No matter how hard you might try to prevent people (especially kid people) from eating inside your car, there’s always one of those moments when snacking and traveling go hand-in-hand. Sure, you could pull over and eat at a rest stop or immediately pull into a car wash for a quick vacuum, but chances are you need to get from point A to point B quickly and efficiently.
Today’s parents have more choices than ever before when it comes to mess-free snacks for the car. If you (or your little ones) need that spike of energy and nutrition—and you need it now—here are some of the top food ideas to keep your car’s interior looking like new.
- Fruit Pouches: Kids’ snacks have come a long way in recent years, and you can now buy almost any kind of fruit in a pouch with a built-in straw. Ranging from traditional applesauce to nutrient-dense berry blends, these pouches provide a quick and easy boost of energy and require almost no clean up. Keep a box of these in the car for when you need a quick bite, but be sure and dispose of the pouches in a garbage can afterward, as the empty vessels tend to hold on to some of the food long after you’re done.
- Cheese and Meat Sticks: String cheese and jerky provide two main benefits—a kick of protein and no crumbs. Although crackers can crumble and nuts can fall in the cracks of your car’s seats, it’s difficult to make a mess of a cheese stick.
- Whole Fruit/Veggies: Although berries and chopped fruit aren’t always ideal for the car, larger pieces of produce work well for the road. Avoid anything that’s small (grapes, blueberries, raisins) and opt for bigger whole fruits instead. A banana, an apple, long carrot sticks—these types of food items are less likely to crumble and make a mess, though you may still need to check for sticky fingers later.
- Smoothies: It’s much more difficult to spill a liquid than a solid, especially if you purchase child-proof cups with lids that won’t fall off or break. Smoothies can be made with real fruit and yogurt for a healthy choice, or you can go for a milkshake or slushie if you’re less worried about nutrition. Either way, a straw that won’t pull out and a sippy lid can keep your car safe.
- Contained Sandwiches: Sandwiches can be a dangerous car food because of the potential for ingredients to spill out the sides and end. Contained sandwiches, however, can work well. Wrap ingredients in a pita pocket or tortilla, stick to ingredients that won’t fall out (like peanut butter and jelly), or wrap everything in lettuce instead of bread. You may be surprised how clean things stay this way.
Another option is to keep a picnic blanket or sheet in your car at all times. You can pull the car over for an impromptu outdoor meal, or you can lay the blanket out on the seat before eating begins. This way, cleanup is a breeze and you don’t have to worry about anyone going hungry on your trip.