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Headed out for the open road? Find the best healthy road trip snacks for kids to keep the whole family happy, nourished and energized!
the best healthy road trip snacks
There’s something so great about taking a long road trip…until the tummies start grumbling and the kids get bored.
Instead of eating your way through gas stations and fast food restaurants, pack a bunch of healthy snacks to satisfy the whole family.
This list of the best road trip snacks includes healthy homemade options, like naturally-sweetened muffins and make-ahead breakfast bars, and healthier options (that still taste great!) that you can grab from your local grocery store or a convenience store.
Benefits of Healthy Road Trip Snacks
- Save money: Those easy snacks at the convenience store add up, especially for fresh produce or healthier options. Save a little cash by planning ahead!
- Limit the added sugar: If your kids aren’t used to eating a lot of processed food, the extra sugar can really affect their moods! Keep things mellow by reducing the sugar content and avoiding unhealthy fats, preservatives, and additives.
- Happy tummies: Processed convenience foods are often tasty, but usually filled with ingredients that can upset stomachs. Everybody knows, that’s no fun for a long drive!
Healthy road trip snacks
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Car Snack Tips for Young Kids
- Before you leave home, pack snack bags with your favorite healthy road trip snacks. To reduce waste, you can use silicone bags or a small container.
- Use bento boxes or stainless steel lunch boxes to keep your kids’ snacks separated and organized. Even better, they’ll be able to serve themselves!
- Fill a small cooler with ice packs & snacks so your kids can serve themselves during long car rides.
- Give everyone a reusable water bottle, and bring jugs of water to refill anytime.
- During the drive, offer dry or easy-to-clean snacks kids can eat with their fingers. Save messier items that require utensils for a rest stop. Be sure to pack some hand wipes as well!
Is it safe to snack in the car?
Unfortunately, as convenient as it is, feeding children in the car can pose a risk for choking. The safest option is to stop the car and have your road trip snacks when the car isn’t moving. That way, you’re readily available to assist if there is a choking incident. However, as a parent, I know that sometimes there are circumstances where you need to feed your child in the car.
If you opt to provide snacks to your child when the car is in motion, follow these safety tips:
- Never nurse your baby while the vehicle is moving. This practice is hazardous for both the infant and the mother.
- Take into account if your child is seated in a reclined position. It’s advised that you refrain from offering snacks to children under the age of two due to their reclined seat.
- Steer clear of sticky foods such as peanut butter, cream cheese, or fruit snacks.
- Avoid offering raw vegetables and fruits like carrot or apple slices .
- Exercise caution when it comes to hard candies and lollipops within the car, as they present a significant risk of choking.
If the snack attack hits, focus on safer snacks in a moving car like applesauce pouches or yogurt tubes.
How do you create a healthy snack?
When discussing nutritious snacks with my children, we emphasize combining protein and/or healthy fats and with a source of fibre-rich carbohydrates. This combination helps you to feel full for longer, while also providing more energy.
In preparation for a road trip, we make an effort to include protein choices that can subsequently be matched with fibre-rich items. For instance, if our kids want crackers, we’ll pair it with cheese or peanut butter. Similarly, if they request a piece of fruit, we’ll also provide them with yogurt or another protein source.
Homemade Healthy Road Trip Snack Ideas
Although it can be tricky to sneak a little time in before long trips to make a bunch of homemade snacks, these healthy travel snacks are worth it!
They come together quickly and are specifically designed by a Registered Dietitian to be great for little kids. Aim to make a couple of these healthy snacks and supplement them with a few prepackaged options at the store.
1. Mini Muffins
Make a batch of these Mini Chocolate Cupcakes for a sweet treat, but skip the frosting to avoid too much mess! Or, you can try any of these other delicious mini muffins for snack time.
- Healthy Mini Chocolate Chip Muffins
- Apple Banana Carrot Muffins
- Green Monster Muffins
- Mini Blueberry Banana Muffins
- Almond Butter Muffins
2. Energy Balls
These energy balls are such a great way to enjoy some healthy fats and get a burst of energy quickly! Plus, they’re individually portioned for easy serving.
- Blueberry Bliss Balls
- 3-Ingredient Peanut Butter Oatmeal Balls
- Lemon Coconut Energy Balls
- Healthy Cookie Dough Protein Balls
- Carrot Cake Energy Balls
3. Trail Mix
Who doesn’t love trail mix?! Although the store-bought stuff is often loaded with sugar, you can make your own with dried fruits, nuts, seeds, popcorn and dried cereal.
4. Hard-Boiled Eggs
Hard-boiled eggs are the ultimate way to eat protein on the go. Just be sure to peel them ahead of time to avoid the hassle and mess in the car. If you feel creative, these Hard-Boiled Egg Chicks are so cute!
Pack some High Protein Hummus in a small cup to serve with crackers or sliced veggies. Such a great choice to get some fiber!
6. Homemade Crackers
Sneak some veggies into your snacks with this Sweet Potato Cracker Recipe. So good with cheese or your favorite homemade dip!
Whether you prefer granola bars or soft-baked breakfast cookies, these are the best easy road trip snacks since they’re pre-portioned and easy to pack.
- 3-Ingredient Banana Oatmeal Bars
- Healthy Granola Bar Recipe
- Peanut Butter Protein Bars
- Lemon Larabar Recipe
- Key Lime Protein Bars
8. Naturally Sweetened Muffins
Pack a bag of homemade muffins for a dry snack that won’t make a huge mess everywhere! These recipes are naturally sweetened for a healthier treat.
Make a big batch of granola (we love this healthy chocolate granola recipe) for your next road trip! You can serve it dry or pair it with yogurt and fresh fruit.
10. Fruits & Veggies
My kids’ favorite road trip snacks are fresh fruits! They’re healthy, hydrating, full of nutrients, and a great option for your family road trip. Pack some:
- Grapes (sliced in quarters lengthwise)
- Apple slices
- Clementines (peeled ahead of time)
- Watermelon sticks
- Celery sticks
- Snap peas
- Carrot sticks or chips
- Sliced strawberries
- Mini cucumbers
11. Homemade Applesauce
12. Baked Doughnuts
Who says you can’t have doughnuts on your road trip? Try these Healthy Baked Donuts for a healthier spin on this classic snack.
13. Homemade Cookies
But not just any homemade cookies! These recipes are all modified to be healthier using natural sweeteners like applesauce or banana instead of sugar. They’re healthy enough that you can serve them for breakfast, and most importantly, young children love them!
- 3-Ingredient Applesauce Oatmeal Cookies
- 3-Ingredient Cookies
- 3-Ingredient Peanut Butter Blossoms
- Healthy Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies
14. 3-Ingredient Brownies
Try a batch of these heavenly 3-Ingredient Banana Brownies for a rich, sweet snack! They’re bite-sized, so they’re an ideal travel food.
15. Banana Bread
This homemade No Sugar Added Banana Bread is naturally sweetened, but perfectly sweet and tasty! Cut it into slices for easy serving.
Popcorn is high in fiber and low in calories, so it’s one of the best healthy snack options! Try this Lemon Parmesan Popcorn for a little extra flavor.
17. Snack Bites
These bite-sized snacks are full of flavor! They’re easy to store in a container and dole out whenever hunger strikes.
- Peanut Free Snack Bites
- Chickpea Cookie Dough Bites
- Chocolate Almond Butter Protein Cups
- No-Bake Apple Pie Cups
18. Raspberry Bites
Make these Dark Chocolate Stuffed Raspberries for a healthy not-too-sweet treat! We also love to make these with cream cheese and mini chocolate chips. So good!
19. Roasted Chickpeas
Roasted chickpeas can either be homemade or store-bought in a pinch. You can experiment with a variety of flavors, both sweet and savory. We love these sriracha oven roasted chickpeas!
20. Pancakes and Waffles
Pancakes and waffles make great on the go snacks because they’re easy to make ahead of time and freeze! When you’re about to set out on your road trip, simply place them in the refrigerator to thaw and then pack them in a ziploc bag. They’re easy to eat and relatively mess-free. Try these banana oatmeal pancakes or 3-ingredient protein waffles!
Pro Tip: Prevent Travel Tummy!
Traveling can really affect your digestive system. To keep things moving, offer snacks high in fiber, like whole grains, fresh produce, nuts, and seeds. Don’t forget to chug that water too to keep everything moving!
Favorite Healthy Roadtrip Snacks from the Store
If you need something quick you can grab at a convenience store, look for these healthy options. Grab some at your next stop!
1. Unsweetened Applesauce Pouches
Made without added sugar and packaged in easy-to-use pouches, these are so convenient and make the best travel snacks!
2. Freeze-Dried Fruit
Crunchy and sweet without any added sugar or oils, freeze-dried fruit is the best road trip food since it’s shelf stable and doesn’t easily perish. Plus, it doesn’t result in sticky hands!
3. Whole Grain Crackers
Grab a package of whole-grain crackers for an easy snack on the go. Look for lower sodium crackers wherever possible to help prevent dehydration.
4. Cheese Sticks
String cheese is a good source of protein, yet has a mild flavor, so it’s a great option for picky eaters.
5. Lower Sugar Dry Cereal
You don’t need milk to enjoy cereal! It makes a nice crunchy snack you can easily eat from a cup or bag.
6. Baked Sweet Potato Chips
Baked veggie chips are an excellent alternative to potato chips! Sweet potato chips are naturally sweet, so they appeal to little kids.
7. Energy Bars
Choose any low-sugar energy bars whether those are granola bars, protein bars, or anything else. They’re big enough to hold you over before your next meal. Ideally, you’ll want to look for bars with at least 4 grams of fiber and less than 8 grams of sugar per serving.
8. Veggie Straws
Look for crunchy snacks made from veggies instead of cornmeal or flour. Some of these sneak in a lot of sugar, so always check the ingredients list first.
9. Beef Jerky
Jerky can be a great road trip snack but avoid high-sugar options like teriyaki.
10. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are a great snack! Give smaller kids shelled roasted seeds or offer older kids whole sunflower seeds (and a place to collect the shells).
11. Deli Turkey or Mini Pepperoni Sticks
Look for uncured low-sodium meats for an excellent savory option.
12. Animal Crackers
These are classic car snacks! They aren’t too small or crumbly, so they shouldn’t make too big of a mess. Annie’s Bunnies can be a good option!
Serve unsweetened yogurt for a quick, healthy snack! Yogurt cups can be topped with granola or fresh fruit and served at a rest stop. Serve yogurt tubes when you’re on the road. You can even freeze them ahead of time for a cool refreshing treat!
14. Peanut Butter & Veggie Sticks
Peanut butter has healthy fats to satisfy you, and it tastes great as a dip for celery sticks, baby carrots, or sliced apples. The best way is to portion some peanut butter into small cups or bring these and offer a baggie with the fruits or veggies.
15. Fruit Snacks or Bars
Be careful with this one! Most fruit snacks are full of corn syrup. Look for naturally sweetened options made with real fruit, like these fruit bars.
16. Apple Chips
Apple chips are a great convenient alternative to fresh apple slices and you don’t have to worry about them perishing since they’re already dry and crunchy!
Nuts are easy to munch on and are a great source of healthy fats. Choose your favorite nuts (preferably unsalted) like cashews, pistachios without the shell, almonds or peanuts. Avoid serving nuts to children under the age of 4 as they may be a choking hazard.
18. Drinkable Yogurt
Did you know that you can now purchase yogurt drinks with no added sugar? They’re naturally sweetened with fruit puree and are basically like a yogurt smoothie packaged up in small easy-to-pack containers perfect for the road.
19. Granola Bites
Granola bites are like mini crunchy energy bites and often come in a variety of flavors. We like the “Made Good” brand since they often are nut-free, lower in sugar and incorporate veggies as well!
20. Nut Butter Packets
Nut butter packets (we love these ones from Yum Butter) offer a convenient option when travelling. They can be enjoyed directly from the packet or paired with sliced apples or bread during rest stops. The resealable squeeze design eliminates the need for utensils, meaning more convenience and less mess!
Remember that whole nuts, popcorn, and roasted chickpeas are choking hazards for young children. Avoid serving these options to children under the age of 4 years old.
There are plenty of healthy road trip snacks for kids to sneak into your snack bag! Remember to pack a trash bag, paper towels, or hand wipes to deal with those inevitable messes.
Have a great trip!