Road trips are exciting adventures to take with friends, family or solo. Creating a road trip food list and bringing some easy to make and pack road trip meals is essential. Prevent hangry travel companions and cut way down on your food costs. Not to mention less stops to buy food and snacks along the way, equals healthier food and more time at places you really want to be.
We’ve taken our share of road trips over the years. Cross country adventures and multi-day road trips to visit extended family and a move to northern Canada are just a few. Road tripping both as adults, and with kids ranging from months old to teenagers, and everything in between.
Our ultimate road trip food list, meals addition, includes ideas both kids and adults will love, plus tips for packing and what non-food items you’ll need to bring.
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Ultimate Road Trip Food List
Road Trip Food: Make Ahead Meals For Your Road Trip
Road trip meal planning will help you avoid fast food temptation between destinations and keep your food expenses to a budget friendly level. This also frees up some of your hard earned cash to splurge on meals you will actually look forward to and want to eat.
If you have dietary restrictions or allergies, creating a road trip meal plan will also be a necessity. You never know when or where you may find safe and healthy food options on the road.
Road Trip Breakfast Ideas
Breakfast is known as the most important meal of the day. However it can often be overlooked, as you eagerly hit the road to your next destination. Especially if it isn’t included with your hotel stay.
Here are some easy to pack breakfast ideas you can take to go, or quickly eat hot in the morning. As long as you have access to hot water or basic kitchen facilities or a microwave.
Cold Road Trip Breakfast Ideas – On-the-Go
- Cereal Bars
- Yogurt – Tubes, Drinks,
- Fruit & Veggie Pouches
- Chia Pudding – Make the night before
- Granola & Overnight Oats – Make the night before
- Muffins & Peanut Butter (or other nut or seed butters)
- Egg Muffins or Mini Quiches ( To heat or not to heat. That is the question)
- Hard Boiled Eggs
- Egg Salad
- Breakfast Cookies
- Bagels and Cream Cheese
- Peanut Butter and Banana Wrap
- No Bake Oat Bites
- Pancake Sandwiches – nut butter / jam between two mini pancakes
Breakfast – Hot & Quick Ideas
- Instant Oatmeal
- Cup of Soup or canned soup
- Pre-made Mini Quiche (just heat up)
- Egg, Cheese, & avocado tortilla wrap
- Haloumi Cheese and Bacon Breakfast Sandwich
- One Pan Chickpea Hash (fried chickpeas, veggies, herbs) & Fried eggs
Road Trip Lunch Ideas – On-The Go
Lunch ideas are probably the easiest for most people to come up with, when it comes to thinking of road trip meal planning. What is the first thing that comes to mind, but sandwiches. Sandwiches are such a staple we’ve given them their own section below.
To be honest, I often just prepare and pack foods I would usually take for lunch at work, for the first day or two. Then add easier to grab and prep lunch items along the way, like sandwich fixings, or cheese, meat and cracker plates for a longer trip.
Easy Road Trip Lunch Ideas
- Sushi / nori rolls – sweet potato, cucumber and avocado, smoked salmon, cucumber and avocado, smoked salmon & cream cheese
- Sandwiches (see Road Trip Sandwiches for ideas)
- Tortilla Pinwheels
- Meat Kabobs
- Corn & Zucchini Fritters
- Fruit (apple slices, cantaloupe, grapes), cheese and bread or crackers
- Charcuterie plate – cheese, deli meats, olives, dried fruit
- Chickpea or Bean Salads
- Quinoa Salad
- Canned Tuna – The mini pull tab tins come in many flavours
- Mason Jar Salad – keep the dressing separate
- Pre-made Quesadillas – Refried beans and cheese. Keep salsa & sour cream separate in small leak-proof containers
Sides to Add to Lunch Ideas
- Cut up veggie sticks and hummus
- Fruit – apple, berries, melon, grapes
- Homemade cookies or energy balls
Road Trip Sandwiches
What’s a road trip, without a sandwich or two. In fact sandwiches are so iconic, portable, easy to make and ideal for lunch and dinner they deserve a section, all on its own. And here it is!
For easy, awesome road trip sandwich you will need a few things
- Bread: First you’ll need some kind of hearty bread (kaiser bun, wraps, pita, baguette, ciabatta)
- Protein: Pair with protein such as deli meat, sliced chicken or beef, bacon, eggs, tofu, nut butters
- Extras: Add on the extras such as cheese, lettuce, pickles, fruit
- Condiments: mayo, mustard, olive tapenade, other sauces
Here are some easy and interesting sandwich ideas:
- Cheddar and Jam
- Egg Salad
- Cream cheese and cucumber
- Spicy Tuna and Cucumber – leave out the spice if it’s not your thing
- Pesto Egg Salad Baguette
- Ham & Cheese Baguette or Wrap
- Turkey and Cheese Baguette or Wrap
- Turkey Club Sandwich
- Turkey, Pear, Feta Wrap
- Apple, Cheddar and Mustard Sandwich
- Roasted Red Pepper & Hummus Sandwich
- Curry Chicken or Curried Chickpea Salad Sandwich
Tips to Prevent Soggy Sandwiches: Start with heartier bread or toast it first. Put a layer of mayo, or mustard on each side. It actually helps prevent soggy sandwiches. Keep watery veggies separate like tomatoes, and add them right before eating. Or even better, pack each ingredient separately, then everyone can assemble their sandwich how they like, on-the-go.
How Do You Pack a Sandwich For the Road
No one wants to eat the sad sorry state of a squished sandwich that found its way to the bottom of a cooler, or bag. Packing sandwiches in a hard sided container is ideal. Either reusable individual sandwich containers or larger leak-proof containers for multiple sandwiches.
You may also like 50+ Easy to make, healthy road trip snack recipes
Road Trip Meals: Dinner Ideas
Dinner is the one meal we often splurge on, and choose to eat out at a local restaurant, instead of on the road when possible.
We like to do a bit of research and see what the area is known for, or if there are special meals we can’t get at home. Also after a few days of packed road trip meals, it’s nice to sit down at a restaurant and have someone else clean up and organize.
However, there are times when you need dinner in the car ideas. You can always re-use the lunch or even breakfast ideas, because they are all tasty anytime of day.
Cold Road Trip Dinner Ideas
- Pasta Salad, Greek Salad
- Taco Salad
- Cobb Salad
- Other Cold salads – Potato, bean, egg, chickpea, salmon, tofu, quinoa, rice and bean
- Sandwiches – check out ideas in sandwich section
- Chicken salad / caesar wrap
- Falafel Wrap
- Rice Paper Rolls & Peanut Sauce
- Chicken wings & pre roasted veggies
- Grilled or roast chicken, rice and veggies
- Tortilla Chips, Bean Dip and Salsa
- Egg roll pinwheels with spinach, and cheese
Salad Tips – Keep the ingredients & dressing separate. That way each person can assemble to their liking, and the lettuce doesn’t get soggy from swimming in the dressing all day.
Hot Road Trip Dinner Ideas
One pan or pot dinner ideas are perfect for travel, camping and road trips. As long as you remember the hot plate, or cook stove. Been there, done that, forgetting the stove. Another option is to choose motels, or places to stay that have basic kitchen facilities.
You can also meal prep ahead of time and put individual meals in separate containers that are easy to reheat and clean up.
If you are a camping family, what you plan for camping meals is similar. Think easy camping type meals:
- Baked Beans
- Cup of Soup or Canned Soup
- Frozen Homemade Soup (use the first day or two after it defrosts. Bonus it helps keep the cooler cold)
- Bacon or Sausages and Eggs
- Rice and beans or ground beef for tacos or wraps
- Chickpea Curry and Rice (pre-make and heat up)
Road Trip Snacks
We have a full article on all the best road trip snacks to bring that both adults and kids will love. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Energy Balls
- Trail Mix
- Fruit and Veggie Sticks
- Cheese and Crackers
- Jerky, Beef Sticks
Who doesn’t drink too much on the road because they are avoiding using restrooms at pull-outs or gas stations? I’m guilty of this too, but this often leads me to crankiness and wicked headaches, sooo…… Do as I say, not as I do (said Parents everywhere).
Staying hydrated is super important. While water should be the number one choice, sometimes you need a little something different like:
- Herbal Tea
- Coconut water
- Water with crushed berries, or cucumber slices, or lemon
- No sugar added fruit juices
- Flavoured Sparkling water
- Almond / Oat / Soy Milk
Looking for road trip ideas? Check out our 7 day Zion, Bryce and Grand Canyon road trip itinerary or our 4 Day Family friendly itinerary in Acadia National Park, Maine, USA.
Road Trip Food Tips
With so much to do when planning a road trip, it’s sometimes hard to be prepared when it comes to food. Beyond throwing a bunch of items into the cooler and food bag and hoping for the best. Let’s give you a few tips to make packing a bit easier:
- Bread: Bring wraps, pitas and flatbreads – they take up less room, and won’t get squished like bread loaves
- Perishables: Eat your perishables and more fragile fruits first (bananas, raspberries, pre-cut fruit like melons, pineapple, mango etc.)
- Freeze Water bottles: When hot out, freeze a couple of the water bottles the night before. They’ll keep your cooler cold, and give cold water to drink as they melt.
- Cooler Tips:
- Place your cooler somewhere cool the night before, or pre-chill the cooler for up to 12 hours with ice / ice packs you won’t be using on your trip.
- Lay solid blocks of ice or reusable ice packs on the bottom, plus put a layer of ice on the top
- Pack the cooler full – too much space helps the inside heat up faster
- Freeze food you won’t need for a couple of days, and use frozen water bottles to help keep the inside colder, longer
- Try to limit the number of times you open the cooler in the day.
- Pack your food in order of when you want to eat it, leaving the next day or two’s meals on top.
- Garbage Bag for the car: Having a designated garbage bag for the car, will keep the garbage contained, and your car organized.
- Clean-Up Kit: Bring a clean up kit. Kids, adults, toddlers all on occasion make messes. Having a clean-up kit handy just in case is good practice. Include wipes, paper towel, extra water, and an easily accessible change of clothes.
- Storage: To keep things organized, use small stackable Rubbermaid containers to pack your non-perishables.
Road Trip Essentials – What To Add To Your Road Trip Packing List
Now that we’ve got the meals all planned out, and the best road trip SNACKS organized let’s move on to the non-food items you’ll need to add to your road trip packing list.
Our goal is to reduce our impact on the earth whatever mode of travel. Bringing reusable items on our trips to cut down on waste is one simple way to do this. If you make it part of your routine, you will be pleasantly surprised how easy it becomes.
Here are some other reusable items to pack for your road trip:
- Plastic, glass or stainless steel containers – Can be used for leftovers, as dishes, hold snack packs, or even small toys, art supplies
- Cutlery – knives, forks, spoons,
- Dishes – Cups, plates, bowls
- Coffee Mugs – Our favs are Yeti Mugs or the Klean Kanteen
- Reusable Straws
- Water bottles for the kids
- Water bottles for the adults
- Cloth fruit bags
- Bento Boxes
- Garbage bags – reuse grocery bags
Storage & Cleaning Supplies
- Reusable Ice Packs
- Hand sanitizer
- Paper Towels & Wet Wipes
Best Road Trip Coolers
Coolers provide more flexibility with the types of meals and snacks you can bring on your trips. We think they are a road trip essential, without a doubt. Before choosing one, there are a few things to consider:
- How long is your trip?
- Which meals will you be packing from home?
- How often will you have access to a grocery store?
- How much space do you have in your vehicle? Where do you want to put the cooler?
Answers to these questions will give you an idea of the size and cooling ability needed from your cooler. We’ve put together a list of the best coolers to try, that are easily available on Amazon.
Best Overall Cooler ( Size and Holds the Cold) – Yeti Roadi 24 Cooler
The Yeti Roadi 24 Cooler is narrow, so it easily fits behind the seat, is well insulated, which holds the cold, and is lighter than previous versions. It can also be transformed into a stool if you buy the cushion.
Best Family Cooler & Long Road Trips – ORCA ORCP040 Cooler
The Orca Cooler is a top pick for size and flexibility. It can hold a lot of food and ice, which can be kept frozen for up to a week or more. Plus it has cool whale tail latches. They also come in smaller sizes if you need a little less space.
Best Soft Sided Cooler – TOURIT Leak-Proof Soft-Sided Cooler Backpack
The Tourit Leak Proof soft-sided backpack is an excellent option for shorter road trips or if you are planning a picnic or day at the beach. This leak-proof high-density insulated backpack can keep food cold for up to 3 days. It also has side pockets for extra storage.
Tips to Prepare For Your Road Trip
Anything you can do the day or two beforehand to prep your food, and pack your non-perishables, do it. This will save rushing around at the last minute, and forgetting important things like your water bottles.
We recommend doing the following ahead of time:
- Make a Shopping list and meal plan.
- Check off the items as you pack them.
- Wash and cut veggies and fruit
- Prepare sandwiches, meat slices, cheese slices
- Freeze meals and water bottles the night or two before
- Prepare the snack bags or snack tote
- Prepare your Clean up kit
- Pack non-perishable foods in small totes or bags
- Pack your perishable foods in the cooler, right before you leave.
Pro Tip: Pack your car the night before you leave, to make sure everything fits. Make sure your cooler and essential road trip snacks are easily accessible.
Conclusion: Ultimate Road Trip Food List: Easy Road Trip Meals
With over 40 easy and delicious road trip meal options, you will find a party in your cooler for all taste buds. Plus don’t forget that a little pre-trip planning can go a long way towards a stress free vacation.
What’s your favourite road trip meal or snack? Do you have any cool road trip meal planning hacks? Let us know in the comments below or connect with us on social media. We’d love to hear from you.
Related travel tips and destination articles:
- Easy ways to take a frugal road trip
- Zion National Park – One day itinerary ideas and plans
- Plan your trip to Niagara Falls
- Fun things to do in Victoria, BC Canada with kids
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