Some of us pretend to be better than this, but let's be real: 9.a.m. snack cakes are one of the big joys of road trips. The trouble starts on day 3, when anybody over the age of 12 gets sick of them... or just plain sick. With these snacks, you can do one better:
If you're setting aside the really sweet stuff, granola can be fun—especially if you're making if yourself. Just add a few handfuls of other snacks to 2 cups of oats and bake for 10-20 minutes at 300F. It's a breakfast-y snack that works all day long. Throw in some pumpkin pie spice for fall flavor, or dried cranberries and chocolate chips for an indulgent touch.
Sometimes they make an appearance in granola, but they're great on their own, too. They're easy to make salty or sweet: bake them with sugar or salt plus some spices at 200F until they smell amazing. If you're a hot sauce person, throw your nuts in a container, add a few dashes of salt and Cholula, and shake them up—you've got personalized flavor ready to go.
Not everybody's lucky enough to be road tripping through produce country during harvest season. (If you are? Go get some peaches. Right now. Why are you even reading this?) Stave off scurvy by bringing along a small cooler with some apples or oranges. Or kiwis. We're not judging. They'll hold you over between roadside diner breakfasts and breakfast-for-dinners.
3) Crunchy veggies, for quiet time and something to chew on
They don't have to be horribly boring—bring along some Tajin or something to spice things up. They won't bruise like lots of fruit will. Also, they're harder to chew. They can keep your group's loudmouth quiet for longer.
2) Cheese, to give kids and adults something with substance
String cheese is a kid-friendly favorite for a reason. If you really feel like you've outgrown it, pick up your hard cheese of choice and some crackers (plus dried fruit or maybe some grapes?) before you take off. There's no reason you can't take a fancy cheese plate on the go.
1) PB & J, to save your bacon when you can't find bacon
Again, it's a kid food. Doesn't mean it's not for adults, too. Bringing along PB&J fixings can save you from choosing between a dinner of gas station gummy bears or no dinner at all.