Whether you’re off on holiday or just need to get from A to B – if your kids are anything like my kids, snacks are an essential part of the trip. Here are some ideas for snacks for car trips (or any kind of trip, really!) that won’t break the bank and might help everyone to survive the trip!
The snack equipment
A few words first about the snack equipment. One of the really hard things about managing snacks on long trips is making sure that you don’t end up with bits of food all through the car. We’ve all found mouldy crackers months after they slide down between the car seats – urgh! So – my first piece of advice is to use lunch boxes. I’m a big fan of lunch boxes with divided sections or small containers and a bento-style lunch box will serve you well on a car trip. This way you can give each child a little portion of each type of snack and they won’t need to fight over the food.
Snack bags can also be another way to package up food for easy access. You might decide ahead whether you ration out the food or whether you hand over the whole lot and let the kids go for it.
Similarly, I find it works best to have a drink bottle ready for each child. However, I have discovered that it’s best to limit access to drink a little – unless you want stop at every toilet along the way!
And lastly: wipes. A packet of baby wipes is an excellent investment for a long journey. There’s almost nothing baby wipes won’t clean.
Tips for preparing snacks for car trips
Preparing snacks for long car trips is a great way to save lots of money and also save your sanity. Hungry children are cranky children and making sure that you have plenty of food on hand can help to make a long car trip easier on everyone. It can take a bit of time and thought but is well worth the effort.
I find that if I don’t prepare ahead, my kids end up eating lots of junk food, which is expensive and also not great for them. Here are some general tips about choosing snacks for car trips.
- Watch the salt. Lots of crackers and chips are high in salt and this is both bad for your kids and likely to make them more thirsty. Look for snacks that are low in salt.
- Similarly, watch the sugar. No one wants crazy hyper children in the back seat.
- Look out for things that spill. The kids might love yoghurt, but do you want it all over the back seat?
- Be aware of choking hazards. You may not always be able to pull over immediately if you need to so be careful with food like popcorn and nuts.
Snacks for car trips
Here’s my list of tried and true snacks for car trips.
- Kids seem to love anything frozen – especially in summer. Try freezing fruit such as strawberries and blueberrries. Great flavours and a good way to stay cool.
- I’ve already noted that yoghurt can be hazardous. However, frozen yoghurt can be awesome. Try freezing Suckies from the supermarket or buying some reusable pouches that you can fill at home.
- Similarly, freezing some diluted fruit juice can make a lovely ice block.
Cereal can be high in sugar so you do need to watch what brand you choose but large cereal such as Nutri-Grain or Cheerios can be a great finger food.
Similarly, crackers are an easy snack food but keep an eye out for crackers that are full of salt.
Popcorn is a real staple in our family. It’s delicious on its own but also really easy to jazz up with a bit of honey or icing sugar. My kids are particular fans of ‘honey popcorn’ – just heat a little oil or butter in a frying pan, add some honey and stir it through the cooked popcorn. Delicious!
Most kids are pretty familiar with sandwiches and these are a really convenient way to prepare a whole meal ahead of time. A good variation on a basic sandwich is to make toasted sandwiches. My kids will happily eat cold toasted sandwiches and you can put just about anything in them. You could try:
- Ham, cheese and pineapple
- Egg and cheese
- Baked beans
Finally, as a treat, a few little bags of biscuits like Tiny Teddies can help get through a long afternoon!
Fruit and veges
Of course, fruit is always a winner. Cutting it up ahead of time will mean that you don’t end up with orange peel stinking out the car. Cutting up the fruit and veges ahead of time means that the kids can eat all of the piece you pop in and there’s little waste to deal with. Try apple slices or gorgeous summer fruit like strawberries and blueberries. As much as I love banana, I give it a miss for in the car – it makes such a mess and goes off so quickly in hot cars.
Veges are often overlooked for snack boxes but lots of kids love carrot sticks. Try cutting up sticks and giving the kids some hummus to dip them in. Yum! Cucumbers, celery and peppers are also easy to cut into sticks.
If you’re travelling for more than a day, dried fruit can be a useful way to add some variety to the mix. Dried fruit does have a high level of sugar so it’s the kind of thing that you might need to ration out but there are lots of different ways to include dried fruit as snacks.
- Raisins / sultanas / currents / apricots / dates etc Try mixing dried fruit with some nuts and seeds to make a delicious trail mix.
- Fruit leather is a delicious way to use up fruit
- Bliss balls let you add some protein as well
- Muesli bars – convenient to buy but also easy to make!
- Salami sticks keep well and provide a good source of protein
- Cheese sticks can be useful for eating by themselves or with crackers
- Eggs can make a great finger food. A word of caution, though: eggs tend to smell quite a lot. Personally, I’d keep eggs for picnics along the way, rather than eating in the car. However, these mini quiches are awesome for travelling.
- My kids LOVE nuts and we particularly find almonds and cashews a real hit. Do make sure that your children are old enough to eat them safely, though.
- Falafel patties are another excellent way of getting some good protein into kids while travelling.
Hopefully, these ideas for snacks for car trips will help everyone to survive a long trip and help maintain peace and harmony! We’d love to hear your snack ideas as well – do add your thoughts in the comments below. Happy travelling all!