Have you ever been in the middle of Nebraska, starving and crabby at each other because all you have in the car is wrappers and hot, half empty soda bottles? Um. Well, we have.
So, when we start talking about taking a road trip. The first thing I think of is food.
My husband packs the kids, the house, the car. And I pack my art supplies, the kids backpacks full of activities and the FOOD.
It is not hard for us to be gluten free, we’ve just adjusted a few things, because we tend to eat whole foods. But road trips are harder to plan for. Roadside burger places seem really convenient, but it’s hard to explain the importance of wheat-barley-rye and oat free food. And we’ve had a couple of close calls with our daughter who is celiac sprue (with an anaphylactic wheat allergy). So, we try to carry all of our own breakfast, lunch plus snacks and eat mom and pop diner places on the way that tend to have whole-type foods on the menu.
While we were on the road, I made a tiny painting of things that we take with us. We go for mostly easily available, unfussy items that we all like. We make a big bag of gluten free trail mix and we throw most of these items in a small cooler and the dry items into a bolga basket The list is a bit bigger than this, but most of the time, these things pack well in a cooler and are not super messy. When we stop for a potty break or for gas, we figure out what to snack on.
1. Apples, clementines, blackberries: We try to bring healthy whole food. But I do not want anything that will make a mess. Apples and clementines keep their shape, hold up well in a cooler and are easily eaten in the car by kids. Blackberries were a surprising addition on this trip. In their own large plastic container, they kept their shape and were suprisingly hearty in the cooler. Plus, it seemed like such a treat in our yogurt.
2. Carrot sticks: I used to cut up celery too, but it smells up the whole cooler and makes all the food taste like celery. So, now I cut up double the carrots and no one complains. They are crunchy, cool and satisfying– not messy and healthy.
3. Cheese sticks: I get the larger 24 pack if I can and I get the lower fat (not non-fat) option. Cheese sticks are an easy protein or blood sugar boost, without sugar.
4. Salami and Turkey: We make ‘turkey roll ups’ which, really, is just lunch meat wrapped around a cheese stick. But it feels more substantial. And with salami, the kick of pepper makes them think they are getting a real treat.
5. Hardboiled Eggs: I boil, cool and peel about 18 to 24 eggs. And package them in a ziplock bag. It is a quick breakfast with a piece of fruit and maybe an KIND bar.
6. Yogurt Cups: Trader Joe’s has wonderful yogurt cup options with different fruit flavors. Our kids love mango and peach. And even though they contain sugar, they are much less sugar than a milk shake or some unhealthy, expensive snack on the road.
7. Thick Cut Potato Chips and popcorn: When we get tired and in need of something crunchy and salt, I think thick cut organic potato chips are the way to go. Popcorn fits the bill too! And if you pop it yourself, it’s super economical.
8. Cashews, Almonds, Honey roasted peanuts: Nuts are a great way to have a crunchy, wholesome snack but not get the car a mess. And in a pinch, you can pick up nuts at almost every gas station or grocery store. Eating trail mix can be risky for gluten-free. We had a big box store brand trail mix make my daughter very sick–be on the look out for mixes with hidden ingredients.
9. Gluten Free Brownie Bites: When we can’t make our own brownie bites with this recipe, we buy them. We like Udi’s brownie bites. They are expensive, but they are a real treat. A lovely sized bite– a little something sweet sometimes makes all the difference.
10. KIND Bars: Once in a while we make these kind bars at home, but most of the time we buy KIND bars. Since we can’t eat oats at our house, these bars are the only commercially available bars that my kids have liked. And they sell them at almost all grocery stores. Which makes it a win-win.
Bonus: In the wintertime, we carry bars of what we like to call Dementor Chocolate. It is the secret front seat chocolate that is usually for adults only. We keep Justin’s Peanut Butter cups or a nice dark chocolate with almonds from Trader Joe’s. Sometimes it’s just Reese’s Pieces. When the darkness and despair of a long trip hits (which isn’t often) sometimes, a piece of chocolate will restore world order.
So this is our list, what things do you take with you on your road trips?