Spring is a time to be on the go! Whether you’re hiking, packing a picnic or traveling abroad, don’t get stranded at snack time!
By Zara Abbasi, Photography by Katie Childs
Is it spring break yet? Please, can it be spring break already? Is it just me or are other parents desperate for a break and a getaway, too? I, for one, AM READY! I need warmer weather, greenery and some time away from the same old routine and chaotic schedule. I need some good, old-fashioned family time and that always means good food, too. And, if you need to know one thing about me, it's that I absolutely love to travel! Our kids’ passports are full of stamps and we started traveling with the kiddos when they were as little as a couple of months old. We are fearless when it comes to traveling domestically or internationally with our kids.
The trick is to plan but not over-plan. You obviously want to know what you’re doing, but you have to be able to wing it, too. One thing that has always helped us with our sanity is to pack a few snacks and meals for the trip. Whether it’s packing food for a road trip, a quick hike, or for a plane ride, I love bringing fun things to keep us not only satiated, but entertained, too. Bonus, it must taste good!
Having to stop several times while on a road trip can become costly. The same goes for airport food. Thinking and planning ahead can not only save you extra money, but your sanity too. Have you ever had to look for a snack for your screaming kid while at an airport, but you’re already in line to preboard so you just stare off into an abyss while your kid screams? Yeah, me neither.
However you plan to travel, one thing that needs to be addressed before moving on to food ideas and recipes is proper food storage and temperature. If flying, you always want to make sure you abide by TSA guidelines when packing food. Make sure your containers do not contain liquids and are not over the size required by the TSA. Secondly, and obviously, you don’t want to pack any containers that leak or are difficult for your kids to access. And, you want these containers to be conducive to what you’re packing inside.
Next, you definitely want to consider how long you will be traveling and at what temperature to store your food. You don’t want to pack unrefrigerated meats and dairy for too long. Those are not easy to reheat and keep safe on the go unless you have a short drive or can assure that they will be kept cool properly. For those reasons, it’s best to pack food that is stable at room temperature. You want this food to be stress- and mess-free and the less handling you have to do with it, the better.
You can always do the tried-and-true snacks and meals if you’re running low on time and creativity. Some easy-to-pack snacks are: fruit kabobs; granola bars; PB&J sandwiches; applesauce pouches; veggie sticks; and cheese crackers. Now on to some additional recipes and ideas if you want to change it up for a trip or two!
I love pinwheels not only because they’re cute and bite-sized, but also because they’re so versatile! You can make a variety of things depending on your destination. If you’re just going out for a hike or to the park, these can easily pack a ton of protein via lean meats and veggies, too. They are ridiculously simple to make. Just figure out your travel time and the info listed above regarding temperature and dive in. I’ve provided a few varieties too.
Tortillas (can also use spinach tortillas)
Spread of your choice. Examples include: cream cheese; peanut butter; Nutella;
hummus; tapenade; whipped feta; mashed avocado; pesto; pasta sauce;
or herbed ricotta.
Fillings. Examples include: thinly sliced apples; spinach leaves; thinly sliced lean
meats; berries and bananas; grilled chicken; dried cranberries; sun-dried
tomatoes; pepperoni; thinly sliced vegetables; roasted peppers; shredded cheese;
or roasted mushrooms.
1. Spread one of the above selections on a tortilla.
2. Fill tortilla with any number of matching fillings and roll tightly.
3. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least a few hours to overnight.
4. Unwrap and slice into 1-inch pinwheels. Store in Ziplok bag or storage container.ither a food processor or hand-crush in a large Ziploc bag.
My Favorite Combinations
Whipped feta with olives, roasted peppers and grilled chicken
Herb cream cheese with turkey, spinach, shredded mozzarella and cranberries
Nutella with fresh berries
Peanut butter with sliced bananas and honey
Mashed avocado with turkey, veggies and shredded cheese
Pesto, grilled chicken, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach
Cinnamon cream cheese and thinly sliced apples or pears
Herb ricotta with thyme-roasted mushrooms
Pasta sauce, mozzarella and pepperoni
Seasoned Crackers Crackers
Other than pinwheels, I love savory snacks! Chips are a billion-dollar industry for a reason. It’s because I shop like a 9-year-old with unlimited funds when I pull up to a rest area. I love to get a variety of Pringles, cheesy chips and anything else that catches my eye. But, again, that is neither healthy nor cheap. When I plan ahead, I love these ranch-flavored goldfish and oyster crackers. This recipe makes a ton and both adults and kids love grabbing a handful of these.
1 1-oz packet of ranch seasoning mix (I’ve also used
zesty Italian in the past with great results)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 9-oz bag of oyster crackers
1 6-oz bag of goldfish
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
2. In a small bowl, combine the oil and seasoning and mix well. (Option for adults: add a couple of teaspoons of crushed red pepper for a kick.)
3. Add in the crackers and mix to coat evenly.
4. Pour out the crackers on a large cookie sheet and spread out. Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden.
5. Allow to cool completely, then bag in individual containers or a large one based on your destination.
Lastly, you have to have something sweet when you’re out and about. When you’re already planning and packing for a trip, the last thing you want is to bake some elaborate dessert to pack. I mean, no one will turn down brownies because we’re not insane! But that shouldn’t mean that you should make time to bake up a batch. A much easier chocolatey dessert that everyone will still gobble up is the chocolate peanut butter no-bake cookie! A batch of these whips up in about 10 minutes! You can customize these to your liking by taking out some sugar or adding in more peanut butter, adding in mini M&Ms or chocolate chips. I love a versatile recipe!
1 cup milk or evaporated milk
1½ cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
½ cup cocoa powder
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Line either two baking sheets with wax or parchment paper for drop cookies, or line a 9-by-13-inch pan to make bars.
2. In a large saucepan, combine sugar, milk, cocoa and butter and heat on medium heat. KEEP STIRRING!
3. Boil for 1 minute while stirring continuously. You might want to set a timer. If you let the sugar mixture boil too long, you’ll have very hard cookies.
4. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients.
5. Either pour entire mix into the pan and flatten and cool and cut into bars later, or you can use a large spoon and spoon out equal amounts of the mix to form cookies and allow them to cool before packing up.