It not easy to prepare food in advance for a long journey. It would be much easier just to rely on the restaurants and services on the way but - as I wrote last time- it is not the healthy way. On a long drive we spend our time mainly sitting in the car. Which mean that we need food what easy to digest and help us concentrate on driving.
Especially for small children we need to prepare snack and drink even for a shorter journey. We drove about 23 hours to our holiday destination -yes, I know we are crazy. Both girls of mine are very good travellers, and my opinion and experience that the earliest you start travel with the kids the most natural this become to them.
When we are in hurry and we would like to reach our destination as soon as possible we are prone to drink less in order to avoid numerous stops at toilets. On top of this adults are prone to drink more coffee just to keep them awake on the journey. This is not right as can result in dehydration and lower concentration. We need to drink enough fluid even on the motorway, short - 10 minutes - breaks in every two hours are needed anyway. The best drink again water. Fizzy drinks, squash or energy drinks just give us unnecessary calories and sugar. We usually buy mineral water for the journey and I found that smaller 0.5 litres bottles work better, as they are handy, we do not need cup, we sip more from a smaller bottle and easy to slip them into your bag too. But you can make your own low-calorie flavoured water or herbal tea. Some ideas here.
I know that the most comfortable way to plan a stop at a good restaurant. Unfortunately good restaurants are very rare along the European motorways. Preparing food for a whole day - especially with small kids - is a bit challenging but not impossible. However, a cool box definitely needed. The easiest part is food for the baby as she drinks only breast/formula milk or we can buy a nice Ella's kitchen meal for the journey. Okay, it is not home made but I can make a compromise as they are really good quality and tasty meals. My toddler daughter is a bit more difficult as she does not like sandwiches for some reason but loves snacking. So usually I just prepare kind of tapas feast for her from healthy snacks: cheese, bread sticks, wholemeal mini pitta, ham, grapes, apple, cucumber, carrot sticks. We had this time whole meal pitta bread filled with lamb meatballs with tomato relish and as side mixed raw vegetables as celery, carrot and cucumber sticks, radishes and pepper.
Snacks are very important on the journey. Especially if we do not have the chance to have a warm meal for lunch or dinner. The best snacks:
- Breadsticks with cream cheese or homous
- Apple with unsalted almonds
- Wholemeal tortilla wraps with peanut butter
- Unsalted roasted nut mix - walnut, almond, cashew
- Fruit smoothies - home made or Innocent smoothies or drinks
- Mini whole meal bread or pitta with boiled eggs
- Dried fruits - mixed raisins, prunes, apricots, cherries, cranberries
- Alpro soya desserts - my favourite is the dark chocolate
- Natural live yoghurt or yoghurt drinks (strictly in cool box)
- High fibre, low sugar cereals or granola
- Rice cakes
- Fresh fruit - apple, pear, banana, grapes, mandarin
Obviously it is important that these snacks need to be simple and less messy. Most of them can be eaten without stopping and without extra equipment. But it is good if we have plastic cups, a knife, some straws (for the kids) kitchen towels (wet wipes) and empty plastic bags (for washed fruits, litter and leftovers).
One more really useful advice: if you have to drive at night avoid eating at night time. Have your meals in the usual time and stop eating when you normally would go to bed otherwise you just confuse your body completely and you feel even more exhausted after the long drive.
Have a nice journey!