Younger kids tend to make a bigger mess than older kids because their small hands aren't as coordinated. Play to their strengths by giving them car-friendly snacks that they can manipulate easily. For example, a baggie filled with dried fruit is easy for small fingers to pick up, but the pieces aren't so small that they will wedge into hard-to-reach crevices in your car. Another option is a chewy granola bar. Skip the crunchy varieties — all those crumbs will make a huge mess. String cheese is a perfect car-friendly snack for small hands whether they're coordinated enough to peel strips or if they just take bites.
Older kids can manage messes better, though they also tend to need bigger or more filling snacks. Several types of yogurt come in to-go containers, like tubes or drinks. Packed with protein, these yogurt options will keep them feeling full. For a crunchy choice, dried veggie sticks are a lot like chips — salty, crunchy, finger-sized — but are a healthier alternative. For older kids, fruit makes a car-friendly snack too. Dried fruit is easier since kids can eat it almost like chips or candy — however, fresh fruit like an apple or banana works well if you have a place to stash the core or peel before arriving at your destination.
Fruit leathers or roll-ups are a great option for any age. They're easy to hold and easy to eat. Or mix up a big batch of trail mix with nuts, raisins, chocolate candies and coconut chips to pass around. Cheese cubes and whole wheat crackers make a protein-packed, mess-free car snack that even mom will love.
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