Think you are off the hook providing road trip snacks for teens? Think again. Bigger kids mean bigger appetites and if they are bored in the car, they are going to want food to pass the time.
When my kids were little, they required a steady stream of snacks in the car, particularly by youngest, who would usually puke the moment we started driving, then announce that she was ‘done’ and needed food.
On the plus side, this cut down on the appetites of everyone else in the car.
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You would think that teenagers wouldn’t need car snacks, but they are almost more important to have on hand when your kids are older. Their bellies are bigger, so they need more to fill them up. And teens often seem to have mysterious sources of income (cat-sitting is quite lucrative in my neighborhood) so if I didn’t have a stash of relatively healthy food, they would produce their own money at gas stations and get candy, chips or fried food.
And the prices at gas stations and highway truck stops are so steep that even when I am not the one paying, I find it criminal to change $3 for a little packet of nuts when I could have bought 10 for that price.
Individually packed snacks are best for road trips; you don’t have to worry about resealing a bag, and if by some miracle your kids don’t eat in the car, you can easily save the bags for the next trip.
Number One Pick
One of our fave to-go items is the hummus to go from Sabra- pretzels and a mini tub of hummus. You can add a bag of baby carrots; there is always extra hummus. And baby carrots – a great snack anytime.
Peanut Butter Packets
We often bring the jar of peanut butter, particularly if our family of five is traveling together. But airplanes frown on PB, somehow classifying it as a liquid (seriously, we had a 16 ounce jar thrown away at security – have they not heard of how peanut butter gets stuck to the roof of your mouth? Try that with orange juice). So the individual packets of peanut butter work well; we like Justin’s organic, which comes in squeeze packets. There are also almond butter varieties, and snack packs with pretzels. Our kids like to squeeze their peanut butter on a banana, or a finger.
Nuts to You
The one healthy snack you can usually find at gas stations is a packet of nuts, but they can cost so much that I make sure to buy them in advance. Emerald makes 100 calorie packs of almonds that are just ideal for the car, or to carry in your pocketbook if you are feeling peckish.
Note: this is strictly a teen or tween snack; I would never advise giving nuts to a toddler in a car, as it’s a choking hazard.
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My youngest daughter used to bring squeeze packages of unsweetened applesauce with her for breakfast in high school, so there’s no shame in eating what could be – indeed is – considered baby food. A new company has organic fruit pouches packed with vegetables too, but they taste just of fruit. Upon a Farm makes cold pressed pouches; by not using heat, the nutrients remain. The banana – chocolate – avocado is a big hit, along with the mango. The mango is also great for smoothies at home, if you find slicing up a mango to be too annoying (plus there’s no waiting for a mango to ripen).
The packets have to be kept refrigerated, but they can stay out for four hours (about the time they would be in a lunchbox) so they are fine for a road trip. And they can also be frozen, and used as an ice pack as they defrost.
More Little Kid Packs that Big Kids Love
Sometimes you just have to have a chip. Kiddlylicous has a new line of vegetable crisps that satisfy that crunch desire, but are so much better than potato chips.The sweet potato chips actually have small amounts of vitamin C and iron, and the carrot one have some protein and calcium to boot. No, they are not multi-vitamins, but they aren’t loaded with salt and fat and they taste great. They also have a long list of no’s: no gluten, high fructose corn syrup, lactose, GMO ingredients.
Don’t Forget the Water
Cars come loaded with cup holders for a reason; no one seems to go anywhere anymore without a drink or three. I drove a Ford Edge recently that had eight cupholders, in a vehicle that only has room for five people. Make sure each teen has his own reusable water bottle to cut down on soda and soft drink consumption and to save on waste.