When you’re out on a road trip, figuring out how to feed your family is one of your biggest challenges. Not only are hungry kids cranky kids, kids who are hyped up on gas station snacks and kids’ meals from fast food restaurants can be a struggle to keep happy and settled on a long car trip. Whether you’re on vacation or taking a long road trip home for the holidays, feeding your kids right can be of immense value.

Plan Ahead

Before you go on a road trip, make sure you pack the car appropriately. You know that bored kids quickly become hungry kids, especially if you’re stopping at a gas station to refuel and they see all the tantalizing snacks on offer. As a prepared parent, you can offer plenty of better options. Pack your car with items like:

  • A cooler filled with water, fruit juice, and other drinks you’d prefer that your child have on the road.
  • Nuts, crackers, dried fruit, and even fresh fruit, depending on the season.
  • Granola bars, home-baked cookies, popcorn, and other treats that will delight your child and steer them away from the vending machines at the rest stop.
  • Any other great road trip snacks for kids that you think will delight your family.

Packing a small box with individual compartments that contain snacks can also be a great idea. Fill the compartments with raisins, carrots, crackers, and more, and let your child know that while they can choose what they eat and when they eat it, you won’t be able to refill the box while you’re on the road.

Look for the Best Restaurants

If you know you’re going to be stopping to eat, why not stop somewhere that’s worth your while? If you’re near Dinosaur National Monument in Utah, for example, you’ll love visiting dinosaur restaurants with your kids. Or if you’re traveling through the South, you should take advantage of all of the amazing Barbecue restaurant options.  Restaurants with a play place or attached to a playground might be tempting as an opportunity to let the kids run around for a little while, but a good sit-down meal can make a huge difference in your feelings about the day and your attitude with your kids for the rest of the afternoon. Don’t underestimate it!

Don’t Underestimate the Value of Grocery Stores

You under-planned, and you admit it. You didn’t pack enough snacks to keep the kids happy and you’re still hours from your destination. Worse, your travel budget is already creeping close to its limits. Instead of letting yourself get overwhelmed, look for an exit that will take you to a grocery store. As you pass through many major cities, you’ll find that you can easily see grocery stores and other shopping opportunities from the roadway. Instead of pulling into a gas station and filling up on candy and snacks, try going into the grocery store and picking up fresh fruit. This can even be a viable alternative for lunch or dinner, especially if you’d like to eat fast: pick up bread, lunch meat, and cheese; grab a rotisserie chicken; or pick up popcorn chicken or chicken wings from the hot meat counter.

Set a Meal Policy

If you don’t want to stop and sit down at a restaurant every time you need to eat, whether due to time constraints or because you’d prefer not to shell out $50 for every meal, set a policy with the kids and your spouse. Decide that you’re going to eat one meal every day at a restaurant and discuss which one you’d like to choose as a family. The rest of the meals can be taken from what’s packed in the car or picked up at a grocery store. Alternatively, you could agree on one “real” meal and one fast food meal. Set a policy that works for your family!


Feeding your family on the road doesn’t have to be the biggest headache of your trip. As you explore new restaurants, check out exciting opportunities, and explore grocery stores to find foods that interest your family, you’ll discover that food on the road can be one of the best parts of your trip. Don’t let food matters stress you out! Instead, enjoy the experience and find restaurants that offer healthy options while still providing plenty of enjoyment for the entire family

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