Growing up, my dad hated flying. We drove everywhere. I mean everywhere. When it came time to move to California from New Jersey, my dad even drove across the country (thankfully, I was spared and flew with my grandpa months later).
Back then, I had a mixed relationship with all these road trips. I was pretty content chilling in the backseat with my Walkman and CD “purse,” talking sparingly (usually to request snacks and ask for bathroom breaks).
Over the years, I’ve taken quite a few road trips — by myself, with my husband, with my family, and with friends. I love them more and more as I get older. When I used to make the 8 hour haul from San Diego to San Jose during my college years, I rarely stopped for anything but gas, typically blasting Aerosmith or Sublime. It was a long trip, but I didn’t mind it.
Now when we travel with the kids, especially our incessant toddler snacker, road trip snacks are a MUST. They’re sort of the best part of road trips? I try to keep healthy road trip snacks on hand because let’s face it, it’s easy to eat a bag of chips when you’ve got idle hands (I know, I did so today, just sitting at my desk procrastinating on a work assignment).
So in the spirit of summer, and in preparation for our own upcoming road trip to Porland and the Oregon Coast next weekend, I’m sharing some of my favorite healthy road trip snacks — both homemade and store-bought.
Dried fruit. We love dried mango, pineapple, apple, apricots, and raisins.
Fresh fruit. My preferred road trip-friendly fruit include grapes, apple slices, berries, apricots, clementines, and cherries.
Kale chips. Chips, but healthy! Try this Sesame Salt Kale Chip recipe.
Granola bars. When I’m short on time, I stock up on my favorite Kind Bars but homemage granola bars are such a treat. Smitten Kitchen’s Date Breakfast Squares are particularly scrumptuous.
Energy bites. At my old company, the culinary team (yes, I worked in the real Silicon Valley) would prepare the most delicious mini energy bites for afternoon snack. I got hooked on these, often sprinting to the kitchen for them when 3 pm rolled around. I recently realized just how easy they are to make at home! Check out this recipe from Heidi Swanson.
Trail mix. This is another one of those things you could easily buy premade (Trader Joe’s has a wild selection of trail mixes) but if you’re feeling crafty, you could totally whip up your own trail mix. Go the healthy route by mixing your favorite nuts, dried fruit, and seeds, or spice things up a bit with spices, chocolate, and cacao nibs. I’m curious about this Spanish Trail Mix, too!
Pocorn. Popcorn isn’t just for the movies. This Spicy-Sweet Shichimi Togarashi Popcorn is a favorite around these parts. It’s affordable, readily available, and doesn’t make too much of a mess. Kid-friendly, too.
Parfait cups. Not exactly a ‘snack’ but for those early morning drives, it’s nice to pack a nutritious late breakfast so you can hit the road before traffic builds up. These Roasted Plum Parfaits can be assembled ahead (just sprinkle the granola on top in the a.m. so it doesn’t get soggy).