How To Feed Your Kids On A Road Trip

I don’t think Laura Ingalls Wilder had to deal with this on the prairie. But I have a car and she had a wagon so I guess we’ll call it even.

A road trip is the quintessential American vacation.  Despite the sibling infighting and peppered threats of “pulling this car over,” from the parental cockpit, countless happy memories flood my head of our road trips to anywhere.  Oversized pillows that never made me comfortable and car games that involved nothing but our boredom unraveled were a small price to pay for the excitement and adventure the journey ignited.  I have no memories of what we ate but I am almost certain it was whatever the road provided.

Fast-forward to 2017 and I am on the road again.  Only this time, I find myself perched quite nicely in the parental cockpit and I can honestly say, I don’t mind the vantage point.  One glaring difference between then and now: we try to avoid what the road provides in terms of fare.  It simply doesn’t hold the same appeal.

McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s litter the highway and my scenery.  Unless you have time to discover mom and pop shops off the beaten path, sweet and salty chains take center stage.  While we are by no means perfect eaters, we would rather save our vacation money for discovering new foods in our destination.  We aren’t above pizza or burgers on a trip (we happily consumed both on our vacay), we just don’t want fast food versions filling our bellies or draining our wallets.

Instead we save time, money and our sanity in the following ways:

I prepare food like crazy.  Really… it is a little crazy and I always overdo it.  But I figure I would rather have too much than too little so I go a tad overboard.  Typically we stay in a joint that has a kitchen so food doesn’t go to waste.

Then we haul it to our destination.  Yes, we like to save time on the road with 3 little kids so we book our behinds as quickly as we can.  Taking time out to get fast food just takes too much time.  I would rather spend it chasing food in new and quaint restaurants once I make it to our vacation spot.

Exactly what we pack varies on the time we are leaving and how long we are traveling.  Typically, I get a giant cooler and fill it with ice packs and overflow it with:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Cut veggies
  • Individual packs of hummus and guacamole (Thank you, Costco!)
  • Boiled eggs
  • Muffins (I make them the previous night.)
  • Klean Kanteens full of water
  • Bottled tea for me and coffee for the husband
  • Baggies of trail mix
  • Bags of pretzels, organic corn chips or a loaf of bread for dipping
  • Tortilla rolls with avocado, veggies, and maybe sliced turkey (My family happens to not be big on sandwiches.)

When we stop for gas, I dig into my giant cooler and spread the wealth and there you go –  We are back on the open road.  Don’t forget to pack a roll of paper towels and a few compostable paper plates.  Your kids need something other than their laps.  Although, if they are anything like mine they still end up wearing it. Happy road tripping!