be reused over and over again. I tend to quickly rinse them when they are emptied and usually bring them back home. These particular containers can be stacked within themselves to save space.
I like to either freeze water bottles ahead of time to use as ice or I fill Ziploc freezer bags with ice to use in the cooler. We drink the water as it thaws out and the extra freezer bags are great to refill with ice from the hotel so you don’t need to keep unpacking your cooler. We just freshen the ice each day and everything stays nice and cool.
Now for the snacks!
My favorite snacks include:
Crackers // Nuts (usually almonds, pistachios or cashews) // sliced salami (my husband’s favorite) // sliced cheese- this is smoked gouda, parmesan and cheddar are also favorites // hard boiled eggs // apples (I actually slice them- these usually last 2 days before browning)
Fruit is always to right answer and we pack tons of it. This is the easiest breakfast for the kids and they know before they choose crackers or treats, they have to make a healthy choice with fruit or veggies.
In this case I peeled several tangerines // mixed berries // grapes
We have also packed watermelon, strawberries, blueberries… anything that isn’t too juicy works. You can also find little snack packs at stores like Costco and Target with fruit, cheese, pretzels that work perfectly for children or adults.
I pack veggies too. Anything crunchy that your family loves is best- carrots, celery, broccoli, snap peas, cherry tomatoes…. Another favorite is black olives. I just empty an entire can in a Tupperware, drain the liquid and the kids love it. You can pack hummus, guac or little ranch packets to go with your veggies if you like. I try to keep things simple and here is what I recently packed:
Spinach Salad (I picked up a 2pk of salads for $5 at Costco. This kind is my favorite because there is a fork included inside the container) //baby carrots and I realize Dilly Pickles aren’t a veggie but my kids love these. We always pack them and they are usually the first thing they grab to eat.
Many of our road trips involve hikes or lots of walking so I try to pack very lightweight snacks that are salty. My children and husband love beef jerky and I usually grab a Larabar or maybe a packet of peanut butter for protein. We also pack tons of water.
Treats! Now what is a road trip without treats? Not one I want to be on 😉 I try to keep the junk food pre-portioned and limited and we have little portions of lots of options. We pack cookies, chips, candy- Red Vines are a favorite and for the kids lollipops take awhile to eat and provide zero temptation to me. Anything that isn’t messy and doesn’t involve tons of little wrappers works.
Gummy Bears (these are the real fruit ones from bulk bins at the market- so much more flavorful than the bags) // chocolate covered cashews (from Costco- these are amazing) // chips (I grab what is on sale at Costco- these are Luke’s Organic BBQ flavor) // Cookies (we love wafers- Loaker is my favorite in lemon flavor or hazelnut but note these get slightly melty in direct sun so I keep them in a cool spot)
Last but not least is drinks. We load up on water and try to avoid sugary sodas and juices. The kids are only allowed water in the car and the occasional milkshake. I love to bring kombucha, flavored sparkling water and cold brew coffees. There are tons of flavors but my current fave is this Starbucks iced coffee. I like a little milk in my iced coffee so I add about a cup of milk right into the bottle and it is ready to pour. Much cheaper than hunting down coffee shops on long trips and this entire container is the same price as one cold brew coffee on the road.
I hope this gives you some ideas for your next road trip! What are your favorites? Any tricks to packing or transporting your favorite snacks?
Here are a few things I occasionally make for our trips:
Crispy Protein Bites (these are yummy)
Mrs S says
Love this! We try to take most of our own food on road trips, both because of cost & health/allergies. I’ve never seen the dill pickle packets, I would LOVE those. Thank you for sharing some fresh ideas!
The kids are obsessed with them Mrs S 😉 They don’t have juice so not messy to pack like normal pickles.
can you put the calorie and carb count on the crispy protein snack that’s on this page.?
Thanks for the great ideas! What kind of salami is that? Where do you buy it? My kids would love that!
It was from Sprouts and I don’t remember the brand but it was organic and not all the junk in some brands. I usually find them near the olive bar area in grocery stores. 🙂
We have Sprouts here, so I’ll look for it. Thanks Charlene!
I would love to see how you packed all of this! We are going on a month-long road trip in July. We have a car cooler that can stay cooled as long as the car is running, and I plan to freeze some water bottles, but I’d love to see how you organized all this! I’m trying to decide how much to pack to eat before we stop at a grocery store again.
Hi Roaslie- we packed a big cooler for our last trip and honestly I won’t do that again. It took up way too much space in our little car. I would use a smaller cooler next time that was easy to carry in and out of the car to refill ice and took up less space. I use water bottles as you mention and then refill the ice in the hotels. 🙂
Kate Campbell says
So glad I stumbled across this on Pinterest – what an absolute winner! Healthy, hydrating snacks will help keep everyone happy on a long, hot drive from NorCal to SoCal. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for the nice comment Kate 🙂 Have fun on your road trip!
wonderful ideas that make traveling soo much better. One of our favorites is frozen grapes. they will quickly thaw in your mouth and give you a icey cold treat. We realy love most fruits frozen it stays extra cold and by the next day you have thawed fruit for a quick breakfast salad
Good idea if you have a super cold cooler for sure. My littlest loves frozen blueberries. 🙂
Hi Charlene… Wow! Such great ideas. Would I be able to link your post to a post I am currently writing about short Apple-Picking road trips? Please let me know if it’s okay. Thanks so much for the great ideas!
Leslie Coblentz says
My husband and I are getting ready to take a week long road trip and I love your snack ideas. I will be packing all of those! Much thanks!
Have a great trip Leslie!