If you’re wondering: Are there healthy foods to buy from a convenience store while I’m traveling? or What are the healthiest snacks from a gas station? you’re going to love this post. We love to travel, and as much as I try to plan and shop ahead, we always end up buying things from gas stations when we’re on road trips. Sometimes it’s out of necessity and frequently, it’s because the kids want a “treat.”
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I don’t mind getting the kids a treat from a convenience store now and then, but I still try to make sure it’s on the healthy side.
I used to have a hard and fast road trip rule. It was “Never buy food from a convenience store.” I have learned, though, after many road trips with my kids that there are actually a lot of great options for healthy snacks to buy at gas stations along our route.
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Related Reading: Road Trips – The Ultimate Guide
Healthy Snacks From Convenience Stores
When you’re traveling, there are times when you just might need to visit a convenience store for snacks. This happens when you’re on a family road trip, taking a business trip or staying where your hotel doesn’t have a restaurant. Sometimes, you’re even driving around town to appointments when you suddenly start feeling those hunger pangs.
Just because you’re stopping at a gas station or convenience store doesn’t mean it’s time to eat junk. There have been healthy options available at every convenience store and gas station I’ve ever been to. And, the options just keep getting better.
Make the decision to stick to the healthy foods and your body will be thanking you.
What Should I Eat from a Gas Station?
The best snacks to buy are always going to be the healthiest snacks. I know that healthy is a little different for each of us, but there’s a lot we can all agree on. I’ve kept a few rules from my “No Convenience Food” days and they are pretty simple:
- Keep Sugar Low
- Focus on Protein
- Go For Whole Food
- Shop the Perimeter (just like the grocery store)
- Buy What Will Make You Feel Good
- Think Snack, Not Meal (usually)
More Good Reading: How to Eat a Healthy Breakfast in a Hotel
What are the Healthiest Gas Station / Convenience Store Snacks?
The best snacks to buy are always going to be whole, real foods. And, yes, you can find those at a gas station. It used to be that you only found candy bars, chips, soda, and other junk foods there, but now convenience stores carry all kinds of healthy food. These will make really good road trip snacks.
Usually, there are carrot sticks and celery sticks in the cooler with little packs of dip. The kids like these and they’re not filled with sugary calories.
It is common to have at least a limited selection of fresh fruit at gas stations and convenience stores. Even if all you find is a basket of ripe bananas at the register, it beats many of the other snack options available
Pickles are a fun little treat when you can find them. Usually, there are single pickles available or check out the aisle where you might find jars of pickles and olives, too. There are more varieties becoming available all the time.
Look for string cheese, cheese slices, Baby Bell, and individual cheddar snacks.
Nuts and Seeds
You can usually find individual bags of peanuts, almonds, assorted nuts, sunflower seeds, and pistachios. Grab a couple and they’ll stay fresh throughout the trip. They’re a little high in sodium, so don’t forget to keep a drink on hand.
Due to all the specialty diets (Keto, Low-Carb, Paleo, Gluten-Free, etc.), hard-boiled eggs have become a very popular snack. Most stores are carrying them now to give that nice dose of protein that will fit most diets.
It’s not just for breakfast. Believe it or not, this is a pretty good snack to buy. You can easily grab a box of low sugar, whole-grain cereal from the gas station and serve it to the kids in cups. No need to pour it in a bowl with milk, just let them drink the milk on the side. This along with some fruit even makes the perfect drive-along meal.
There are a lot of varieties to choose from. They usually come with some form of lunchmeat, cheese, nuts, crackers, hard-boiled eggs, etc.
Popcorn should be available everywhere. Look for air-popped varieties and try to avoid weird chemicals.
More to Read: Healthy Snacks for Kids– Over 120 Ideas
More Healthy Road Trip Snacks from the Gas Station
I consider these next snacks to be a little less healthy because they are higher in sugar, salt or wheat and are more processed in general. Depending on what is important to you at the moment, these might be just what you need from the gas station you’re stopped at. All convenience stores should carry multiple brands and flavors to pick from.
Most jerky contains a lot of sodium and sugar, but it is a good option when you need a snack with a lot of protein. It’s easy to eat while driving and stays fresh. It doesn’t make a mess or leave crumbs all over your car, either. It’s especially good if you are driving on a long road trip and skipping meals.
Tip: bring along a pair of scissors to cut the jerky up for little kids.
Granola or Protein Bars
For snacks, you should be able to find granola bars or protein bars that fit within your dietary restrictions. Most convenience stores offer a variety of bars, from low-carb protein bars to standard chewy granola bars that the kids are familiar with. These are easy, convenient, and tasty, not to mention budget-friendly.
When you decide to select chips, go with the baked kind. Most brands will have a baked version, offering a little less fat and calories. Pirate’s Booty and Veggie Straws are good options, too.
You may be surprised to find some decently prepared food for a quick lunch, such as a sandwich with lean protein and veggies to fill up before your next stop. These foods are easy and provide healthier options than driving through most fast-food chains.
Try to pick a yogurt that is low in sugar in order to keep it healthy. This is a great treat for the kids and is very familiar to them.
What Drinks to Get from a Convenience Store?
We all know that water is the healthiest thing to drink, but that could be boring. You definitely want to avoid the sodas and fruit juices because they’re loaded with sugar.
There are some other options, though. You can get flavored sparkling water, La Croix, bubly, or Perrier, you could grab some coconut water, too. I love to add some stevia-sweetened flavoring to my water and it makes a big difference. You can easily carry it in your car because it barely takes up any space.
When life is busy, there are times you’ve just got to pick some easy foods from a convenience store. You don’t have to fall for the unhealthy foods that are highly processed or loaded with salt and sugar.
All gas stations will have some sort of healthy options available, you just may have to hunt a little. Try to keep the kids’ eyes off the candy aisle, too. All those yummy treats are so tempting. Just get in and get out as fast as you can.
Grab the printable Healthy Gas Station Snacks List below and you can carry it with you. If you keep it in the car before heading into a convenience store, you can review it. You can even give your kids some options and decide before you go inside what you’re going to get.