Road Trip Food: Eating Healthy in the Car

Erin Dow, Expert ChefErin Dow is chef/owner of Eatswell Farm, a Maine-based catering firm. She is also the Expert Chef for the Guiding Stars Licensing Company and the Consulting Executive Chef for Professional Catering Services, a company that provides backstage production catering to the music industry.

I do two kinds of travel: business travel and mommy travel. For business, my travel generally involves driving large trucks packed with thousands of pounds of catering kitchen equipment long distances, unpacking said trucks, setting up said kitchen equipment, catering an event, tearing the kitchen down, repacking the truck, and driving back home…generally within 24 hours. Mommy travel involves a family of five and a dog, a station wagon, and a long distance. The stress level is about the same.

Given the fact that traveling is a lot of work, diet is often the first priority to go out the window. We eat nasty bits to assuage our nerves, we share them to keep the kids quiet, and we opt for pre-packaged items to facilitate our misguided choices. But with about fifteen minutes of planning, you can reduce the impact your travel diet choices have on your health and still enjoy a treat.

  • Skip the Big Gulp and whip up a smoothie and pack it in a thermos before hitting the road. It’ll satisfy your sweet tooth, your hunger, your thirst, and your wallet.
  • Pack lots of water. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger. Proper hydration keeps us from misinterpreting the body’s cues.
  • Bang out a batch of baked tortilla chips for the trip. This recipe from Gourmet is popular with my catering clients.
  • Make homemade snack bars. Trail mix and granola are handy but often messy with kids. Many are dump and run, like this winner, full of nuts and seeds and covered in chocolate.

Finally, remember that even the healthy-looking options at the gas station—like energy bars—are often loaded with calories and are better suited as a meal replacement. Regardless, it’s preferable to have your calories come from homemade whole food choices rather than commercially manufactured items, and with a little forethought, it’s almost as easy.

Chris Cavallari

About Chris Cavallari

Chris is a longtime digital content producer based in Maine. Since 1999, he has been an early adopter and active participant in blogging, podcasting, and social media, and has been guiding small and mid-sized businesses in leveraging video, social media, and digital publishing to the fullest. With an avid love of travel and the outdoors, Chris started in 2009 to give him a platform to showcase his outdoors and travel adventures, and to help educate others in doing the same.