Summer brings road trips for many of us. When I was young, they meant climbing in the back of the station wagon with my brothers (before we understood the safety of seat belts) with a few games and a large picnic basket for the stop at a roadside rest area. Making healthy eating choices on long car trips can be a challenge. With a little planning and these four tips, you can make your next summer road trip a healthy one.
What are your healthy road trip food suggestions?
- Bring your own foods for snacks and meals if possible. Packing a small cooler before you leave helps be prepared when you get a little way down the road and need a snack. Load it with washed fruits like berries or grapes that you will not have to worry about turning brown. Clean cold, crisp vegetables such as baby carrots, celery, and peppers and include a container of hummus for dipping. Include string cheese or shelled hard-boiled eggs for cold protein options. Pack a container of nuts like almonds, cashews, or walnuts mixed with dried fruits of raisins, apricots, or dates for easy and healthy nibbling options. Healthy whole grain sandwiches with peanut butter or lean meats or any other portable foods and a thermos of cold water or unsweetened tea and you will be set to enjoy a healthy meal as you travel.
- Healthy options can come from a gas station. More and more gas stations also include a market with a wide variety of food choices, including healthy ones. If you don't want to pack your own food or you run out of snacks for the trip home, no worries, pick up some healthy snacks when you stop for fuel. Sure, there will be chips, candy bars, and soda to entice you. Use your will power to walk past those in favor of a piece of fresh fruit, an individual pack of nuts or a bottle of 100% juice instead.
- You can find something healthy from a vending machine. When taking long road trips you inevitably have to stop to stretch your legs or let the dog have a break at a road side rest. If you are trying to make good time to your destination, you may decide to pick up something from the vending machines to save yourself another stop. To make the healthiest choices, select bottled water instead of soda and look for baked chips, honey roasted nuts, fruit snacks, or cheese and cracker options.
- Make wise choices when selecting fast food. Sometimes you want the ease of a fast food drive-thru to grab a quick meal while not losing driving time. Pick your exit and fast food choices wisely, so you are still maximizing your nutrition. With over 14,000 locations across the country, there is certainly a McDonald's on your way. A hamburger or grilled snack wrap are only about 255 calories and provide healthier grab and go options. You might want to include a side salad with low fat dressing or a snack size Fruit and Walnut Salad to round out your meal. Instead of fries ask for apple wedges and instead of soda select a bottle of water and you have a nutrient wise fast food meal on the run. Of course there are other choices when you are making a fast food stop on the run so become familiar with healthier options before your trip so you will know what restaurants to watch out for when it is time to select an exit.