Healthy, Frugal Travel Snacks

by heather

pbjsandwichIf you’ve ever taken a road trip, you know how it is when it comes to meal and snack options. Greasy fast food, chips, candy bars, soda…

After a few hours you’re bloated, dehydrated, and yearning for something healthy. Plus, all that convenience food really gets expensive after a while.

Eating well (and frugal) on the road takes some planning, and I learned that the hard way last time A and I took a long trip. We’re both vegetarians, and didn’t plan our food out in advance before we left.

We were hungry, to say the least. And it wasn’t pretty.

We’re leaving for vacation this week, and this time I resolved not to make the same mistake twice. So I decided to write a post about healthy travel foods while I researched options for our own trip.

Healthy Travel Snacks

I’m going to start out with some of the basics here…

  • Vegetable sticks, cherry tomatoes
  • Peanut butter and crackers
  • GORP (peanuts, raisons, dried fruit, Cheerios, almonds, chocolate chips, or whatever else you want to throw in there)
  • Granola
  • Fruit (apples, oranges, grapes, pears, and bananas travel well)
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
  • Edmame
  • Popcorn
  • Pita chips
  • Pickles and olives
  • Hummus (goes great with celery, carrots, and pita chips

A Note On Hard Boiled Eggs…

I’m thinking about boiling us some eggs the night before we leave (super YUM with Tony Chachere cajun seasoning!). As far as I’m able to tell from researching online, hard boiled eggs are fine for a few hours out of the fridge. If left in the fridge, they’ll last a week.

I remember boiling and coloring eggs as a child; we’d leave them out for days sometimes, eating them as we went along, and I never got sick. But, I probably wouldn’t do that now! I’m sure they’ll be fine for a few hours in the car, though.

Out of the Box Ideas

Travel Enchiladas

I found this intriguing idea at Road Trip America.

Take a whole grain tortilla and spread it with reduced fat cream cheese. Sprinkle the cream cheese with nuts and dried fruit (dried pineapple bits are a favorite), and then roll it up like an enchilada. These are surprisingly good!

Wow, I might have to try that one…

Cheese Crisps

This recipe came from a Facebook friend (thanks Heather!). She makes them all the time for her family when they’re traveling, and swears she’s can’t make them fast enough! Here’s her recipe:

Use several cups Shredded Cheese (hard type works better) (Sharp Cheddar &/or Parm)
Italian Seasoning or Mexican Seasoning or your favorite flavors to taste
Mix thoroughly. Next:

  • Line cookie sheet w/ parchement paper
  • Place 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp scoops of cheese mixture on cookie sheet
  • Bake @ 350 for approx 10 min. or til golden brown & bubbly

When the cheese cools it will crispy & delicious! Also, Lowfat cheese is less greasy; harder cheeses crisp better & don’t spread as much. You can also play around w/ the mixture to your liking!

Banana Split PB & J

Image courtesy of Cooking Light

Image courtesy of Cooking Light

I love peanut butter. I eat it everyday, and I’ll spread it on anything.

So you can imagine my sheer delight when I came across The Banana Split Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich in Cooking Light last December.

I have made this luscious sandwich several times now, and let me tell you: IT IS YUM.

I’m definitely making one for the trip, but obviously I won’t be able to grill it. Here’s the original recipe, from Cooking Light:


  • 2 (1-ounce) slices firm white sandwich bread, divided
  • 1 teaspoon butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon semisweet chocolate minichips
  • 1 large strawberry, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small banana, cut lengthwise into 3 slices (about 2 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon pineapple jam



Spread one side of each white bread slice with 1/2 teaspoon butter. Combine peanut butter and honey; spread over plain side of 1 bread slice. Sprinkle with chocolate chips; top evenly with strawberry slices and banana slices.

Spread pineapple jam over plain side of remaining bread slice. Carefully assemble sandwich.

Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sandwich; cook 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.

What I’ll Do…

I’ll probably just end up toasting the bread, and leaving off the pineapple jam (which is what I usually do because to me, the pineapple makes it too sweet with everything else).

Strawberry Sandwich

I found this yummy looking sandwich over at Reader’s Digest. And boy, the picture makes it look really, really good, so give that link a click if you want to check it out. I’m drooling as we speak…

Here’s the recipe:


1⁄2 slice Mestemacher or other dense 3-grain bread (equal to 65 calories)
2 teaspoons farmer cheese
3 strawberries, sliced
1⁄2 teaspoon honey
Coarsely ground black pepper (optional)


Place the bread on a plate and spread with the farmer cheese. Top evenly with the strawberries and drizzle with the honey. Add black pepper, if desired. Cut in half and eat.

Last Word…

Do any of you have some tried and true healthy snack/meal ideas? I’d love to hear them! We’ll be traveling a total of 40 hours on this trip, so I could definitely use the inspiration!

{ 3 trackbacks }

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Green Bean July 29, 2009 at 9:24 am

We ate those strawberry sandwiches all the time growing up. I forgot all about them until I read your post. They were divine!

We’ve never traveled anywhere near as long as you guys but do try to bring lots of fruit (in its own packaging, eg. skin), trail mix (you call it GORP), and maybe some crackers or muffins. Good luck. 40 hours is a long time! Lots of great ideas to sustain you. 🙂

heather July 29, 2009 at 9:27 am

Green Bean,

I’ve never had the strawberry sandwiches, but I almost fell over when I saw that picture on the Reader’s Digest site. It looks SO YUM, and I can’t wait to make it!

kare July 29, 2009 at 11:12 am

invest in a small car or van sized plug in cooler. We bought one a couple of years ago for less than $100 and it was well worth the investment. It plugs into the cigarette lighter plug ins.

This way you can bring those hard boiled eggs, plus keep your water, juice, etc. cool.

Plus when you stay at hotels, many mid-range hotels have mini-fridges in each room so at night you can transfer your must-stay-cool stuff to the room.

We just got back from a 2 week road trip that saw us travel 40+ hours including a 5 day jaunt into the states. Being from Canada, we couldn’t bring meat, dairy, fruit & veggies across the border so it made the snack planning a bit difficult (we crossed into the states 3 hours into our trip). But once we made it across, we bought yogurt tubes (a great treat for my kids, somewhat healthy and travel friendly), cheese strings, baby cut carrots, etc.

On the way home (through Canada only), I was able to use that plug in cooler to transport a large chunk of my favourite cheese from my home province back to my current home – a 15 hour/2 day drive. The cheese arrived cool and perfect. 🙂

Heather July 29, 2009 at 2:05 pm

We often just pack a cooler so we can keep things like cold soda, cold fruits/veggies, cold sandwiches, etc. It is SO handy and very nice to have healthy food available on the road without even having to get off the road to get lunch! Of course, if you want to, then you’re also free to check out a rest area and picnic for lunch which is a much bigger hit with the kids than a fast food place. Sometimes the rest areas even have a playground!

heather July 29, 2009 at 2:18 pm


The plug in fridge is a great idea! Gosh, I should have posted this last week instead of the day before we’re leaving. I didn’t even think of that as an option, but if I had one I could do hummus and cheese and yum!


The cooler sounds like a great alternative to Kare’s fridge idea. Sadly, I don’t even have that (yes, it’s true, I do not have a cooler…is that un-American?) 🙂

Perhaps I could nip over to Salvation Army and see if they have any.

Thanks so much for all the great suggestions!

Ray's Travel Guide July 29, 2009 at 7:45 pm

wow that looks good

Rebecca Rivera July 29, 2009 at 7:57 pm

HI! Freeze water bottles and juice bottles and then use them to keep the other food cold and when they melt you have cold drinks. I did this on a 10 hour road trip and all the food was still cold when we arrived.

Fun snacks for kids August 20, 2009 at 5:43 am

Many children tend to eat frequently through the day as their bodies require. One should not force children to eat more and more like adults do. A child under the age of four or five might eat six to seven times a day. One can give fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain crackers, cheese cubes, peanut butter-cheese sandwiches into daily snacks. Try to avoid pre-packaged snacks because its unhealthy. One can go for milk-based drinks because it rich in proteins, calcium, iron, also fruit juice will be good.

Dave Doctor July 25, 2010 at 5:17 am

Carry a can opener, a small tupperware container, and some lightweight camping utensils, then buy salad items at a grocery store, such as canned beans, fresh or canned or frozen vegetables (pop in Whole Food microwave), and maybe some peanut butter or rice crackers to make a complete protein.

Bob March 14, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Rice cakes work well… get the large ones, snack size ones are more expensive. Make a popcorn mix with pretzels, dried fruit, popcorn, chocolate chips, nuts, etc. Tasty and healthy!

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