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Riding in the car - what are your go to snacks?

I spend a lot of time chauffering my children around town. For whatever reason, this conjures up the desire to snack. I'm a diabetic so I keep Swedish Fish in every car, purse, drawer, etc. in case of a low blood sugar. In addition, I also usually have in the car peanut m&m's and sugar-free Twizzlers. Peanuts, trail mix and granola are other go-to's. And we can't forget the water and Coke Zero.

What are your favorite snacks that you either keep in the car or grab out of the pantry on your way to the car.

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  1. Goldfish, pretzels, and Kind bars (all nuts and fruit).

    1. Hmm. I probably mistook your headline for a question about longer car trips. I live in a fairly small town, so none of my trips around here exceed 15 minutes - a time period I can probably do without having to snack on anything.

      That said, for longer trips, I usually make sandwiches: toasted whole grain, mayo, roast beef or ham, cheddar, lettuce.

      Last road trip I made the mistake of stopping at a BK for my one (and very rare) chain indulgence, the jr. whopper w/cheese. It tasted like crap. The lettuce was brown. Never, ever, ever again.

      6 Replies
      1. re: linguafood

        BK has truly become the bottom of the barrel for fast food establishments - or so it seems these days. They are nasty and are right there with Hardee's in just having bad, bad "food".

        1. re: lynnlato

          Any place serving "French fries" that bad should be banned from the earth. French fries are manna from the heavens for me and I like most of them, but BK's are just plain nasty.

          1. re: buttertart

            Their fries are truly nasty! But, I have to say, McDonalds has done something different with theirs recently and they are tasteless. Ugh. So sad... :-(

              1. re: Sue in Mt P

                That's explains a lot! They are tasteless - but for the salt. It was one of the few things I enjoyed at Mickey D's. Guess they cured my need for their fries.

        2. re: linguafood

          I also thought of this for longer trips. I commute an hour each way, but don't eat in the car for that. For road trips, I typically pack banana and peanut butter sandwiches, easily peeled oranges, nuts of some sort, carrots, and hard boiled eggs. And for honesty's sake I'll add that there's usually a bag of some sort of chex mix too. :)

        3. cheezits! they are my special snack for long car rides.

          1. well duh!! JERKY! BEEF jerky and only the really crappy greasy over-processed type, none of this pemmican stuff unless you or I made it of course, esp if it's a cramped car with bad air-conditioning and you've pushing through a few states without sleep or shower. hands down.

            as far as Hardee's goes, I haven't had a burger from there in years, but last Fall, I suddenly wanted a chocolate shake, and while it wasn't 'real' it was pretty good.

            3 Replies
            1. re: hill food

              HAAA!!! I much prefer the mongolian jerky I found in NYC - spicy pork jerky - insanely good. Really, like, Slim Jims???

              I forgot to mention Corn Nuts. It used to be that you could only find them at those interstate exit truck stop places. We used to grab several bags - even the BBQ & Ranch flavors. But now I'm seeing them everywhere. Funny, I liked them better when they were hard to come by.

              1. re: lynnlato

                Mongolian sounds good, but a certain level of trashy is required (yes Slim Jims).

                Corn Nuts? sorry but I only eat those in staff meetings to intentionally annoy the person that called the brown-bag lunch (sound and odor)

                1. re: hill food


                  The "sound and odor" is horrible, isn't it? Just as bad as someone munching on Fritos next to you. Ha!

            2. About 18 months ago, my big summer vacation was a weeklong roadtrip through West Virginia and Western PA. (What can I say? I was on a budget. But it was some beautiful scenery.) Convinced I would be stuck in the middle of nowhere with only pork rinds and Mountain Dew to buy at a gas station, I packed whole wheat breadsticks, single serving containers of peanut butter, a bag of salted popcorn, trail mix, apple sauce cups and granola bars. Oh and whole-grain goldfish. Always gotta have some goldfish on hand.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Heatherb

                uhh you're missing the point of a road trip and especially through an area like that (which is beautiful BTW).

                junk food you wouldn't normally eat and stinks up the car is part of the vacation IMHO.

                1. re: hill food

                  I had a different strategy. I was eating out for pretty much every meal since it was a vacation - my goal was to minimize the impact of that. Thus the reasonably healthy stuff to snack on in between meals. And I wasn't wrong to pack it, as I was in the land of donut shops and convenience stores.

                  1. re: Heatherb

                    and the land where scrapple falls from the sky like manna.

                    1. re: hill food

                      Yeah, it kinda does:) But what really surprised me were the donut shops. There were multiple regional chains and independent shops all over the place. If I was a donut fan, I'd've been in heaven.

              2. Coca cola and peanuts. No fuss no muss.

                    1. re: lynnlato

                      Two bucks buys me a bag that lasts a whole week!

                  1. Haribo Gummy Bears (the best candy that isn't chocolate on earth), Sun Chips, Sugar Free Red Bull.

                    1. A packet o' Terbasky-flavored Slim Jims and a tub o' Fanta Strawberry Sodee-pop.

                      1. Combos are my decadent snack in the car. Pizza flavored.
                        I pack pbnj sandwiches so we don't hit up fast food joints. They travel well and are gut-filling and keep you full for quite a long time.
                        I also keep granola bars in my purse to stave off meltdowns.

                        1. Fiber One Bars, Vanilla Wafers, Honeycomb cereal, trailmix

                          1. We just moved from KC to Lexington KY. I frequently drive back and forth for family stuff going on in KC. I rarely eat in the car. In fact most of the time its just one cup of coffee for the 10 hour drive. One stop for gas and that's it. I've got too much of my Dad in me I guess, I keep thinking @ 75 mph and the 20 minutes I lose to get food... that's 25 miles.

                            I did stop for Hardee's once. It had been decades since I've eaten there but the thickbuger commercial looked good. It wasn't.

                            I did stop at the Amish Buffet in Evansville ID. It was worth the lost time, real mashed potatoes, fried chicken, fried pork chops, fried fish. Only bad thing was all the veggies seemed to have come out of a can.

                            I never eat in the car while running around town.

                            1. Are the sugar-free Twizzlers any good, lynnlato? I could eat the real ones by the half pound.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: buttertart

                                Well, they are to me, but as a type 1 diabetic all I know is sugar substitutes. Sometimes I'll get a fountain diet coke and I'll swear it's regular coke. My husband or kids will taste it for me and assure me that it's diet. The sugar substitutes are sometimes sweeter than regular sugar!

                                That said, my family will eat them in a heartbeat (all non-diabetics). But they do seem to get stale quicker. Give 'em a try. They can be hard to find. They don't carry them at Target here, but they do at CVS.

                                1. re: lynnlato

                                  Is it xylitol as sweetener? Not crazy about its cooling/minty aspect - but I will try these just for fun.

                                  1. re: buttertart

                                    Maltitol and sorbitol is what is listed on the package.

                                    "They're not candy, Susie!" - HAA!!!!

                                    1. re: lynnlato

                                      I was dangerous around candy, lived primarily on it for the first 10 yrs of my life!

                              2. For some unknown reason, we usually seem to end up eating Nutter Butter cookies on long car trips.

                                1. At one point I think there was a statute that all persons over a certain age had to have Werther's Originals available in the car at all times. That was my dad's staple.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: buttertart

                                    Ha! My dad always had Luden's licourice or wild cherry cough drops on the dash. I loved opening the little box and digging in the waxed pouch for the last ones. :)

                                    1. re: lynnlato

                                      That was my mom's department, carrying cough drops. Remember the waxed paper thing very well. I always wanted to eat more than one. "They're NOT candy, Susie"!!!

                                  2. For running around town I always have chewing gum, water, some form of crackers and usually grab some "emergency cheese" (string or baby bella) to have handy. Often a protein bar too.

                                    For a road trip I like combo's, pre-cut cheese and crackers, fruit, and some sort of nut/fruit mix from TJ's. A thermos of coffee, water and a soda in the cooler. Carrot sticks and deviled eggs are nice too.

                                    Years ago I went out for lunch with a traveling salesman I did business with. He drove a Cadillac and had installed a lazy Susan sort of thing with individual bowls on the console area. Each bowl had a different snack - nuts and dried fruit in one, M&M's in another, Chex mix in the last. The center held breath mints and a pack of toothpicks. I had never seen a car so well equipped snack-wise!

                                    9 Replies
                                      1. re: meatn3

                                        Just yesterday I saw a wild-eyed loon careening down a freeway in Charlotte cramming a deviled egg into his maw. Could that have been you? ;)

                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                            No, I was the loon passing through on the 8th! But this time we were eating Banh Mi's picked up in Greensboro.

                                              1. re: Sue in Mt P

                                                Greensboro? Pakse Cafe. Learned about it on CH, limited hours but very tasty. We purchased 3 varieties and split them for 1 1/2 each. Note to self, ask the restaurant to cut them in half next time!

                                                Charlotte? Tour of Albert's Organics facility and then a meet-up to purchase a Harsch crock for fermenting kraut, etc! Then on to Ikea!!!!

                                          2. re: meatn3

                                            A lazy susan-equipped Cadillac - Ha! I love it!

                                            Deviled eggs - num mum num mum...

                                            1. re: lynnlato

                                              James Bond' Aston-Martin is equipped with an egg cup and a waffle iron.

                                              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                Funny you should mention the Aston-Martin... I just saw Michael Jordan's at the Ritz-Carlton here in CLT a couple of weeks ago. I didn't eye spy the egg cup and waflle iron though. :)

                                          3. I don't go to snacks. I go to wherever it is I'm going.

                                            1. For any length trips nothing beats a plain old bag of pretzels to keep in the car. I don't get enough sleep lately so sleep deprivation is sometimes a problem for me - even on short trips. Grabbing one pretzel to nibble on when my eyes start to droop is the perfect solution, and pretzels are a pretty guilt-free snack (low fat).

                                              1. I'm in the car a lot for work and sometimes forget or don't have time to eat lunch. I keep a large zipper bag of Trader Joe's Trek Mix in my car. This way I get some protein from the nuts as well as some sugar from the dried fruit. It usually tides me over until I have a chance to get a meal. I always keep multiple reusable bottles of water in the car as well.

                                                1. when i used to drive back & forth between LA & SD frequently i always packed snacks & a cooler for the car - on a bad day when there was a lot of traffic or an accident on the freeway, the 100-mile trip could take 4+ hours, and i don't eat fast food or convenience store snacks so i had to be prepared.

                                                  i'm a clean freak, so crumbs & spills in the car stress me out. i tend to stick with things that won't make a mess, though i quickly became quite adept at eating cottage cheese & yogurt with one hand without dripping it ;)

                                                  - homemade trail mix
                                                  - carrots, celery sticks, cucumber sticks & grape tomatoes
                                                  - protein or fruit & nut bars
                                                  - single-serve packets of PB or almond butter
                                                  - light string cheese
                                                  - cottage cheese or Greek yogurt (don't forget the spoon!)
                                                  - slices of turkey or chicken breast

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                    Yeah, I'm a neat freak about my car, too, which is why BBQ chicken and Sloppy Joes are my go-to road dishes.

                                                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                      well sure, because you put on a bib and spread out a drop cloth first ;)

                                                    2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                      Thanks ghg, for sharing your list. I'm on a health kick to lose a few ellbees and get stronger and your list is just what I need for my upcoming road trip. It all sounds yummy. Sometimes you just need others to point out the obvious. :)

                                                      1. re: lynnlato

                                                        a pleasure, as always, my friend...and you know where to find me if you need anything else! ;)

                                                    3. Usually nothing, but when we go to Puerto Penasco, Mexico, we stop for gas in Why, and get a bag of chicharrones and eat them on the way to the border. When we get there, we stop at Vasquez in Sonoyta and get a case or two of Coronas. Then, when we get out of town, we each crack a nice fresh Corona for the remaining hour's drive down.
                                                      So it's chicharrones and a Corona on the road to Mexico.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: EWSflash

                                                        Drinking and driving! Now there's a good reason to visit Mexico :-D

                                                      2. Never feel a desire to eat in the car. I either stop and eat a home-packed snack at a rest stop, or visit a restaurant.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                                          Best rule I ever made: Never eat in the car. To think time is so short you have to save it by eating in the car gets it backwards. Life is too short to not stop the car, get out and eat when you need to.
                                                          Plus, the clean interior adds about $500 to your trade in value.

                                                          1. re: atheorist

                                                            "Life is too short to not stop the car, get out and eat when you need to."
                                                            assuming there's somewhere to stop & eat...not always the case.

                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                              Hey, there's roadkill and insects, no matter where you are. If it's good enough for the Billy Mack Hooten clan and the Matabele, it's good enough for me.

                                                              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                ha! again, it depends where you are. you'd be hard-pressed to even find insects, let alone animals, on/near the freeways of Los Angeles...the air quality *has* gotten better here over the past few years, but it's too late - the pollution already killed them all off ;)

                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                  I refuse to eat actual meals in the car but I enjoy snacking on car trips. For me that's the only good part about being in the car for so long.

                                                        2. I tend to run towards hypoglycemia, and what's worked best for me is something easily maneuverable and protein-based: pita with falafel, turkey or roast beef or tuna on wheat, string cheese and a pickle spear wrapped in sliced turkey. A bottle of v-8 is like a small meal, especially with a handful of nuts or some sharp cheese cubes and crackers. I just try to avoid a lot of condiments, as trying to save a sliding-filling sandwich while driving can be totally dangerous.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: mamachef

                                                            Peanut butter graham crackers are great for low blood sugar. It's what they always gave me at the diabetes center when I was pregnant and running low - decent amount of carbs and protein. Almond butter would be good on them also. Yum, now I'm craving this simple treat. :-)

                                                          2. As a general rule I do not eat in the car. Major and frequent exception is the Road Breakfast, which almost without exception is a pair of Sausage & Egg McMuffins and one hash browns cake, which at the window is split in half and each part inserted into one of the muffin sandwiches. Any other road meal is a stop at some promising smalltown diner.

                                                            I will however pop an Altoid or two if heartburn threatens. That is not so much a snack as a remedy …

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                                              Will, I wish I could go to a drive-thru, but it doesn't make sense for me to, because my McMuffins must be spread with a hit of ketchup and strawberry jelly, so if I drive-thru I just have to pull over in the parking lot anyway. I save myself the trouble and go in.
                                                              Altoids RELIEVE your heartburn? They GIVE me heartburn. Lucky you, no heartburn and minty-fresh breath, all in one little white disc.

                                                              1. re: beevod

                                                                oooooh beevod I bet you're going to take some flak for this one!! See you in J-A-I-L, buddy, (unless you live in Texas, where open containers, I believe, are still legal?)

                                                                  1. re: beevod

                                                                    Oh, CELERY soda. You say six-pack, I think "beer." Which says way more than me than it does about you. : )

                                                                    1. re: beevod

                                                                      OK, what is celery soda? I'm intrigued!

                                                                      1. re: lynnlato

                                                                        Cel-Ray soda, courtesy of Dr. Brown and company. I love that stuff. But then, I also like carbonated espresso soda, which I guess means I dig things that taste like they're not QUITE supposed to.

                                                                        1. re: mamachef

                                                                          This stuff is pretty good, but out here in my part of the world a Brussels sprout frappe is the cruisin' beverage of choice.

                                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                            "Brussels sprout frappe"

                                                                            Are you serious? If so, what on Earth does that taste like? And what's in it?

                                                                    2. re: mamachef

                                                                      Nothing like chucking Pearl longnecks out the winder of your pickup as you're doing 90 on a farm-to-market road and then blasting 'em to bits with your Colt 45.

                                                                      Such lovely sport.

                                                                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                        Topped only by settin' them there longnecks on a fencepost and pickin' em off one-by-one.
                                                                        Actually, your version sounds waaaay more sportin', what with the moving (flying?) targets involved.

                                                                        1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                          sailing them out the window on a dark KS winter night on state hwy 77 cruising down to Ark City, listening to the glass shatter behind you is fun too.

                                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                                            Yep. And if you can peg at least five road signs in a row, you're an ace. Ten in a row and you're Dirty Harry, or Dirty Khan as the case may be.

                                                                    3. For long car trips: beef jerky, Medjool dates, peanut butter-filled pretzels.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                        I forgot to add that I always bring a case of wild cherry Diet Pepsi, aka the most addictive (not in the positive sense) soda pop in the world.

                                                                      2. For us, it's usually jerky (local, hopefully something I've never heard of), spicy pork rinds, and funyuns for a road trip. Possibly there are some nuts involved. Possibly there are a couple of tallboys involved.

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: gilintx

                                                                          Ha!!! What, no corn nuts?

                                                                          Man, I'll bet it smells goooood in your car, gilintx! Please tell me you have a tree air freshener? lol :-)

                                                                          1. re: gilintx

                                                                            Really, just throw in some pickled eggs and you've got smell-fest '10 when your car door opens. Especially on a hot day!! : )

                                                                            1. re: mamachef

                                                                              Did somebody say "pickled eggs"? Yum! Provided they are in a cooler though. ;-)

                                                                            2. re: gilintx

                                                                              Crack open a couple o' tins o' sards in hot sauce and you've got the ultimate righteous road meal there.

                                                                            3. I hate eating in the car. It's just not a natural position. So I don't do it, except for the occasional candy bar. Even more than eating in the car, I hate drinking coffee out of a sippy cup.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                                                Although I agree with that, I will admit that on the occasion of my 60th birthday (ten years and two weeks ago, and the memory lingers still) I was returning from signing up for an illustration class at Otis - my birthday present to myself - when I spied an In-N-Out on Venice Blvd, and pulled in to treat myself to my first one of those. Double double and fries. Back on the road, I realized that I had not figured out how to eat this while underway, but I ventured to anyway. It was an episode fraught with peril, and damn near disastrous, but the goodies got et and the car and I made it home in no more pieces than when we'd left.

                                                                                Sippy cup I don't mind. Strong likelihood of getting mustard and/or melted Velveeta on the upholstery, I mind.

                                                                                1. re: Jay F

                                                                                  I HATE sippy cups too! I'd rather abstain than consume hot beverages from one of those torture devices. The anticipation of the hot drink approaching my lips and whether it'll be too hot is too much. There's just something liberating about an open cup. Weird, I know.

                                                                                2. I usually don't snack in the car, but on a long trip a bag of almonds is good. Water to drink, as soft drinks either have too many calories or if artificially sweetened taste nasty.

                                                                                  1. No roadie from Houston to San Antonio and back is complete without a stop in Luling for some of the best BBQ in the world at City Market. A small detour to Lockhart brings more of the same plus prime rib at Smitty's. Real Texas BBQ needs no sauce, so it is not so messy in the car.