One of the easiest ways to keep kids happy in the car is to keep them well-fed. Great snacks fight boredom. My criteria for car snack are healthy, easy, and not messy. Out of all the snacks I’ve tried, these ones seem to work the best.
- Apples or pears- These are my standby. I usually cut them up right in the car and either put them in a little snack bowl or hand them one or two pieces at a time. For variety and protein, add a slice of cheese or proscuitto. If you can’t find organic ones, be sure to wash well because conventional ones are grown with a lot of pesticides.
- Mandarin oranges- easy for the kids to peel, and not messy to eat, mandarins are a big hit in our car. Give them a bowl or bag to put their peels in, because they will make a big mess.
- Grapes- Another easy, non-messy fruit, but here again, go for the organic ones, as the regular ones are heavily sprayed, and the thin skins absorb pesticides readily.
- Trail Mix- I make “snack bags” with dried fruits and nuts. It keeps the boys busy for a while as they eat each individual piece. Vary the fruits and nuts to keep it interesting. Great combinations are dates, cashews, and shredded coconut; walnuts and raisins and dried apples; or almonds and apricots. You might also try sunflower seeds, peanuts, figs, pistachios and pecans.
- Farmer’s market produce- Fresh produce is sweeter! Anytime you see a farmer’s market, stop and load up on healthy snacks. Carrots fresh out of the ground, green beans, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, and freshly picked broccoli are all excellent snacks. If your kids resist eating them plain, when you get to camp, make a simple dipping sauce with mayo and a little mustard, ranch dressing, or hummus. The fat in these dips helps our bodies absorb the vitamins better, and it tastes good too!
- Fruit leather- You can make your own with pureed fruit sweetened if necessary with a bit of honey then dried on sheets of parchment paper in a food dehydrator or very low oven. I brought some raspberry fruit leather from home and it got us through Canada. If you buy it, be sure to get ones without corn syrup and with as few ingredients as possible.
- Olives and pickles- My kids love briney olives and pickles, and it can be a good alternative to the often sweet car-ride snacks.
- Baby food pouches- You can buy great organic fruit and vegetable blends that have no bad ingredients in any supermarket, or even get them in bulk from Costco. These are not just for babies! Both of my kids love them. And they are no mess because they can squeeze them right into their mouth. I used to keep a few pouches in the bottom of my purse at all times for emergencies. I do feel bad sometimes about the waste, but I have seen reusable pouches that you could puree your own combinations