11 Must-Have Snacks for a Road Trip with Kids
Personal chef and mother of four Alma Schneider swears by these healthy, tasty, easily portable kid-pleasing eats. Those pint-sized passengers might even stop asking "Are we there yet?!"
Who doesn’t like a healthy, mouth-popping crunch? Some of my favorites are dry roasted, salted almonds, roasted chickpeas with sea salt, or wasabi peas (for kids who can tolerate a little heat). Dried kale chips also have a great crunch factor. You can find them in most supermarkets or make your own—just roast pre-washed kale leaves with olive oil and sea salt. All of these crunchy munchies are non-perishable and can be easily stored in a small baggie or plastic or glass storage container. (Here are more healthy snacks for kids or adults!)
Cheese sticks are healthy, easy to pack, and universally beloved by the carseat set. You can buy them pre-packged or make your own to save money: Just buy a block of your kids’ favorite cheese, cut it into cheese-stick sized strips and wrap them in waxed paper. If your road trip is extra long, stash them in a bag with an ice pack. Don’t forget some whole grain crackers on the side.
When I was a kid, the only snack we ever got was a little snack baggie filled with peanuts and raisins or other dried fruit. And it makes sense. The protein-packed snack is non-perishable, simple to assemble, and delivers a solid energy boost when needed. If allergies are a concern, use sunflower seeds or soy nuts in lieu of peanuts. For the reluctant eater, try throwing in just a few mini chocolate chips to help them turn the trail mix corner. Here’s how to turn nuts and other superfoods into nutrition-packed snacks your family will flip for.
Sometimes we forget that the simplest snacks come in their own perfect packaging. A banana or a clementine are nature’s gift to parents! No food storage container necessary! Just make sure to bring a bag to toss the peels into. If a banana seems too boring, bring along a ittle shaker of cinnamon and/or cocoa powder to sprinkle on it, and the kids will see that banana as dessert! Here’s why bananas are so awesome for your health.
Say “oh yeah” to oats
“Overnight oats” are majorly trending as a breakfast food, but soaking oatmeal overnight is also a wonderful snack. Fill a few six-ounce mason jars half-full with oats; add coconut milk, almond milk, or cow’s milk almost to the top, leaving a bit of room for some blueberries or strawberries, a pinch of cinnamon, and a teaspoon of maple syrup. Leave in the fridge overnight; then sprinkle in some cinnamon and/or cocoa powder in the morning for a delicious and filling snack that conquers even the biggest carb cravings. Here are satisfying snack ideas for all your various food cravings.
Sweet and salty seaweed with sticky rice
You’ve probably noticed that crunchy seaweed is everywhere. Kids love it as a snack, but you can take it to another level of fun and satisfaction by wrapping dried seaweed around a ball of sticky rice, like they do in Japan. Sprinkle on some sesame seeds and place a piece of protein inside the ball—like some cooked chicken, a cooked shrimp, or a piece of tofu as a surprise (and extra protein). You and your kids will love it! Keep the rice and seaweed separate in storage containers until ready to eat, so the seaweed stays crunchy. Here’s how to eat more protein without even trying.
Do a dip
Carrots and hummus are an old favorite, but I love this modern twist: Instead of slicing the carrots into sticks, cut them into coins (the short way and on a slant), so they’re more like carrot chips. Store them in a small storage container and dip them either into prepared individual servings of hummus. You can also stand the carrot coins in a shallow container spread with a layer of hummus (like a carrot coin graveyard). Feel free to experiment with other dips too, such as edamame dip, black bean dip, fava bean dip, and carrot dip. You can also mix up the veggies with these surprising crudité superstars.
What? Ants on a log! What kid can refuse the appeal of a celery stick slathered with peanut butter? Feel free to use almond butter, sunflower seed butter, or cashew butter, and top with a few dried currants or dried blueberries. Mix it up a bit and switch out the celery for endive leaves if you want to get fancy. Endives are also less bitter and may be a better choice for some kids.
Rice cakes, that is. One of my kids’ favorite healthy snacks is a brown rice cake with sunflower seed or peanut butter and/or cottage cheese on top. Say what you will but this combo is delicious and healthy! Just be sure to place the pre-assembled snack in an appropriate-sized plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, and don’t forget the napkins! This may be a little better for kids who are old enough to keep the back of the car clean! Here’s another great idea for cottage cheese.
One of my favorite snacks for the car is leftover pizza. Kids love it, a slice or cut up squares can be held in one hand, it’s easy to store in aluminum foil or a plastic storage container, and it serves as a wonderful tool for leverage if you want your kids to behave. There is no better reward than the all-time favorite pizza for getting kids to get along in the back seat. If pizza isn’t your kids’ favorite, try any leftover food that’s easy to hold and will taste good at room temperature. How about cheese quesadillas?
Okay, so you don’t always have time for snack prep while you’re trying to corral children, plus luggage, plus phone chargers, plus water bottles out the door in a hurry. In a pinch, turn to a handful of store-bought kid-favorites with ingredients you can actually pronounce and understand. That includes Annie’s Homegrown Organic Cheddar Bunnies and Organic Cheddar Squares, Biena All Natural Roasted Chickpeas (kids especially love Ranch and Cinnamon Crunch), Mott’s Snack & Go Natural Applesauce Pouches, Skinny Pop Popcorn, and Justin’s Classic Peanut Butter with Banana Chips Snack Pack. Happy trails!