Healthy toddler snacks can make all the difference when traveling on the road with kids. Road trips with your kids can be some of the best family memories, but as any parent who’s logged serious hours on the road knows, planning is everything.
Routine stops for gas and the restroom are inevitable, but additional stops for food are avoidable. To save on cost and unhealthy drive-thru meals, pack these nutritious snacks to fuel your toddler for the trip ahead.
Below, we’ve broken down the best and worst snacks to have on hand in the middle of that 5-hour road trip!
The Best On The Road Snacks for Toddlers
1. Cut Up Fruits
Grab your largest container and fill it to the brim with your child’s favourite sliced fruits. Apples and clementines are our favourites as they usually bring the least amount of mess in our car. A squeeze of lemon juice right after cutting will keep the produce fresh, as will storing your container in a cooler bag. Best within 1-3 hours after cutting.
2. Make-ahead Pancakes
Pancakes are the perfect car carb! They’re the trifecta or car food. They’re filling, easy to store, and don’t create messy crumbs. Make a double batch of your favourite pancake recipe (these ones have spinach in them!) the night before your trip. You can also make them well ahead of time and freeze until the night before your departure.
Love Child Organics’ cute-as-a-duckling organic puff snacks are made from non-GMO corn flour, rice flour, sunflower oil, and dehydrated fruits and vegetables–and nothing else! They make an ideal snack for toddlers, especially when you’re on the go. Plus our Love Ducks are so yummy and fun to eat, your kids won’t miss the sugar or salt. That’s a win-win!
4. Assorted Nuts
Protein-packed nuts are an easy snack on the go. Almonds, cashews, and pistachios, whatever your kids like best. Aim for the unsalted variety so they don’t need as much water to avoid more bathroom breaks!
5. Crudités (chopped veggies)
Like the fruit, fill up with simple chopped veggies like cucumbers, bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes. Offer these to your kids before sweet fruit slices if they might prefer the latter. Hungry kids will eat anything, so offer the very healthiest options first when tummies are rumbling!
6. Energy Balls
Energy balls are a tiny snack that packs a punch. In your blender or food processor blend together a few handfuls of assorted nuts and seeds. Then add in 1 part nut butter and 2 parts oats until you have a texture like playdoh. Toss in a few chocolate chips for good measure! Roll dough into little balls the size of golf balls and pop in the freezer. These frozen balls will gradually thaw during your drive and are best when still cold, but are fine to eat at any temperature. They are such a great treat for when you need a little treat on the road.
Snacks to Avoid In the Car With Toddlers
Not all healthy snacks are car-ready, because they either have too much packaging, cause too much mess, or are too complicated to eat from the confines of a car seat. For the smoothest ride save the following snacks for your destination.
1. Anything that requires utensils
Extra forks and spoons are the last thing you want to be keeping track of in the car. Stick with finger foods for ease of your toddler and packing/organizing.
2. Liquid snacks
Apple sauce, yogurt, and hummus are all delicious but you don’t want your car-bound toddler or your vehicle covered in them, do you? Stick with dry, drip-free snacks until you arrive!
3. Crumb-heavy snacks
Of course, your car will need a bit of tidying after a long trip – this is inevitable. But don’t give yourself extra work by packing snacks that will crumble all over your child’s lap and seat. If you don’t want your car to look like the bottom of a toaster, avoid muffins, cookies, crackers and pack pancakes or bagels instead.
4. Excessive packaging
Both for the sake of the planet and the ease of tidying up, fill a few reusable water bottles instead of buying bottled water. Pack snacks beforehand in large containers to pass around the car instead of pre-packaged snacks for each individual when possible!
Now, fill up the car with gas and the kids with healthy snacks and start making those memories!
If you’re looking for even more snack inspiration for your kiddos, check out our book It All Begins With Food for more great homemade recipes for families with children.