Sometimes when you have a toddler it is inevitable that you will end up eating on the go. We recently went on holiday to Devon and with a 4-hour drive ahead of us, we decided the best thing to do was to leave just before lunch time. We wanted to arrive in the late afternoon so we could have a couple of hours before bedtime, when P could run around and exert some energy after being sat in her car seat for the drive.
So I was faced with the question of what she could have for lunch on the go that would be filling, easy to eat and not too messy! She’s can be a bit of a chucker when it comes to food so I didn’t want anything that would end up stuck in the depths of her car seat and not be easy to clean or wipe away.
For any parents out there who are also planning to pack food for on the move, here’s what worked for us.
Peanut butter sandwich, cut into quarters – the peanut butter helps to stick the bread together, so the filling can’t fall out (grated cheese for example would potentially be a nightmare!). It’s also healthy, substantial and something most kids will eat. Cutting it into quarters worked for us as it meant P could get a good grip on them and there was less chance of dropping it on the floor. It also doesn’t matter if peanut butter is out of the fridge for a while, with is something to consider with food on the go. The NHS advises not to give whole nuts to children before they are five, so I always go for completely smooth peanut butter. Our favourite (and P loves it too) is the Whole Earth smooth, with nothing added, so it’s 100% peanuts with no additives such as salt or palm oil.
Toddler ‘crisps’ – I call these crisps, but I guess they’re not really; I’m talking about the snacks you can buy from brands such as Organix, Kiddylicious, Ella’s Kitchen, etc. The chunkier the better for the car, small pieces are likely to get dropped or stuffed into the side of the car seat. For car journeys I favour the Kiddylicious veggie or cheese straws, or the Little Dish Chickpea Pop Pops, both of which are substantial to hold and don’t crumble into oblivion.
Plenty of water – We only let P have either milk or water to drink, and anyone who has dealt with spilt milk into material or absorbent surfaces is probably far too familiar with how much it can smell! So water is the best option for a car journey. To make sure we have plenty with us and can keep a track of how much P is drinking, we use the Ion8 Kids Leak Proof bottle. I have an adult Ion8 bottle and P loves drinking out of a similar bottle to mummy! It flips open with one hand so it’s easy for little miss to use, and we’ve never had it leak. They’re also BPA free made from phthalate free, non-toxic Tritan.
Veggie sticks – Carrots, celery, peppers and cucumber are all great cut up in sticks. You could also try cooked babycorn, and cooked or raw mangetout. If your little one isn’t yet able to bite or is a bit too young for anything too firm, you could try steamed carrots (steam them for around 10 minutes should leave them firm enough to hold but soft enough to mush).
Pumpkin seeds – P loves pumpkin seeds and while a few might get wedged into the car seat padding, they’re not going to leave a big sticky mess. Plus they can take a bit of time to eat as most little ones systematically eat them one by one, which can help to pass a few extra minutes of your journey.
Suckies yoghurts – These things are great. Sold in their own pouch that the yoghurt can be eaten straight from, there’s no need for a spoon that you will then have to find a home for. Plus they’re just whole milk and fruit, so no need to worry that your little one will be hyped up on added sugar whilst strapped into a car seat – not a good combo.
Banana – Perfectly contained in its own wrapper (skin) bananas are great for little ones to hold and eat themselves. Just be quick with the baby wipes if any of it falls off before it gets smooshed into the fabric!
Other ideas include – raisins (although can be a bit sticky), strips of pitta bread with either hummus or another dip (P likes to dip into the little pots of Philadelphia you can buy), cheese strings or Dairylea strip cheese, mini malt loaf.