By Casey Seamon, Registered Dietitian

“Are we there yet?”and “I’m hungry.” These are the two things heard most often from the backseat on the beloved summer road trip.

As you rack up the miles on the car, it can be tough to avoid the temptation of greasy fast food. Let’s be honest: when you’ve been driving for hours and the kids are whining, a cheeseburger and fries quickly appease the masses.

While indulging in a drive-thru meal from time to time isn’t the end of the world, planning an entire trip around dollar menus can take a toll on your health and your budget. Thankfully, there are wonderful, healthier snack options that can help keep bellies full until you can pull off for a proper meal.

Check out these 7 alternative snacks to keep your family fueled on your next road trip.

  1. Fresh veggies and ranch: Instead of crunchy chips, choose crisp raw veggies like celery, carrots, and cucumbers. They require minimal prep and hold up well in a cooler.

  2. Peanut butter and banana sandwich: Nothing beats the classic peanut butter sandwich! Opt for fresh banana slices instead of jelly to cut out on added sugars, and make sure to put peanut butter on both sides of the bread to prevent the bread from getting soggy. Additionally, using whole grain bread to get added fiber will help you feel fuller longer.

  3. Unsalted nuts: Nuts are packed with protein, which is great at filling you up. Furthermore, they are a great source of healthy unsaturated fats. Choosing the unsalted version makes it a heart-healthy option, too! 

  4. DIY trail mix: Typically, trail mix has lots of salt and added sugar, but, when you make your own, you can be in control of the ingredients. Try following this ratio of your favorite ingredients, and make a big batch before you get on the road. This one is great to munch on the whole trip through:
    - 5 cups toasted nuts
    - 1 cup raw seeds (sunflower, chia, pumpkin, etc.)
    - 1 cup dried fruit like raisins, cranberries, etc. Use the no-sugar-added version, if possible.
    - ½ cup dark chocolate (at least 60%)
    - 1 cup unsalted pretzel pieces

  5. Turkey jerky: Jerky is one of the all-time favorite road trip snacks, but it can be full of sodium and saturated fats. Choose turkey jerky for a healthier version, and look for one that has less than two grams of fat per serving and no more than 250mg of sodium.  
  6. Fresh fruit: Apples, grapes, bananas, clementines…the list goes on! Fresh fruit is always a quick and easy option to have on hand when the tummies start grumbling. Cut up your own to put in the cooler or simply grab a selection from your local grocery store before heading out!

  7. Popcorn: This one can be a surprisingly healthy option if you know what you’re looking for. Choosing low sodium, air-popped popcorn cuts out a lot of the bad stuff, and, as a bonus, popcorn is a whole grain which means it has lots of fiber! 

Become an even healthier snacker with these tips on How to Snack Well for Weight Loss and this video on Building a Better Breakfast. Healthy living happens one meal at a time!