When you go on a road trip do you accept this journey as an eating disaster full of fatty foods and sugary drinks? If you answered yes then I am here to help you make unhealthy road trip food a thing of the past…. the key word is preparation!
Below is a map of the steps you can take from before you leave and continuing through to the journey itself to make your road trip food healthier and leaving you feeling better at the end of your travels.
Buy mostly products which are long life and don’t need refrigeration. This is important as it is difficult to carry around a fridge in your boot. Some long-life meal options can be made from things like:
- Canned vegetables (try draining the salted water or if possible wash the vegetables using a strainer)
- Beans (kidney, chick peas, baked beans)
- Whole grain breads
- High fibre cereals (aim for 3-6g of fibre per serve)
- Tuna canned (aim for the tuna canned in spring water)
- Boiled eggs (store in cooler bag)
- Pre-cooked meats (keep frozen until just prior to leaving and store in a cooler bag to be able to eat the meats safely later in the day.)
- Nut butters like low salt peanut butter.
Side note on perishable items: these need to be stored at a maximum of 5 degrees and be consumed within 4 hours after being above this temperature. Do not let food poisoning wreck your road trip!
Snack choices can be made from:
- Fresh fruit and to prevent any bruising package in a lunch box that fits the fruit well or buy a special container especially for that fruit type.
- Muesli bars (although check the amount of added sugar and if there are whole grains and fibre).
- Whole grain crackers like rye crackers or rice crackers.
- Small tuna cans (around 95g and these come in a range of flavours but the flavour can add a lot of extra calories so I suggest sticking with spring water or Italian flavours).
- Nuts and seeds (aim for unsalted, these can be bought in bulk and shared into small individual bags of around 30g or a small handful to make a serve).
- Canned fruit in water or if in juice you can wash or drain the juice before eating.
- Dried fruit (eat these sparingly as one and a half tablespoons is a serve of fruit).
- Long life soups (aim for the soup lowest in added sugar and salt (400mg of sodium per 100g is considered moderate salt and less than 120mg of sodium is considered low).
- Long life low fat milk (I live the taste of Devondale but try a few brands and see what suits you best).
- Fortified soy milk or alternative (if substituting for dairy make sure there is at least 100mg of calcium per 100ml of drink).
- Long life fruit or vegetable juice (aim for no added sugar).
- Water! Free of calories and so good for you, drink away!
- Instant coffee and tea bags.
- Sweetener (I recommend using stevia which comes from a plant and is a natural non-caloric sweetener).
Essentials to bring:
- Cutlery (spoon, fork and knife)
- Bowl and plate
- Chopping board
- Lunch box
- Cooler bag
- Bottle opener
- Water bottle
How to eat when on a road trip:
- Plan when you are going to eat!
It may sound simple enough but when you let yourself run to ravenous hunger (otherwise known as hangry), it can be difficult to choose the healthier options you have packed over the cheeseburger with large fries and a coke. Plan your day to include 3 main meals and 2 snacks made from a quarter of protein like meats, eggs, dairy or alternative like soy yoghurt with a second quarter from whole grain carbohydrates and the rest from vegetables and or fruit. This mix is the perfect combination for feeling fuller for longer and feeling like you can get the most out of your day.
- Eat every 3-4 hours
Eating regularly can help your body have a healthy metabolism or the way energy is burned in your body. Eating with large periods in between can actually make your body slow down how quickly it uses energy and over the long term can make you put on weight!
- Enjoy eating
Take the time to enjoy eating. This means stop driving! Maybe pack a picnic rug and select somewhere nice to enjoy the scenery around you. Taking the time to appreciate the meal or snack you are eating can not only decrease the likelihood of an upset stomach or food everywhere in the car but you will be more aware when your body has had enough to eat.
Take Home Message:
Road trip food does not need to be a health hazard! Try these easy tips and you may find you will enjoy your road trip rather than something you have learnt to endure.
What road trip food do you take along for the journey? Tell us in the comments below.