"On the road again…” Every June, Patrick starts singing the Willie Nelson classic. He loves summer road-tripping. He doesn’t like planning them, however. Guess who that job falls to?
This year he’s dreaming of his birthday road trip to the Oregon coast. His little brother Peter is treating him to a long weekend of golf at Bandon Dunes. But to maximize golf time and minimize work time missed, they’ll be blazing up and back. No time for leisurely meals. So, the man asked me to find some road food for them to take. “Something delicious and not too messy,” he stipulated.
“I loved the Aussie Bites [with Omega-3] that you bought last year [$8.99 for 32 ounces at Costco] but they make me cheese,” laughed Patrick. “Peter will kick me out of his car before we get to Bakersfield.”
The next day, a few phone calls to some road-trip warriors completed his snack list.
“Because we’re eating in the car, we prefer snacks meet the following criteria,” offered my friend Katie: “They need to be as non-messy as possible — nothing that crumbles when biting into it, like granola bars. We want our snacks to be as healthy as possible, with no preservatives and no nitrates. [Snacks must] survive the heat well while being left in the car — nothing that will melt — and packaged in containers that can be easily passed around the car and then resealed for the trip home.”
Doesn’t that rule out everything? I thought. Apparently not. Katie’s favorites: Pacific Gold Original Beef Jerky ($14.49 for two eight-ounce bags from Costco) and bare fruit Apple Medley Apple Chips ($6.39 for 13 ounces at Costco). From Trader Joe’s, Katie suggested their Unsulfured Sweetened & Dried Just Mango Slices ($2.99 for 6 ounces) “They come in travel-friendly packaging.”
“My kids particularly like Pirate’s Booty Aged White Cheddar,” replied Jill ($5.39 for 16 ounces at Costco). “And I look for nonsticky when I shop for car trips.”
“Western trail mix from Sprouts” ($4.49 per pound), answered Bernice. “You find it in the bulk section. It has peanuts, almonds, raisins, and M&Ms. The grownups love the protein the nuts provide, the kids love the chocolate bits, and the hard shell on the M&Ms keeps the chocolate from being a melty mess. We take this on road trips and it always gives us that oomph we need to keep going when it gets late.”
“My hubby and I have gotten into seaweed,” admitted Nancy. “Whole Foods sells Seasnax [$3.49 for .65 ounces]. The stuff is paper thin, shiny — it looks like stained glass. But it’s light, crunchy, salty, fulfills that munchy need. We like the Toasty Onion variety. The package doesn’t lie; it is strangely addictive.
“Our family also likes the Calbee Snack Salad Snapea Crisps, which are dried peas. My people can plow through one of those bags in no time flat” ($6.29 for two 9-ounce bags at Costco).
Meg sold me on kale. “At home, I eat tons of sautéed kale; kale is super healthy for you. When we’re on the road, I snack on Alive & Radiant Kale Krunch Chips [$4.99 for 2.2 ounces at Whole Foods]. I like the Chockalet Chip type. The chocolate adds a touch of sweet to the kick of the kale.”
She also suggested Trader Joe’s Applesauce Crushers ($2.99 for four pouches at Trader Joe’s). “Twist-cap top, no spoon needed, no mess. And our family loves applesauce.”
“Peanut butter pretzels for protein,” suggested Sarah. (Kirkland Signature Peanut Butter Pretzels are $7.49 for 52 ounces at Costco.) “Granola bars, the fruit ones from Trader Joe’s, are another must have for our family” (Fruit & Nut Trek Mix, $2.49 for six bars).
“String cheese — easy protein and no cutting,” offered Erica. “Hard-boiled eggs for a meal during the breakfast hour. Peel them at home ahead of time. Or buy them pre-peeled at Costco [$4.29 for a 24 count]. Yogurt with plastic spoons for quick clean-up and strawberries washed and cut for easy eating. We also bring precut salami or other deli meats if we’re traveling all day.”
Shawn, who spends a lot of time driving around Southern California to watch her daughter play soccer, likes Kirkland Variety Nut Bars ($10.99 for 20 bars at Costco). Another favorite: Nature Valley’s Granola Thins Crispy Squares with Dark Chocolate ($10.59 for 48 individually wrapped squares at Costco) and Kirkland Dried Cherries ($6.79 for 20 ounces at Costco).