Summer is coming, along with summer vacations and travel. Traveling with kids is challenging whether you’re going for a day trip or a week-long vacation, and one of the major issues is what to feed the little ones while on the road. Here are six great tips for keeping your kids fed when you’re away from home.
Use Your Travel Cooler
This is an important tool to have in your arsenal. Choose a small personal-sized cooler if you have one or two children, but if you have three or more go for a full-sized cooler. Skip the loose ice cubes and keep your cooler cold and mess-free with commercial ice packs or frozen water bottles. You can keep dairy snacks and filled baby bottles cool all day, and chill fruits, veggies and dip for maximum enjoyment in the summer heat. For added cooling power, freeze juice boxes the night before your trip. They will melt slowly and help keep your cooler cold to boot.
Bring Your Gear
If you have infants or toddlers, you probably have special feeding gear that you always use at home. Instead of packing up everything from home, consider buying duplicates of favorite bowls, cups, and utensils for traveling. Other travel-friendly gear you may not have include spill-free snack cups you can use to serve dry cereal, chips, small berries, and other snacks to kids while in their car seats, and spill-proof cups. If you have older babies and toddlers, look for cups with straws as these are easier to drink from when your kids are held in a reclining position in a car seat.
Prepare Grab-and-Go Snack Bags
Before you hit the road, portion out snacks into snack-sized baggies and throw them in your cooler or travel bag. This makes it easy to pull out a single portion and hand it to your hungry child in a cramped car. Some favorite snack ideas include dry cereal, berries, apple slices, fresh or steamed broccoli, cauliflower or carrots, popcorn and cheese (either cubed or of the string cheese variety). Another favorite of babies and toddlers alike are food pouches. You can buy them from the store or prepare your own using refillable pouches, making it easy to serve your kids their fruits and veggies while on the road.
Portion Out Drinks
While you are preparing your snack bags, think about preparing portioned drinks as well. You can buy commercial juice boxes but if you prepare your own travel-sized drinks, you can pack all of your kids’ favorites. Try fruit smoothies, flavored waters, and good old milk in addition to juices and electrolyte drinks to help combat the travelers’ diarrhea that kids often come down with when away from their usual eating routine. Portion your drinks of choice into disposable sippy cups to help contain the mess, and store them in your cooler to keep drinks cold.
Travel Meals for Picky Eaters
If you are going to be on the road for a couple of days and one of your kids is going through a picky phase, you may want to bring along some of the foods that they are currently eating in case the roadside restaurants and relatives do not have hot dogs, veggie pouches or whatever your child’s current obsession is. To prevent food poisoning, it’s best to avoid meats and food containing eggs. Some good portable meals include cooked tortellini with sauce, cheese quesadillas, and potato salad prepared with vegan mayonnaise like Just Mayo from Hampton Creek.
Brr – The Cold Stuff
If you have the room, it is fun to bring some frozen treats for snacks and desserts. You can bring commercial popsicles as there are lots of healthy choices available with no added sugar. Or you can bring your own homemade popsicles, allowing you to choose the recipe yourself. Frozen yogurt and fruit pops are a great ice cream alternative, and they are less messy if they happen to melt while you’re traveling. Bring along some frozen electrolyte drinks to help combat the above-mentioned traveler’s diarrhea, and don’t forget to pop a few teething rings in the cooler for kids who are still sprouting teeth.
These are just a few ideas on how to keep your little ones fed and healthy while on the road. With a little planning and preparation, you can spend your vacation enjoying time with your family rather than worrying about how you will feed them.