Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Guest Post: Food tips for family car trips.

What do you feed your kids in the car?  In our car, with horribly carsick L, the answer is, normally, nothing.  But sometimes that's just not an option. Even for us.  

So how to manage?

Over to my guest, Jeremy Chapman, brought to you by Sainsbury's:

Providing the right food for the different members of your family on a car journey is a real challenge. But it is a challenge worth taking, because a few well-fed tummies can mean smiling faces and contented passengers.

How much food to pack?

No one likes waste, but it is always a good idea to have more food than you should need. Don’t go overboard on perishable goods. Instead, stock up on anything that you can still use once you get to your destination.

What sort of food should you bring?

It is a good idea to avoid sweets, chocolates and fizzy drinks, as a car full of excitable children is very distracting for the driver. A few sweet treats are fine, of course, but try not to go overboard with the sugar.

Try to bring healthy snacks that will keep your children full and help to maintain their normal, varied diet. Fruit is always a great option – you could take bananas, grapes and apples, which tend not to make too much mess.

For food that you can keep beyond your car journey, think dried fruit and cereal bars. These are healthy snacks that children often enjoy. If they aren’t eaten, you can easily put them back in the cupboard when you get home, ready for the next car trip.

Where should you eat?

If possible, it is a good idea to stop and get everyone out into the fresh air. It’s worth having a look at your route before you set off to try to find suitable places to stop on the way. Sometimes you can even find picnic areas at service stations.

If you go off the beaten track you can often find even more interesting places to stop. The Via Michelin site is an excellent tool for this. You can map out a route and select the ‘green guide’, which will point out interesting historical sites along your journey. The chances are you will find a suitable place to have a picnic nearby.

If you have to eat in the car, make sure you are organised with your food. A cool box or two will keep everything fresh, and it also means that all the food is stored in one place. Bring a few plastic bags with you for the rubbish – you will be amazed how much can be generated in a few minutes when a family eats in the car!

Be prepared

Before setting off on any journey it’s always worth asking yourself a few final questions: have you packed everything you’ll need when you arrive at your destination? Have you got enough activities to keep the kids entertained on the road? Do you have the right car insurance policy in case something goes wrong? Answer yes to all these questions, and you should be ready for anything.


Jeremy Chapman writes for the Sainsbury’s Money Matters blog on all manner of subjects from animal advice to car insurance. When he’s not working, you’ll probably find him hunched over the wheel of a very muddy stock car!

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