one green planet
one green planet

Road trips can be fun, or sometimes they can drag on and make everyone in the car just want to jump out. No matter the situation, one thing is always true for healthy eaters on the road: it’s difficult to find adequate food in unknown places without planning beforehand. In fact, it can be downright frustrating as a vegan on a long car ride! When embarking on a road trip, stopping for lunch usually means stopping at a fast-food restaurant. I know I’ve been on several trips where it seemed like the same three to four fast food places kept popping up on the main highway within several hours of driving.

As any traveler knows, planning ahead is the best way to ensure you can maintain you diet preference when visiting a new place. Follow these tips for how to eat clean on the road.

1. Shop Smart at the Gas Station

If you need to stop at a gas station for snacks (this is often an inevitable truth of road trips!) then make a plan prior to opening the door. It can be easy to get distracted by all of the colorful packaging of the candy and chips, but head straight to the bowl of fruit or the refrigerated section for carrot sticks. Fingers crossed you can find organic choices, since that would be clean produce, but this might simply be a tossup depending on where you’re driving.

2. Take Initiative and Coordinate the Lunch

Though you may be concerned about the type of food that will be available to you on the long car ride, the others going with you may not be so concerned. To the regular American, having to eat a fast food lunch is a common must-do on the road. After all, there’s a drive-through, the food is fast, and you can quickly scarf it down before driving again, thus minimizing your time off the road. Your crew might decide to pull over at any exit when they’re hungry, and you might be left out in the cold with a restaurant choice of fast burgers or tacos. That’s not exactly clean eating! Here, you’ve got to make a mental note to use your phone and make a plan in advance. Tell the driver you’ve got a place in mind, and coordinate the lunch. If you know there is a healthy eating option 70 miles away, then plan accordingly rather than wait until the last minute.

3. Pack a Cooler

If you’re lucky, you may find an exit during lunchtime with a Whole Foods. But chances are, you’ll need to pack your own healthy food in a cooler since there are few or zero truly clean food options at fast food restaurants. Luckily, bags of chopped, raw veggies, packets of hummus and organic sprouted grain bread keep well in a box of ice, so pack away!

4. Bring a Fruit Bag

You may not be able to take your whole fridge on a road trip, but you can bring a gigantic bag of ripe, organic fruit since it keeps well without refrigeration. Have a designated fruit bag to fill with organic apples, bananas, pears – whatever your heart desires. Share with the car and make everyone love you.

5. Make Your Own Nut Butter

Packing a jar of homemade nut butter is a sure-fire way to make sure you have some clean sustenance in a pinch, since two tablespoons of nut butter can quickly quell hunger. But Instead of buying packaged peanut butter that can contain unhealthy hydrogenated oils, make and pack your own nut butter instead. It’s very easy to make your own. Try pecan butter, cashew butter and walnut butter.

Image source: Cashew Butter