Whether you’re traveling to a far-off destination or simply running errands, it’s likely you’ll be hungry at some point. It’s super-easy to get food on the go, but your choices may be limited to fast food or airport cafés, and they also may not be all that healthy — which is especially a concern if kids are involved. We talked to doctors, nutritionists and dietitians to find out what healthy snacks they take along when they’re on the go. Pack these tasty snacks before your next road trip, flight or long day of shopping — not only will you love them, they’ll also be a hit with the kids.
Shelf-stable, portable snacks
If you’re not allergic to nuts, they’re one of your best bets for snacking. Samantha Cassetty, a registered dietitian, says nuts can be a handy, filling snack option.
“As you likely know, nuts are high in fat and calories, yet studies show that they’re a top choice for combating hunger, and people who snack on nuts tend to eat a little less at later meals, so they don’t promote weight gain,” she tells SheKnows. Also, she suggests you do not eat them quickly, as the longer you chew your nutty snacks, the longer you’ll feel full.
Cassetty also notes that popcorn can make a great snack in a pinch. “For one, it’s a whole-grain snack that’s rich in fiber — a nutrient known to help promote feelings of fullness,” she explains. Also, you don’t consume a ton of calories, even if you eat a lot of popcorn, which can go a long way in taming hunger. If you have a choice of chips or popcorn, always go for the popcorn, especially if it comes in handy, snack-size portions.
While you may equate prunes with old people (or people with constipation), Erin Palinski-Wade, a registered dietitian, says they make an excellent on-the-go snack. “When I am craving a sweet on the road, one serving of prunes satisfies my cravings with 3 grams of fiber,” she tells SheKnows. She also points out they have a low glycemic index, which helps provide energy throughout the day, and it can also help prevent bone loss. Score!
Dr. Niket Sonpal, a physician and associate program director of the internal medicine residency at Brookdale Hospital Medical Center in Brooklyn and assistant professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, says bananas may be one of the best foods for energy. “They are an excellent source of carbohydrates, potassium and vitamin B6, all of which can help boost energy levels in your body,” he tells SheKnows.
Homemade trail mix
Elizabeth Hartley, a registered dietitian and nutrition tutor with Varsity Tutors, says homemade trail mix offers protein and fiber to help keep you satisfied while avoiding some of the high-sugar ingredients in some store-bought mixes. “I like to mix almonds, walnuts or peanuts with dried fruits like raisins, apricots, cranberries or dates,” she tells SheKnows.
Hartley also says whole-grain crackers are a smart choice too, as they provide that satisfying crunch with a bit of saltiness without the high fat content of other snacks, like chips.
Snack-size bags of cereal
This may sound odd, but Michelle Hyman, a registered dietitian, wants you to hear her out here. “Cereal doesn’t just have to be for breakfast!” she tells SheKnows. “My golden rule for choosing a healthy cereal is no more than 6 grams of sugar per serving and at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving.”
She suggests buying a big box and packing small snack-size bags to take along for you or your family. “If you decide not to eat them on the plane, mix it into some yogurt at the hotel breakfast, and you’ve got a filling meal,” she says.
There are tons of different brands of fruit bars out there, and a lot of them aren’t exactly what most people would call healthy. Hyman says she likes the That’s It brand of fruit bars because each one contains the equivalent of two servings of fruit and they have no added sugar. “It’s a great option for when fresh fruit isn’t available,” she says. “I pack multiple bars in my purse/suitcase, not only for the plane ride, but also for the rest of the trip.”
These snacks need a cooler
Palinski-Wade likes to carry portable protein options when traveling to help keep her satisfied in between meals. “I usually keep Babybel cheese in an insulated cooler bag since they are individually wrapped and contain 5 grams of filling protein per serving,” she explains.
Sonpal suggests yogurt as a travel snack because it’s a great source of high-quality protein to fill you up and provide basic energy for the brain. “The best part about this food is it pairs well with pretty much everything,” he says. “Add some granola, nuts or fruit to amp up its flavor. It’s easy to take with you and the good bacteria in it also help your gut stay healthy.”
Healthy snacks are always the right choice
Yes, it’s easy (far too easy, really) to just grab a bag of whatever or hit up the nearest basket of greasy fries to stave off hunger, but with a little careful planning, you’ll not only be able to last until your next meal, but you’ll be healthier for it too — even when you’re on the go.