Snacks & Treats

Eating Well On The Go: Road Trip Tips and Recipes

Jun 2, 2015

Summer is car trip season—whether you’re going camping, hiking, to the cabin or cottage or hitting one of Canada’s beautiful coastlines, you’ll need to eat well on the way.

When you have a car full of kids, it’s even more important to plan ahead and pack healthy snacks to keep you from rummaging through packaged food at gas stations or giving in to the drive-thru. Canada is a gorgeous, drivable country, with plenty of pull-outs and national parks with picnic tables, fire pits and space to stretch your legs, walk the dog and take in the views.

Prepare A Picnic

Unpacking a picnic and enjoying it al fresco is one of summer’s simple pleasures. If you haven’t planned ahead, pull into a small town grocery store and hit the deli for roasted chicken, prepared salads, hummus with pitas or mini bagels and a tub of cream cheese. 

You-pick orchards and roadside fruit stands offer fresh, healthy and local food to grab-and-go—fresh fruit and veggies are perfectly portable. One of our favourite British Columbia stops includes homemade slices of pie, made with in-season fruit, topped with ice cream and eaten by the side of the road.

If you are planning ahead, think of super-sized school lunches. A cooler can be packed with virtually anything kids like to eat, along with frozen water bottles, juice boxes or homemade freezer packs to keep things cold—soak a sponge, pop it into a resealable freezer bag and freeze it solid. Take it out of the cooler when unpacking your meal and it will thaw as you eat, conveniently providing a wet sponge to clean up with afterwards.

You'll Also Love: Portable Travel Tins

Snack Packs For Kids

If you’re travelling with kids, it’s a good idea to make up individual snack bags so you aren’t always rummaging around for snacks for everyone. Throw in some napkins, wet wipes, plastic utensils and a couple empty plastic shopping bags to use for backseat trash.

To keep things interesting—and young kids entertained—try filling a bento or small fishing tackle or craft box with bite-sized snacks for little ones to hold in their lap and nibble as you drive (think chunks of cheese, cherry tomatoes, berries, dried fruit, small crackers, grapes, dry cereal—whatever they like).

Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars Recipe

A trat of crispy chocolate peanut butter bars.

These crispy-chewy chocolate peanut butter bars resemble Eatmore bars, but have more good stuff in them. Add whatever dried fruit, nuts and seeds you like or have on hand—the chocolate–peanut butter goo will keep everything together. Cut and wrap them individually for a perfect nosh that won’t crumble all over the car seats.

  • 3 cups crisped rice cereal 
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup chopped dried fruit (such as raisins, apricots and cranberries)
  • ½ cup chopped peanuts
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup light peanut butter
  • ¾ cup honey
  • ½ cup cocoa

1. Spray the inside of a large bowl with non-stick spray. Combine the cereal, oats, dried fruit and peanuts; set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, peanut butter and honey over medium heat. Stir until completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in cocoa.

3. Pour the chocolate mixture over the cereal mixture and stir until evenly coated.  Press into a 9x13-inch pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Cool in the fridge or at room temperature before cutting into bars.

Makes 18 bars.

Trail Mix Recipe

A bag of trail mix.

Trail mix may seem too obvious to call for a recipe, but sometimes it's difficult to think outside the box.

Besides dry cereal, dried fruit, nuts and chocolate chips, there's a plethora of possibilities in the bulk section of your grocery store. Use your imagination or let kids come up with their own combinations, then pack in individual snack-size baggies to bring on the road.

Toss your choice of ingredients in a large bowl and store in an airtight container or divide into individual baggies.

Try a combination of dried fruit, nuts for protein, starch (such as popcorn, cereal or pretzels) and a little something sweet:

  • roasted peanuts
  • toasted almonds
  • pecan or walnut halves or pieces
  • toasted hazelnuts
  • soy nuts
  • pine nuts
  • cashews
  • toasted sunflower seeds
  • corn nuts
  • dried wasabi peas
  • raisins
  • dried cranberries
  • dried cherries
  • sliced dried apricots
  • sliced dried pears
  • dried apple slices
  • banana chips
  • chocolate chips
  • chocolate covered peanuts or raisins
  • mini marshmallows
  • pretzel sticks
  • sesame sticks
  • dry cereal - oat O's, shredded wheat and corn bran work well
  • popcorn (plain, white cheese or light microwave)
  • low fat caramel corn
  • crumbled graham crackers
  • pretzel nuggets
  • bagel chips
  • mini goldfish crackers
Article Author Julie Van Rosendaal
Julie Van Rosendaal

Read more from Julie here.

Julie Van Rosendaal is the author of six best-selling cookbooks (with a seventh due out this fall), the food editor of Parents Canada magazine and the food and nutrition columnist on the Calgary Eyeopener on CBC Radio One. She is a recipe developer, TV personality, food stylist and writes about food for local, national and international publications. She is perhaps best known as the voice behind her popular food blog, Dinner with Julie, where she documents real life at home in Calgary with her husband and nine-year-old son. Connect on twitter @dinnerwithjulie.