Food For Road Trip

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With summer here, there is no better way to spend a weekend than taking a road trip. But there’s one major problem…the food. Everyone wants to eat different things and when you’re driving, options are limited. So we set out to create the ultimate road trip snack pack!

Food For Road Trip

One of the hardest parts of packing for a road trip is coming up with road trip food and meals to have on the way. While you can plot out places to stop, fast food day in and day out on the road is not ideal.

Not to mention gas station food. Somewhere between the beef stick, greasy hot dog, and bags of salty snacks, I start to get really grossed out. And if you are gluten-free, vegan, or have dietary restrictions or allergies, this can be even harder!

It is not only unhealthy to eat like this for multiple meals over several days, but it is also expensive. And costs you time.

Plus, if you are on a road trip in somewhere like Arches National Park, you won’t have the option of stopping somewhere for lunch inside the park. You will have to bring your own.

But if you plan ahead with your road trip foods, and pre-make some road trip meals and snacks, you can definitely keep your family well-fed on the road. You can actually premake, plan and organize (also important) road trip breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks.

And, if you are vegan or gluten-free or in need of road trip snacks for toddlers, don’t worry! I haven’t forgotten you. I also include a helpful list of road trip foods to make your road trip meal planning easy too!

Here is the ultimate road trip food list you will love!

Why Bring Your Own Road Trip Foods

road trip food Mother, father, girl and boy loaded bags in the trunk of car.
Photo credit: @ dima_sidelnikov | depositphotos.com

If you are wondering what food is good for road trips, and what are the best snacks for road trips, you have come to the right place!

Before we get to the road trip food list, let’s quickly look at why you should bring your own or make-ahead road trip meals and snacks on your trip. Yes, it is way easier and more convenient to buy it along the way.

But, keep this in mind:

  • Your own make-ahead road trip meals and snacks are healthier.
  • Bringing your own road trip food saves you a lot of money.
  • Choosing in advance assures everyone has something they can and will eat.
  • Having your own road trip food limits stops or having to surrender to what is available at the time you are stopping.
  • It is easy to pull over at a rest stop with a picnic table and eat or have in your hotel room, RV, or even in the car.
  • You can easily answer the “what’s for breakfast, lunch, dinner” question with your already planned, make-ahead road trip meals.
  • Road trip snacks can keep kids full between meals and busy in between road trip activities.
  • You can bring road trip food whether you are on a family road trip with a cooler, going camping, or traveling in an RV with a kitchen like the Forest River Cedar Creek 38RTH (it has a kitchen with an island!). But no matter how you travel, there are road trip foods and meals for every mode of transportation.

The Reality and Practicality of Road Trip Food

Now, let’s be real. It isn’t possible for all of the road trip food you bring to be homemade, especially if say you are going on a 10-day Midwest road trip.

That’s a long time and a lot of food to pack for a road trip. There are many easy things that can serve as healthy road trip meals that can be purchased.

And, it is both practical and easier to include nonperishable road trip food with some of your make-ahead meals. It is also part of the fun to eat out while on a vacation.

But it is still healthier and easier when you control what you are bringing overall. And when you plan ahead, as opposed to being left with whatever is available on the road, you can save time and money, and eat better.

So here are the best road trip foods for traveling and some of my best tips!BVWK Road Trip Food Tip #1Use a road trip food list and meal planner like mine below to plot out your meals and snacks. Not only will this help you shop ahead and assemble what you need, but it will also help you organize the cooler so that the first meals are on top. It can also help you at destinations if you need additional ingredients.

If you are wondering, “What should I eat for a long car drive?” remember to include breakfast on your road trip food list. You need the energy to drive all that way, and driving on an empty tank – literally and figuratively – won’t work for a long car journey.

Breakfast is an important part of our morning routine. But because of the times of our departure, we don’t usually eat before we hit the road. And, sometimes we leave before our hotel offers breakfast.

Having road trip breakfast ideas that are portable and easy to eat in the car is very important for the success of our road trips. For this reason, things that are either nonperishable or easy to hold (like breakfast sandwiches, muffins, etc.) are the best for this important meal.

road trip food breakfast on a table
Photo credit: Stock image via Canva

Nonperishable Road Trip Breakfast Ideas

  • Store-bought granola
  • Single Serving Dry Cereal
  • Pop-Tarts (I prefer the Bobo’s brand)
  • Breakfast Bars

Cold Grab and Go Road Trip Breakfast Ideas

  • Muffins
  • Biscuit Muffins
  • Croissant (ham and cheese or even chocolate)
  • Bagels and Peanut Butter
  • Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich
  • Overnight Oats
  • Chia Pudding
  • Homemade Granola
  • Cornflakes Cereal Granola
  • Instant Oatmeal
  • Homemade Peanut Butter and Jelly Breakfast Bars
  • Healthy Banana Pikelets (Baby Pancakes)
  • English Muffin and Peanut Butter
  • Fresh Fruit (use sturdier fruit that won’t get too mushy, like apples)
  • Yogurt Pouches/Gogurt and Fruit
  • Boiled Eggs
  • Premade Yogurt and Granola Parfaits
  • Mediterranean Breakfast Burrito
  • Broccoli and Cheese Breakfast Muffins
  • Keto Ham and Cheese Fritatta Muffins
  • Bagel and Cream Cheese
  • Egg, Ham and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich
  • Quiche Florentine

HEALTHY SNACKS FOR YOUR NEXT EPIC ROAD TRIP

As tempting as it may be to grab that Snickers bar when you stop to fill up on gas for your road trip, you will definitely regret that decision.

Not only does a Snickers bar have absolutely no nutritional value to help your body get what it needs, it will actually put harmful chemicals in your body such as high fructose corn syrup.

By making sure that you pack good, healthy snacks for your road trip, you’ll find that you won’t be tempted to grab that Snickers bar because you know something better is waiting for you in your car.

Here are our top picks for healthy road trip snacks.

1. BEEF JERKY

This road trip snack is packed full of protein, which is one of the best ways to satisfy your hunger.

However, don’t opt for jerky from the gas station that comes loaded with preservatives, and whose sodium levels are off the charts.

Instead, pick up an organic, grass-fed one from your local natural foods store.

2. POPCORN

Popcorn is a great source of fiber and complex carbs that will help your body stay regular, and provide you with energy while on the road.

Make sure you’re not getting the microwave popcorn that is filled with chemicals. Instead, grab one from the natural foods store that has ingredients of just corn, salt, and oil.

Even better yet, pop some on the stove at home using olive oil or butter and just salt. That way, you know exactly what you’re getting.

3. HARD-BOILED EGGS

These little eggs are not only easy to prepare, they are easy to store, and easy to eat on the road. They’re fairly mess-free, and are packed full of protein that your body will need while on the road.

For some extra crunch and the perks of some quality complex carbs, add some whole wheat crackers to your egg snack for the perfect pick-me-up.

4. PROTEIN BARS

Be wise with your choice of protein bars.

There are countless protein bars out there that are full of nothing but sugar and crazy additives and preservatives that you’ve never heard of.

Instead, look for a protein bar full of natural ingredients that will give you the nutrients your body needs and wants, without the sugar crash.

5. STRING CHEESE

You’re never too old to eat string cheese, especially when you know the nutritional benefits it provides.

Pair your string cheese with apple slices, and you’ll have a snack that perfectly covers healthy fat, good protein, and complex carbs.

With this trio of nutrients, you won’t be hungry again for a while, and you’ll also feel your energy levels increase.

6. CARROTS

Though carrots do have fiber in them and other great nutritional value, one of the reasons we suggest this as a road trip snack is because oftentimes when on the road, you find yourself wanting to eat simply because you’re bored.

So, rather than fill that boredom with unhealthy snacks, munch on some carrots that will take you a while to eat, and will keep you busy without making a mess.

7. GRAPES

Similar to carrots, grapes are a great option for when you’re bored and want to eat something on the road.

Healthy, clean, and easy to eat, grapes will help stave off the boredom. Just don’t go overboard with the grapes — they do have a lot of sugar in them.

8. HUMMUS AND CELERY

Hummus is another great protein-packed snack that will help keep your belly full and happy.

In addition, hummus is full of B vitamins.

And celery is the perfect dipping stick. Low in calories, but high in water content, your body will love this hummus-celery combo.

9. GREEK YOGURT

Protein all the way with Greek yogurt. This little snack is full of it, and will help keep you full until your next meal.

Top your Greek yogurt with some nuts or fruit for some added fiber and energy.

10. PB SANDWICH (SKIP THE J)

Though we love jelly, it usually doesn’t offer up anything but loads of added sugar.

Instead, grab for quality peanut butter (be sure to check your ingredients and say “no” to peanut butter with sugar added to it) for a healthy dose of protein and fat.

Slather that peanut butter on some whole wheat bread, and you’ve covered your complex carbs, your protein, and your fat.

If you’re feeling extra hungry, grab a banana, slice it up, and throw it in between the bread and have yourself a PB&B.

THE ULTIMATE ROAD TRIP FOOD LIST & FREE MEAL PLANNING GUIDE

Road trip food and meal ideas will not only save you a load on your holiday budget. They can also help you to eat healthy while you travel too… avoiding the greasy burger and french fries combo or gas station stacks you may otherwise have purchased!

Get road trip food ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner plus family-friendly snack ideas too.

Road trip food list & meal planning

Road trips can be a budget-friendly family vacation that is fun for all ages, however, you can quickly blow out that budget if you are dining out for every meal during your road trip.

With some simple road trip meal planning and enough food inspiration, you can plan a thrifty road trip without having to stop for a single takeaway meal!

This ULTIMATE road trip food list is loaded with snack and meal ideas for the whole family, whether you are taking a short driving holiday over a weekend or getting set for an extended road trip adventure together.

PREPARING FOR YOUR ROAD TRIP

Aside from the usual steps to prepare for your road trip, with itinerary planning and a rough plan on where you will be stopping along the way if travelling over multiple days, your preparation should also include meal planning.

Road trip meal planning will keep your budget down and help you avoid the fast-food trail from destination to destination.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t dine out at all. Sometimes that’s part of the fun, but if you want to avoid paying for meals at each stop. Or if you want to ensure you are eating healthier options, creating a road trip meal plan is essential!

STORING YOUR FOOD ON THE ROAD

You will need a good-quality large cooler to keep your food from spoiling.

A standard cooler with ice packs will get you through a few days of chilled food and meals. Anything longer and you will either need a proper 12V powered travel refrigerator or to stop and grab extra ice or fresh groceries along the way.

Either will work, however, your options are more limited if you need to stop at a grocery store for supplies. This will mean knowing where on your road trip you can source ice and groceries too.

TIP: Avoid opening your cooler unless it’s absolutely necessary! This will keep food chilled longer.

Pack individual meals in stackable, compact food containers. You can get disposable airtight container options at the dollar store if you want to avoid having dirty containers to clean on the road.

For snacks, consider getting a BPA-free sectioned snack container to store different snack items. This is perfect for kids!

For one-day road trips, a supermarket cooler bag will work with an ice pack to keep everything chilled.

Road Trip Meal Planner

PLANNING ROAD TRIP MEALS

When planning your road trip meals, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. First, you’ll want to make sure that you have enough food to last the entire trip.

This means packing enough snacks and easy-to-prepare meals for everyone in the car.

Second, you’ll want to consider the types of food that will be easy to make and eat while on the road! Avoid anything that is really messy or requires a lot of preparation.

You only have so much space to pack all your gear, so avoid having to add a lot of cooking and food prep tools too if you can.

Keeping these tips in mind will help you choose easy road trip meals to make your trip run smoother!

ROAD TRIP SNACKS

Options for road trip snacks are endless! Most snacks you enjoy at home can easily be enjoyed during your road trip. In saying that, snacks that don’t require any extra preparation and are minimal mess are preferable.

Pack items like fruits and vegetables that don’t need to be refrigerated, as well as shelf-stable snacks like crackers, granola bars, and nuts, are great for snacks.

Especially if you are taking a road trip with kids! Having a quick bite to eat between stops will help keep them patient and happy in the backseat.

Snacks with natural ingredients are a good option for the whole family and will help keep the energy levels up on a long drive.

There are so many options for road trip snacks. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Dried fruit
  • Fresh fruit
  • Crackers
  • Popcorn
  • Bliss balls
  • Cheese sticks
  • Nuts and seeds (sunflower seeds, pepitas, etc)
  • Pretzels
  • Chips
  • Fresh veggies with hummus or dip
  • Muesli bars
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Olives
  • Salami or twiggy sticks
  • Sweet biscuits
  • Chickpeas
  • Protein bar
  • Beef jerky
  • Sweet potato chips
  • Seasoned pumpkin seeds or trail mix
  • Granola bars
  • String cheese
  • Banana chocolate chip muffins – These are a great option for anyone with a sweet tooth. Switch to dark chocolate chips and cut out the sugar. They still taste amazing!

TIP: Pack a few special treats for those moments when the kids are over of being car-bound and need a mood boost.

ROAD TRIP BREAKFAST IDEAS

If you are staying at hotels along the way, you may get lucky enough to find some with free breakfast included. That’s one or more meals along your trip that you don’t have to plan for and one less extra cost.

But if not, there are plenty of light options to get the day started before you set off for your next leg of the long journey.

After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and is a great way to give you energy before starting the next leg of your journey!

Here are some simple road trip breakfast ideas:

  • Fruit
  • Yogurt
  • Dry cereal – such as Cheerios that you can enjoy even without milk
  • Breakfast muffins
  • Pre-made bacon and egg muffins or wraps
  • Bagels with cream cheese spread
  • Banana bread
  • Croissants
  • Blueberry pancake bites
  • Breakfast oat cookies

TIP: Pouches are a simple, no-mess option for yogurt or pureed fruit. Keep them chilled, eat then dispose of the package.

ROAD TRIP LUNCH IDEAS

There are plenty of simple cold lunch options you can make ahead for road trip meals. Plus how much nicer is it finding a beautiful spot within nature or with a view along your drive, than sitting in a fast food store!

When planning food to take on a road trip for lunch, consider the fact that you will likely be in the car a lot of the time during the day.

This means healthy road trip meals are the best option to balance out the fact that you won’t be as active some days while travelling.

Try these cold lunch ideas for your road trip menu:

  • Salad
  • Sandwiches (peanut butter, jam, Vegemite, honey spreads etc)
  • Wraps – pre-made or with simple chilled fillings
  • Muffins
  • Savoury scrolls like these pizza scrolls
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Boiled eggs (pre-peeled)
  • Tinned tuna or salmon
  • Cottage cheese on crackers
  • Kabana
  • Pinwheels with chicken, turkey or other fillings
  • Tuna salad sandwiches (keep separate and make when ready to eat)

You can prepare salads in mason jars or smaller containers in individual serves to make it easy to serve.

Although you will want to eat salad early in your road trip to avoid it becoming wilted or soggy. You can always add the dressing just before you serve it!

TIP: Bring condiments and pre-cut sandwich and wrap fillers with you if you are travelling for more than a day. This will keep everything a little fresher and prevent soggy sandwiches and wraps.

PReparing road trip food at home

ROAD TRIP DINNER IDEAS

After a long day of driving, you want a dinner meal that is filling enough to satisfy each member of the family, without being too complicated or heavy.

Dinner may be the one meal of the day you do decide to find somewhere to dine out, especially if you are setting up in a room for the night and have options nearby.

But if you want to keep those costs down and bring your own food for your entire trip, there are absolutely plenty of options for your dinner meals.

Cold road trip dinner ideas:

  • Pre-cooked roast chicken or other cold roast meat sliced or pulled apart for adding to sandwiches, wraps or enjoyed alone
  • Cold salads such as pasta, egg or potato salad
  • Rice with chicken with veggies
  • Frittata
  • Quiche

HOT DINNER IDEAS

If travelling for several days or weeks over a long road trip, it may be a good idea to bring a small portable camping stove. This will allow you to cook and heat meals you have pre-made at home and to make hot water for coffee or tea.

Make-ahead your one-pan meals at home and individually pack into containers so that you either have to just cook or reheat on the hot plates. We stick with mostly one-pan meals when in a campervan too.

Foil packet camping recipes are another great option for quick easy pre-prepped road trip food you can cook easily on the road.

THE BEST CAMPING TOYS & ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS

This will give you endless other options to enjoy camp style meals during your road trip without the full camping set up.

Or alternatively, use public BBQ facilities along the way at your rest stop to cook or heat meals.

TIP: If staying in a hotel room, choose hotels with basic cooking facilities you can use for dinners and meal cooking.

BBQ or camp kitchen dinner ideas:

  • Savoury mince or tacos
  • Sausages
  • Bacon and eggs
  • Baked beans
  • Tinned soup
  • Quesadillas
  • Chilli con Carne

You can pretty much turn any one-pot or dump recipe into a camp stove or BBQ top recipe. Bag each meal individually, heat or cook and serve.

TIP: If you don’t want to bring your own, find an app for your phone that will tell you where the nearest public BBQ facilities are along your journey.

HEALTHY ROAD TRIP FOOD

Taking your own make-ahead road trip meals is an easy way to ensure you are eating well while travelling. You can choose healthy options and avoid the greasy, carb-loaded takeaway food that tends to be associated with road trips.

It also means choosing healthy road trip snacks too.

Healthy snacks are a much better option when spending so much more time sitting than being as active as you would otherwise. And while a little junk food is a fun treat, don’t overdo it!

Not only is this better for your health, it will also make you feel better while travelling to not have those heavily processed meals sitting in your stomach while stationary for most of the day.

Easy Road Trip Food Ideas for Your Next Travel Adventure

Easy road trip food ideas

You can pre-make some road trip meals and snacks. But it’s not possible to make everything or practical to carry a lot of perishable food. It is easier to carry some pre-packaged non-perishable food along with some homemade meals and snacks to bring along.

1. Fruits

Fresh Sliced Tropical Fruits Berries in Container. Delicious Healthy Snack Ready to Eat Salad in Transparent Cup Closeup Elevated View. Vegetarian Raw Food. Citrus, Kiwi, Raspberries for Lunch

Fruits are one of the ideal snacks to take on a road trip. You can cut them up and serve them for breakfast or desserts, too. Pack fruits that are easy to eat and don’t need to be kept in the cooler, such as apples, bananas, and oranges. However, if you’re taking cut fruits, like watermelon slices, strawberries, or kiwi, then pack them in cooler-ready containers or bags and consume them first.

2. Granola bars

You can make some healthy granola bars at home or buy a variety from the store. Either way, these make a great snack for road trips. They are satisfying, an excellent source of energy, and are fun to eat. Granola bars are also a quick alternative to a cooked breakfast.

3. Muffins

You can pre-make a variety of delicious muffins at home such as blueberry muffins, apple cinnamon muffins, or banana and oats muffins. You can also pack a range of store-bought muffins to save time. Muffins are great as a snack or even for a breakfast.

4. Crackers, pretzels, and crispbreads

Pack an assortment of crackers, pretzels, and crispbreads for easy snacks to take on a road trip. Have these with cubes of cheese like cheddar, string-cheese, or cold cuts like salami or ham. Remember to pack cold meats in the cooler.

5. Fruit and nut mixes

There’s nothing like a good mix of dried fruit and nuts for a road trip. You can make some trail mix at home or buy some mixes at the store. Full of protein and fiber, these mixes provide enough fuel to keep you going for the day, and they don’t require refrigeration.

6. Yogurt

Yogurt cup with natural strawberry Greek style yogurt swirled with real strawberries

Carry yogurt in travel-friendly pouches, tubes, or containers in a cooler bag. It is a convenient and healthy snack for kids and adults and can be paired with fruits and granola.

7. Hard-boiled eggs

Boil some eggs the night before and store them in an air-tight container in the fridge after peeling them. Pack them in a cooler bag with some ice for the road trip. Eggs are portable high-protein snacks and can be paired with other foods.

8. Canned tuna

Full of protein and quite filling, tuna works well to make many meals while you are on the road. Use it as a sandwich filling, make a salad, or serve it with crackers. Make sure you carry cans with the pull tabs so they are easy to open.

9. Sandwiches

If you’re looking for make-ahead meals for traveling, you can’t go wrong with sandwiches. Pre-make sandwiches with cheese and deli meat like ham, turkey, or bacon. Or make a veggie sandwich with avocado, mozzarella cheese, and tomato. Wrap sandwiches in parchment paper and pack in a resealable bag.

10. Pita pockets

Just like the sandwiches, pre-make stuffed pita pockets filled with a variety of ingredients such as mozzarella, turkey, hummus, tomato, and cucumber, or a tuna salad, or pulled pork and coleslaw.  

11. Cold rotisserie chicken

Rotisserie chicken is a quick and convenient go-to meal for a road trip. Prep the chicken before packing, like pulling the meat from the bone or cutting the meat into pieces. Enjoy it as a filling for a sandwich, or have it with some salad.

12. Pasta salad

Make a loaded pasta salad ahead of the trip. Fill it up with veggies and some protein like grilled chicken, sliced sausages, or pepperoni. Use a light dressing to make this a delicious lunch or dinner for the trip.

13. Salads

Plastic package with healthy chicken salad with avocado , tomatoes and pomegranate to take away

You can make a variety of salads and pack them in disposable containers or grab some pre-made ones from the grocery store. Salads are packed with goodness and make a substantial meal by themselves, or you can serve them up with some chicken or other protein.

14. Omelette squares

This is a quick and filling breakfast that you can put together before you leave on your trip. Bake eggs and veggies like spinach, carrots, and potatoes with some cheese. Cut up into squares and pack.

15. Pepperoni mini calzones

Fill pie crust dough with mozzarella cheese, sliced pepperoni, and pizza sauce and shape into mini calzones. Bake and pack in foil for a warm lunch meal, or pack them in the cooler.

16. Cold pizza

A cold pizza makes a filling meal for a road trip. You can make pizza at home or pack slices of store-bought pizza. Let the pizza cool and wrap each slice in tin foil.

17. Apple pie energy bites

These apple balls are easy to put together and give you the energy you need on your trip. Make them with apples, dates, rolled oats, pecans, and almond butter, and pack them in an airtight container.

18. Chocolate chip cookies

Chocolate chip cookies background. Cookies pattern on blue color

You can have a road trip without choc chip cookies. Pre-make a big batch and pack them in an airtight container. You can even make a variety of other cookies in different flavors, like peanut butter, oatmeal, or condensed milk cookies.

19. Banana bread

Banana bread is a healthy and delicious addition to the food you are packing. Both kids and adults love it, and you can pre-make it at home or buy it from the store. If packed properly, it can last a few days in the cooler bag.

20. Peanut butter and jelly

A road trip is not complete without the classic PB&J. This is one of the easiest go-to meals, especially for kids. Remember to pack a jar of peanut butter for your trip, as it’s a great accompaniment with apples or bananas.

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