Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the U.S. summer travel season. Nearly 43 million Americans will use the long weekend to travel — about 37.6 million of those by car, according to automobile association AAA.
While you can’t avoid the inevitable dirty gas station bathrooms and frustrating traffic jams, you can pack some snacks to make sure that you don’t get hangry and reach for unhealthy fast food.
I know, I know. “Road trip food is half the fun,” you say. But is it?
Do you arrive to your destination feeling satisfied and refreshed, or do you skid in sideways with a greasy chicken sandwich upset stomach ready for a 12-hour nap?
The food options on the road are quite bad, but without something to satiate us, we’ll tell ourselves, “what other options are there?”
Well, there are tons of options! Stop yourself from spiraling down the dark rabbit hole of road trip rest stop food, and pack as many of these healthy snacks as you’ll need to get you and your crew to your final destination. Considering you’re not shelling out for multiple meals, you’ll likely save some cash, too.
Say no to Snickers and say yes, to string cheese! Here are 12 healthy, money-saving road trip snack ideas.
1. Tuna and crackers
Pack some tuna and the protein can keep you feeling fuller, longer, plus, the crackers are a great way to round out the snack with complex carbs.
2. Fruit with yogurt dip
Grab any of your favorite fruits and prepare or slice, if needed. Try apples, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries. Then throw in a to-go cup of vanilla or honey flavored yogurt for dipping. You’ll get protein, fiber, and a natural dose of sugar to keep you aware and awake on the road.
Now, choosing a cereal can go seriously wrong. Most cereals today are loaded with sugar that will drain you of your energy and give your body tons of junk it doesn’t need. Put a few handfuls of a high-fiber, low sugar cereal in a lidded, plastic container, and either bring a pint of milk (if you can keep it cold), or pick one up at any gas stop.
4. Fizzy water
Sometimes your body can confuse hunger with thirst. Make sure you’re not weighing yourself down with extra calories if water is what you really need. Plain water can get boring, so pack a few of your favorite LaCroix flavors or sparkling water for something different to enjoy.
5. Baked chickpeas
Plan ahead and whip up a batch of these tasty little bites a few nights ahead of your journey. They’ll give you fiber and that cravable crunch, so you don’t have to dive into the potato chip bag. Just drain a can of chickpeas and toss in olive oil, salt, pepper, and other seasoning like cayenne or cajun for some spice. Bake at 450ºF for 30-40 minutes.
6. PB Sandwich
The old classic. The king of killing hunger, no matter your age. A peanut butter sandwich on wheat bread can give you a healthy dose of protein, carbs, and fat. Only add the jelly if you must. It will make your sandwich soggy. For extra flavor, try chopping up a banana and sticking it in-between the bread and PB instead.
7. Hummus and veggies
Hummus is another protein-packed snack that can keep you full and happy. Celery and carrot sticks make for a perfect combo. You’ll get healthy B vitamins from the hummus, and lots of water from the low-calorie veggies.
Any try this brownie batter hummus to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Sometimes you’re not hungry at all. You’re just bored or want something sweet. Grapes are great for beating boredom. Don’t go terribly overboard — they do have lots of natural sugar — but compared to other road snacks, it’s pretty harmless.
9. String cheese
It’s a childhood lunch staple for a reason. They’re quick and easy to pack. Plus, they’re a great source of protein and complex carbs (when combined with apple slices), so you won’t be hungry again for a while.
10. Hardboiled eggs
Have you noticed more gas stations carrying hard-boiled eggs lately? They’ve caught on. They know people want healthier snacks on the road, but for it, they charge a premium. Two eggs can sometimes cost $3! You could boil a dozen at home for that price. They’re mess-free and are a great pick-me-up kind of snack.
As long as you’re not adding butter or tons of excess salt, popcorn is a great, natural road trip snack. It’s cheap, easy to pack, and doesn’t require special temperatures
12. Beef Jerky
Beef jerky is one of the best ways to satisfy your hunger on a road trip, but don’t buy the stuff at the convenience store. Those national brands are loaded with preservatives and sodium that can leave you feeling bloated. Instead, head to a local natural food store or butcher before you take off, and pick up some organic, grass-fed jerky.