Years of taking road trips with my teen daughter, Em, has taught me that in order to travel well we need to eat well. Driving from Michigan to California or Michigan to Florida happens at least once a year. Additionally, there are a number of other road trips that take us around the state or out of the state. At a minimum, we take five road trips a year together. In 2014 we have been on road trips to California, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, Missouri and Kentucky. Needless to say we spend a lot of time on the road and have come up with a few tips for eating healthy on road trips.

Before leaving home we pack a small cooler and tote bag with fresh foods and bottled water. I also make sure to pack paper plates, napkins, silverware, a small pairing knife and a few plastic grocery bags for garbage. Fruits, veggies, cheese, trail mix, peanut butter and crackers are all made road trip-ready and packed into small containers. I also make up a couple quinoa salads that are usually eaten the first day on the road.
Our road trips can last anywhere from three days to three weeks so being able to easily replace food along our route is important. Due to Em’s dietary restrictions (basically she eats a gluten free vegan diet) fast food isn’t usually an option. ┬áHaving access to fresh, healthy foods is important, plus it keeps us from feeling lethargic while traveling.

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Of course, finding fresh foods while driving along the interstate can be challenging. Grocery stores are sometimes located along the interstate, but are often times a hassle to get to and can take a fair amount of time. Surprisingly, I recently discovered that Flying J has stepped up its game and is offering a wide variety of fresh food and beverage choices. Color me happy!

I’m always happy to visit a Flying J, they are, as a rule, clean, well lit, and staffed with friendly people and are usually found along my routes. No more searching out a grocery store when we are ready for lunch. I can stop at a Flying J, pick up fruit and other snacks, refill my coffee mug and be back on my way.

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Speaking of coffee, Flying J offers high quality coffee with quite a few options to customize it exactly how you like. Plain cream, specialty creamers, mochas, lattes, and more are all available. If you aren’t a coffee drinker, don’t worry. The coffee station also offers a nice selection of teas and hot cocoa. I recommend giving the Pomegranate White Tea a try.

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At a recent visit to a Flying J I found a nice selection of gluten-free, vegetarian options in the cold case including grapes, cantaloupe, ready-to-eat hard boiled eggs, cheese sticks, freshly made salads and yogurt.

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The store aisles offered additional items that help us eat better. I found granola bars, Cheerios, oatmeal, fruit, nuts, and tuna kits. I can easily create breakfast and/or lunch out of the items offered at Flying J. There was also a basket of bananas and apples near the checkout.

In addition to the ready made foods (salads and sandwiches) here are a few snack and meal ideas I put together from the available items:

  • Yogurt and granola. I crush up a Nature Valley granola bar and add it to the yogurt or I add peanuts.
  • Banana and peanut butter — one of our favorite treats.
  • Cheerios with banana on top.
  • Oatmeal and fruit.
  • Tuna and cheese on wheat crackers.
  • A picnic lunch of hard boiled eggs, fruit, nuts, cheese, and crackers.

I’m thrilled to know that when I stop at a Flying J I will be able to find items that both Em and I can eat. What are your favorite road trip foods?