Healthy Road Trip Snacks to Fuel Your Next Adventure
When you're stuck in a car for five hours straight, you might start downing iced coffees and pretzel crisps to keep yourself from zonking out behind the wheel. But it's time to change how you eat and drink your way through road trips. To stay on track with your healthy eating while driving — whether it's across town or across the country — preparation is key. So before you pack up the car and strap yourself in, stock up on these healthy grocery store foods that you can turn into a bunch of different healthy road trip snacks. Never be so desperate that you'll eat anything just because it's at the next exit.
Do Your Healthy Road Trip Snack Research
1. Go online to scope out restaurants, rest stops, and grocery stores along your route to get an idea of your health road trip food snack options. You could even add farms and farmers' markets to the list for some local, often inexpensive flavor. (You'll definitely want to stop at these farm-fresh markets.)
2. If you're going to be in the car for long stretches, pack an insulated lunch bag or cooler with cold packs to keep the temperature of healthy road trip snack foods safe. If your trip lasts multiple days, you can purchase ice at gas stations as you go and store it in ziplock bags.
3. Do a grocery run to stock up on healthy road trip snacks that are ready to go as-is. Cover your food group bases: Protein, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and complex carbs. Knowing you have options will lessen the stress of trying to find a balanced meal or snack en route, and you'll easily be able to cobble something together from your purchases or doctor up something you grab on the go. (Related: 11 Natural Snacks You're Going to Want to Stock Up On)
Your Healthy Road Tip Snack Grocery List
Everyone needs a healthy grocery list to turn to in times of need, and all you need to do is tweak the usual weekly grocery list for at-home meals to turn many of the same items into must-haves for healthy road trip snacks on the move. Here are a few road trip food suggestions worth filling up on.
Protein Picks for Healthy Road Trip Snacks
- String cheese or other individually wrapped cheese
- Greek yogurt (plain is best)
- Cottage cheese
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Dry-roasted edamame or chickpeas
- Nuts and seeds
- Nut and seed butter (Related: Everything You Need and Want to Know About Nut Butter)
- A minimally processed bar made from nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, like KIND bar
- Low-sodium cold cuts
- Jerky (try beef, turkey, chicken, or fish)
- Pouches of tuna that can be eaten as is or used to dress up salads or bread
- Hummus: Look for single-serving cups or packs
- Protein powder. Bring in a ziplock or purchase single-serve packets and add to plain oatmeal or shake with water. (Related: The Best Protein Powders for Women, According to Nutritionists)
(You can even prep full-fledged meals instead of just healthy road trip snacks that include these high-protein foods ahead of time.)
Fruit Options for Healthy Road Trip Snacks
- Fresh fruit: If you're squeamish about fruit touching other stuff in your bag, choose something with a peel or keep washed fruit in its own resealable bag or container.
- Dried or freeze-dried fruit. Portion this road trip food into single-serving bags to avoid overeating.
- Fruit-and-seed bars like KIND Pressed bars: These gluten-free bars are made of just fruit, vegetables, and chia seeds. Though there's no true substitute for fresh fruit, these bars are a convenient way to help fill the void, as each provides two servings of fruit.
Vegetables for Easily Packed Healthy Road Trip Snacks
- Sliced fresh veggies: Bring your own or find at grocery and convenience stores. Many come with creamy dip, but skip that in favor of hummus, salsa, or a single-serve packet of guacamole. (Make your hummus a lil' fancy with these recipes.)
- Freeze-dried veggies: This road trip food provides a satisfying crunch along with filling fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Just scope out labels to help you choose products with simple ingredients. Ideally, you just want the veggies and maybe a little oil or sea salt.
- Vegetable juice: Fresh is best, but bottled (like low-sodium V8 juice) works in a pinch.
- Vegetable juice powder: Just shake up in a water bottle.
- Salad: This is a no-brainer way to work more veggies into your meals. Include protein and limit the high-calorie add-ons, like cheese, avocado, nuts, and dried fruit.
- Soup: Broth-based soups with veggies are a great road trip food if you're in the passenger seat. Just steer clear of cream-based soups—butternut squash bisque, for example, might sound healthy, but it's often made with heavy cream (and even sugar!), which can negate the benefits.
Healthy Fats to Keep Your Road Trip Snacks Balanced
- Avocado: Slice this road trip food in half with a knife and eat the flesh out of the skin with a spoon. To keep calories in check, split with a travel companion and enjoy a 125-calorie snack that's packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, fiber, and potassium. (Don't forget to wash the skin first.)
- Single-serving packs of olives: They provide satisfying monounsaturated fat for only 50 calories.
- Single-serve packets of chia seeds or ground flaxseed: They're an easy way to add fiber and texture to yogurt and oatmeal.
Complex Carbs to Add Staying Power to Your Healthy Road Trip Snacks
- Oats: Packets of unflavored instant oatmeal can be mixed with hot water or stirred into yogurt. (If you're not going to have access to hot water, prep a batch of overnight oats instead.)
- Popcorn: Aside from being lower in calories than a lot of other snack items, popcorn is a whole grain and provides filling fiber.
- Whole-grain bread: With this staple ingredient, you can make a classic road trip food: a sandwich with cold cuts or nut butter.
- Whole-grain crackers: Look for something with at least 4 grams of fiber. If portion control is tough for you, separate into single-serve bags.
- Baked potato: Don't overlook the humble baked potato, rich in fiber, vitamin A, and potassium. Plop some broccoli and cheese and you've got a quick "in moderation" meal.
Drinks to Stay Hydrated During Long Road Trips
Hydration is important, as mild dehydration can be mistaken for hunger and make you feel sluggish. Drink plenty of water and seltzer, but go slow with coffee — too much caffeine can lead to dehydration and make you feel like you have to pee every 10 minutes.