top of page

'Junk' the Junk Food on Your Road Trip

Summer time and the living is easy, except when traveling on the road with kids, dog, spouse and nothing but corn chips and warm salsa. If you do not pack enough healthy food for picnics along the way, you will have to resort to highway restaurants and service station food. You know from past experience that the kids will be cranky, constipated and pumped up on sugar. This can be a summer travel adventure from hell, or with planning, an enjoyable vacation for the whole family.


First thing you want to purchase is an ice chest with ice packs to keep cooked food, beverages and perishable snacks cold. When you stay the night in hotels or camp sites refreeze the ice packs overnight before hitting the road again. Depending on the length of your trip, meaning how far before you can restock, you will want to pack the car and cooler with the following items:

  • Fresh and dried fruit, either sliced into pieces or small enough to handle easily.

  • Cut up vegetable sticks: carrots, celery, cucumber, zucchini, and bok choy. Secure in water tight bags or containers.

  • Hummus and/or other types of nutritious dips to serve with the raw vegetables.

  • Individual yogurt containers; Plain flavor is best and add fruit to avoid extra sugar.

  • Sandwich's, particularly wraps that can be cut into smaller pieces and shared by everyone. These can include peanut butter and jelly, grilled tofu or tempe, tuna, chicken, or egg salad. Sandwich's made with animal protein should be consumed within the two days so as not to spoil over an extended period of time.

  • Salads made with a variety of diced vegetables and a bottle of your favorite dressing on the side. Toss fresh vegetables with cooked grains such as brown rice and quinoa or a whole grain pasta and add dressing for a grain salad.

  • Potato salad is always a favorite, but try using olive oil and balsamic vinegar with toasted sunflower seeds and avoid the fat heavy mayonnaise.

  • Baked whole grain crackers and organic cheese can go a long way to calm hunger pangs and provide essential protein.

  • At home make a big bowl of nuts, seeds, raisins, popcorn and fruit juice sweetened cranberries. Toss together and place in individual serving bags for each or your travelers.

  • A case or two of individual bottles of water. They don't have to be cooled, but will save on cost and time stopping along the way. Be sure to recycle the plastic bottles when empty.


If you are to avoid the fast food restaurants along the highway you will need to plan your stops ahead of time. Check maps and the internet to find full service restaurants along your route where you can sit and eat a healthy meal. When ordering from the menu:

  • Look to the "Sides" section of the menu for vegetarian and vegetable choices. Oftentimes there will be a sautéed spinach or broccoli, baked white or sweet potato and even vegetables in season cooked as a stir-fry.

  • Salads appear on almost all menus and bring along your own salad dressing, or ask for lemon and olive oil to better control the amount of fat calories found in commercial dressings.

  • A cup of soup and salad is the perfect light meal when spending hours sitting in the car.

  • Opt for baked or grilled over fried foods and you will not live to regret your choice later.

  • Order one entree and split it to save on cost and calories. Remember you still have a long trip ahead of you, so eat sparingly, but nutritious foods.


Check the internet for towns off the interstate where you can grocery shop for meal replacements. Pack up the cooler and car and get back on the road. Later you can pull over at a rest stop for a picnic meal. When shopping in Super Markets it is best to stay away from oil heavy corn chips or pizza and stock up on:

  • Whole grain bread to make sandwich's.

  • Natural, antibiotic free, sliced turkey.

  • Peanut butter or Almond butter and jam, when your supply runs low.

  • Individual servings of yogurt and granola for a quick breakfast.

  • Trail mix, nuts, granola bars and rice cakes.

  • Peel top canned tuna, sardines and wild herring, for snacks or sandwich's.

  • Pre-cut vegetables and small fruit platters.

The idea is to substitute healthy foods that are most like what you eat at home. When staying in hotels along the way you can even bring along a small crock pot to cook oatmeal overnight, and serve it with yogurt and fruit in the morning. Really simple to do. If you take the time to plan for your travels there will always be plenty of healthy food to eat along the way. Have a safe trip!

Delia Quigley is the Director of StillPoint Schoolhouse LLC, where she teaches a holistic lifestyle designed to achieve optimal health and well being, based on her 30 years of study, experience and practice. The programs she has created, the Body Rejuvenation Cleanse, Cooking the Basics, and the Ha-Tha Yoga Method, are offered as daily and weekly classes in New Jersey and soon to be on-line.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page