Insider’s Viewpoint: The All-American Family Road Trip
I still remember the times we drove through the night as I lay across the seat in the back with my pillow ( seatbelts weren’t as big a deal 30 years ago). Today, kids may play video games or watch a movie on their DVD player, but I was stuck with books, crosswords, and “I spy” games. The family road trip is an American tradition and, unfortunately, often void of fruits and vegetables. Much like today, we could have stopped at the numerous drive-thrus along the way, but my parents were thrifty. We packed a cooler and stopped at rest stops to eat meals. While my parents may have been focused on the budget, stocking up at the supermarket beforehand is also an excellent way ensure a healthy intake of fruits and veggies while on the road.
Ways to Get Your Fruits & Veggie on the Road
- Make sure to have enough ice to keep the perishable items from spoiling.
- Place snack items in an easy to reach part of the cooler or pack a smaller cooler for snacks.
- Pack napkins, paper plates, plastic utensils, and a table cover for a nice picnic.
- Hand sanitizer or hand wipes are a must for outdoor eating.
- Bring along garbage bags for trash and recyclables.
Road Trip Snacks
- Fruits like bananas, apples, pears, oranges, peaches, plums, nectarines are already in ready-to-go packages – their skins.
- Berries, cherries, and cherry tomatoes can easily be rinsed and put in a Ziploc bag.
- Chopped veggies like peppers, zucchini, carrots, cucumbers, mushrooms, broccoli and cauliflower are perfect for the road. DIY or grab a veggie tray from the deli.
- Make smoothies with frozen fruit, mixed greens, yogurt, and 100% fruit juice – store in plastic containers.
- Add some protein to these fresh snacks like hard-boiled eggs or cheese.
Rest Stop Meals
- Bring all the fixin’s for ready-to-assemble sandwiches – whole grain bread or wraps, deli-meat, sliced cheese, and of course, sliced veggies like pickles, tomatoes, onion, and condiments.
- Pre-cut melon slices are a refreshing addition to any picnic.
- Packaged guacamole with whole grain crackers and/or those chopped veggies you have for snacks is a great way to add more fiber and nutrition.
- Fresh or frozen fruit added to yogurt is a great treat before you head back to the car.
The most important thing for a successful family road trip is spending time with your family. And, sometimes family memories are made while picnicking at the rest stop or a local state park along the way ( I remembered). Saving money and eating healthfully are just the perks!
Melissa Hehmann, RD CDE
Healthy Living Advisor