School holiday is fast approaching, and family road trips/vacations are big part of the fun! It can be challenging enough to feed your family nutritious meals and snacks at home, let alone when you’re on the road, or in different countries. Here are my top tips and tricks to help you keep your family well-nourished while on vacation:
Before going on a trip, write out a menu for every meal and snack. Pack all foods or ingredients that are included in the menu. Gather proper cooking equipment such as pots, plates, utensils, napkins, wipes, hand sanitizer gel etc. Make sure to bring containers or Ziplock bags to store leftover and use for portable meals and snacks for the next day.
Obviously, you need an insulated cooler and some ice packs. Prepare whatever you can in advance such as homemade trail mix, homemade baking, no-bake energy balls, etc. Keep meal planning simple, making sure to include these meals components:
- Whole grain: oats, whole grain bread, whole grain wrap or pita, brown rice, quinoa, corn on the cob, yam/sweet potato, etc.
- Protein rich foods: fresh or cooked meat, nitrate-free deli meat, eggs, peanut/nut butter, beans, lentils, hummus, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, milk, cheese, tofu/tempeh.
- Veggie or fruit: Any fresh raw vegetables or fruit, unsweetened dried fruit, pre-made salad mixes, fresh pre-washed and chopped veggies (broccoli, cauliflowers, carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, snap peas, peppers). Apple, bananas, pears, oranges are great because they do not need to be refrigerated. You can also include unsweetened applesauce.
- Water: Drinking enough water to keep your body hydrated is very important especially after a full day of outdoor activities. Be sure to bring along a reusable water bottle to refill throughout the day.
- Enjoy small portion of not-so-healthy foods: I follow 80/20 rule while on a road trip or vacation, making sure to reserve one or two meals for my not-so-healthy foods likes pizzas, burgers, hotdogs, ice cream and then striking a balance by serving raw veggies with dip or fruits alongside it, and making more nutritious meal choices the rest of the time.
If you are at a resort or hotel where you are able to access to kitchen (stove or microwave). Here are some quick and easy family road trip/vacation meal ideas:
- Overnight oats: rolled oats, greek yogurt, milk and fruit (use small mason jars for individual portion and it is portable)
- Yogurt parfaits: yogurt and homemade granola (1 & 2) and fruits
- Eggs: hard-boiled eggs, or mini egg muffins
- High fibre breakfast cereal with milk
- Pre-homemade whole grain pancakes, French toast or waffles: add your favourite fruit on top
You can make a picnic style lunch quickly. A picnic lunch is just a mix of different finger foods that together would make a balanced meal.
- Whole wheat crackers or pitas with tuna salad or egg salad, fresh pre washed and chopped veggies with dips (hummus or tzaziki)
- Whole grain wrap with turkey, cheese and lettuce or spinach, with a piece of fruit on the side
- Layer ingredients for a hardy salad in a container or mason jar. Put your dressing on the bottom by vegetables like slices cucumbers and carrots. Next add chickpeas, edamame or chopped hard-boiled eggs. Finish with salad greens and pumpkin seeds on top. Shake before serving and add pita wedge on the side.
- Turkey tacos – pre-made ground turkey with taco seasoning, avocados, lettuces, tomatoes, peppers, salsa, cheese, and taco shells
- Snack plate: hard-boiled eggs, cheese, almonds, crackers, fruits, fresh pre-washed and chopped veggies with hummus
My Favourite Road Trip Snacks
- Fresh pre-washed and chopped veggies with dips (hummus or tzaziki)
- Greek yogurt with homemade granola and fruits
- Low-sugar granola bars
- Homemade trail mix with unsweetened dried fruits
- Apple with peanut butter
- Whole grain crackers and cheese
- No-bake energy balls
Try to limit the amount of less nutritious snacks such as potato chips, candy, chocolate, soda pop, etc. not only because they’re not very nutritious and high sugar/calories, but also because they don’t really fill you up, so you can eat a lot without really noticing. Instead eat these foods mindfully, choosing ones that you love and can’t live without and enjoy it.