Pricy, processed convenience foods and constant restaurants stops can leave you and your budget feeling bloated

Need some fresh ideas to eat well on the road? Here, some easy foods to pack and prep.

- Trail mix. It's a classic snack for road trips and hiking trails for good reason: trail mix is easy to pack, tasty and provides some carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein. Just be sure to keep portion sizes modest and use ingredients that are high in sugars, salts and fats as "accents" only.

- Cherries, berries, grapes and cherry tomatoes. Not only are they nutritional powerhouses and low in calories, they don't need cooling or chopping.

- Slices and dip. Vegetable or fruit slices are more fun with dip. Keep it simple with a small container of yoghurt, nut butter or honey for fruit and some creamy dressing for vegetables (which can double as a salad or sandwich topping for other meals).

- Do-it-yourself sandwiches or wraps. Why DIY? Our favourite toppings can make the grains go soggy, and fresh breads and wraps can hog cooler space. (Plus you don't have to worry about who gets what sandwich.) If you prefer to preassemble, substitute those slippery ingredients with "drier" choices like flavoured cream cheese, goat or feta cheese or hummus.

- Whole grain products. Rice cakes, pretzels, crackers and plain popcorn also won't go bad in the car -- but look for whole grains to keep you feeling fuller longer. Baked goods such as low-fat muffins and breakfast cookies also satisfy and can be baked in advance.

- Canned meats and legumes. Get your protein without the fuss! Unlike their fresh counterparts, these choices don't need cooking or cooling. Add them to a sandwich, wrap or salad.

- Dried pasta or couscous. If you can boil some water, you can cook up some grains for a quick pasta salad with some fresh vegetables. You can even prepare quick-cooking couscous in a bowl with hot water from a hotel kettle.

- Frozen foods. It's especially important to keep meats cool while you travel, so give them a head start by freezing them ahead of time. Also, frozen juice boxes can serve as ice packs. (They also make great popsicles or "slushies".)

Want to kick things up a notch? Look for recipe and road-trip planning websites, like the New York Times' 101 20-Minute Dishes for Inspired Picnics or


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Elizabeth Rogers