As a mom shopping in a grocery store, my kids are no different than anyone else’s. They want the bright colored packages promising fun food for kids. They see the fun characters that scream “buy me”.
One thing that my kids ask for every time we are in the aisle: those cute little boxes of food promising fun in a box: you know the ones with the meat and cheese and crackers. What is so appealing about these little mini meals in a box?
1. They are personal – each child would have their own. What? No sharing?
2. They are finger food – no fork or spork needed, just good old dirty fingers.
3. They are foods that kids like. Who doesn’t like meat and cheese and crackers?
4. There are little spots for each individual food – nothing touches and you can be as creative in building your mini meal as you want.
5. They are easy to eat in the car. Yep, that’s right, they are great for road trips.
Sometimes food really is the best part of the road trip. I wanted to share how easy it is to make your own fun, packable, mini-meal. Thanks to fellow Recipe ReDuxer dieititian Karmen Meyer @Nutrition Adventures for the theme this month: Have snacks. Will travel.
The easiest “box” to use is a plastic sandwich container, something that most of us have. It has a lid, there is usually a cute character on the front (if not, add stickers) and you can include four different foods for the ride. We already hit point number one: it’s personal (and fun!).
Points two and three: Including finger foods that your kids like. There are many variations, but if you want to replicate what’s in the box, here is what I suggest:
Protein: Low sodium, thinly sliced, ham – cut quickly with a circle-shaped cookie cutter (even the kids could do this). You could swap this for thin slices of turkey, chicken, or roast beef slices as well.
Whole grains: I really like the Pocket Bread Thins cut into circles again with the cookie cutter, because the kids can make little sandwiches without all those little cracker crumbs being found all over the seats. And 100% whole grain! (Find them in the bread aisle)
Calcium (and protein): 2% Reduced-Fat Colby Jack cheese cut with that same cookie cutter (are you seeing a pattern?).
Fresh fruit: The Rainer cherries are so good right now so that is what I included, but whatever kids can eat with their fingers is perfect.
Point four: Little spots for the food so nothing touches so being creative is easy. The perfect solution is silicone muffin liners. They are reusable, washable, flexible and just plain fun! Each liner holds the finger foods so your kids are able to create edible works of art in the back seat.
Point five: Easy to eat in the car. Usually on a road trip, you have a big cooler in the back that requires a stop to access. Solution? Carry a lunch bag with ice packs in the front of the car with portable mini-meals that need to stay cool, don’t forget the chilled bottled water in the bag too. No need to make a pit stop on the side of the road when tummies are rumbling.
There you have it. A much more nutritious meal you can feel good about
twisting reaching your arm behind the seats to give to the kids. And did I mention, it only takes five minutes to throw this little thing together? And the cost, well, less than a third of the store-bought version.
Check out the other ideas for travel snacks from other registered dietitians as part of Recipe ReDux: