Who doesn’t love a good road trip? Some of my best memories over the years are from road trips. The only problem is that with our holistic, natural living lifestyle, we have found it much more challenging to find healthy food choices on the road. I have found it necessary to do some extra pre-trip planning to ensure we aren’t stuck in a situation like what just happened to us last week on our way home from a week at the beach.
I have become pretty good over the past few years of doing pre-trip planning and preparing some make-ahead meals and snacks to take on the road but I have found the real challenge has become what to do on the way home, after all the food I have prepared and packed is gone.
As you probably already know… it is so hard to find healthy choices on the road, especially going through long stretches of the country full of small towns with the only options being fast food and gas station mini-markets filled with processed foods, sugar and gluten.
I can’t even remember when was the last time I ate fast food or drank soda. However, on our way home from the beach, I started getting “Hangry.” That becomes a crisis situation in our family because I go from a nice, sweet, loving person to an agitated, edgy, angry person which scares the living daylights out of my family members. My husband desperately tried to find something but long stretches of the highway went by with only fast food options. I finally just told him to find a Hardees because at least they have a Chicken Club Sandwich I remember thinking was halfway decent, even though I think we all got sick last time we ate there. Hey, I was desperate. So my husband finally found an exit with a little sign indicating there was a Hardees. When we got off, a sign pointed right and said Hardees was 4 1/2 miles. What! That is a heck of a long way off the road but I said that I didn’t care… it was our only hope. So we drove and drove and came to a little broken down forgotten town where we found this…
Oh my goodness! I can’t believe we traveled 4 1/2 miles off the highway just to find this! I about cried!
Thankfully, right next door we found this…
And guess what? We walked in and saw this sign on the door…
Yay! It’s a miracle! They have gluten-free subs!!! Saved by Jersey Mikes in the middle of nowhere.
Anyways, the lesson learned here is to not only plan and prepare for the journey getting to your destination but plan for the journey home as well.
4 Steps to Ensure Healthy Food Choices for Your Next Road Trip
1. Plan Ahead to Have Healthy Food Choices on The Road (Get my FREE Road Trip Meal Planner– Find out how at the bottom of this post)
Just like you plan your trip, where you are going to go, how you are going to get there and where you are going to stay, it is important to plan what you are going to eat on your journey there and back. If you just wing it and hope you will find healthy food choices on the way, you are going to be sorry.
I created a printable Road Trip Meal Planner (available in my RESOURCE LIBRARY) that can help. It helps you plan out make-ahead meals, make-ahead snacks, store-bought snacks, beverages, and supplies to buy and pack ahead of time. And it has a section for on the road options you can research ahead and plan for.
2. Make Ahead Healthy Food Choices to Take With You
Before your trip, make some healthy food choices ahead of time for meals and snacks on the road. I grab some dry ice from my local supermarket on my way out of town to keep things cold in my ice chest and just add more as needed along the way. I usually make a big pasta salad with gluten-free pasta noodles, fresh mozzarella balls, cut up cherry tomatoes, sliced black olives, chopped red onion, and sliced cucumbers tossed in Italian dressing or oil and vinegar. I bring along fresh parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top. This makes the perfect one dish meal to serve for lunch or dinner wherever we stop on the road. It also lasts for several days in a cooler.
I also always make my favorite Blueberry Flax Oat Bran Muffins before every road trip. Actually, I make a batch of these every week at home as well. I like to use my Pampered Chef Brownie Pan. Here is a picture of the Blueberry Flax Oat Bran Muffins along with these Grain-Free Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins which are also good for Breakfast or Snacks.
Something about road trips gets me craving a good chocolate chip cookie so I also make a batch of gluten free, dairy free chocolate chip cookies to take as well.
3. Shop Ahead for Healthy Food Choices to Take With You
Some of our favorite items that we stock up on before road trips include our favorite nut mix, Gluten Free Corn Chips from Trader Joes, Organic Apples, Cheese Sticks, and Gluten Free Crackers. We also take several gallon size BPA free bottles of our favorite water to fill our individual water bottles.
Here are a few of my favorite posts from other bloggers sharing their favorite healthy food choices for road trips.
4. Research Ahead of Time Healthy Food Choices for On the Way Home
With a little extra planning ahead of time, figure out where you will be around meal times and research healthy food choices on the way home. If you have any food chains that you know have options that you can live with, use an app like Yelp to locate them in locations along your path. You can also search those locations for gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian or paleo options on Yelp. Another option is locating supermarkets around these locations. You can always find some healthy food choices in a supermarket.
The Big Reward for Planning Healthy Food Choices for Road Trips
There are many benefits of planning healthy food choices before your next road trip well beyond supporting your overall health and wellbeing. You will save lots of money. You will save yourself from any “Hangry Monsters” you may be traveling with, even saving you from yourself if that is you. And the best benefit of all is you can stop at beautiful locations on your journey where there is no civilization and just enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.
Here is a picture of a beautiful spot I stopped with my mom on a road trip to Washington DC. This is a perfect example of the reward for planning ahead and making food ahead of time to take with us. This spot where we had our lunch was by the side of a river with a waterfall within view. After our lunch, we were able to take a walk to see the Natural Bridge in Virginia.
Well, I hope these ideas help you plan some wonderful road trips where you can enjoy healthy meals in some amazing places. Don’t forget to grab your own copy of my Road Trip Meal Planner to help you plan your next road trip.
Wishing you Joy in your Journey,
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