So we’ve got a trip coming up and I’m excited. Really, I am. But I must admit that in the face of travel, I am not simply the gung-ho type. The overplanner in me gets a real workout and I usually take on some massive house or garden project that simply must be finished before we leave about 2 days before we go. I am FIGHTING the urge to do this with every fiber of my neurotic being. I am instead trying to stay very clear on what actually needs to be done, what should get done, and what would be nice to complete. For this trip, which will include a total of about 24 hours of driving (divided into four 6 hour jaunts or two 6’s and a twelve if we can keep everyone from jumping out of the windows) give or take the need to run around a bit, one of the things that needs to get done is a little thinking about food. Shocker, I know.
We have found over the course of many car trips that while we are okay with letting our media restricted kids be digitally entertained at great length in the car, if we choose the same relaxed attitude on food, the trip becomes difficult, if not unbearable, for all of us. So… a little planning. When we take a road trip, I use two small insulated bags. I usually put lunch items in one and snack items in the other just to make moving them in or out of reach as we pack a little easier. For lunch items I’ll pack sandwiches, yogurt, some vegetables, and sometimes a travel container of milk for the little ones. It’s amazing, but if you slap a straw on the outside, they think it’s awesome. So still no juice, but pretty big joy. If we are unable to find a place to stop and picnic or if it’s WAY cold, we’ll stop at a fast food place that has a playground inside. Mom and Dad will get coffee, we’ll let the kids play while we drink our coffee and then lunch gets eaten in the car. The children are surprisingly amenable to this arrangement. And they really are fine with eating food I prepare for them, especially if I try to choose their more favored options and include something we don’t have ALL the time, like put the sandwich on a bagel or in a wrap instead of on really grainy healthy bread that they endure but do not relish. “WooHoo! Mom didn’t use Ezekial bread today…”
For snacks I am definitely of the more is more philosophy when on a car trip. Fresh fruit, crackers, pretzels, cheese, nuts, olives, grape or cherry tomatoes, carrots, hummus, pitas. I always try include something they won’t expect. I think this time we’ll do popcorn with maybe some homemade granola mixed in to go with the copious movie watching that will be going on… Car joy! I usually smuggle away some very small piece of chocolate to spring on them when/if the time seems right. More car joy!
I usually throw all these bits together the morning we leave as I am snooty and don’t like soggy sandwiches. Sure, we could stop somewhere and save me that 20 minutes, but I know I will feel better the WHOLE day if I limit my road purchases to coffee and water when our command center supply runs out. I also know I won’t arrive at my destination, where I’m supposed to be having fun, already kind of bloated and greasy from road food. Now don’t get me wrong. We will stop and eat from time to time. There is a roadside barbecue stand between Richmond and Norfolk that gets us every time we’re over that way. But that is a CHOICE we are making, not food we are purchasing because this is the place that was on the exit that we had to take because she has to pee and he’s having a sugar crash, and Mommy’s cell phone keeps ringing from the back of the car. Calgon, take me away, or just remind me to pack the little coolers for the trip, even if I don’t feel like it.
So as you’re reading this, think of our van of insanity barreling down the highway, with the sounds of How To Train Your Dragon playing for the 8 millionth time, but with happy tummies and full wallets. THAT is a good trip.
- 5 c popcorn, lightly salted (I don’t recommend butter as it will soggify everything)
- 4 c granola (such as this)
- 2 c almonds
- 2 c low sugar cereal
- 2 c dried fruit
I recommend mixing the granola, almonds, and dried fruit in a large bowl first. Then add the cereal and popcorn and gently mix with your hands. You’ll notice that this makes an ENORMOUS amount of GORP, so best prepared for a group, or divided in half. Delish.