Planning a big trip with little ones? It’s time to pack some of the best road trip snacks for kids! We’ve included some amazing recipes and great tips for keeping the children fed, happy, and entertained.
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Unhealthy vs. Healthy Snacks for Road Trips
Once upon a time, greasy fast-food items were considered to be good snacks for road trips for kids. Ignoring all of the obvious health drawbacks, it’s clear that this kind of food often makes kids groggy, hyper, moody, and stressed out, which is less than optimal when you’re somewhere between Albuquerque and Yellowstone National Park, not to mention that it can make the car smell like a fry vat!
Today, moms and dads everywhere work on coming up with cute road trip food ideas that are both healthy for their kids and fun to eat. By folding up snacks, shaping them into animals, or just making them bite-sized, a parent can have an easy time convincing kids to eat delicious, healthy snacks. These unique, clever road trip recipes are for parents looking for a great alternative to a greasy meal, and they may quickly become the favorite snacks for home, too.
What Needs to Go Into the Cooler?
Sometimes, the amount of healthy snacks you can bring is limited by the size of your cooler. Plan ahead and pack safely. As food temperatures rise, the likelihood that bacteria will grow does, too. The “danger zone” is between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, so if you’re going on a really long trip, you may want to put a thermometer in your cooler and check it every once in a while to keep certain types of food cold and safe. These are foods to watch:
- Deli meat (such as cooked ham or turkey)
- Dairy (like milk, yogurt, and cheese)
- Fresh produce (including cut-up fruits and vegetables)
- Summer salads (like egg salad or pasta salad)
Messy pasta salads may not be the best snacks to take on a road trip. When transporting cooked seafood, be especially careful, and of course, you don’t want to include anything raw.
What Can Be Left Out?
We’ve included many different items that are fine to be left out of the cooler in our list of kids’ favorite road trip recipes.
- Popcorn balls
- Baked fruit or vegetable chips
- Peanut butter sandwiches
- Trail mixes
- Granola bars or energy bites
High-protein, salty, and sweet snacks like these are some of the best food for road trips because they can also help to alleviate motion sickness.
When your child or a visiting child has some kind of allergy, such as a peanut allergy, it’s important to read ingredient labels very closely when packing snacks for a road trip, not only for peanuts but for other things like peanut flour, nut oils, and peanut butter. Sneaky peanut oil hides in all manner of things that you’d think wouldn’t be dangerous:
- Chocolate bars
- Some cake icings
- Chinese foods (like pre-made egg rolls)
And that’s just for peanuts! There are all sorts of things hidden in foods that you wouldn’t think contain allergens. In our road trip snack list, we’ve indicated which snacks have peanuts, but it’s important to look at each ingredient’s nutritional facts on your own to double-check. Not all cereals or pretzels are made the same! Whenever you’re traveling with a child with known allergies, or even with a young child with no known allergies, have medication on hand and know how to recognize the signs of a reaction.
Tricks for Keeping Your Kids Mess-Free
So many of the best road trip snacks for kids include honey, peanut butter, fruit, or other sticky substances. Putting them on a straw or skewer can help avoid a mess. Keep wipes and a small trash bag handy. Also, use cups for snacks instead of just for drinks to help prevent cereal flying everywhere! Parents have come up with many different hacks such as these for keeping the car mess-free.
No matter where you go, have fun on your ultimate road trip!