Healthy Road Trip Snacks Non Refrigerated Ideas for Athletes

Healthy Road Trip Snacks: Non-Refrigerated Ideas for Athletes

Healthy Road Trip Snacks: Non-Refrigerated Ideas for Athletes

Healthy Road Trip Snacks: Non-Refrigerated Ideas for Athletes

It can be helpful when athletes are preparing for a road trip to know the healthiest, non-refrigerated snacks to pack for the car.

Let’s take a look at considerations athletes should make when planning snacks for travel. We will then explore the healthy, non-refrigerated snacks that athletes can pack for their next road trip.

Planning Healthy Road Trip Snacks

When considering what snacks to pack for your road trip, it is important to keep both your sports nutrition needs and food safety in mind.

Planning Road Trip Snacks Non Refrigerated

Healthy Road Trip Snacks: Sports Nutrition

When it comes to sports nutrition, choosing snacks that provide a good source of carbohydrates to eat prior to a practice or competition is important. Carbohydrates provide athletes with the energy needed to perform at their best.

Following a workout or game, athletes should choose a snack with carbohydrates to refill their energy stores, as well as protein to build and repair lean muscle mass. 

Rehydrating with fluid and electrolytes following activity is also important to help athletes replace sweat losses.

Sports Nutrition Tips for Road Trip Snacks

Healthy Road Trip Snacks: Mini-Meals

When planning for snacks outside of pre- and post-workout, I encourage athletes to view snacks as “mini-meals. Well-planned, balanced snacks can be an important way to help athletes meet their overall sports nutrition needs.

Athletes can build “mini-meals” by consuming snacks that contain a lean source of protein along with food from at least one other food group. 

Example “mini-meal” snacks for the car include:

  • Nut butter with mini bagel
  • Jerky with pretzels
  • Almonds with apple slices
  • Trail mix containing dried fruit, nuts, seeds, pretzels and cereal

Healthy Road Trip Snacks: Food Safety

When it comes to food safety, holding food at the correct temperature is important.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines the temperature range between 40°F and 140°F, as the “Danger Zone” in which bacteria can rapidly grow.  

Perishable foods should not be left in the temperature danger zone for more than 2 hours. This time frame decreases to 1 hour if the temperature exceeds 90 °F, such as in a hot, parked car. 

Consuming food that has been left in the temperature danger zone over the recommended time limits increases one’s risk of getting a foodborne illness.

Temperature Danger Zone

Food Safety: Foods to Hold Cold

Perishable food items that need to be held cold (below 40°F) include:

  • Dairy: Milk, yogurt, cheese
  • Meat, poultry, seafood, deli meat, hard-boiled eggs
  • Mayonnaise or products containing mayonnaise (tuna, chicken, or egg salad)
  • Fruits or vegetables that have been cut or sliced (i.e., sliced melon)
  • Cooked leftover food items (including leftover food from restaurants)

If food is left out over the two-hour limit, throw it away, as you do not want to risk getting a foodborne illness.

Healthy Road Trip Snacks: Non-Refrigerated Ideas for Athletes

If you do not have the means to store food cold on a road trip, it is important to plan for snacks that do not require refrigeration.

Let’s take a look at a variety of healthy, non-refrigerated road trip snacks that athletes can pack for their next trip.

Healthy Road Trip Snacks Non Refrigerated

Fresh and Dried Fruit

Whole, fresh fruit is a healthy, non-refrigerated snack option to bring on a road trip. Fruit is a nutritious choice for athletes, providing carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

When planning for your trip, purchase a variety of fresh fruit to take with you in the car, including:

  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Peaches

As a food safety reminder, once fruit is sliced, cut, or peeled, it should be stored cold.

Dried Fruit

In addition to fresh fruit, dried fruit is a healthy, non-refrigerated road trip snack option. 

Dried fruit is a rich source of carbohydrates as well as fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (1).

Prior to your road trip, pack a variety of dried fruits to enjoy. Consider trying the following dried fruit options:

  • Raisins
  • Cranberries
  • Dates
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Papaya
  • Cherries
  • Berries
  • Apple slices
  • Apricots

Jerky: Easy Non-Refrigerated Road Trip Snack

Beef or turkey jerky is an easy, non-refrigerated road trip snack that provides a good source of protein. On average, 1-oz of beef or turkey jerky contains 10-12 grams of protein (23). 

Jerky has the added benefit of being mess-free, making it a great snack for the car.

Nuts: Healthy, Non-Refrigerated Road Trip Snack Option

Nuts are a healthy, non-refrigerated snack that athletes can take on a road trip. They are a nutrient-dense snack, containing protein, fiber, unsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (1), making them a great choice for athletes.

Choose a variety of nuts to enjoy in the car, such as:

  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Pecans
  • Cashews
  • Pistachios
  • Brazil nuts
  • Macadamia nuts

Consider making your own mixed nut blend before the trip and packing it into individual snack size bags to take with you in the car.

Nuts Nutrient Dense Snack

Nut Butter

Nut butters are also a good option for a road trip. It can be used to make a quick meal or snack on the go. 

Nut butters contain healthy fats and protein. In general, a 2-tablespoon serving of nut butter providing approximately 7 grams of protein (4). When selecting a nut butter, choose a product with limited added ingredients.

For added convenience on a road trip, consider purchasing nut butter in individual serving size containers or squeeze pouches. Justin’s® has a variety of nut butters available in 1.15 oz squeeze packs that are perfect for travel.

Athletes with nut allergies can consider trying SunButter® products, which are made with sunflower seeds and are nut allergen free. Sunbutter® also makes individual 1.1 oz packs that are perfect for road trips.

Nut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

A nut butter and jelly sandwich is a great, non-refrigerated option for a road trip. It can be enjoyed as a healthy snack, following a game to help meet your recovery nutrition needs, or as part of an easy dinner in the car.

You can make your sandwich prior to the trip or pack bread, nut butter, and packets of jelly to prepare on the road. My personal favorite is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made on honey wheat bread.

Nut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

Bagels: High-Carbohydrate, Non-Refrigerated Road Trip Snack

Bagels are an easy high-carbohydrate snack option that athletes can pack to take on a road trip. Enjoying a bagel with your pre-game snack can help provide your body with energy for the upcoming activity.

Following a competition, top your bagel with nut butter as a post-game snack to enjoy before your next meal.

I find mini-bagels are also a convenient option to pack for the car, as they are the perfect size for a small snack on the road.

Dry Breakfast Cereal

When considering non-refrigerated snack options for the road trip, don’t forget about dry breakfast cereal.

Dry breakfast cereal is an easy, high-carbohydrate snack option that is perfect for the car. When choosing a breakfast cereal, select one made with whole grains for a higher fiber snack option.

Prior to the road trip, pack individual serving size bags of breakfast cereal so you can easily enjoy this snack in the car. 

Some of my favorite whole grain breakfast cereals to enjoy as a dry snack in the car include:

Pretzels, Pita Chips, and Snack Crackers

Snack items such as pretzels, pita chips, and snack crackers are great carbohydrate-based snacks for athletes to enjoy in the car.

In addition to carbohydrates, the snacks contain sodium. Consuming salty snacks can help athletes with replacing sodium sweat losses. Sodium also stimulates thirst, thus encouraging athletes to drink fluid and meet their hydration goals.

Animal crackers and graham crackers are also good carbohydrate-based snack options for your road trip. Try enjoying your graham crackers topped with peanut butter for a tasty treat in the car.

Granola Bars, Breakfast Bars, and Fig Bars

Packing your favorite bars to take with you on a road trip is an easy, non-refrigerated snack option. Choose carbohydrate-rich bars that are made with whole grains and contain limited added ingredients. 

Some great options include:

As a reminder, when selecting a bar for your road trip, bars containing chocolate may melt and make a mess in a hot car.

Trail Mix: Simple, Healthy Non-Refrigerated Road Trip Snack

Another simple, non-refrigerated snack option for a road trip is trail mix made with a variety of nuts and dried fruits. pretzels, and snack crackers.

You can purchase trail mix at the store or meal prep your own by combining your favorite nuts, seeds, dried fruit, pretzels, and dry breakfast cereal.

Athletes with nut allergies can prepare their own trail mix for the road trip using a variety of seeds in place of nuts.

Make Your Own Trail Mix: Healthy Non Refigerated Road Trip Snack

Ready to Pack Your Healthy, Non-Refrigerated Road Trip Snacks!

You are now set with a variety of ideas for non-refrigerated snacks to pack for your next road trip. Remember to take time to plan ahead so you have the right snacks available to support your sports nutrition needs.

For additional sports nutrition travel tips, check out my blog on the best gas station drinks for athletes.

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About the Author

Mandy Tyler is a Sports Dietitian Nutritionist in the San Antonio, TX area. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, a Licensed Athletic Trainer, and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine.  Mandy has experience working with athletes at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. She believes the key to reaching one’s full potential, both in everyday life and in sports performance, relies on a healthy nutritional foundation. 

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