Summer is around the corner and kids all over the country have officially started the countdown until they can say, “Yay! School is out!” I remember how much I looked forward to this time of year. Aside from no more homework, it meant taking a road trip with my mom, dad, brother, and our standard schnauzer, Salty (and yes, his brother’s name was Pepper.) Almost every summer, we traveled to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to visit my mom’s parents for a few days and then moved on to Palisades, Michigan, to spend time with my dad’s family.
We crammed the station wagon (yes, station wagon—there were no SUVs back then) with everything from beach clothes, sleeping bags, and pillows, to sailing gear, puzzles and books. As we pulled out of the driveway—after mom had checked to make sure that the stove was off and that the door was locked (at least three times), we were finally off and dad was on a mission to make good time to our destination. Dad never liked to stop, so that meant packing all of the necessary food to keep everyone energized and happy for six plus hours as we barreled along the turnpike. Think Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Vacation.
Needless to say, at any early age, I learned that stocking your car with food and beverages not only helps you to make better travel time, but can be more nutritious, and save money too! Here are some family-friendly ideas for when you hit the road this summer:
Hydration Station. Line the bottom and sides of a cooler with re-freezable gel ice packs (you can use them again for your trip home). Fill one side of the cooler with bottles of water, 100% juice boxes, unsweetened iced tea and low-fat milk. Don’t forget the straws!
Travel Foods. Fill the other side of the cooler with foods that should be kept cold. For both kids and adults, finger-friendly foods and pre-packaged small containers help make eating easier to manage in the car.
- Dairy: Include individually wrapped cheese sticks/wedges, small containers of yogurt, and hardboiled eggs. Make sandwiches or wraps using cold cuts and cheese.
- Fruit: Pack small boxes of dried fruit like raisins and Sun-Maid Salad Toppings (coming to a store near you this summer) that have dried fruit and nuts. Include fresh fruit like satsumas, apple wedges, grapes, and strawberries that are easy to eat. Combine with a protein rich food like a small container of nut butter or fruited yogurt for dipping!
- Veggies: Include baby carrots or grape tomatoes or cucumber slices with a small container of hummus or ranch dressing. For kids, make the classic “ants on a log” for the creaminess of nut butter, the crunch of celery and the sweetness of raisins.
- Cereal/bread: In a plastic container or Ziploc bag, pack whole grain cereal like Cheerios or Rice Chex or mini-bagels topped with peanut butter and raisins.
- Fruit bars and muffins: Using the recipes below, you can make a nutritious chewy fruit bar or an apple and raisin muffin. Include a wedge of soft cheese to spread onto each muffin.
Safe and happy travels!
Individually wrapped and stored, these bars are the perfect “portable” breakfast in the car or on the bus.
Makes 10 bars.
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup toasted wheat germ
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup Sun-Maid Natural Raisins
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- HEAT oven to 350 F.
- GREASE an 8-inch square pan.
- COMBINE flour, wheat germ, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
- STIR in butter, honey, egg and vanilla; mix well.
- STIR in raisins and walnuts.
- PRESS mixture firmly into greased pan.
- BAKE for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned.
- COOL completely before slicing. Bars may be slightly crumbly.
Makes one dozen muffins.
- 1 cup Sun-Maid Zante Currants or Sun-Maid Natural Raisins
- 1 cup cored, peeled and chopped apple
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 cup uncooked oats
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- COMBINE currants or raisins with apple, oil, milk, egg and sugar in a medium mixing bowl.
- STIR together flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt in a separate bowl.
- STIR into raisin mixture just until combined.
- DIVIDE batter equally into 12 greased or lined muffin cups.
- SPRINKLE top of batter with 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar per muffin cup.
- BAKE at 400 for 20 minutes or until golden.