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  • Writer's pictureKaren Buffier

Healthy snacks and meal ideas for travel and kids

When you chat with other parents about travelling with kids a very real and common concern is what on earth their kids might eat when travelling. You might be in need of some simple, healthy food ideas for travelling with your any country!

Getting to indulge in other cuisines and food is a real highlight for adults but when it comes to kids they can often be the most discerning critics so keeping them full and happy can become a full-time chore when traveling. Here are my tips and shortcuts to be prepared and make feeding young kids while travelling with ease…

Apartments are your best friend

I absolutely love eating out when travelling but the reality is that it can really stretch the budget particularly when feeding a family. The perfect alternative is to book self-catering apartments which will not only give you great space to move but also means you can shop, store and prepare foods as you go.

Check out the location of a potential apartment and make sure that it is in a central location where you can walk easily to a supermarket if you are not going to have a car.

Have some go-to meals that you can cook with minimal ingredients and minimal equipment

Whilst a gourmet meal is always appreciated, when you travel you just don’t want to spend endless hours shopping, cooking and cleaning. Your destination will largely determine your meal selections as you need to consider what fresh ingredients might be available locally but if you take a little time to plan and get organised you can feed the family in a flash.

Remember that you won’t be cooking in your own kitchen so you need to do a little stocktake in each kitchen to check you can actually prepare and cook what you have in mind. You may need to be a little creative with what you find – a vegetable peeler can be a very good secondary cheese grater.

Some really easy and healthy meal ideas that I fall back on to feed the kids on the road include:

  • Tacos or wraps – fresh salad, grilled chicken and some corn on the cob

  • Homemade pizzas – buy the pre-made bases and layer up with some healthy toppings

  • Pasta – nothing beats pasta for simplicity when travelling; add some veg with some grated zucchini and carrots and the kids won’t even know 😉

  • In can often be easy to find some pre-prepared meat in sauce type dishes which can be heated in a pan or the oven. Turn this into a meal by adding some mashed potato and steaming some fresh vegies.

  • Want something even quicker and easier? Check out the pre-cooked chicken in the local supermarket and add some fresh salad/cut vegies and rice salad

  • Stirfry – load with local produce and some fresh meat for a meal in minutes

  • Risotto – some Arborio rice with fresh vegies can be transformed into a quick risotto primavera

Encourage your kids to try new foods

Kids eating out

Nobody wants to travel to an exotic destination only to be left constantly searching for a restaurant that will serve kids a plate of French fries. The earlier you encourage your kids to try different types of foods, the easier it will be to travel with them.

You will be pleasantly surprised by how much your kids will actually fall in love with different food choices when given the exposure and opportunity to try. We have yet to travel to a country where our kids haven’t loved the staple foods on offer and their favourite foods now include Vietnamese, Thai and Italian which makes travel eating pretty easy.

Try not to worry about whether your kids will eat local foods. Instead just approach it with enthusiasm and a let’s try attitude and there is a good chance your kids won’t even ask for fries for dinner!

Be prepared with wholesome snacks

Whether it be for an upcoming long-haul flight or just day-to-day, when travelling with kids it is essential to have snacks on hand to keep tummies and mouths from getting grumbly. Again, it requires a little pre-planning and a stop to a supermarket but will save you heaps of money and make the days smooth and simple.

I find it handy to travel with a couple of small containers and lunchboxes which can be pre-loaded each day with kids’ food supplies such as:

  • Raw vegie sticks (celery, carrots, snow peas, cucumber etc)

  • Cheese cubes

  • Sandwiches

  • Crackers

  • Fresh fruit – my kids love a box of washed strawberries and grapes

  • Muesli bars

  • Mixed nuts

  • Croissants or pastries

  • Cereal – handfuls in min tubs are not only an easy snack option but a great boredom buster

Try to work with your environment too... neat what is common place in the country you are visiting - it will be cheaper and better quality than eating things that you might normally at home.


A beautiful breakfast

Breakfast is my absolute favourite meal of the day and I do love an amazing breakfast spread at a nice hotel. Wherever possible look for hotel deals that include breakfast. Not only will it really fill kids up to start the day but you can ‘discreetly’ set a few items aside for mid-morning snacks.

Cost saving tips for eating out

Depending on the country you are travelling, eating out can be very expensive. If you want to be able to eat out a lot as a family then it is best to consider countries that fit within your budget. Your food costs will be markedly cheaper visiting an Asian destination than hitting the food trail in Western Europe.

Common sense should prevail when finding the best affordable meal options. Eating away from resorts will always be cheaper and will also support local businesses. If you don’t mind being off the beaten path then finding authentic restaurants in back streets or maybe without a view will see you saving money as well.

Croatian dinner

Asia is wonderful for cheap family meals as you can order a combination of dishes to share. In other destinations, you might find it worthwhile to order one meal that can be split between two kids. We do often order two separate dishes for the kids and then split a little bit of everything between the two girls. Means there will always be something they will love…

A simple saver is to order a couple of dishes with sides such as salads or rice that can be shared amongst the table. This will often be cheaper than ordering a meal for every person.

Eat out in a different way

One of my favourite things to do when travelling is to grab some local takeaway and head to some of the most scenic spots to enjoy a picnic with a view. No mess, no fuss and tasty, tasty. Think crusty bread with fresh ripe tomatoes and cheese or a bottle of red wine with a delicious steaming pizza overlooking the ocean.... bliss.

Fresh food markets are not only fascinating for kids but a perfect source of food

French farmers market

One of the most interesting places you can visit with kids in a foreign country is the local fresh food markets. The sounds, the smells and the colours really excite kids and they can actively be involved in bartering with the stall holders and helping to meal plan for what yummy creations you might come up with.

Markets have the freshest produce, are a great opportunity to interact with locals and all at much better prices than retail.

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