A road trip with kids doesn’t have to mean fast food and junky snacks. Here’s how one family kept it healthy while travelling.
There’s nothing like a road trip with kids to put your healthy eating goals to the test. After all, children are already bombarded with fast food and junk food marketing — a huge contributor to the obesity epidemic and its related health issues, such as diabetes and heart disease. (You can help ban marketing to kids; join the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s campaign.)
For blogger Rebecca Sterritt, eating whole foods while travelling with her two- and five-year-old is more than just a challenge — it’s an order. The BC mom recently pledged to cut processed foods and added sugars from her family’s diet for a year (you can read about it here). So when the family went on a road trip recently, she shared her experiences — and advice — with us.
We’ve been on the road for nearly two weeks today with stops in Seattle, Portland and Crescent City, San Francisco and Santa Barbara. Along the way we’ve learned a lot about eating whole foods while on the road. Here are our tried and tested tips!
1) Pack ready-for-anything essentials.
These items give you the flexibility stop at grocery stores for whole foods and prepare for your days out and about or on the road:
- small cooler
- cutting board
- paper towel
- wet wipes
- plastic food storage bags
- a few sealable plastic containers
- 1 set of utensils
- a sharp knife or two
- hand sanitizer
- water bottles
2) Plan for three nutritious meals a day.
Remember to include healthy fats, protein and veggies. Whether preparing food yourself or eating at restaurants, the more nutrition-packed your meals, the better you’ll feel, the less often you’ll need to stop for snacks—and the less chance you’ll deal with grumpy little ones!
Here’s our on-the-road menu:
Oatmeal with fruit and seeds and boiled or scrambled eggs: Cook-able while camping, or in a hotel room microwave or kitchenette, this breakfast option is filling and easy to find at any grocery store. Most restaurants offer similar options.
Or smoothies: These are great, filling options too, so I brought along our blender. If your hotel room has a mini fridge, you can make smoothies in your room. Try frozen berries, banana, avocado, frozen spinach, nuts/hemp/flax seeds and water. Check out a recent post for more smoothie ideas: Whole Food Smoothies 101
Dinner leftovers packed in plastic containers
Or wraps or sandwiches plus fruit and veggies
Easy sandwich options include nut butter and banana or any sliced fruit; canned salmon or tuna and avocado; tomato and cheese; hummus, avocado and sprouts.
Get cooking: So far, we’ve been able to cook where we’re staying or make enough in advance to have leftovers the next night. We’ve made:
- Rice, beans and veggies
- Ground turkey with tomato sauce and veggies over quinoa
- Grilled fish, veggies and potatoes (we used leftover fish mashed with avocado in sandwiches).
Or hit the restaurant: Whole food options are typically easier to find for dinner than breakfast or lunch. Most restaurants offer some sort of grain or potato, vegetables and a meat or bean option.
3) Prep a few healthy snacks.
With a focus on filling breakfasts, lunches and dinners, snacks can be kept to a minimum. That said, I always make sure I have something on hand, to avoid hungry little ones!
Every morning I pack in food bags:
- sliced veggies and fruit (carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, celery, cherry tomatoes and sliced apples and mandarin oranges—or whatever is local and in season)
- mixed nuts and seeds (typically cashews, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds)
- water bottles.
Other on-the-road snack options:
- fruit or veggies with nut butter or hummus as a dip, or with cheese
- roasted seaweed snacks
- plain yogurt cups mixed with fruit and seeds
- whole grain crackers and nut butter.
4) Redefine vacation treats.
Adam commented that while growing up, vacations and road trips for him meant frequent stops for “treats” and fast food. For us, this trip has reminded us that treats are truly what you make them to be.
For example, our treats this vacation have been plentiful—they just haven’t involved fast food. We’ve taken a ride on the Duck Bus in Seattle, raced around Green Lake Park (Adam and I vs. our kids, Jefferson and Victoria), visited the Oregon Zoo, Portland Children’s Museum, Mount Tabor’s dormant volcano, hiked through the Redwood National and State Forest and more than anything, spent far more time together than our usual full-time work and school days permit.
5) Keep on moving.
Road trips and vacations don’t have to mean inactivity. Find a local park with walking or hiking trails; bring bikes for your kids and run alongside them in a quiet neighbourhood or running trail. Movement will make your whole family feel their best and leave your body craving healthful foods over junk foods.