Healthy Food Options for Your Summer Road Trip
Got a road trip or two planned this summer? I've got some great ways to keep them healthy with tips and food options that will make this summer fun.
When it comes to road trip planning, mapping out routes isn’t the only important part of the process. Equally important are the road trip food options. If your usual go-to is a bag of chips, energy drinks, and handfuls of French fries, it’s time to shake up your routine.
That means you need to plan and prepare food and snacks for the road. Not sure where to start? Below, I have created some tips, tricks and delicious and nutritious ideas to help you pack up your cooler a whole lot faster.
So, get ready to get your snack on!
How Do You Eat healthy on a Long Road Trip?
Prepare, prepare, prepare. If you want to eat healthy and well on a longer road trip, planning ahead is essential. That starts with preparation and getting motivated to pack up the healthiest foods you can make and find before your journey begins.
Making a shopping list
Doing the shopping
Completing meal prep
Organizing your cooler to keep food safe
You don’t need to be tempted by the ice cream stops and fast food joints along the way. For a natural energy burst, fuel your body with only the best foods. It will help you stay comfortable (goodbye, fast food heartburn) and more satisfied with your snack time while road tripping.
10 Must-Have Healthy Road Trip Food and Snacks
Not sure what to bring on your next road trip for snacks and food? Skip the chip aisle and look for these delicious, healthy, nutritious alternatives instead! Your body will feel fuller, longer, and you won’t feel sluggish and tired after eating these.
Fuel your body with these options next time you hit the road:
When it comes to road trip food, dried jerky is about as shelf-stable of a protein as you can get for meat lovers. If you’re watching your salt intake, be sure to buy the options with low sodium on the label. You can find all sorts of meats, including bison, venison, beef, turkey, and more.
Why it’s a perfect snack: High in protein, jerky is an excellent option to fill you up. It also contains essential vitamins and minerals like zinc, iron, vitamin B12, phosphorus, and folate.
This is a staple in my fridge. It’s simple to make a batch of boiled eggs right before a road trip. Best of all, you can create a variety of other egg-based options like deviled eggs or egg salad to take along, too.
Why it’s a perfect snack: If you peel the eggs before storage, you have zero packaging or waste to deal with in your car! Eggs are also a great source of protein and contain vitamins D and B-6.
Crunchy and sweet, carrots are an easy grab-and-go road trip food option. Buy a bag for a snack refuel at any grocery store. Paired with hummus or a nut butter, it can also complement necessary proteins, too.
Why it’s a perfect snack: Another no-mess snack option, carrots are as convenient as they are healthy. Carrots contain beta carotene, fiber, vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants for the ultimate healthy snack.
Chocolate lovers, rejoice. You can enjoy some dark chocolate on your road trip. If your sweet tooth just won’t let up, know that indulging in a little bit of your favorite treat is okay. Split a bar with your car mates to avoid the temptation of eating too much. Just make sure to eat it before turning the car off (especially in the summer) so it doesn’t make a melted mess!
Why it’s a perfect snack: Dark chocolate usually has less sugar than milk chocolate but contains plenty of minerals and antioxidants that can benefit your health. Some research indicates it can also improve brain function, too.
Want to learn more about whether or not chocolate ie healthy? Check out my blog Is Chocolate Healthy? 7 Reasons It’s Sweet for Your Health
If you’re not much of a chocolate fan, fresh fruit is another way to satisfy the sweet tooth. Plus, fruits are full of antioxidants, which can slow damage to your cells. Stock up on fresh fruits like apples, oranges, and grapes for easy snacks. Plus, apples and oranges will stay fresh outside of a cooler if you don’t have enough room. Pair up with a scant handful of nuts or dip in nut butter to keep blood sugar balanced.
Why it’s a perfect snack: Fruit can be purchased along the way of your journey for you to enjoy at its peak freshness. Keep an eye out for produce stands for local options to support the local economy. Gas stations often have convenience fruits, too, like pre-cut fruits or whole bananas and oranges.
Chickpeas are an excellent source of both fiber and protein, which keep you feeling fuller, longer. Roasted chickpeas are crunchy and are perfect to eat alone or to add atop a salad.
Why it’s a perfect snack: Dried, cooked chickpeas have more protein than raw chickpeas. You’ll also find chickpeas have plenty of vitamins and minerals like phosphorus, folate, iron, and calcium.
Pop it before you go for a fresh snack. Opt for natural popcorn selections without the extra flavorings and dyes for the healthiest option. When prepared naturally, it’s low in fat and sugar, and it also contains zero cholesterol.
Why it’s a perfect snack: It’s full of fiber and complex carbs to keep you feeling full. Plus, the salty factor can keep you satiated and away from other road trip temptations like French fries.
Protein Bars or Balls
Protein bars or balls are a great snack that can keep you full until your next meal. Make your own so you know exactly what goes in it. Adding ingredients like nut butters, sunflower seeds, and quinoa ensures it is filling and nutritious without too much sugar. You can skip ingredients often found in commercial protein bars like high fructose corn syrup and other sugars.
No time to make your own? My go to is the RXBAR® because they have a short list of all natural ingredients, they're gluten free and have no added sugar.
Why it’s a perfect snack: Protein bars and balls are a convenient way to get healthy fats and proteins. When you make your own, you can ensure it has quality ingredients instead of becoming a glorified candy bar.
You don’t need to wait until the fall to pick up these nutritious seeds. Munch on pumpkin seeds for a crunchy snack that packs a health punch. High in fiber, these seeds are ideal to eat on their own or mixed into salads, protein bars, or trail mixes.
Why it’s a perfect snack: Pumpkin seeds are easy to find or make at home, and even easier to package up for a road trip. These seeds are high in magnesium as well as manganese and vitamin K, which help with wound healing.
Before you gag over the thought of eating this ocean plant, know that it’s a healthy and easy snack for any day of the week — not just road trips. Also known as nori, roasted seaweed comes pre-packaged and often salted or flavored. It’s crunchy texture is similar to munching on chips, but without the unhealthy fats and high calorie content. Eat it alone or add it to salads for an extra crunch!
Why it’s a perfect snack: It’s an excellent source of iodine, necessary for thyroid function and has plenty of vitamins and minerals like vitamin K, zinc, and even iron.
Tips for Road Trip Food Safety
Food poisoning is one of the quickest ways to wreck a road trip. While most of the above food options are pretty safe, you still need to exercise caution (especially with fresh foods like boiled eggs, for example) to stay well.
When traveling be sure to:
Rinse all fresh produce - Prior to packing up produce, wash it all. That includes anything with peel-away skins — like oranges.
Sanitize or wash hands before eating - It’s best to wash hands with warm, soapy water before eating. But if you can’t get to a sink, hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol will work.
Refresh coolers - If you’re traveling with food in coolers, be sure to keep plenty of cold ice packs and ice with the food. You may need to stop to restock the ice when it melts.
Keep perishable foods cold - Stopping at a restaurant to eat and have leftovers? Get them into the cooler within two hours. If you’d rather be safe, toss it.
Keep cooler nearby - Don’t stick your cooler in the trunk; it gets too hot. Instead, opt to put it in the front or backseat.
Still not sure? Check out the FoodKeeper App to see which foods and beverages need to be stored at for safe consumption.
Other tips to keep Your Health In Check on the Road
Keep healthy snacks in stock
Wear a mask in crowded areas
Stay hydrated by drinking water
Stop long before exhaustion hits
Avoid phone distractions while driving
With a bit of planning and foresight, you can ensure you have a healthy road trip this summer. Your road trip snacks are part of that. Eat well to feel well and enjoy your trip to the fullest. Here’s to a wonderful road tripping experience!
Looking to cut sweets? Watch my webinar, 7-Steps to Kick Your Sugar Habit.