Keep your diet in check—even while you hit the road—with these simple, on-the-go bites.
Summer is the time to head out on that road trip you’ve been meaning to take, but upending your family’s wholesome, home-cooked meals for restaurant fare and gas station snacks can be a less-than-satisfying experience. Luckily, convenience stops have upped their food game and now provide some healthier options—you just have to keep your eye out for them. Here, we share some of the best light munchies to pick up while on the road.
Don’t leave the cash register without grabbing a few pieces of fresh fruit. Bananas are readily available at convenience stores and make great midday snacks or a quick breakfast. Plus, the peel means your fingers won’t get all sticky like with other fruits (a major road trip foul). As far as nutrition goes, bananas are packed with potassium, a nutrient that’s key for healthy blood pressure (it helps lessen the blood pressure-raising effects of salt) and bone health.
2. Turkey Jerky
In the mood for something salty? Jerky will satiate your craving while still delivery the staying power (thanks to all that protein!) you need to get to your next main meal. Turkey jerky provides a healthier alternative to beef-based options, since red meat has been associated with an increased risk of death from heart disease and cancer. It also raises your risk of colorectal cancer.
3. Peanut Butter
Creamy, protein-packed peanut butter is a versatile snack, especially when purchased in on-the-go packets. Spread it on fruit, carrots and celery, or even eat it by itself. Justin’s sells natural peanut butter in 1.15 ounce squeeze packs that come in at only 190 calories with 8 grams of protein to keep you feeling fuller longer.
4. Protein Bars
Stave off hunger between main meals with a protein-filled bar. The key is to find a bar that’s rich in protein but not packed with refined sugars like many are. A few options worth considering are Clif Bar’s chocolate chip flavor (only 250 calories with 10 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber), NuGo’s dark mocha chocolate bar (200 calories with 10 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and only 14 grams of sugar), and goMacro’s cashew caramel bar (260 calories, 10 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of protein).
Baby carrots make getting in your daily veggies simple—even while in the car. Whether you buy individually portioned snack bags or a whole bunch of baby carrots at once, this crunchy snack provides plenty of antioxidants and skin-boosting nutrients like beta-carotene and vitamin A.
Crunchy almonds come in a variety of flavors—try Blue Diamond’s roasted salted almonds or their wasabi and soy sauce-flavored ones for a kick—and are packaged into tins or packets, making them perfect for traveling. These nuts are packed with healthy, monounsaturated fats, which research has shown can lower heart disease risk.
7. Greek Yogurt
With the popularity of Greek-style yogurt on the rise, most convenience stores sell the stuff alongside regular yogurts. Head to the fridge section of your rest stop and pick up individual cups in your preferred flavor. For an even healthier option, choose plain Greek yogurt (like this one from Chobani) which is has zero added sugars and top it with fresh fruit for a little sweetness. You can even cut the tang with a little honey—you’ll likely add less sugar than what you’d get in a flavored variety.
8. Dark Chocolate Squares
Every road trip meal deserves a sweet ending and a square of dark chocolate provides just that. Buy a bag of Ghirardelli dark chocolate squares or Hershey’s dark kisses from the gas station and pass them around when you’re in need of something sweet. Dark chocolate delivers more antioxidants than milk or white chocolate and has been shown to lower blood pressure.
9. String Cheese
Choose a cheese made with reduced fat milk, like Sargento’s Light String Cheese and you can enjoy cheesy goodness with a fraction of the saturated fat (2 fewer grams to be exact). Most convenience stores sell bags of cheese sticks so all of your car mates can enjoy. Plus, the string form makes it simple to munch on while on the move.
It’s tempting to reach for chips when you stop for a snack, but opting for a serving size-bag of pretzels instead will save you calories and fat. Look for lower sodium or unsalted twists, like Snyder’s of Hanover, to help you keep sodium in check. Paired with hummus, this snack is both nutritious and satisfying.
This versatile dip delivers a hit of protein, fiber, and nutrients like magnesium and folate. Hummus can be paired with carrots, pretzels, or other dippable foods for a flavorful snack option. Most gas stations sell individual cups of hummus paired with pretzels for easy snacking. Try Sabra’s Classic Hummus with pretzels for the easiest grab-and-go snack ever.