Most people think of gas stations simply as a fuel depot. The truth is most people buy much more than gas. Whether you’re on a long road trip or picking up a hoagie lunch from Wawa, you would be one of the millions of Americans who shop at gas stations every day. In fact, buying food from gas stations is on the rise due to the guaranteed foot traffic and low startup costs. And millennials are leading the trend, with 11 percent of all their food and beverage stops occurring in either a gas station or convenient mart.
For anyone on the road, gas stations provide a much-needed source of energy and nourishment. To save you time, we ranked our favorite convenience foods, taking into account three of the most important food factors: taste, healthiness and cost.
Happy travels… and don’t text while driving!
Most gas stations have muffins, whether they’re name brand or individually wrapped in a basket at the front counter. Muffins are tasty any time of day, though we encourage you to try making them at home instead. Muffins, after all, are highly packable.
#9. Hot Pockets
Fast food is to restaurants as Hot Pockets are to frozen convenience meals. The big benefit of Hot Pockets is that everyone knows how they taste, and that taste is delicious (if you didn’t roast your taste buds with their magma-hot insides first). Hot Pockets are also cheap, making them a reliable, on-the-go meal. Unfortunately, they’re not the healthiest choice, and they’re unlikely to sustain overnight drivers.
Low on calories and cost, high on taste, pretzels are a compelling purchase for rushed gas-station customers. Pretzels are awesome because—we’re saying this a second time for emphasis—they are cheap compared to the benefits they provide the body. In addition to delivering fiber-laden carbohydrates, which improve digestion and provide energy, pretzels have calcium, B vitamins and folic acid. Parents rejoice, because pretzels are a great on-the-go treat for kids. The biggest drawback is sodium; most pretzels have a high salt content.
By the way, did we mention pretzel’s affordability?
Unlike Hot Pockets, Pop-Tarts can be eaten cooked or uncooked. They aren’t messy, either, which means they’re great for situations when cleanliness is an issue, like in rental cars. But they’re not a healthy choice. So maybe grab a banana, too.
#6. Fruit Cup + Trail Mix
Most gas stations nowadays include small food cups of items like yogurt, assorted fruits, cheese, crackers and other snackable goodies. We highly recommend pairing fruit cups with trail mix; with their combined powers, these products provide the body with a large number of nutrients it needs for energy. This is an especially important purchase for drivers who have spent the last few meals in the drive-through. Recreate the meal at home with these Powerhouse Protein Parfaits.
#5. Kettle’s Real Sliced Potatoes
Raise your hand. How many people think baked chips are just as tasty as fried chips? No? Even the crickets are silent? OK.
Well, Kettle’s Real Sliced Potatoes break all preconceptions of tasty potato chips. They’re baked, they have a fraction of the calories, and each serving contains a mere 3g of fat. And above all, they are delicious. If you’re craving hand food in bulk, you can’t go wrong with Kettle’s.
Like pretzels, popcorn has universal appeal. Buy plain or salted popcorn to avoid that heart-clogging (yet delicious!) butter.
Psst! The secret to making the best-tasting popcorn at home? Cook it on the stove.
#3. KIND Nut Delight
This fruit bar is sold in the candy aisle in smaller gas stations, and in the granola or health food section of larger establishments. This bar is extremely healthy: It has virtually no sodium, is low in sugar, and has zero fortified additives. Contrast that with its dose of healthy fats, high protein content and smattering of vitamins, including copper, magnesium and vitamin E. When it comes to natural energy in small packages, it’s hard for other brands to compete with KIND. In fact, those road-tripping their vacation will find that the protein and natural energy in these KIND bars are capable of supplementing lunches (with some help), which can help reduce the cost of your trip.
#2. Chocolate-Covered Peanuts
We’ve mentioned more than once the benefits provided by protein, which peanuts have in spades. And of course, the largest benefit is how completely that salt-sugar combo will satisfy any sweet tooth.
#1. Jack Link’s
Teriyaki. Breakfast Bacon. Extra Tender. Legend. These are just a few of the words Jack Link’s uses to advertise its mouthwatering line of beef jerky strips. Gas station food doesn’t get much better than this! Beef jerky includes protein, an excellent way to jump-start the body in the morning, so early drivers take note. And if you have any jerky leftover, it makes a great additive for pork nachos.