Finding new restaurants and trying local foods can be one of the best parts of traveling. But when you’re trying to save money, eat a little healthier, or are pressed for time in getting to your destination, planning a road trip food list is the best way to go.
We almost always have food for our adventures with everything else we have on our packing list for a family road trip. But these ideas aren’t just for road trips – they work great for camping, hiking, skiing, or traveling through airports. Here are favorites from our list of road trip meals to save you money, time, and your waistline!
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Breakfast Ideas for Road Trips
Start the day fueled for a day of adventure. If staying at a hotel where breakfast is included with your stay, make sure to take advantage of that. Focus on healthy foods that are high in fiber and protein and low in sugar so you don’t find yourself looking for more food hit after you hit the road.
1. Egg Muffin Cups
Fill them with veggies, cheese, and bacon or sausage for an additional source of protein. Keep in the freezer until right before your trip. They will thaw and be ready to eat after a day or two on the road.
2. Bagel with Cream Cheese
Use peanut butter instead of cream cheese for extra protein. Bagel thins tend to pack a little better than regular-sized bagels.
Pick up some muffins from the grocery store bakery, or make them at home before your trip. We like muffins made from high protein mixes, like Krusteaz or Kodiak, because they are less crumbly than others.
Munch on dry cereal if you’re eating en route, or pick up a pint of milk to serve with boxed or homemade cereal.
5. Hard-Boiled Eggs
Peel at home for the quickest morning meal.
We mostly avoid junk food on the road, but every now and then, a sugary treat in the morning is fun for our road trip meals. Our go-to is Pop-Tarts because they pack well.
We don’t eat scones often, so we sometimes add them to our road trip food list. We’ll make them at home or pick some up at the local bakery.
9. Breakfast Cookies
Giant cookies that are actually healthy are one of our favorite make-ahead meals for road trip adventures. Our favorite recipe is found here.
Road Trip Lunch Ideas (That Are Great for Dinners Too)
The best road trip lunch ideas are quick to prep and serve. We’ve ended up at a fast food place more often because I didn’t feel like digging through the cooler and prepping lunch when everyone was starving. These ideas include make-ahead meals for road trips, so the work is done at home before your trip. When you can, get everything prepared and assembled so you can just unpack and eat when hunger strikes.
10. Rotisserie Chicken
Pick up a roasted chicken from the grocery store when you need to restock for your road trip meals. It’s easy to serve and often comes with leftovers for another lunch or dinner.
11. Chicken Salad Sandwiches
When you have leftover rotisserie chicken, use it to make chicken salad. It’s effortless when you already have mayo, grapes, and pecans on your road trip food list.
12. Turkey Wraps
We generally save this one when we pick up groceries for more road trip meals. Tortillas, deli turkey, and sliced cheese are all you need for a quick and easy meal.
13. Pasta Salads
Pasta salads are great make-ahead meals for traveling. Cook tortellini or penne, add your favorite veggies (like chopped carrots, peppers, broccoli, and tomatoes), and toss with Italian dressing. Pack each serving up in a repurposed Talenti container so you can toss it when you’re done.
14. Mason Jar Salads
Mason jar salads are excellent road trip lunch ideas because they are intentionally packed to travel well.
If you haven’t made mason jar salads before, this has good instructions – and customize as you wish.
A good old peanut butter sandwich is the easiest on-the-go meal ever. Easy to make wherever you are, and easy to find the ingredients in almost any store with even the most limited groceries.
16. Greek Chicken
We probably have this more than anything. Ahead of your trip, grill marinated chicken strips for a perfectly packable roadside picnic. Pack naan, pita, or tortillas for serving, along with sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, feta, and tzatziki.
17. Cold Fried Chicken
The classic picnic meal is one of the best road trip lunch ideas. Add it to your road trip food list for restocking at the grocery store and some sides from the deli counter.
If you like cold burritos, you can eat these make-ahead meals for road trips anywhere. We sometimes serve these for dinner when traveling, heating them up in hotel microwaves.
19. Charcuterie and Snack Boards
20. Grain Bowls
I’ve been obsessed with grain bowls lately (thanks to this cookbook) and have been trying them out for make-ahead meals for road trips. They’ve worked perfectly for the road!
21. Tuna Pouches
Tuna is one of those road trip lunch ideas that you don’t want to make ahead but can get messy when draining (and that is not a smell anyone wants in the car!). Pick up pouches to make prep easier.
Pro Tip: You’ll need a good cooler to store perishable meals and snacks on your road trip, but there are things you can do to make sure your cooler does its job well. Follow these tips, like pre-chilling the cooler, to keep your food and drinks cold.
Ideas for Road Trip Snacks and Sides
These ideas for food to bring on a road trip are great for snacking or pairing with your on-the-road meals. We stock up on a variety so the family can pick and choose what they want to complete their meal or stave off hunger.
We like to have a variety of sweet and salty snacks and sides for our road trip meals. Our favorite road trip lunch ideas (or big snacks) include assorted easy-to-pack foods like dips, fruit, bread, and veggies.
22. Granola Bars
Avoid crunchy and crumbly granola bars for road trip snacks if you’re worried about keeping the car clean.
Stick with tubes, pouches, and drinkable yogurts, so you don’t need to dig out the spoons.
24. Fresh Fruits
Apples, oranges, and grapes pack better than many other fruits and are the easiest to prep. Bananas can quickly brown when packed away but work well for making peanut butter banana wraps. Berries packed in a plastic container also travel well.
25. Dried Fruits
In addition to packing fresh fruits, we also like to bring dried fruits that have a longer shelf life and aren’t as crushable as fresh fruit.
Beef, turkey, or any one of the so many flavors are a good, non-perishable protein snack.
27. Tortilla Chips and Salsa
You could even add some simple guacamole by mashing an avocado and adding salt and juice from a lime wedge.
28. Cheese and Crackers
Sliced, Laughing Cow wedges, BabyBel, or string cheese with crackers are very portable road trip snack ideas.
29. Chips or Pretzels
Salty snacks. Buy cans of travel-friendly Pringles that come packed perfectly for travel!
30. Bagged Salads
If you can stop off for a picnic, bagged salads from the grocery store are a delicious way to get fresh veggies in. Carefully open enough of the top to add dressing, hold it tightly closed, then shake to mix the salad.
31. Hummus & Pita Bread
Hummus is also the perfect dip for veggies and pita bread. Go for the individual serving packs, or repack a larger container of hummus into smaller separate containers.
32. Olives or Pickles
These savory treats are a great addition to your road trip meals.
33. Cheese Sticks or Baby Bels
Individually wrapped and high in protein, go well with lunches or crackers for a healthy road trip snack.
34. Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are filled with protein and healthy fats. We bought a few Planter’s Pop & Pour Nuts and refilled the containers as needed. They fit perfectly into cup holders and are easy to fill with more nuts or switch to sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
35. Applesauce Pouches
An easy, no-mess way to get fruit and is a good backup for when the fresh fruit is gone.
Cut an avocado in half and sprinkle with salt for a super easy and healthy snack. If you also bring a little lime juice (½ a lime), mash the avocado and add a good splash of lime juice for travel-friendly guacamole.
37. Peanut Butter & Banana Wrap
I love the new squeeze packs of peanut butter from Skippy and Jif for road trips. So much less mess since I don’t have to deal with a sticky, peanut butter-covered knife afterward.
Our favorite is Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop, a healthier alternative to and less messy than potato chips.
39. Raw Veggies
Veggies like carrots, broccoli, celery, sliced cucumbers, and grape tomatoes are so easy on the road and go perfectly with many road trip lunch ideas.
40. Trail Mix
Sweet, salty, crunchy trail mix is always good when traveling. Our Backpacker Bars make trail mix even easier to eat on the road.
Sweet Treats for Your Road Trip Food List
41. Rice Krispie Treats
Individually wrapped Rice Krispie Treats are a perfect sugar fix on the road. They’re not too crumbly or sticky, making less mess than other foods.
42. Skinny Dipped Almonds
This is our favorite way to get sweet with a little bit of healthy. We pick Skinny Dipped over other chocolate-covered almonds because of the thin layer of dark chocolate with just enough sweetness. The cocoa powder coating also makes it less melty and messy in the heat.
43. Pudding Cups
Buy shelf-stable pudding cups if you don’t have the extra cooler space.
Homemade or store-bought cookies are a quick and easy sweet treat on the road.
Tips for Packing and Prepping Road Trip Meals
Getting your snacks and meals ready for the trip is almost as important as the road trip food ideas themselves. These tips and non-food items will make eating on the road an easy feat.
- Stock up on easy prep foods at the grocery store every 1-2 days to keep things fresh, and storage needs to a minimum. Pick up items like rotisserie chicken, deli meats, cheese, and bread.
- Stay well-stocked on water with a 5-gallon water jug and have a reusable water bottle (or insulated tumbler) for refilling
- Tortillas, sandwich thins, and bagel thins hold up better than loaves of sandwich bread, which can easily get smushed in the car.
- If you are packing foods that are squishable or crushable, like loaves of bread and bags of chips, store them in small cardboard boxes that you can toss when no longer needed.
- Hotels with microwaves open up a whole new world of possibilities, with easy mac, steam-in-bag veggies, microwavable meals, and instant oats.
Road Trip Packing List for Snacks and Meals
We pack foods in a set of reusable items to reduce waste along the way. This list includes everything you need to prep and serve your road trip meals and can be stored in a small tote.
- flatware and utensils for eating and serving (reusable is great if you have an opportunity to wash them before using them next time)
- a small cutting board and a paring knife (look for ones with a blade cover)
- dish soap, sponge, and towel for washing dishes
- salt & pepper for seasoning when needed
- koozies to help fill the gap in car cup holders that are too large for some cans and bottles
- microwave-safe bowl heating foods during hotel stays
- a single burner camp stove is great for extended trips (make easy-to-cook foods like quesadillas, grilled cheese, soup, or ramen noodles on a roadside picnic; for safety reasons, stoves should not be used indoors)
- Stasher bags and collapsible silicone containers for storing prepared foods or leftovers
- a good cooler to keep cold foods cold, or for frequent or extended trips, consider a small fridge that plugs into your vehicle (we found that the RTIC Soft Pack 30 is the perfect size for road trips)
- wet-wipes for quick clean-up after meals
- trash bags to keep the car clean after snacking while driving
Frequently Asked Questions About Road Trip Meals
Road trip meals and snacks don’t have to be unhealthy or challenging to prepare while traveling. You can bring along healthy and delicious options that will keep you fueled up for the drive with just a little planning ahead. Keep this road trip food list close so you can be ready for your next adventure!
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