Real Food Road Trip – Healthy Meals and Snacks in the Car and on Vacation

posted in: Family Life | 0

We’ve just returned from another vacation and I always love sharing with you all my favorite vacation eats! It’s sometimes easy to forgo healthy eating when you’re away from home, but I love this opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and figure out how to stay healthy on vacation. Today I’m going to share our car snacks, our favorite road trip restaurant meals, and a few treats! I am all about #treatyoself on vacation and it is totally possible to balance a few treats with mostly healthy choices instead of falling off the deep end and feeling like 💩 when your vacation ends. So, let’s hit the road!

Healthy Car Snacks

A road trip just isn’t a road trip without snacks, amiright? On this particular trip, we drove from our home in Indiana allllll the way down to St. Petersburg, Florida. Now, for two adults, this trip should have taken about 13 hours. For two adults traveling with a preschooler and an infant, it was more like 15 hours, so we came prepared with lots and lots of snacks! I even shared my favorite healthy car snacks for kids in my latest POPSUGAR article.

I like to bring a mix of fresh foods that travel well and some non-perishable items. We keep a cooler in the backseat between the two car seats and a snack bag on the floor so everything is easy to reach. I also froze water in a few of our Nalgene bottles the night before we left so they could double as ice packs. Here is a rundown of all the yummy snacks we brought along with us:

This might seem like overkill, but I knew that anything we didn’t finish we could just eat while we were on vacation.

We purchased most of these items at Whole Foods, but I provided Amazon links for reference/easy ordering!
A Healthy Protein Bar You Can Make at Home!
We brought plenty of Kevin’s K-Bars for quick and yummy protein!

Finding Healthy Road Trip Restaurants

There was a time when finding a place to grab a quick bite to eat while on the road was easy; there is fast food on pretty much every highway exit and I wasn’t too picky about where my burger and fries came from. Now, it’s been over six years since I’ve eaten fast food because, let’s face it, I don’t even consider most of that stuff food anymore. I’m not saying I eat perfect all the time, but there are some things I just won’t go back to. This makes finding a healthy restaurant option a little tougher, but we always make it work.

We’ve made this trip to Florida many times and we know we will hit a large-ish city around lunch and dinner time. Before we get too hungry, I hop on Zomato or Yelp and start searching restaurants at our upcoming lunch stop. For this trip, that was Chattanooga, TN. We wanted something quick so we could get back on the road, so as soon as I saw a Panera we settled on that. I love that Panera is making an effort to use quality ingredients and Avery loves the grilled cheese. 😉

I had a Chinese Citrus Cashew Salad with Chicken. One of my favorites!

We actually stopped in Chattanooga for dinner on the way home so I was back on Zomato looking for a good place to stop. We had been in the car for 10 or we hours at that point, so we wanted a sit down restaurant where we could be out of the car for a bit. We settled on a small chain restaurant called Tupelo Honey Cafe. We had eaten there before while in South Carolina and loved it! I had the Steak and Eggs and it was sooooo good. I will definitely return to Tupelo Honey in any city we find them in!

Healthy Vacation Meals

We stayed in an Airbnb, which is something I always recommend to my friends and nutrition clients. Finding an Airbnb or a hotel with a full kitchen (or at least fridge and microwave) will make it much easier to stick to your healthy eating plan while on vacation. Because I knew we would have a full kitchen, I planned our meals ahead of time and Kevin went to the grocery store on the first morning after we arrived in Florida. I knew we would all be hungry and not wanting to wait till after the grocery trip to eat, so I bought these FIT Meals To Go from Whole Foods and froze them before we left home. They were nothing too exciting, but it was quick and easy!

Sweet potato, eggs, and sausage.


Avery seemed excited about it!

Have a Cookout

Grilling out and having a picnic is a great way to eat healthy on vacation! We didn’t have a grill at our house, so we headed to an awesome state park in St. Petersburg called Fort De Soto. We roamed the grounds and checked out the fort and then found a picnic pavilion with a grill and got to work.

We kept things simple by seasoning and making the burger patties ahead of time. We also made a salad and bought a package of mixed fruit to have on the side. Don’t forget the charcoal, plates, utensils and a lighter!

After dinner, we headed to the beach in our matching homemade tie-dye t-shirts (seriously, best husband ever for going along with my plan) and took some family photos. It was such a gorgeous evening and the pictures came out great! We actually took them on a dog beach and Avery was able to run around and watch a few dogs play in the water. He was in love!

Easy Vacation Breakfasts

Just like at home, I am all about big meals with lots of leftovers even on vacation. After the kids when to bed on the first night, Kevin and I cooked up some ground turkey, sweet potatoes, and white potatoes to make breakfast salads the following morning. Funny story; I forgot to pack olive oil, so my resourceful husband thought to cook a couple slices of bacon so we’d have a bit of cooking grease for the turkey and potatoes. He’s a regular culinary MacGyver.

For the next two mornings, we had salad greens with potatoes, turkey, eggs, and balsamic dressing on top. Delicious! We kept it super simple after that and made bacon and egg sandwiches.


Quick and Easy Vacation Lunch

Yes, I put trail mix on top of my salad. It was good!

On vacation, we stick with no-cook lunches like salads and sandwiches. We stocked up on veggies, deli meat, salad greens, cheese, and nuts at the grocery store to throw together quick salads. Avery isn’t a salad fan so he had toasted turkey and cheese sandwiches every day.

Healthy Beach Snacks

Norrin is always snacking. 🙂

All that running on the beach can make you pretty hungry! We only spent a few hours at the beach each day before heading home for lunch so we didn’t bring much, but each day at the beach we packed a cooler with the following:

This was plenty to hold us over until we got back to the house for lunch.


Healthy Eats (and a few treats) at Walt Disney World

If you know me at all, you know I am a Disney fanatic (we even announced my last pregnancy at Disney)! I grew up in Florida and have taken many trips to Mickey’s home. Kevin worked at Disney in college so we are now a Disney family and we can all be Disney nerds together!

While planning our trip, I realized we were only 90 minutes from Disney World so we decided to do a quick overnight trip to the Magic Kingdom smack dab in the middle of our beach vacation.

We drove up and stayed on property the night before our visit and spent some time at Disney Springs shopping and eating. We got up bright and early then next morning to maximize our time at Magic Kingdom and had a perfect day!

Healthy Snacks at Walt Disney World

You might really be surprised at all of the healthy options you can find at Disney World. Even better, they allow you to bring in your own snacks and drinks and even small coolers. We packed the following for our big day at the park:

I don’t do the teacups, so I snacked on some jerky while I waited.

We found great snacks available for purchase at the Starbucks on Main Street, including fresh fruit and hard boiled eggs.

Many of the carts throughout the park have fresh fruit, veggie sticks, and, of course, the famous turkey legs at the cart in Frontierland. They are definitely big enough to share!

A few healthy options at Starbucks.

Disney Treats

Disney just isn’t Disney without a few treats! Disney Springs has undergone some major renovations and they now have a Sprinkles Cupcakes (you know, the place with the cupcake ATM). I knew I wanted to try it for myself, so I kept it light-ish for dinner with a lettuce-wrapped burger from the (also new) D-luxe Burger. I had a Cupcake Sundae from Sprinkles, which is a cupcake cut in half with a scoop of ice cream in the middle. Yeah, that happened!

This was the most legit lettuce bun I’ve ever had!
Cookie cupcake with Cap’n Crunch ice cream in the middle. #worthit

The next morning, we headed over to Magic Kingdom at 7:00am to pack as much fun as possible into our one day at the park. Being able to get in that early, I knew we could knock out a few big rides before our breakfast reservation at Chef Mickey’s. Usually, Starbucks is our first stop once we hit Main Street, but there was no time to waste! We planned ahead and brought in some canned cold brew. I enjoyed mine while Kevin took Avery on the Seven Dwarves Mine Train. Luckily he loved it so he was able to hop right back on with me!

Coffee with a view.
My roller coaster lovin’ baby!

We snuck in a ride on Peter Pan before the lines got long and then headed to breakfast. There is one Disney food item that I simply cannot miss and that is Mickey Shaped Waffles. I have no idea why they are so amazing, but they just are! I loaded my plate up with mostly healthy options, but I had to save a little room for those Waffles. So good!

Even better than the waffles was seeing Avery’s and Norrin’s reactions to meeting their favorite characters. This was Norrin’s first time meeting Mickey and it was love at first sight. 🙂  A good tip: If you only have one day at the parks, schedule a character meal so you can meet your favorites without having to spend time waiting in line. It worked wonderfully for us!

Your Turn!

I would love to hear about your favorite healthy vacation foods…and your favorite Disney treats!!! Let me know in the comments!

Leave a Reply