Hungry kids on a long car ride can quickly become unpleasant. Hunger leads to restlessness, bad moods, and fighting, each of which could become a dangerous distraction on the road. Instead of relying on petrol stations or fast food options to keep your kids happy, prepare snacks in advance and keep them in an esky. That way, you won't have to stop every hour or depend on the limited convenience stores and restaurants that you’re likely to encounter on the road. The following are fun and inexpensive snack ideas that will keep your kids happy and healthy on your next road trip.
This is a play on those store-bought candy necklaces that we all enjoyed as kids, however, these are easy to make at home. All you need is string and several snacks that have loops or holes that you can slip on to the necklace. Some good snacks to start with are pretzels or breakfast cereals. The sky is really the limit, as long as you can put it on a necklace. These are fun for kids in the car because they can have a wide variety of snacks to choose from and don't have to rely on their parents for help. Throw in a couple of surprise treats to make things fun. Make sure to buy extra when you are making the necklaces because you’ll probably end up popping a few in your mouth while you make them. Also, avoid giving these to younger children, as the string itself could potentially become a choking hazard.
Given the fact that they are (relatively) nutritious, full of fibre, and great at filling up little stomachs, granola bars are perfect snack foods for kids. But why buy something loaded with sugar and preservatives from the supermarket when you can make your own granola bars yourself? One of the best parts about these snacks is that they can be made from food that is probably already in your home. Look through your kitchen and gather things that might taste good together, such as cereal, nuts, oats, dried fruit, and granola (if you want to use chocolate, save it for the end so that it doesn’t melt). Have your kids figure out the combos they want and put them all together in separate bowls. Now it’s time to make the “glue.” Mix one part honey, one part brown sugar, and one half part butter. Bring it to a foaming boil and lower the heat for several minutes. Pour the glue into the bowl, stir, and once it’s cooled enough not to burn your skin, craft the bars into fun shapes. Let them cool for several hours after that, and then wrap them in wax paper for the road.
These are also snacks that you can buy at the store, but are much more fun to make with your family. There are several ingredients you can choose from, depending on what type of fruits your kids prefer. One unique flavour is blueberry lemonade. Mix about 3 cups of thawed blueberries, 45 mL of lemon juice, and 45 mL of sugar. Use parchment or wax-paper to cover a baking sheet and heat the oven to 93 °C. Heat the ingredients and stir until the sugar has dissolved, then mix it in a food processor to smooth it out. Place the mixture on baking sheet and cook for 3–5 hours. When it’s done, it will be sticky to the touch but not enough to pull off on your finger.
Since your kids will be sitting in the car for a long time anyway, why not help them get into the spirit of the road trip? All you will need are apples, fresh grapes, and toothpicks (broken in half). Slice the apple into wedges and for each wedge cut 4 grape halves. Push the toothpick through the apple slices and place the grape halves on the toothpicks, sliced side out. Do it again on the other end, so that the apple looks like the body of a car with grapes for the wheels. These can easily be placed in small bags and refrigerated the night before you leave. Other variations of car shaped foods include pears with cucumber wheels, banana wheels, or cheese wheels. Again, be careful when giving these to younger children, as the toothpicks could present a choking hazard.
Sandwiches are a go-to for many kids on road trips. However, there is a way to make them more fun to eat. Try turning regular sandwiches into “sushi” rolls. This can be done with vegemite, peanut butter, jam, or any number of other ingredients. Just take two slices of bread and remove all the crust, then use a rolling pin to roll the bread flat. Spread your ingredients onto the bread and roll each slice into a spiral. Finally, cut the spiral-log into separate pieces. Pack them up with the rest of your food, and surprise your children with them once you’re on the road.