Healthy, Kid-Friendly Snacks for Summer Road Trips

Keep 'em quite and happy with these surprisingly good-for-them, portable snacks

Illustration by Justin Renninger

It’s the heart of the summer, which means it’s prime family-road-trip time. One of the most popular complaints from your kids, besides “Are we there yet?”, is probably “I’m hungry.” Rest stops, convenience stores, and the drive-thru may seem convenient, but a little extra pre-trip planning can keep the kids (and you) happy, healthier, and satisfied until you reach your destination. Here are some of my top pack-and-go snack ideas the whole family will love.

• Granola bars are a great grab-and-go snack. Kind Fruit and Nut Bars and Clif Kid Z-Bar (available at Whole Foods, Target, Sam’s Club, BJ’s, and Trader Joe’s), and are the best. Kind Bars are made with vitamin- and antioxidant-rich dried fruits, protein, and lots of healthy fat, thanks to the whole nuts which will keep your kids’ tummies feeling full. Clif Kid Z-bars come in kid-friendly flavors, like chocolate chip cookie, chocolate brownie, and peanut butter, and contain fiber as well as 12 essential vitamins and minerals. I like to think of them as a healthy cookie that even adults will love.

• Trail mixes are great as they are a good balance of energizing carbohydrates and satiating protein. We recommend Trader Joe’s Omega Trek Mix with Omega Fortified Cranberries. The Trader Joe’s mix has 500 mg of Omega-3 Fatty Acids per serving, and comes in perfectly portable single-serving packets (the cranberry, almond, and cashews mix is great as well)!

• If your kids are chip-lovers, we recommend Food Should Taste Good Chips and Popchips. Popchips are made by applying heat and pressure to the chips. They are not baked or fried, so they are both delicious and healthy. Popchips come in all the flavor varieties that regular potato chips come in, including barbeque and salt and vinegar. Food Should Taste Good Chips are amazing; packed with whole grains like quinoa, flax, and brown rice and corn. They come in fun flavors like chocolate, cheddar, and blue corn, and are available at Wegmans, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Healthy Bites markets.

• If your kids could use a calcium kick, we recommend Organic Low-Moisture Part Skim Mozzarella String Cheese (inexpensive at Trader Joe’s). Besides being fun to peel and eat, this string cheese offers 20 percent of your daily calcium and is high in protein. Baby Belle Cheese are a fun cheese snack as well. Try the light version if you are looking to cut back on the fat a bit, and pair with a fruit for the perfect snack. Both are available in your grocers diary section.

• Kids craving some crunch? Try snikkidy baked kids snacks, which are available at Whole Foods. With fun kid flavors like grilled cheese puffs, these snacks are low in fat and saturated fat, and made from wholesome ingredients.

• Trying to keep the car and the kids clean and tidy? Try GoGo Squeeze applesauce which is available at Whole Foods and Healthy Bites. This no-sugar-added treat is a great way to incorporate some fruit, and the easily squeezable and re-sealable pouch is mess free. For another car-friendly fruit solution, try no-sugar-added freeze-dried fruit snacks, like “Just Tomatoes” brand, which is sold at Whole Foods.

• Need a tasty beverage to wash down these healthy treats? Try locally made Froose juices, also found at Whole Foods, made with brown-rice syrup instead of cane sugar. Added bonus: They are fortified with fiber to fill up your kids’ bellies and keep them regular.

Katie Cavuto-Boyle, MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian, chef, and owner of Healthy Bites ToGo Market. Read Katie’s full bio and more about her role at Be Well Philly here.