With travel restrictions lifting, my family and I are starting to spend quite a bit of time in the car to make up for a year of little travel. My husband and I have family and friends across the country. Flying with a toddler does not seem like an easy task so we have started to take smaller road trips in the past several months. Depending on the time of day that we are traveling, we often need to have snack breaks. When we travel, we try to pick healthier options at gas stations and rest stops. Today I would like to share some of our favorites with you!
A few of my go-to travel snacks include trail mix, fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese sticks, pretzels, and popcorn. Most rest stops and gas stations have a variety of healthier snack options. I have had good luck finding whole grain snacks, whole fruits and a variety of trail mix options at gas stations. One thing I have noticed is that convenience store options tend to be more expensive. On our last road trip, I purchased a small bag of trail mix from a gas station for $4.79. Compared to my local grocery store, this was almost $2 more than what I would typically spend on a similar item.
Therefore, when I know I am going to be traveling, I try to plan my snacks and purchase them ahead of time. Spend Smart. Eat Smart. has a number of easy, inexpensive snack items that are great for road trips. Some of my favorites are the Popcorn Trail Mix and Breakfast Cookies. For items that need to be kept cold, like string cheese, I will pack a small cooler or lunchbox with ice packs and a thermometer to make sure they stay safe.
I would love to hear if you have packed any of the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. recipes in your travel bag. Feel free to share any of your go-to travel snacks with us on social media or in the comments section. Cheers to your next road trip adventure!
Summer is the perfect time to load up the car for a getaway with the family. Regardless of the destination, you’ll need to eat along the way. The highways are lined with fast food restaurants and gas stations, but that’s about it. Not only are the options at these places high in calories and low in nutrients… they can get expensive too!
At the Drive-Thru:
Fast food restaurants may seem like the inexpensive choice at first. But when the whole family is hungry, it can get pricey. Check out what you could end up spending on one trip through the drive-thru.
1 Bacon Cheeseburger Meal (fries and drink included) – $6.49
In addition to the cost, meals at fast food places are packed with sodium, fat, and calories. One sandwich can have over 500 calories and 1000 milligrams of sodium and a medium fountain drink can contain a quarter of a cup of sugar.
At the Gas Station:
Gas stations and convenience stores may be quick and easy, but it will be hard to find healthy options.
2 bags of chips – $1.99 each
2 candy bars – $1.39 each
2 sodas – $1.79 each
2 bottles of juice -$1.99 each
Total = $14.32 plus tax
You could spend almost $20 for food that isn’t very filling. It won’t be long before hungry stomachs have you pulling over at another exit.
Even if you find healthy options on the road, you can count on spending more than if you bring food from home. A banana at a gas station costs about $1.00, you could bring 4 bananas from home for the same price.
From Your Cooler:
Take control of your road trip! Fill up a cooler with snacks before you leave. You can choose healthy options, and you’ll save money that you can use for other fun adventures on your trip. Check out this meal:
4 turkey sandwiches on whole wheat bread – $5.44
2 apples- $1.58
2 bananas- $0.38
4 low fat cheese sticks- $1.42
1 package of baby carrots- $1.28
Ice water in reusable bottles – FREE
Total = $10.10
Just like that, you’ve made a meal that keeps everyone full and happy for half the price. You can rest easy on your trip knowing that your family got the nutrition they needed. Now, bring on the open road!
Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.