Fueling Vanlife Adventures With Delicious and Nutritious Road Trip Snacks for Every Family Member
Looking to pack up the family and take an epic van road trip this summer? Hitting the road with the family can be an exciting adventure, but it can also be a bit of a challenge to find tasty and healthy road trip snacks to keep your crew fueled up and the fun going along the way. Don’t worry. We have you covered! Read on for plenty of ideas to keep your energy high and avoid the hangry meltdown throughout your trip.
Tasty and Healthy Road Trip Snack Ideas
Fruits and Veggies
Many people think about packaged snacks when they think of road trip food. While there are many healthy packaged options out there today, it’s also wonderful and delicious to add some fresh produce to the mix.
Fresh fruit is an ideal choice because it’s naturally sweet, hydrating, and packed with antioxidants. Some convenient options include bananas, apples, grapes, and pre-cut melons. Remember to pack the fruit in a cooler or a cool bag to keep it fresh.
For those who crave something crunchy and savory, fresh veggie sticks are a great alternative. Bring along a mix of sliced carrots, cucumber, celery, and bell peppers.
Not only are these veggie choices refreshing and satisfying, but they also help your family tick all the nutrition boxes even while traveling. To jazz up your veggie sticks, pack some hummus, guacamole, or other dips to satisfy your taste buds while still keeping your snacks healthy.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are great portable road trip snacks, as they deliver a winning combination of protein and healthy fats to fuel up your adventure crew. Tasty nut and seed options include walnuts, cashews, peanuts, macadamia nuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds. You can even create your own trail mix or portion out a nut mix for each member of the family to grab on the go.
Protein-Packed Van Snacks
To keep your energy levels up during your trip, consider packing some protein-packed snacks. Options like natural beef jerky, turkey jerky, or even seasoned roasted chickpeas can be filling and tasty choices for on-the-go snacking.
Also, consider bite-sized protein-rich items like chicken or turkey roll-ups, cheese sticks, and Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit. These are all great options to keep your family fueled up while traveling. Hard-boiled eggs are also great to keep on hand for hungry travelers to grab.
Sure, sandwiches are the old standby when it comes to lunch on the go, but it really can be a convenient option. Sandwiches are usually low mess which makes lunch in the van a breeze. It’s also an easy option to have while out sightseeing.
Homemade Snack Recipes for Road Trips
Trail Mix Recipes
Trail mix is one of the classic road trip snacks. It is versatile, low-mess, and easy to take on the go bite, which is why it is so popular. Our family is a bit trail mix addicted, and we take it with us hiking, in the car, to theme parks, and pretty much wherever else we visit.
Sure, you can buy your own trail mix ready-made. There are endless options to choose from. Costco and Aldi are great places to buy trail mix. However, it’s a lot more fun to have your family make their own before the trip.
Why not get the whole family involved in creating custom trail mix combos that everyone will love? Pick up many varieties of nuts, dried fruits, seeds, and even a sweet element to add. Then spread it all out on the table, hand everyone their own container, and let them go to town, creating their own snack creation.
For nuts, consider almonds, cashews, peanuts, macadamia nuts, and walnuts. Roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds are great options to add as well.
Next, you can really mix things up when adding dried fruits. A few great dried fruit options are raisins, cranberries, apples, mangos, bananas, pineapple, and papaya.
Now let’s get to the fun part. The kids will love to add a little bit of sweetness to the mix. Consider yogurt chips, white chocolate chips, or dark chocolate chips to create a sweet element.
Don’t forget to label everyone’s creation so there are no arguments later. Anything you can do to limit the “don’t make me pull this van over” statement is helpful!
Have you ever made your own granola? It’s fun and easy enough for the kids to help with. Plus, it’s loads cheaper to make your own than to purchase it at the store.
By making your own granola at home, you can customize it with things your family enjoys. To make your own homemade granola start with a base of oats mixed with any chopped nuts or seeds that you like.
You can also add chopped-up dried fruits or even a bit of chocolate chips. Sweeten the mixture with a little honey, maple syrup, or dates, and spread it out on a cookie sheet to bake. Now you can use the granola as a stand-alone snack or as a topping for yogurt or cottage cheese.
Here’s an easy recipe for homemade granola:
- 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup chopped nuts (such as almonds, pecans, or walnuts)
- 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
- 1/4 cup coconut oil or vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup dried fruit (such as raisins, cranberries, or chopped apricots)
- Preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C).
- In a mixing bowl, combine the oats, chopped nuts, cinnamon, and salt. Mix well.
- In a small saucepan, heat the honey or maple syrup, coconut oil or vegetable oil, and vanilla extract over low heat until the mixture is smooth and combined.
- Pour the honey mixture over the oat mixture and stir until everything is evenly coated.
- Spread the granola out in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake the granola in the oven for 25-30 minutes, stirring it every 10 minutes, until it is golden brown and crispy.
- Remove the granola from the oven and let it cool completely.
- Once the granola is cool, stir in the dried fruit.
Similar to making granola, you can also make your own energy bites or granola bars. The only difference is that you want to add nut butter or seed butter as a binder to hold the bar or ball shape together.
Simply add some honey and nut butter until you get the right consistency of bars or balls. Great kinds of nut butter to use are cashew, peanut butter, almond butter, or sun butter, which is made from sunflower seeds.
Tahini is another option, but it is more bitter, and not everyone loves the taste of it. Possibly test this out before making a whole batch if you decide to use tahini.
There are many simple recipes online to find different ideas for ingredient combinations. Pinterest is a great place to look for ideas.
Here’s a simple and healthy recipe for energy bites:
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/2 cup peanut butter or almond butter
- 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
- 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
- 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a mixing bowl, combine the oats, peanut butter or almond butter, honey or maple syrup, ground flaxseed, chocolate chips, and vanilla extract. Mix well until everything is evenly combined.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour until the mixture is firm enough to roll into balls.
- Once the mixture is chilled, use your hands to roll it into bite-sized balls.
Baked or Roasted Road Trip Snacks
Oven-baked snacks offer a healthier alternative to chips which your family may be tempted to grab at the gas station. While still satisfying cravings for a crispy and tasty snack, you can also get in some needed fruits and veggies.
Popular options like dried apple chips or kale chips can be easily made by simply baking thinly sliced apples or torn kale leaves in the oven until crispy. Kale chips are especially tasty when sprinkled with a little olive oil and all-purpose seasoning.
You will want to go easy on the oil, though, because kale chips can easily get soggy. It also helps to store the kale chips in a rigid container because they are very brittle and will crush easily.
Another tasty option is roasted chickpeas, which can be seasoned with a variety of flavors to suit your taste buds. These superfoods are a crunchy treat that the whole family will enjoy.
Here’s an easy recipe for roasted chickpeas:
- 1 can chickpeas (15 oz)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Drain and rinse the chickpeas, then pat them dry with a paper towel.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the chickpeas, olive oil, salt, paprika, garlic powder, and cumin. Toss everything together until the chickpeas are evenly coated with the spices and oil.
- Spread the chickpeas out in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Roast the chickpeas in the oven for 20-30 minutes, stirring them halfway through, until they are crispy and golden brown.
Chia Seed Pudding
You may have never heard of this trick, but did you know that soaking chia seeds overnight produces a pudding by morning? It’s true and so easy to make at home or in your van that once you try it, you will be hooked!
Here’s an easy recipe for chia seed pudding. Berries and granola on top make the perfect rounded family snack or breakfast in the van.
Chia Seed Pudding
- 1/2 cup chia seeds
- 2 cups almond milk (or any other milk of your choice)
- 1-2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
- In a mixing bowl, combine the chia seeds, almond milk, sweetener (if using), and vanilla extract (if using). Stir well until everything is evenly combined.
- Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes, and then stir again to make sure there are no clumps of chia seeds.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Once the chia seeds have absorbed the liquid and the mixture has thickened, give it a good stir to loosen it up. If the pudding is too thick, you can add more milk to thin it out to your desired consistency.
- Serve the chia seed pudding in bowls or jars and top with your favorite toppings, such as fresh fruit, nuts, or granola.
Yogurt Parfait or Cottage Cheese With Fruit
Another simple and healthy idea is to top yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit and granola. You can add the fruit ahead of time and then add the granola right before serving. This is also a great breakfast on-the-go idea. Chia seed pudding is a non-dairy version of this if you use your favorite milk alternative, such as almond milk when making it.
Ants on a Log
No doubt, if you have small kids, you have made this fun snack before. Regardless of the age of travelers in your group, celery with peanut butter and raisins on top is a tasty snack.
You can mix it up by using different kinds of nut butter, such as almond butter or even crunchy nut butter. Also, think of other dried fruits to add, like apples or cranberries. Feel free to get creative with this classic!
Low Mess Packaged Snack Ideas
When you don’t have the time or resources to make homemade snacks, there are many low-mess packaged options that are still tasty and healthy. Look for single-serve packs of popcorn, nuts, dried fruits, trail mix, or natural jerky. It helps to choose snacks with minimal crumbs to help keep the mess down while traveling in the van.
Some other great choices are bags of veggie straws, squeezable yogurt tubes, string cheese or Babybel cheese, dried cheese wisps, granola or protein bars, and squeeze apple sauce pouches. If you pick yogurt cups, be sure to pack spoons.
Stick to Water on Travel Days
Have you ever noticed how much more you or your kids need to use the bathroom when drinking coffee, juice, or sugared drinks? Do yourself a favor to both help keep the mess down and limit bathroom stops by sticking to water.
You can bring along reusable sports water bottles that can be refilled at rest stops. Your family will stay well hydrated, and your van will avoid any sticky mishaps.
Packing and Preparing Road Trip Snacks
Now that we have many ideas about what food to bring along on an epic family van road trip, let’s jump into how to pack it all.
Storage and Container Tips
Bring along a hard or soft-sided cooler to help keep perishable snacks and produce from spoiling on your trip. Consider bringing along easy-to-clean and stack reusable containers to hold food. Pick containers that have secure lids to keep spills at a minimum.
To portion out snacks, consider ziplock bags or reusable zip-top containers. That way, every member of the family has their own.
Bento Box Road Trip Snacks
A storage container idea that is especially well suited for road-tripping is the bento box or really any plastic food storage container with little divided squares or rectangular spaces.
By using a bento box, you can fill the slots with fruit, veggies, dip, sliced meats, and cheeses. It’s the perfect container to create a fun snack tray for kids. Or you can use this container to make your own healthy version of Lunchables.
Additional Items To Pack To Keep The Mess Down
It helps to hit the road with a plan to clean up the messes that inevitably occur along the way. Bringing a bag or large ziplock for car or van trash helps to contain the mess when you are driving.
It also helps to pack paper towels and baby wipes for cleanup. Another trick is to bring a large towel to put over the kids’ laps while they eat.
Then you can just fold it up and shake all of the crumbs off outside. It’s also helpful to have around in case of larger spills.
Additional Resources To Help Plan Your Family Van Trip
One of the best tools out there to help plan a van trip is the RV LIFE Pro membership. This suite of products includes RV LIFE Trip Wizard to help you plan your route and stops, as well as RV LIFE Campgrounds to help you find great places to stay.
With a little bit of planning and preparation, it’s easy to enjoy tasty and healthy road trip snacks that the whole family will love. From fresh fruits and veggies to homemade granola and energy bites, there are plenty of delicious options to choose from. So next time you hit the road, pack some nutritious snacks to keep everyone fueled up and ready for the next adventure!