When I was a kid, we took most of our family vacations driving to different parts of Canada and the U.S. I can still taste the sandwiches and other treats that my mother made for the car and the roadside diner stops for burgers, hot roast beef and grilled cheese sandwiches. I loved those car rides almost as much as I loved the places we stopped to visit. If you are taking a road trip this summer, here are a few tips for healthy eating on the road.
- Invest in a good cooler and keep it in the back seat, not the hot trunk. Pack it with ice or ice packs and then fill it with fresh fruits and vegetables, bottled water, fruit juices and iced tea. Make a few thermoses of cold soups such as gazpacho for a refreshing change. Chill items before packing them because coolers can’t keep items cold that aren’t cold already.
- If you are taking perishable foods with you, it’s wise to invest in a second cooler. You’ll open it less often than the drinks cooler and your food will stay colder longer. At the same time, buy some extra ice packs to help keep the food colder.
- Keep healthy snacks in the car …. popcorn, pretzels, whole grain crackers, whole grain cereal, granola bars, homemade muffins, bags of trail mix, single serve cans of fruit. Also consider packing hummus, or other dips that go well with crackers or vegetables.
- Stop at roadside stands selling fresh fruits and vegetables. If you have bottled water in your cooler, you can wash the fresh produce and eat it as you drive.
- When you stop at roadside eateries, choose healthier menu items. Pick a plain burger and dress it with lettuce tomato, onions, mustard and pickles or grilled chicken rather than fried. If there are lots of fresh veggies in the car, eat them instead of greasy fries. Many places now have healthier options like fresh fruit, wraps and salads.
- If the gas stop has a refrigerator section in its store, pick up containers of yogurt, cold milk or yogurt drinks.
- Don’t neglect exercise. At every pit stop, get out of the car and walk around. If there is a park nearby, play with a Frisbee or ball or jog a bit. If you have bikes with you, use them.
- When you stop for the night, make a trip to the local supermarket to pick up cereal, milk (if there is a fridge in your room), fresh fruit, cheese or rolls for a meal you can put together in your hotel room or for snacks for the next day.