By: Lauren Nickerson, Keene State College Dietetic Intern
Thinking about traveling across the country, or even just going on a state-to-state road trip? Have you thought about whether you are going to pack meals and snacks, or make stops along the way to eat? Planning a trip can be time consuming and sometimes stressful, but packing meals and snacks for the road can actually save you time and money! A little bit of upfront planning can get you there faster (less stops!) and healthier with these road tripping tips and tricks.
It is a given that we all need to eat on road trips, especially to maintain our energy levels when driving long distances. Providing your body with fuel when traveling will keep you fuller for longer periods of time, allowing for less stops and a faster trip. Incorporate carbohydrates, fat, protein and fiber into your meals and snacks to ensure that you are fueling your body with everything that it needs throughout the duration of your trip. Here are some tips and tricks for balanced travel snacks and meals:
Reasons to Pack Meals and Snacks:
Save time and money with pre-planning!
- By packing your own nutritious foods, we may cut down on the amount of non-nutritious snacks and meals that won’t offer the same amount of nutrients or contribute to a sense of lasting fullness.
- Packing your meals can cut down on the amount of stops you need to make on your trip, resulting in less time on the road.
- Packing your meals and snacks saves money along the way. By buying in bulk, or even at the grocery store, you don’t pay for the mark up price that a convenient store, restaurant, or gas station charges on items. According to the Economist, convenient stores have higher prices on their food items because they have higher operating costs in the store.
On-the-Road Snack and Meal Ideas:
All of these snacks are filled with carbohydrates and protein that keep you full and satisfied for longer.
- Whole grain bread sandwiches with vegetables and a protein can be a balanced meal paired with some nuts or seeds.
- Whole grain crackers or fruit with peanut butter or granola bar, easily accessible for adults and kids.
- String cheese, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are filling and nutritious snacks to grab along the way.
- Single serving hummus and cut vegetables are also an easy and fast nutritious snack. Single serving cups of anything are convenient as they require little to no extra utensils.
How to Pack Meals and Snacks Safely:
Keep foods out of the “Danger Zone” for a happy, healthy trip!
- Foods that travel well are those that you may find in your pantry; those shelf stable items that can remain at room temperature.
- Cold foods need to stay cold and hot foods need to stay hot stay hot! Insulated bags and thermoses and coolers with ice packs can help ensure food stays out of the “Danger Zone”.
- The “Danger Zone”: Bacteria can grow in food rapidly between the temperatures of 41 degrees Fahrenheit and 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep foods below 41 degrees or above 135 for safety purposes.
- Yogurt, fruit salad, precut vegetables, cheese and deli meat can all travel easily because they are portable and easy to assemble when needed. But, these foods need to stay cold (less than 41 degrees) for the duration of the trip or until you can get them back into a refrigerator.
- If you are not going to finish those leftovers within the next 2 hours of your trip, pop them in the cooler with all your other food and ensure it stays cold!
On your upcoming trip, pack your balanced meals and snacks for a quicker and healthier drive.