Living in Northern Ontario almost any trip is a long one.
Just going to the city for a day of shopping is 4 hours. The driver needs some distraction and the passengers invariably get the munchies.
Restaurants and stores are few and far between and when you find them you get sticker shock.
What I have found over the years is that if we have some snacks in the vehicle it saves time, money and nerves.
Finding the right type of snacks is sort of confusing with all the health hype and you can buy into it with the granola bars, fruit roll ups and the yogurt covered nuts and fruit. Still you may not have these as a regular diet staple so you do not know which kinds your family will want.
Now if you have a vehicle large enough for you and a cooler you are ahead of the game. But with the smaller cars and a couple of children it can be a bit of a juggling act to fit a cooler in.
In that case maybe just a grocery bag with an ice pack will be enough to hold cold meats and fruit. To take up even less room for the ice pack substitute frozen drinks. Drinking boxes of fruit or milk shakes are wonderful for this. Small enough to be finished in one go and take a couple not frozen to drink before the rest are thawed.
But if you find a larger container of juice is better for your family travel mugs work great. Get one for each member but in different colours so you know who’s is who’s. Children like things personalized I have found. Janey can’t go eew by having Billy’s germs in her glass. Stop the unpleasantness before it starts.
For adults take a thermos of your drinks of choice. My husband drinks tea and I drink coffee so we take two thermos already to drink and just have to pour them into the mugs and we can keep going. We especially do this for the winter trips when there is always a chance of road closures. Who wants to be cold because there is nothing hot in the car to drink. Bad enough to be stuck there in the first place.
Things that work for us are: Large pepperettes cut into 2 bite pieces. I put them into a sandwich bag and they stay in a convenient spot in the car. Who wants to be scrounging around while wearing a seat belt to find something. Sort of defeats the purpose of a quick easy snack.
Foods that travel well for just my husband and I are strips of cooked steak or chicken. I cook them the night before and put them into zip lock bags and it is an easy finger food.
I freeze grapes and the last thing to go into the car are the bags of those. I have them frozen in snack or sandwich bags so there is not a big bag to take with us. These are good for children as well, they ease the thirst and there are fewer bathroom breaks needed.
Cheese chunks work well, cut into small bite size pieces they go nicely with the pepperettes. Add a couple crackers in whatever style you like and sit back and enjoy them along with the scenery.
You can make lettuce roll ups. I use iceberg lettuce one med. size piece place a slice of cold meat and cheese roll it up wrap it in plastic wrap (but wax paper works just as well) place it into a flat lidded container and they are ready to take out when the time is right. Just make sure to have them as close to the ice pack as possible. Less chance of them spoiling on truly hot days.
Crackers in all shapes and sizes make a much smarter snack than chips and salty things. They don’t crumble the same and they do not make you as thirsty as chips and pretzels. With all the varieties out there I am sure you will find one or two types you enjoy.
These are all easy to eat in the car. Whenever possible stop and take a break just to get a bit of exercise and stretch so the driver can see things not moving and not develop highway hypnosis. The fresh air will make everyone feel better.
When Don and I go to the city there is a town about half way there and we always stop, because there is a Tim Horton’s coffee and donut shop. They make the best coffee anywhere and I get a coffee in winter and an iced cappuccino in the summer. He gets hot chocolate as a rule. We can get breakfast sandwiches and since we leave home about 5am it makes a nice stop where he dozes in the car while I run in and get the snacks. Sometimes it is croissants or bagels but the breakfast sandwiches are the norm. Also they sell Tim Bits (the centers of donuts) and these make a nice single bite change. They are a nice inexpensive treat when you have passengers as well. Who doesn’t like donuts, so a bite size one or two is perfect.
Now I have gotten you to your destination but what do you do for going home?
When we have gone to the city we are tired and I am not into hitting grocery stores to find snacks for the trip. What Don and I have found is that getting a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken works great for us. I usually buy a baguette when getting groceries so that goes into the car separate from the rest of the groceries. We hit the highway and have nice hot chicken as a special treat. There are no KFC places in town so that is our reward to our selves.
One time we had our 5 year old grandson with us and we told him to hand me the bones when he was done each piece and I tossed it out the window. Bad grandma. He said we were littering. I told him that we were feeding the birds because you could see the ravens lining the hydro wires along the road. Well his answer was that “you can say you are feeding the birds, grandma but it is still littering.” I guess he was right but we still toss out the bones for the birds.
When you travel the same route so often that it starts to lose it’s attraction maybe give yourself a small reward like fresh brewed coffee and a snack. It will make the trip that bit easier to take.
But if you are traveling a new road make sure to take snacks in case the restaurants and stores are never where you need them to be. Like when you are hungry. Also sometimes the biting insects make stopping and having a picnic impossible, so having the option of eating in the car is a great one. Just make sure to have insect repellant (unscented) for comfort.
But most of all make sure you take along a sense of humour so nobody gets too upset at something forgotten.
Enjoy your trip.