Best Bets for Eating on the Road

happy family packing their carWhen you’re ready to set out on an adventure that will keep you in the car for hours at a time, you have a lot to prepare: the route, the activities…and what about the food?

A road trip is a summer favorite, but yours can jeopardize your health and fitness goals if you are stuck eating truck stop food and gas station snacks. We have an alternate plan.

Eat Well Wherever You Are

As much as we love getting away from it all, it can be tough to try to maintain the healthy, fit body you’ve been working on when you are removed from your normal routine.

Travelling can bring extra challenges, because not only are you ready to celebrate and explore, you also might be taking a break from your workouts and normal diet. Still, those challenges don’t have to derail your efforts. You can usually find a way to eat well in any location, if you stick to the basics and know your best choices.

Food on the road doesn’t have to mean truck stop gravy and gas station chips. Almost any rest stop will have a sandwich shop, a coffee shop or even a pizza or Mexican food place. When you’re stuck with these choices of carry-out or fast food, simply try to mimic what you’d eat for a healthy meal at home.

For example, if you’re eating ethic food, avoid anything fried (usually that is crunchy) or loaded with cheese or processed meat. Go for vegetable toppings and sides—lettuce, onions, peppers and salsa on your taco wrap; choose veggie pizza instead double sausage, and opt for chopped salad with dressing on the side instead of double cheese baked pasta.

If there’s a sub shop, that can be even better. Skip all the mayo and fatty lunchmeats, and instead go for turkey, chicken or even veggie.

Pack Car with Snacks and Meals

The best way to take control over what you eat on the road is to bring your own food along for the trip. The fact is, it’s not easy to avoid junk food when you’re stopping along the highway.

As an aside, it’s probably going to be more expensive, and more time consuming, to stop along the way every time someone in the car is hungry. Packing your own food will not only allow you to stick to a financial budget, but also allow you a better schedule that is more flexible for all the individuals in your group of travelers.

Gathering an assortment of healthy snacks that you can enjoy on an “as needed” basis while driving is a smart strategy. If you can add meals to the mix, better still. For snacks, it is wise to avoid the need for a lot of utensils or clean up. For meals, you might need forks or spoons, but regardless, food should be as compact and “clean” as possible.

Stocking Your Food Bags and Cooler

Outside the Cooler: Granola bars, whole grain cracker packs, popped corn, trail mix, nuts, raisins, and bananas are plenty.

Inside the Cooler: Start with water, and any other natural beverages you enjoy. You can pack your own sun tea with lemon, for example, in empty water bottles. Raw veggies pre cleaned and cut (like carrots and peppers) and easy to handle fruits (like berries and grapes) are a great choice, as well as cubes of cheese and hummus as a dip.

For Meals: Some low-fat muffins will pair nicely with individual yogurts for lunches. And for longer road trips, try packing meals in mason jars to keep in the cooler for dinners.

Your favorite main dish salads, such as Asian chicken salad, Taco salad or Cobb Salad, can be deconstructed and put into layers inside a large mason jar. Put the dressing on the bottom and the crunchy stuff on top, then turn and shake just before eating.

Spreads and salads are a good choice, too—for example, tuna salad or egg salad work well on half a bagel or wrapped inside a tortilla.

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