Are you looking for healthy road trip snacks non-refrigerated to fuel you before or after games? Whether you’re traveling for a game, a tournament or a vacation, finding nutritious and portable snacks can be tricky.
But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Athletes who travel frequently for tournaments, games, matches or training, know how important it is to fuel your body with nutritious and delicious snacks.
But finding snacks that don’t need to be refrigerated can be tricky, especially when you are on the road for long hours or staying in hotels with limited options.
Instead, you can find snacks that are easy to prepare, pack, and eat and that will provide you with the energy, protein and vitamins you need to perform at your best.
In this blog post, we’ll share some of the best non-refrigerated road trip snacks for athletes that will keep you energized and satisfied.
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Why snacking matters for athletes
Snacking is important for athletes because it helps you meet your increased energy and nutrient needs. Snacking prevents hunger, boosts mood, fuels muscles and improves focus and concentration.
However, not all snacks are created equal. Some snacks are high in calories, fat, sugar, but low in nutrients. These snacks can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes, which can affect performance and health.
Therefore, it’s important to choose snacks that are balanced in carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. Carbohydrates provide energy, protein supports muscle growth and repair, and healthy fats help with brain function and hormone balance.
How to plan and prep non refrigerated road trip snacks
One of the challenges of bringing non-refrigerated snacks on a road trip is making sure they stay fresh and safe to eat.
Here are some tips on how to plan and prep for non refrigerated road trip snacks for travel:
- Choose snacks that have a long shelf life and can withstand temperature changes. Some examples are nuts, seeds, dried fruits, jerky, granola bars, crackers and popcorn.
- Pack your snacks in airtight containers or resealable bags to prevent them from getting stale or contaminated. Label them with the date and name of the snack for easy identification.
- Store your snacks in a cool and dry place in your car, away from direct sunlight or heat sources.
- Check the expiration dates and quality of your snacks before eating them, especially if they have been stashed in your gear bag or car for awhile.
- Wash your hands before and after handling your snacks. Use sanitizer or wipes if you don’t have access to water and soap.
Carbohydrate-rich non refrigerated snacks
Since carbohydrates are the main source of energy for your muscles they should be included in your snacks.
Grains and breads
Some great non-refrigerated carbohydrate-rich snacks grains:
- Whole grain crackers, graham crackers
- Pita crackers or chips
- Popcorn (look for lightly salted or air-popped varieties)
- Dry cereal (look for low-sugar options)
- Granola bars (look for brands with whole grains and minimal added sugars)
- Fig bars
- Rice cakes
- Baked muffins
- Whole wheat bagels, breads, pita bread
- Low fat milk, shelf stable
- Chocolate milk, shelf stable
- Non dairy milk alternatives like oatmilk, almond milk, soy milk
Fruits and dried fruits
Fruits are a great source of carbohydrates, anti inflammatory vitamins, minerals and fiber, making them a healthy snack option. Fresh fruit has a shorter shelf life than dried fruit so while it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, it will likely spoil if left too long in a hot car.
When choosing dried fruits, look for brands without added sugars or preservatives.
Carbohydrate fruits that pack well include:
- Fruit leather
- Dried fruits like raisins, mangoes, apricots and cranberries
- Tart cherry juice packets
- Jam packets
Protein-rich non refrigerated snacks
Protein is important for building, maintaining and repairing muscles, so it’s a key nutrient for athletes.
Here are some non-refrigerated protein-rich snack options:
- Nuts (such as almonds, pistachios, and cashews)
- Jerky-beef, turkey, salmon, plant based
- Tuna, salmon shelf stable packets
- Hummus single serve shelf-stable containers
- Roasted chickpeas, soybeans, fava beans
- Protein bars
- Protein powder, whey or vegan
- Ripple, plant based milk
Combination non refrigerated snacks
When you’re on the road before a game or following a game, you may need a heartier snack.
By combining a carbohydrate and protein, you can create a mini meal that satisfies your hunger, fuels or tops off your muscles and helps you meet your energy needs.
Easy examples on the road include:
- Hummus and pita
- Peanut butter/nut butter and jelly sandwich
- Trail mix (dried fruits, nuts, dry cereal)
- Jerky and crackers
- Protein bar and apple
- Rice cakes with nut butter and banana slices
- Popcorn mixed with nuts
- Chocolate milk and nuts
Creative ideas for non refrigerated foods to pack
Some great non refrigerated snack options include foods that just need to have hot water or milk to complete the snack. You can usually get hot water wherever they sell hot tea.
Also, you could fill a thermos with hot water for later (always be careful with hot water).
Some easy ideas include:
- Cup of soup
- Instant oatmeal
- Overnight oats (Preload your jar with oats, seeds and your favorites, then add shelf stable milk. They will be a little chewy but still a good option!)
Long road trips can be a challenge when it comes to providing nutritious and tasty snacks for athletes.
However, with a little planning and creativity, it is possible to pack a variety of non-refrigerated snacks that provide the energy and nutrients you need to perform your best.
From carbs like pretzels, popcorn, and granola bars to fruits, dried fruits, and protein sources like nuts, jerky, and trail mix, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Don’t forget to also include combo snacks that combine carbohydrates with protein, such as peanut butter sandwiches, hummus with whole grain pita chips and trail mix with nuts and seeds.
With these ideas in mind, you can create a balanced and delicious snack selection for your next road trip.
Steph Magill, MS, RD, CD, FAND has over 22 years of experience in public health and nutrition. As a performance registered dietitian nutritionist, Stephanie specializes in sports nutrition and provides simple and actionable information so that athletes can be well fueled for high performance on and off the field. Stephanie has a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and is a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.