When my oldest son got his driver's license, there were many rules attached to that little card. That included no eating while driving -- because I know for a fact that food is a major distraction.
Today I am the chauffeur for only one son. As we go from sports practices to music lessons to school and back again, meals and snacks are sometimes enjoyed by those in the back seat of my van.
Hungry children and hectic schedules no doubt represent a significant part of the fast-food business. It's so easy to just turn in, pull up and pay. But as one problem is solved (hunger), another problem is created (unhealthy options). Those high-fat, high-salt, high-simple-carbohydrate meals aren't considered good for the body or the mind.
So as a busy parent, it didn't take me long to figure out that a little planning goes a long way toward keeping me and my family away from the drive-up window. When my kids were little, snacks such as dried fruit, nuts, cheese and whole-grain crackers were mainstays in my automobile survival pack.
As they got older, hungrier and more discriminating in their tastes, survival seemed a bit more complicated. That's when I started to pack heartier snacks and light meals to keep them content through whatever activity they had until they got back home. That meant cold burritos filled with chicken, lettuce, cheese and a mild salsa, sandwiches made from almond butter and bananas, a million variations of wraps or anything else that was filling, nutritious and not likely to leave sticky fingerprints all over my car windows, seats or doors.
A flavorful wrap
One of the kids' favorites was the chicken Caesar wrap. While you now find these sandwiches and wraps on menus everywhere, I stumbled onto the idea when making chicken Caesar for dinner, only to realize I had to abandon the meal to head out to a forgotten play rehearsal. The boy was still hungry, however. My solution? Throw it all in a lavash (a thin, soft flatbread), roll it up and run.
While I'm sure it wasn't the most elegant scene to witness, it worked. In fact, it worked so well that I now make those wraps whether or not we have to eat them on the fly.
The next time you foresee a long afternoon of driving kids, bring along wraps. And bring one for yourself, too. After all, you'll have some quiet time to enjoy a bite while waiting in the car for your child's coach to decide it really is too wet to practice.
Meredith Deeds of Edina is the author of "Everyday to Entertaining" and "The Big Book of Appetizers." Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @meredithdeeds.