Tis’ the season for road trips!!! Whether you are heading on a cross-country haul, or a quick day trip to the lake or mountains, snacks are essential for fuel and fun! And if you have kids in tow, nutritious and fun snacks are THAT much more important (if you’re a parent, you know that snacks always save the day). Kids eat frequently because they’ve got small tummies, but big nutritional needs! So, they’ll need to be offered something every 2-3 hours. When you’re packing snacks in advance for a longer trip, like a camping weekend, snacks need to be portable, safe, and provide a triple purpose – nourishment, satisfaction and fun!
So, how do we achieve the perfect portable snack? Whether it’s for you, or your kids, staying power is key. Too often we reach for quick and convenient carb-rich snack foods (think chips, pretzels, crackers etc.), especially when busy and running out the door. Unfortunately, these choices don’t fill you up for very long, and lack nutrition big-time. When you’re looking for store-bought options that offer the most nutrition bang for buck, make sure toturn the package around to read the ingredients list, looking for a short and recognizable list of nutritious ingredients. Also, ensure that there are decent amounts of at least TWO out of the three “staying power” nutrients that I describe below in the nutrition facts table.
In order to create a fulfilling snack, there are three key things to think about:
Protein is slowly digested, thereby providing a sense of fullness and satisfaction (aka staying power!). You can find protein in both animal sources (meat, poultry, dairy foods, eggs) and plant sources (legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains like quinoa). Protein helps to build and repair muscles and other tissues.
2) Dietary Fat
Fat is essential for proper brain, nerve and heart health, as well as for growth and development. Some fats are called “saturated fats," which mostly come from animal sources like meat and dairy—these are the types of fats that we should limit and enjoy once in a while, and other fats are called “unsaturated fats” and come from oily fish like salmon, tuna, trout, and plant sources like avocado, olive oil and almonds. These types of fats are the ones we should be focusing on. Fat is also digested slowly, which means it provides a sense of fullness for a longer period of time!
3) Dietary Fibre
Dietary fibre occurs naturally in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Fibre helps to provide satiety (a feeling of fullness) by slowing down digestion and providing blood sugar control. It can also increase digestive health and lower cholesterol, too!
It's also important to consider the logistics of road trip snacks – especially when you have kids! Let’s face it, these snacks need to be portable, low-mess, easy-to-eat with hands and tasty! It’s also important to have lots of variety, to avoid boredom and waste. Space is limited (especially cold storage) so focusing on non-perishable options is important too.
In order to prepare the optimal road trip snack, I aim to include at least one protein source and one fruit or vegetable. By doing this I am offering the fibre, dietary fat and protein their little bodies need in order to feel energized and full. This also means they won’t be ravenous in an hour and requesting another snack!
Here are some of my favourite snacks that are great for on the go and packed with staying power:
Non-Perishable (do not need to be chilled):
Perishable (will need to be kept in a cooler or cooler bag with ice packs):