Always travel with a snack, or two, or an entire stash including at least 3 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
That’s my motto for traveling (or even just a simple outing).
I don’t know whether this trait is genetic or learned (I have at least one Aunt who swears by this), but I certainly have an innate fear of going hungry and trust NOBODY to prevent that except me.
Although at times this habit can be problematic – I’ve found crushed bananas in the bottom of backpacks, melted chocolate in my pockets and PB&Js that I don’t want to know the original date they were made – on numerous occasions it has prevented extreme hanger that could have lead to…I don’t want to know what.
Throughout my years of obsessive snack packing I’ve learned a thing or to about what to do and what to definitely, at all costs, not do. With the start of summer and everyone getting ready for some much needed get-aways here goes my versions of the “how to pack security snacks.”
1. Nothing that mushes. There is nothing worse than reaching into your backpack, stomach grumbling, to find not the bright yellow banana you picked off the bunch this morning, but a smushed, sad, brown version gooely (is that a word? it should be) covering your [fill in the blank…homework, wallet, spare underwear…]. That’s why, rule #1 for packing security snacks is to choose non-mushable (I’m all about the new words today) food, especially if it is to be carried in a bag or backpack. Apples, pears and grapes are a great alternative.
2. Always include something fresh. It’s really easy to gravitate toward trail mix, granola bars and other non-perishable, easy-to-pack, definitely not mushy foods, but with these, a little can go a long way. For me, it is so easy to scarf down handfuls of trail mix (and don’t get me wrong, it’s one of my go-to security snacks), but an hour later I often find myself with a stomach ache and longing for something besides another almond to put in my mouth. That’s why, rule #2 is to always include at least one fresh fruit or vegetable in your snack pack. Great choices are carrots, apples, bell peppers or berries.
3. Prepare ahead of time. I will never forget the time my mom and I packed a jar of peanut butter, jelly and bagels for our road trip and I ended up wearing more than we ate. It take just a couple, painless minutes to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in a kitchen, but in the car, or on the beach (while warding off seagulls) it can be quite tricky if not impossible. Therefore, rule #3 is to always prepare your sandwiches or snacks ahead of time, don’t just pack the ingredients!
4. Skip the utensils. Yogurt is one of my favorite foods. I pack it for lunch most days, but after too many trips and drives where I “drank” my yogurt because I either forgot or couldn’t manage to drive and use a spoon (distracted driving for sure) and ended up with yogurt covering my nose, glasses and pants I’ve decided that foods that require utensils are best left at home. Rule #4, embrace your chance to eat finger foods.
5. Not the time for adventure. The only thing worse than finding a mushy banana as your last remaining snack, is finding out the snack you thought you’d love is actually atrocious. It’s great to try new foods, but my advice for ensuring your snacks are truly security, is to pack ones you know you’ll like.
6. Watch the weather. Chocolate is delicious. I barely go a week without eating it in some form or another, but when it comes to snack packing it poses one key problem: it melts. For winter trips or lunch boxes with ice packs, chocolate can be great idea, but if you’re going for a summer hike, be sure to check the forecast ahead of time so that your chocolate bar doesn’t become chocolate soup halfway up the mountain.
7. Overestimate. Have you ever offered to share your snacks and then, after the fifth person asked if they could have one too, you realize you’ve run out? This happens to me all the time. So pack extra! If you need to pack them in separate compartments or places that can be a good tactic. Rule #7, make sure at least one of your snacks is truly secure for you.
8. Peanut butter, peanut butter, peanut butter. Are you surprised by this recommendation? Peanut butter has never once failed me and I recommend it 100X over as a go-to snack. Whether it’s in a cup with apple or carrot slices or on a sandwich it has the protein and calories in a small volume I need to get me through all my summer adventures.