Who Else Loves Road Trips?!
It can be so nice to take a long drive with great company, whether for business or pleasure. My husband and I absolutely love going for long drives through the beautiful PNW, either for weekend or day trips! We are as spontaneous as we can be with local adventures despite having our day jobs, side projects and kiddos, plus everyday household things to take care of. When you are living in such a beautiful part of the country where it is literally just a few hours (or less) from so many amazing outdoor adventures, road trips are inevitable for anyone who enjoys time outdoors! Whether it is a last minute ordeal or planned excursion, whether we were in the mood for a long drive or not, we at least get to enjoy that time together. Sometimes it feels like a daunting chore to prepare for or be surprised with a long trip, especially in regards to food when you are striving for a healthy diet each day. We have found that even in a pinch, a road trip can be fun, easy and healthy whether you are prepared or not!
How Can You Prepare?
When you are planning a trip it is nice to take some time ahead to also plan out the FOOD you will be eating! Nothing worse than feeling hangry and having nothing with you and nothing around that looks good to you! That in mind, when your only options are drive-thru or gas stations it can be tough but don’t worry! You can see our suggestions in the next section 😉 As for preparing ahead of time for road snacks we suggest prepping food and also checking out a few of your local discount stores (Grocery Outlet!!!) for good deals on mid-range healthy “processed snack” items and health food stores if you have a lot of restrictions. Amazon and Vitacost are great if you have time to wait for a shipment, especially if you have prime! Here are some ideas for preparing healthy snacks ahead of time…
Meat and cheese lettuce wraps (just roll lunchmeat and cheese up in a lettuce leaf with slice/chunks of avocado)
Fresh fruit (whole apples, bananas and grapes or pre-cut and sealed in a container with a little lemon juice to prevent browning)
Apple and celery slices with peanut/almond/cashew butter (easily prep these and put in sealed containers)
Beef Jerky (buy a clean version or make your own!)
Mixed nuts/trail mix (homemade or store-bought)
Carrot/Celery/Peppers/Jicama sticks and hummus or other clean dip (easily prep these and put in sealed containers)
Potato or sweet potato/veggie chips made with coconut or olive oil (homemade or store bought-these are found at most grocers anymore)
Sandwiches! (Find a healthier bread and make ahead or fresh at a stop-we like good ol’ PB & J or meat, avocado, hummus and veggies!)
Drinkable yogurt/protein smoothies (store-bought or homemade by blending yogurt, fruit/veggies and protein powder, etc)
Energy/snack bars (homemade versions or store bought, we like KIND, Clif, Luna and Larabars)
Fruit leather (Homemade or store bought)
Soup or stew in keep warm thermos (don’t eat while driving unless it doesn’t require a spoon)
Any homemade food you like, really, kept warm in a thermos style food container
What About Last Minute Trips?!
It is very possible to get stuck in a last minute road trip situation or end up just not making the time to prep/pack food. Even if a gas station or fast food stop is never your first choice, there is hope for maintaining a healthy diet on your spontaneous adventures! If you have a few extra minutes, it can be a much better deal to find an actual grocery store such as Trader Joes, Safeway/Albertsons, Kroger/Fred Meyer, Winco, etc. A co-pilot can look up major grocery store locations on the phone and plan to stop at one closest to the freeway in a town along the way. I recommend finding a smaller one to avoid walking through a giant store for the few things you may pick up. Winco has great deals on bulk foods but is a HUGE store compared to something like Safeway, Albertsons, Kroger, etc. If you can make time for it, you can find a lot more selection of healthier convenience foods at these types of places, usually for a bit less than a gas station store. You will notice that a lot of these items are the same as the previous list! The only difference is you or your co-pilot are making them on the go rather than ahead of time. Here are some suggestions for what to do when you have not planned at all for your trip…
Grocery Store Ideas
Shop the perimeter of the grocery store first for the most “whole food” ingredients, avoid the middle aisles unless you are looking for a specific type of thing such as the pre-packaged “health food” like food bars, bottled water, healthier chips, dried fruit or jerky, PB, jelly, etc.
Box of health food bars like Larabars, Clif Bars, Luna Bars, etc
Healthy chips/veggie chips (made with coconut or olive oil)
Nut Butter Pouches (Justin’s brand are great!)
Bunch of bananas (for eating plain or with PB/banana sandwiches)
Apples (to eat whole, buy pre-sliced for eating with PB)
Grapes (eat whole)
Mandarin oranges “cuties”
Canned fruit with a pop-top or packaged fruit cups/applesauce with no added sugar
Baby carrots, pre-cut raw veggie sticks/pieces (use for dipping in hummus or other dip of choice)
Hummus, other dip for veggies/as a sandwich spread
Small jar of peanut butter for dipping/making sandwiches
Bread, tortillas or lettuce for sandwiches/wraps
Small jar of jam, apple butter, or just banana slices for sandwiches/wraps
Pack of lunch meat and cheese (for sandwiches/wraps)
Romaine hearts and guacamole (for sandwiches/wraps)
Mixed nuts/dried fruit/trail mix (for snacking)
Deli sandwich/lettuce wrap (buy ready-made or place order, go get the rest of your items then pickup on the way out)
Fast Food Ideas
Most fast food restaurants offer a plain grilled chicken breast or beef patty but you may have to ask-it won’t be advertised this way. This is a good starting point to building a hearty salad or lettuce wrap, just ask for them to put what you want on it… aka: REAL cheese-NOT American and ALL THE VEGGIES. Pair it with some of the healthier sides they offer!
Grilled chicken salad as is with balsamic dressing option
Basic salad-ask to sub a grilled chicken breast for crispy, add avocado/guacamole if possible and all the veggies, balsamic dressing
Grilled chicken breast with cheddar (or anything but American cheese) extra tomato, add whatever veggies they can in a lettuce wrap
Sandwich with gluten free bread or lettuce wrap, loaded with all the veggies, meat and extra avocado or hummus rather than mayo/dressing
Grilled chicken rather than crispy
Any burger with lots of veggies, minus the bun-wrapped in lettuce, without dressing if you can handle it
Side of beans and cheese
Corn tortilla taco with chicken, tomato, cheese, lettuce and hot sauce
Taco salad with hot sauce and guacamole
Gas Station Ideas
Try to find a chain/big name convenience store or even better, a truck stop as they tend to have more selection generally of healthier options. In our experience, smaller no-name ones can be hit or miss! You should be able to find at least a few of these items if not all at any gas station store you visit, at least enough to get you by until a better option presents itself!
Mixed nuts, peanuts
Cheese sticks/string cheese
Bananas/fresh fruit (pre-cut or whole)
Almond or Peanut Butter packs
Hummus for dipping chips or veggies
Clif, Quest, Kind, Lara or Luna bars
Dark chocolate bar
“Healthier” popcorn or chips
Sandwich or wrap, eat the bread or just the fillings in a pinch if you’re gluten free and it is the only option (meat/cheese/lettuce tomato)
Fresh veggies and dip
Anything but the fried food on the spinning rollers….