Monday, April 2, 2012

Healthy Travel Snack Ideas for Toddlers {Vegetarian, plus Sugar, Gluten & Dairy Free}

Waiting to board our flight
Recently Jesse, my mother and I embarked on a three day nightmare to urgently move my furniture and all my belongings from one side of South Africa to the other. We left home on Friday night to stay at my sisters place, she lives near the airport, but we still had to get up at 4am to get to there in time for our  flight. We then had a friend of mine collect us from the airport and drive us to where my car was. Once we had my car, off we went to the old house to frantically start packing before the removal van arrived.

As with everything in life, nothing goes according to plan, the removal van broke down, which saw my mother, Jesse and I sleeping at my old house (which had been left vacant for nearly a month and where a rat and a boatload of spiders had taken up residence) while we waited for the van to arrive. The next day, after looking for parts, finding a street welder and other fun times we finally loaded all my belongings on to a truck, and two trailers.We set off to drive back home at 4pm on Sunday evening and arrived home at 3am Monday morning, completely shattered.

Loving those rice cakes at a rest stop
Jesse was a real trooper, he was simply happy to be with us and kept himself amused playing with boxes and all his toys that he hadn't seen for some time. My biggest challenge was keeping up with his healthy diet in amongst all this chaos. We didn't know what we were doing from one minute to the next and it was so easy for my mother and I to drive into town to a fast food place and order some junk to fill the hole in our stomachs. I was not prepared to feed Jesse that poison, but we really battled to find things he could eat at the convenience stores.

In hindsight we could have been much more prepared. What threw me was the flight, I definitely didn't want to board the aeroplane carrying a cooler box of food for my toddler, so I simply didn't prepare at all. Next time I wont be so shy about taking my refrigerator along with us!

We regretted not being prepared the entire time, and I vowed to write a blog post outlining healthy travel snacks for toddlers, so here it is.

Note : I say snacks, but in reality I really mean small meals. A toddler only eats in snacks anyway, and if yours is anything like Jesse, they seem to be eating all day!

A cooler box is a must, with ice packs to keep everything fresh in a hot car.

To drink: 

  • Invest in a BPA free sippy cup, or stainless steel water bottle, these filled with water are all you need by way of drinks. 
  • As a treat, fruit juice in toddler size boxes are great and relatively mess free. I love the flavours available from the proudly South African company Ceres, and I know all their products are made with 100% fresh fruit and are preservative free, I see they are now also available in 84 other countries. 
  • Our regular green juice or fruit smoothie can be made ahead of time and frozen in stainless steel bottles. 


  • All types of berries are great bite sized snacks that could be stored in portion sized containers. Or bought in portion sized containers such as these from Woolworths, as berries are expensive and Jesse doesn't eat too many of them. 
  • Firm fruit such as apples are great, and long-lasting.
  • Bananas are always good as Jesse loves them, but they don't keep well and bruise easily, keep them on the top of the cooler box as they go black if they get too cold. Eat them first. 
  • Grapes are a winner, they're bite-sized and they are surprisingly long lasting. 
  • Softer fruit such as melons, peaches etc can be cut up and kept in portion sized containers. 
  • Fruit that needs preparation, such as a pineapple can also be cut up ahead of time and stored in portion sized containers. 
  • Mix it up a bit and make fruit exciting by making fruit kebabs or a rainbow coloured salad. See my fruit Pinterest board for more inspiration. 
  • Dried fruit is great as a treat, but large consumption of dried fruit is neither good for ones teeth nor blood sugar levels. Try buy organic dried fruit free from polishing oils and preservatives. My absolute favourite are the white mulberries available from the Rawlicious online shop, they taste like honey, only better. 

Nuts & Seeds:

  • Seeds and nuts are such an easy and nutritious snack. Keep these down to around a quarter cup per day, it is so easy to overeat on nuts and seeds, even for healthy toddlers who know when to stop, and they are acid forming which can lead to calcium loss and therefore poor bone development (except almonds which are alkaline)
  • Jesse's favourite nuts are almonds, cashews and brazil nuts. His favourite seeds are sunflower, pumkin and sesame. Simply mix and store in portion sized containers, roughly holding a quarter cup each, or make a trail mix with a small amount of dried fruit, nuts, seeds and goji berries. 


  • Cut up veggies and store in ziploc bags or containers. Celery, carrots, bell peppers and cucumber work well. Or, store in a cup with a lid and place a bit of dip at the bottom, Jesse has a love of hummus and that is our dip of choice. 
  • Baby carrots on their own are always a winner, as are cherry tomatoes. 
  • Jesse loves olives too, drain, de-pip and store in a container with toothpicks stuck into them. 

Any kind of healthy crackers. Jesse loves rice cakes, I think the way they crunch is quite a novelty at the moment. We have also bought raw flax seed crackers in the past from Rawlicious, they come in great flavours such as salt and vinegar and are quite delicious.

Boiled eggs. I know, I know, they will make the car smell. But they are so yummy, and Jesse loves his egg, which is one of the few cooked foods he eats. Make it easy on yourself and peel them ahead of time.

Popcorn, made with coconut oil and seasoned with nutritional yeast, it is simply delicious. Store in ziploc bags.

So that is my list of healthy alternatives to junk food travel snacks. Do you consider this list complete? What are your favourite snacks to take along on long trips for your toddler? 


  1. These are fantastic ideas, Christine. Thank you! Several of these things we had great success with on our last trip, and the rest I am filing away for summer when we have another long journey ahead of us.

  2. These are fantastic ideas, Christine. Thank you! Several of these things we had great success with on our last trip, and the rest I am filing away for summer when we have another long journey ahead of us.

  3. Yes Christine, great ideas! Nothing is too out of reach on this list, either (sometimes peoples' snack list can be a bit daunting!). Totally do-able. I like the idea of making smoothies ahead of time and freezing them! My kids would be all over that! =) I might add homemade granola; my granola recipe is pretty much a combination of some of the stuff you have here (sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, pumpkin seeds, oats, dried fruit, honey, and oil) and is very popular. Kind of messy for a car, though. Maybe if I can figure out how to get them to be stickier I can make bars as opposed to cereal!
    I also like your idea of dip in the bottom of the vegetables cup! Sweet! Only Riley and I like dip but I could make both! We are going on a road trip to try and find our dog a new home in a few weeks, so I will have to come back to this list then!

    1. Your granola sounds yummy! I find eating in the car = mess, full stop, but, Im sure this will get better as they get older ;)

      Let me know how these snacks work out for you :)

  4. Yeah, don't count on it getting better as they get older. I dug up a moldy mandarin orange from under Ayden's seat the other day. he's NINE. And Matthew is hopeless. =P

    1. Lol! Oh dear, that's why I will never have a smart new car ;)


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