Chances are you’re spending some time on the road this summer. And chances are you’re going to get hungry on your road trip. It happens to me almost every time I take a trip, and despite being a nutritionist, I’m usually not prepared. So as a summer resolution, I’m going to take some time to figure out what types of food I should pack for trips and share with you what things I get at gas stations and rest stops when I’m stuck with an empty belly.
What to Pack
My primary rule is that it should include something you’re excited about and also include something healthy. It should also store relatively well. Cucumbers, sugar snap peas or green beans are good veggies to pack since they’re crunchy and fun to eat. Plums, nectarines, grapes and apples all travel relatively well if you’re looking for something fruity. In terms of excitement, I like to pack some dark chocolate-covered almonds or popcorn. Single-serving cheeses (like string cheese) or mixed nuts or trail mix are also good items to round out the fruit or vegetables you’re packing.
What to Pick Up at the Gas Station
Surprisingly, most gas stations have bananas. Yes, you might pay a dollar for it, but this should be a no-brainer. It’s one of the only fresh items in the store, and you’ll need it to round out some of the other things I’m going to tell you to buy.
Roasted nuts/trail mix: Nuts offer healthful protein, fiber and healthy fats. If you can find them, get ones that are dry roasted. Also, check the expiration date — these don’t seem to get the most action at gas stations and may be lingering. Beware that there are usually a minimum of 2 and upward of 4 servings in these packets; try to share them with your car companions.
Yogurt: Yes, you can buy yogurt at most gas stations, and you’ll get some protein and calcium to boot.
What to Get at a Rest Stop
The thing I get most at rest stations is a latte. Caffeine + milk equals a perfect driving pick-me-up.
If you want something more substantial, most places have some sort of salad. Look for one with protein, and get the dressing on the side.