Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Healthy and Inexpensive Eats on the Road

Chances are, you're planning a road trip at least once this summer! I'm gearing up to leave on a family camping trip myself, that will involve several hours of driving to get to our destination. 

With two hungry teenage boys in the backseat, I know I need to be prepared with lots of healthy, inexpensive snacks to dole out en route, or we're headed for the dietary (and budgetary) disaster of a fast-food fix somewhere along the way.

One of the strategies I've developed over the years is to make sure to pack some extra-tasty snacks so that they don't feel “deprived” without a stop at McDonald's for lunch.

Two of the best ways to make sure you don't get stuck spending a fortune eating junky food at a greasy spoon on the way to your holiday destination are:

1. Planning ahead: You know you're going to need to eat along the way (and if you have boys who are non-stop eating machines in tow, you know they will need to eat a LOT along the way!) I aim to start tucking some homemade healthy snacks into the freezer a week or two before our departure date, so I just have to pull them out and pack them right before we leave.

2. Packing a cooler: Depending on your final destination, you'll want either a basic cooler to fill with ice, or an electric cooler (one brand name is Koolatron). If you're tent camping without access to electricity, a basic cooler will do the trick. If you'll be staying at a bed and breakfast or hotel, the electric cooler will allow you to easily maintain a stash of healthy foods and drinks throughout your holiday without the inconvenience of draining and refilling a basic cooler with ice every day or two.

What Snacks Should You Pack?
Every family seems to have their favourite “go-to” snacks; below are some suggestions that are quick and easy (and/or make-ahead-and-freeze friendly).
  • Oatmeal and Fruit Bars (freezer friendly) - substitute raspberries or chopped peaches or plums for the blueberries in these delectable bars
  • Pocket Sandwiches (freezer friendly) - my boys love these Curried Beef and Spicy Pork pocket sandwiches! The fillings can also be tucked into pitas or wraps if you don't want to wrestle with bread dough, although they're messier and not as travel-friendly that way.
  • Popcorn (pack individual servings in ziptop bags)
  • Whole fruits and sliced vegetables (pack a container of hummus for extra hunger-pang-busting power!)
  • High protein finger foods: Trail mix, cheese cubes, hard boiled eggs and jerky.
  • Nut butters and breads or crackers for spreading them on
In addition, we always pack a large Thermos jug with ice water so we can stay well-hydrated in the heat (for a special holiday treat I also bring along a bottle or two of Santa Cruz Organic Lemonade for our roadside picnic – it goes on sale occasionally at Food Basics, Fortinos and Metro for $1.99/960 mL bottle so I stock up then!)

While prepping food for a road trip does take some time and forethought, that effort pays off hugely in the health of both your body and your finances. I'm always glad I took the time to stock our cooler and picnic basket with wholesome, homemade foods and I'm sure you will be, too!

Do you have a favourite healthy, inexpensive snack for toting on road trips? Leave a comment and share it with us!  
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