Last time our family took a really long road trip, we spent a lot of time in restaurants, grabbing gas station snacks, or idling in drive-thru lanes woofing down burgers, milkshakes and other Supersized fast-food delicacies. Yes, I know being on vacation affords you a bit of “culinary leeway,” but I’m really trying to put in an effort by making healthier and more cost conscious choices this time. I’m finding that with a little planning we can help cut down on food expenses while on the road by hitting the grocery store to make our own car snacks and other munchies in advance. And if you like, the money saved can be used for a special stay at an upgraded hotel property, a fancier night out for dinner, one more hot stone massage, or quite frankly – just another tank of gas!
Today after church, we decided to hit the bulk food aisle at a new employee-owned grocery store in our area called WinCo Foods http://wincofoods.com/. It prides itself in being a supermarket low cost leader – and it’s great! The concept is sort of like a cross between a big box membership club store and a local farmers market on steroids. They had all of the items we were looking for to make our own trail mix and other minivan gourmet specialties. We loved the dried fruit, berries, granola, nuts, sunflowers and the awesome array of mixings. The Cubs (my girls) will have ball at home making their own individual snack stashes to munch on in the car.
We also plan to take a cooler that we can put other food items in to make continental breakfasts, and deli lunches complete with veggie trays, humus, olives, yogurt and cases of bottled water. Just stuff we can eat on the fly whenever we want. We also hope to enjoy locally grown produce from fruit and vegetable vendors to supplement the other food we’ve packed to keep items fresh and flavorful.
Buying the dry food ahead of time is a great way to find your favorites. It’s best to stick with nonperishable food as much as possible (but in our case, the food doesn’t stay around long enough to actually “perish”). But don’t limit yourself to ONLY dry foods. Having a few special condiments, milk, and other usual foods also can come in handy with the cooler and help you stick on budget that will be kinder to your wallet and your waistline.
Here are some other road trip foods favorites:
- Cereal and Milk
- Breakfast or protein bars
- Bagels and peanut butter (or cream cheese if you can deal with keeping it cold)
- Nuts (like cinnamon almonds – great way to get a protein fix early in the day)
Lunch or Dinner:
- Cheese and crackers
- Lunch meats
- Sandwiches (peanut butter and jelly or lunch meats and cheese with mustard)
- Olive Oil, pepper, and a great loaf of bread
- Trail mix and/or nuts
- Dark chocolate (This is my Hubby’s favorite – I’ll have to keep it dry in the cold cooler, but it’s so worth it. After a long day on the road confined with three women in a tight minivan, he’ll think that chocolate bar is the best thing since Sports Center).
— “Happy Trails.”