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When we drove cross-country, I did not want to feed the kids ANY sugar in the car. The last thing I needed was the stress of hyped up kids bouncing around in their seats while I navigated unfamiliar roads. We drove from Virginia to Seattle, Washington in 4 nights, so we spent a lot of time in the car. Packing healthy kid-friendly road trip snacks was absolutely necessary.
My kids are eaters. They seem to be hungry all the time. Ben regularly eats two breakfasts and two lunches! I don’t want to restrict how much they eat so I try to keep their food choices pretty healthy. We aim to feed them paleo, whole foods the majority of the time.
To avoid gas station food, I brought a massive bag of snacks along for the drive. It seriously took up most of the passenger seat. No one got hungry though! I would rather have too much food than not enough. You might not need quite as many snacks if you aren’t driving all the way across the country.
My husband and I each drove one of our vehicles, so I kept the snack bag in the middle row of the van. Everyone knew what was in the snack bag and my daughter was in charge of passing out whatever snack was requested. This kept me from trying to search through the bag and flinging snacks into the back seat while also trying to drive.
Here are the healthy kid-friendly road trip snacks we brought. There is no use bringing snacks that no one wants to eat. I packed everything in single serving bags for convenience. I didn’t want to deal with refilling a cooler each morning so everything is shelf stable, at least for a few days. We left the hotels each morning before the sun was even up. Stopping by the ice room or remembering to empty the mini-fridge was not something I was going to remember to do.
Keeping it simple was incredibly helpful.
Healthy Kid-Friendly Road Trip Snacks
Lara Bars – These come in a wide variety of flavors so you are sure to find one you like. I like Lara Bars because the ingredients are just dates and nuts, no grains or fillers, but you could substitute with any granola-type bar. Keep an eye on added sugar though. Kids with blood sugar swings get cranky.
Mamma Chia Squeeze Vitality Snacks – Chia squeeze pouches provide omega-3s and a bit of fruit and/or veggies, depending on the flavor you choose. That is a plus when meals are likely to be standard roadside restaurant fare. I brought along the blackberry and the magic green varieties. They are healthy, but also delicious.
The squeeze pouch form makes them easy to eat in the car.
Seaweed – Seaweed snacks are crunchy and salty. They are like a healthier potato chip replacement. They do tend to leave little green crumbs, but trust me, you are going to want to vacuum after spending so much time in the car anyway.
Pistachios – Okay, fair warning. You will find pistachio shells in your car for months. Even after you vacuum multiple times. It is worth it though! Pistachios are a healthy kid-friendly road trip snack that take a while to eat. Little hands are kept busy shelling the nuts. It was a healthy way to make a snack kill some time. We drove for 45 hours so I stretched out every activity possible – including snacks.
Beef Jerky – Beef jerky provided a bit of protein during the long drive. Protein can be hard to come by in a snack if you don’t have access to a cooler. There are many different varieties of jerky available, so it is easy to find a variety that your kids like. I have even seen jerky made with chicken, turkey, and salmon. Amazon now carries a grass-fed beef jerky.
Trail Mix Pouches – Trail mix provides a delicious mix of sweet and salty. It also provides protein and healthy fats. We used the trail mix pouches as part of breakfast each morning. Trail mix is easy to make yourself, but I bought it for the sake of convenience.
Popcorn Cooked in Coconut Oil – I let my kids watch one movie each afternoon to pass the time while driving. Bags of popcorn were a fun treat during the movie. It is hard to go wrong with organic popcorn cooked in organic coconut oil and sprinkled with Himalayan pink salt. I was so excited when I found this brand. Popcorn will definitely help fill empty tummies until you can stop for dinner. (I pack this for our movie time while flying too.)
Freeze Dried Fruit – We rarely buy freeze-dried fruit, so it was a fun addition to the kid-friendly road trip snacks bag. The sweetness is concentrated so my kids used it like a dessert. It would take a lot of freeze-dried fruit to get full, but this was a nice snack time treat.
Squeeze Apple Sauce – These are a staple in our house so it was a natural fit to bring with us on our cross country road trip. Bringing along something that the kids regularly eat at home provided a bit of much-needed comfort.
Fresh Fruit – Sometimes it is so easy to get wrapped up in finding healthy kid-friendly road trip snacks that we forget one of the simplest. Fresh fruit! We chose fruits that the kids could peel themselves and that would last for a few days without refrigeration. Apples, bananas, and clementines fit the bill perfectly.
We only served water to drink in the car. Well, except for coffee for mom and dad. Everyone had their own water bottle and we refilled it every time we stopped. I didn’t have to worry about a sticky mess if it spilled and I just assumed everything in the car would spill at some point. The kids also only drank when they were thirsty, not because their beverage was delicious, so there weren’t any extra bathroom stops.
Make sure to bring hand wipes and a trash bag. I gave each kid a paper bag to collect their trash each morning and we just threw it away when we stopped for the night. Don’t get me wrong, the mini-van was a crazy mess by the time we arrived at the end of our journey, but at least it wasn’t full of gross rotting food.
These are also the snacks I bring when we fly. I avoid all nut products when flying though. My kids are not allergic to nuts, but I don’t want to trigger a reaction for someone else.
Is there anything my list is missing? What are you favorite healthy kid-friendly road trip snacks?
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