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Road Trip Meal Planning

by Jenna Mangan on in Adventure, Eating clean, Family, Food, General, Kid's Health, Lifestyle, Nutrition, Parenting, Recipes, and Travel

Road Trip Meal Planning

Summer seems to bring out the adventurer in us and we find ourselves packing — woo hoo, road trip!

Packing the car, packing bags, packing up the kids and let’s not forget – packing the cooler. Of them all, the last one is sometimes the least enjoyable. It usually causes the most head-scratching. The question remains, what on earth should you pack in the cooler?

Good news! Your choices for packable food items don’t have to be highly processed, and preservative-filled junk food. Road trips and vacation doesn’t have to equal sugary treats, fast food and weight gain. 

So what the alternative? Why not pack a whole foods clean-eats cooler instead.

Who really wants to arrive at their destination over-caffeinated, bloated and brimming with sodium anyway?

With several more weeks of Summer playing out in front of you, here are some strategies to ensure you get in some healthier road trip eats.

You will first want to take the following into consideration before “MISSION: Cleaner Cooler” gets underway:

  • space – in your vehicle, cooler and/or backpack
  • weight and volume of all food + containers
  • perishables and chill-power of your cooler (or whether you’re even bringing a cooler)

The Ultimate Road Trip Meal Planning Checklist

Beware the tendency to continually reward yourself with treats and “novelty food” on a road trip – unless you’re planning to be very active during your stops, and could use a higher-calorie top-up like protein bars & energy balls. Be label savvy or make your own.

Easy and light snack ideas:

  • homemade breakfast muffins or cookies
  • homemade trail mix (see recipe)
  • crackers & crisp-bread (whole grain, low-sodium)
  • dry whole grain cereal or granola
  • natural jerky strips
  • plant-powered protein powder for shaking up on-the-go

Perishable snacks:

  • unpeeled fruit (apples, bananas, oranges, grapes)
  • raw veggies (washed, pre-cut)
  • hard boiled eggs (keep them in the shell, and they’ll last up to a week chilled)
  • natural pepperoni sticks
  • natural cheese cubes
  • natural nut or seed butter for dipping & spreading
  • other natural dips like hummus & guacamole
  • alternative milk in Tetra Paks for sipping, shaking and mixing with cereal

ROAD TRIP TIP:

Mind your digestion! 

Invariably “road trip” also means big routine changes and that includes changes to yours and your little ones’ natural daily rhythm. Sometimes these changes can upset our digestive systems. When digestion is compromised, no one ends up having a good time, so be sure to take the necessary steps to avoid digestive upset.  

Sometimes this means not overeating. Portion out as much as you can – bringing those mega-family sized bags of chips & salty snacks only ends up with one result. 

  • Try to avoid bringing high-fat, salty & sugary snacks – packaged, convenience foods are generally high-sodium, sugar-infused and amped up in trans fats that will only leave you feeling bloated, sluggish and overly-thirsty! 
  • Don’t forget water and fluids – try to avoid coffee, pop & juice; low-sodium seltzer water is a nice option as well as sprucing up plain water with citrus slices, mint and cucumber. 
  • Bring more frozen ice packs than you think you’ll need, plus reusable dish-ware (keeps the trash down), shaker cups, drinking vessels, paper products & wet wipes
  • Digestion tincture for adults and for kids can be a good back up for emergency belly and bowel aches and pains. 

More good news…packing a cooler full of whole foods is certainly going to help keep you and the family more regular and regularity equals happier campers!

Chew on this: how much fibre do you think is in that drive-thru cheeseburger & fries? I’m guessing not much. But, how about that lovely container of fresh fruit, cut veggies & hummus? Plenty! 

Also, you may want to consider bringing along a shelf-stable probiotic supplement to keep that gut flora balanced and happy too.

Keep this checklist handy while you and the family plan your next big adventure. Wishing you happy and healthy road tripping!

”LONG HAUL” TRAIL MIX RECIPE

Making your own trail mix is not only super simple, but it’s far more economical than buying it. Plus, you can control the nutrient and flavour combinations, and leave out the unnecessary additives (sugar, salt, oils) that you might normally find in store-bought varieties.

Mix together and place in a lightweight airtight container or large zipper bag.

Be mindful of portions – generally ⅓ cup is an adequate snack serving size.

  • 3 cups any combination of raw whole nuts: cashews, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts
  • 1 cup any combination of raw whole seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, sacha inchi
  • 1 cup any combination of *dried fruit: raisins, cranberries, tart cherries, blueberries, currants, apricots, mango, pineapple, papaya, dates (pitted & chopped if desired); look for natural, organic & unsulphured
  • 1 cup any combination of the following extras for more variety, flavour & fun: mini pretzels, dehydrated natural veggie “chips”, coconut flakes, banana chips, dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs – for a sugar-free option

*Leave out dried fruit if you want a low-sugar/diabetic-friendly version

SWEET-TART ENERGY BALLS

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse on low until mixture begins to clump. Roll into bite-sized balls, then roll in coconut or pistachios. Keep chilled until ready to eat.

Snack serving size: 2 balls

  • 1 cup almond or pecan meal
  • 1.5 cups pitted Medjool dates
  • 1 scoop of ND Shake Original 
  • 1 whole lemon (organic preferably), zested and juiced
  • Pinch of Himalayan pink salt or Celtic sea salt
  • OPTIONAL: 3 Tbs raw cacao nibs
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut or ½ cup finely chopped pistachios

We hope you keep this checklist and these recipes handy while you and the family plan your next big adventure. Wishing you happy and healthy road tripping!

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