It’s summer road trip time, and we have 3 key tips to help make eating fun and enjoyable for the whole family. If you find yourself constantly passing out snacks to the children in the back seat just to keep the peace, we think you‘ll have better success if you stop for a meal before everyone is hungry and cranky. Not only can you have everyone gather around to eat together, but stopping gives everyone a chance to stretch, burn off excess energy and relax. Now that’s a recipe for a more peaceful drive!
Tip #1. Keep a picnic kit handy
We don’t mean a fancy kind, though there’s nothing wrong with that if you have one. We suggest using a re-usable grocery bag to store a few basics:
- A picnic blanket, so everyone can be comfy if you’re sitting on the ground
- A picnic tablecloth, to make a roadside picnic table more appealing
- Plastic or metal reusable tableware—plates, sturdy cutlery and cups
- A plastic bag to gather dirty dishes, in case there are no facilities for washing up
- Wipes or napkins and hand sanitizer
Keep these items handy in your car so you can have an instant picnic anytime. You don’t have to be on a long road trip to call for a picnic. You can enjoy a stop in a neighborhood park between activities.
If the timing is right, you can add berry picking to to your picnic stop. Picking blackberries is one of our favourite picnic stop activities in late summer. Our picnic kit includes a few plastic containers with lids so every one can help gather berries to bring home. We punch a pair of holes near the top of the plastic container to attach a length of twine. That way, the container can hang from the neck, leaving both hands free for berry picking.
Tip #2. Add a packed lunch
Again, while there’s nothing wrong with a big, fancy, special picnic menu, most of the time all we do is pack an ordinary lunch for each person—the kind you might bring to work or school any day. This makes it much easier to make a picnic more routine and enjoyable. For a novel twist on sandwiches, try packing a checkerboard sandwich.
Alternatively, try classic recipes for camping trips:
- Bob’s Bean Salad makes for a quick take-along lunch for the crowd.
- Another appealing idea is this White Bean Feta Hummus that you can serve along with carrot and cucumber sticks.
- Nepalese Village Salad is a good take-along dish for a big group.
- Mac ‘n Cheese Muffins can be popped in some resealable plastic bags for an easy hand-held snack or lunch.
Tip #3. Bring your beverages
We love taking along smoothies in a thermos or insulated water bottle. Milk or yogurt in your smoothie will help round out your picnic meal, making for a balanced meal.
by Sydney Massey, MPH, RD