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25 Easy Make-Ahead Road Trip Meal Ideas they’ll love!

Meal planning on a road trip doesn't have to be tough. Here are some easy road trip meal ideas to help you get started and enjoy the journey! #roadtrip #camping #recipes #mealplanning #campervan #motorhome #wanderingbird #foodideas

Planning a road trip? Looking for easy, make-ahead meal ideas, whether for a weekend break or a longer trip? Or maybe you want some easy recipes for meals on the road? Here are 25 great ideas for you!

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Easy Make-Ahead Road Trip Meals

I’ll be honest- planning meals for a road trip is one of the things I dislike most.

Don’t get me wrong- I like cooking and I DEFINITELY like eating … but I am not good at creating a meal plan.

I also have a daughter who has gone from eating whatever we give her to being more and more particular about what she likes- and she’d rather not eat at all than eat something she doesn’t love. At home, it’s pretty easy to cook separate meals, but in the van, it becomes a whole different issue- and it makes the process of meal planning a lot harder.

Why plan meals on a road trip at all??

Oh, I hear you. In an ideal world, we’d just head off into the unknown and see what we find. One of the things we enjoy most about travelling is sampling local foods and dishes and enjoying discovering new things.

Both Mr WB and myself are fairly easy to please and can make do with all sorts, but anyone with kids knows that it’s just not that easy. I also don’t want to spend my time on the road worrying about whether she’ll eat anything- so it makes MY life easier if I plan it out a little in advance.

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Road Trip Meal Planning

So, where do you even start with planning meals for a road trip??

For me, I break it down into 2/3 day intervals. Generally, we like to pop into a shop and buy fresh bread, fruit and other bits every 2/3 days. We don’t do MASSIVE week long shops when we travel- our fridge is nowhere near big enough to deal with that and there’s the worry about what happens if you lose power or gas? All that food will go to waste.

Of course, if you’re only going to a weekend, you can easily make-ahead several dishes and just heat them up- much easier.

TOP TIP for picky eaters- Make them choose some meals

One way I tackle our favourite picky eater is to get her to pick 5-7 dinners she will eat. (Annoyingly, this seems to change every week or so!) I also make her come shopping with me- I find if she chooses it, there’s a higher chance she’ll eat it.

While we’re on the subject of kids, here are some posts you might find useful:

  • 21 EPIC Children’s car games & road trip activities
  • 14 quiet time activities for kids, tweens and teenagers

Our Normal Road Trip Food shopping method

On a ‘normal’ two-week road trip to mainland Europe, this is my tried and trusted routine:

  • Buy stuff in UK which we struggle to get overseas (see below)
  • Make-ahead meals for first night or two
  • Buy things as you travel (at local markets, supermarkets or Lidl)
  • Do this every couple of days so we can buy fresh bread, fruit and croissants! Yum!!
  • Try to ignore jeans not doing up….!! 
  • Remember that people eat EVERYWHERE and try not to overbuy before you leave the UK.

This system has worked fairly well for us. It’s allowed us to discover new things, let Jade choose what she fancies and my stress levels don’t get too high trying to plan out a whole weeks worth of meals.

What about perishable foods?

We have a fridge which works both whilst we’re driving (battery) and when we’re parked up (gas). So we bring a small amount of perishable food with us- milk, cheese, ham, meat, yogurt, fruit, bacon.

We don’t buy too much in case there is a problem and the fridge breaks- it’s always been a little tempermental and is the part of the motorhome I trust the least!!

Meal planning on a road trip doesn't have to be tough. Here are some easy road trip meal ideas to help you get started and enjoy the journey! #roadtrip #camping #recipes #mealplanning #campervan #motorhome #wanderingbird #foodideas

Easy Road Trip Recipes

When I’m on a road trip, especially if it’s a holiday, I don’t want to spend hours of my time in the galley, prepping, washing, chopping, cooking and washing up!

Here are a few easy recipes we use and love. Most only use one pot and many can be made in advance if you prefer.

5 easy road trip Breakfast ideas

  • Greek Yogurt and fresh fruit
  • Muesli/ cereal
  • Scrambled eggs in a wrap or on toast (toast is HARD to cook on a gas hob though!)
  • Bacon/ sausage sandwich (bring your own bacon from the UK. Alternatively, look in European supermarkets- but it won’t look the same. It’s usually much thinner and cooks MUCH faster.)
  • One Pan English Breakfast 

Note how those went from fairly healthy to full-on delicious! I’m making myself hungry!

10 easy Lunch ideas for a road trip

We tend to do lunch as we travel- or if we’re exploring we’ll treat ourselves to a cheeky lunch out. Just don’t do that at Neuschwanstein Castle ! ( Jeez- you thought Norway was expensive!!!! )

  • Fresh crusty bread and… anything. Cheese, ham, tuna, butter, garlic cheese, crisps, chicken, leftover beef, fish fingers…
  • Salad. We try and add some fruit or salad in where possible- we’ll pretend to be healthy every once in a while! If we’re parked up I love to fry up some chicken and pop it onto a quick salad with avocado, tomatoes and peppers. Or try these delicious healthy salad recipes . TOP TIP- WASH your salad. Even the ones in bags. They don’t always wash it in Europe. It also doesn’t seem to last as long (that might be the heat) so don’t over buy.
  • Grilled Cheese (see below for recipe)
  • Couscous (see below)

I have still not found a decent way to make toast in the van. It’s an ongoing process that I will continue to work at! Still, Grilled Cheese sandwiches are a perfect snack:

Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipe

  • Sliced Bread
  • Cheese (Cheddar and Mozzarella work well)

Butter bread thinly and put butter side down into hot frying pan (not too hot and use butter, not oil.) Add slices of cheddar and mozzarella cheese. Add other slice of bread on top, butter side up. After a couple of minutes (when bottom slice is brown but not burnt), flip sandwich over. Grill for a couple of minutes. For an extra touch, transfer sandwich to oven tray and bake in oven at 170’c for 5-7 minutes until cheese is totally melted.

Burritos are basically large wraps, with beans and/ or rice added into the wrap. One of the easiest ones is the bean and cheese burrito, but you can easily add in meat, sauces and any leftovers you might have.


  • 1 whole-grain tortilla wrap
  • 1 medium-sized can of black beans (cook in advance if needed)
  • Cheese- sliced or grated

Simply spread ingredients over wrap, fold in all ends tightly and enjoy!

5 Easy Road Trip Sandwich ideas

Sometimes, simple is best. Here are some easy road trip sandwich ideas:

  • Sausage or Bacon Sandwich – great for breakfast or lunch!
  • Ham/Chicken/ Salami Sandwich – with or without cheese
  • Jam or Peanut Butter Sandwich
  • Egg Mayo Sandwich
  • Tuna sandwich

Couscous is magical. Lighter than rice and so versatile. I make a big helping of this and it lasts for lunch and dinner quite happily.

The trick is to double the amount of liquid to cous cous. One cup couscous= 2 cups stock. I love to use chicken or vegetable stock. Nothing fancy; those little cubes in some boiling water are just fine. Stir until the cube disolves, then pour it over the couscous. Leave to stand for 10 minutes. The beauty of this is you can add whatever you like to it. We like lemon, mint, feta, avocado, red peppers, spring onions, celery… the list is endless. I generally make a bowl of plain couscous and we each add different fillings to it.

Meal planning on a road trip doesn't have to be tough. Here are some easy road trip meal ideas to help you get started and enjoy the journey! #roadtrip #camping #recipes #mealplanning #campervan #motorhome #wanderingbird #foodideas

10 easy or make-ahead road trip meals for dinner

Ahhhh… now this is the fun part. Everyone’s been driving in the exact same motorhome for several hours… and as soon as you arrive somewhere and the van is parked up for the night, they all turn to you and ask ‘what’s for dinner?’…!

All of these recipes take no more than 30 minutes or you can make many of them ahead for the first few days of the trip.

TOP TIP- Be kind to yourself. Many people dislike ‘pre-made’ sauces, feeling that they’re ‘cheating’ if they don’t cook everything from scratch. But it’s your trip too, so don’t be judgemental about sauces from a jar. Yes, there might be a bit more sugar or salt- but it’s a heck of a lot better than a pizza or McDonalds. So be kind to yourself and make things easy.

Some easy or make-ahead meal ideas for dinners on the road:

  • 3-way mince (Bolognaise, Chilli, Savoury)- can be made in the slow cooker

Spanish Omelette

  • Easy make-ahead taco Bowl

Chicken Quinoa

  • Pea/ Pesto Pasta

Cheats Pizza

3-way mince: bolognese, chilli or savoury.

Here’s the recipe for 3 way mince bulk cooking. You can get savoury mince, bolognese and chilli from 1 pack of mince. It’s the perfect ‘make-ahead’ recipe and is very easy to heat up on the road.

1 pack of 500g mince makes 5 meals: 2 x savoury mince 2 x chilli 1 x bolognese

Start with chopped onion, pepper, garlic and grated carrot all in one large pan with a little oil (or butter) until softened.

Split the mix between 3 pans & add the mince. Cut it long ways in the packet before adding so it’s easier to break up in the pan.

You can add any vegetables at this point. Previously I’ve used courgette, mushrooms and aubergine, all finely chopped. You can get 6/7/8 kinds of vegetables in there!

Brown the mince on a low to medium heat so it doesn’t clump together, break it up with a spoon as it cooks.  Add the seasoning to the chilli pan (cumin, turmeric, chilli powder, garlic powder and paprika) and garlic powder to the savoury mince & bolognese pans. 

Once browned, strain peas & sweetcorn (one small can of corn & 1 small can of peas and add to savoury mince pan.

Add one can of chopped tomatoes to the chilli pan & 1 to the bolognese, stir through. Drain and rinse the kidney beans and add to the chilli. I used half a can of beans, I’ll save the rest for a salad.

Rinse the tomato cans out with a little water & add to the savoury mince pan. Stir in Bisto granules (or beef stock & maybe cornflour or thickener as needed). Add a little Worcestershire sauce & pepper to taste.

Taste & adjust seasonings if necessary.

Divide & eat, or store in the fridge until ready.

Many thanks to Phillippa from PhilyaBelly for the recipe – follow her on Instagram

Meal planning on a road trip doesn't have to be tough. Here are some easy road trip meal ideas to help you get started and enjoy the journey! #roadtrip #camping #recipes #mealplanning #campervan #motorhome #wanderingbird #foodideas

Serve with:

  • Spaghetti, rice or potatoes.
  • Garlic or crusty bread
  • Grated cheese
  • Side salad if your family will eat it.

I LOVE this Spanish Omelette. It’s so easy to make and only uses one pan.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped

Heat the oil in large frying pan. Peel potatoes and slice thinly. Put the slices in the pan with the onion & garlic. Cover the pan and cook until the potatoes are tender, turning them occasionally. Beat the eggs.

When the potato and onion mixture is cooked, add it to the eggs and mix together. Heat another spoon of oil in the pan, and turn the heat down as low as it will go. Pour the egg, onion & potato mixture into the pan.

The essence of this dish is slow cooking and it should take about 20 minutes. When there is no liquid left turn omelette over for 2 minutes. It’s now ready to serve and eat! Delicious- perfect with salad or french loaf.

Lamb Kebabs

Take 500g (4 people) of lean lamb mince and add spices (salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, paprika… whatever you like!) Mould into balls or around a skewer and cook on BBQ or in oven until browned.

If using BBQ and wooden skewers, soak the skewers in water for about 30 minutes first.

Serve with Tzatziki- Greek yogurt, mint, lemon and cucumber

Easy make-ahead Taco bowl

  • 1 can of beef
  • ½ of a small jar of salsa
  • Bag of tortilla chips
  • 1 can of beans
  • 1 avocado/ guacamole

Warm beef and cook beans as directed on label. Mix and add on top of chips (can be warmed in oven) Add Salsa, avocado/ guacamole, sour cream and grated cheese as desired (we pop the whole thing in the oven to melt the cheese.


  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1/4 tsp. herb de Provence (or any herbs)
  • 1 cup. quinoa
  • 1/4 cup. white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup. olive oil
  • 2 green onions
  • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 4 cup. rocket/ lettuce/ salad
  • 2/3 cup. olives, quartered
  • 12 oz. tomatoes, halved
  • Season chicken breasts with herbs, salt and pepper. Grill 3 minutes per side on medium-high or until cooked through.
  • Cook quinoa as label directs.
  • Mix vinegar, olive oil, green onions, Dijon mustard and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Toss half of the vinaigrette with cooked quinoa, salad/ rocket, tomatoes and olives. Serve chicken over quinoa with remaining vinaigrette.

Pea / Pesto Pasta

  • Pasta  
  • fresh or frozen peas
  • Chopped chives, for serving
  • Cook pasta. Drain and return pasta to pot. 
  • While pasta is cooking, roughly chop 1 cup peas. Add ricotta and lemon zest and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. 
  • Add ricotta mixture, remaining 1/2 cup peas, and pasta water; toss to combine. Sprinkle with chopped chives, if desired.

Alternatively, cook pasta, add several large spoons of pesto and some grated cheese and mix well.

Salmon with rice and vegetables

We eat salmon a lot- it’s very good for you.

Grill (or use a low-wattage air fryer ) and serve with rice, couscous (see above) and vegetables.

Sure, you can make your own dough and add toppings- and if that works for you, then go for it. However, we cheat.

  • Grab 2 pitta breads per person and pop them under the grill
  • You want them warm, but not ‘crispy’
  • Turn over, and spread with pesto (green or red)
  • Add mozzarella cheese, ham, salami, mushrooms… whatever you like!
  • Grill until bubbling

If you’d like more inspiration, here are a couple of our favourite camping cookbooks:

The Camper Van Cookbook: Life on 4 wheels, Cooking on 2 rings

Healthy Road Trip Snacks

We’ve done an entire post on 15 quick & healthy road trip snacks (many of them Keto friendly) but here are a couple more ideas for you:

  • 1 large can of tuna
  • ½ cup of cranberries
  • A packet of whole-grain crackers

First, take the tuna out from the can and empty it into a bowl. Next, mash a whole avocado and add it with the cranberries into the tuna. Use whole-grain crackers to dip into your tuna.

Apple Cookies

  • 2 green apples
  • Peanut butter
  • Dark chocolate chips
  • Almond slices

Cut an apple into slices that resemble a cookie, then layer the rest of the ingredients in between two slices to make the snack look like an apple sandwich. The snack will stay fresh in an ice cooler for two days.

Barabrith – great snack for afternoon tea!

Other things:

Whilst we’re on the subject, don’t forget to bring:

  • Washing up liquid
  • Big scrubbing pad for BBQ if using
  • cleaning supplies
  • Kitchen roll
  • Bottle/ can opener
  • Mugs and glasses
  • Tea/ coffee/ sugar

How else can I help you today??

  • See the BEST Road Trip Journal to record your adventures!
  • Show me essential Road Trip Accessories
  • Get 100+ essential road trip songs (+ playlist)
  • Help me plan my road trip
  • See gift ideas for road trippers

Road Trip meals- quick and easy road trip meal ideas to pack and prep for adults, couples & families.

Kat never planned to buy a motorhome. She also never planned to quit her job as an air traffic controller, go touring around Europe in said motorhome, start one of the UK’s largest motorhome travel websites… or get a cocker spaniel.

Find out how she went from stuck in the rat race to being a digital nomad and inspiring thousands of people to have their own epic adventures here.

If you’d like to connect with Kat, send her an email or follow her adventures on social media.

Last update on 2024-05-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Hi Kat I’ve not tried these yet but they get a good review on Amazon. As I’ve bought the barbecue you recommended in your blogs I thought I would try to keep my new BBQ clean as I absolutely hate scrubbing it after use. Just bought a pack to try on our trip to France in September BBQ Grill Mat, Set of 5 Beeway® Non Stick Barbecue Baking Mats for Charcoal, Gas or Electric Grill – Heat Resistant, Reusable and Easy to Clean, FDA Aproved – Bonus 12″ Just thought you may also find these useful

They look amazing- let me know how you find them 🙂

The website is one of the best we have found, and the 15 Easy Road Trip Meal Ideas article is very well written and useful! Thanks and kisses! 🙂

I recommend a ridge monkey for camper van cooking. You can cook chicken breasts, steaks, poach eggs, bake a cake, make an omelette, and it also makes great toast!

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Southern Eats & Goodies

These Southern recipes are mouth watering, easy to make, and sure to get you recognized as a Southern cook.

family enjoying their beach dinners on vacation

Easy Vacation Dinners

These easy vacation meals will be a breeze to make in your beach house, rental house, or anywhere really that you need to feed the family. For the nights you don’t want to go to a restaurant but still want a yummy dining experience, keep this recipe list at your fingertips.

Depending on where you go on vacation and how much your eating out budget is, you will likely want some easy meals to make yourself. (But if you’re just looking for snack ideas for a day at the beach, head over to our Beach Food Ideas post!)

Whether you are in an VRBO, AirBnb, a townhouse, or a hotel with a kitchenette, you usually will have a few key appliances and ingredients to make these vacation meals.

I’m focusing this post on recipes that don’t require tons of spices, specialty appliances, or less common herbs you simply won’t have on hand.

Watch How to Make Ham and Cheese Casserole

Here’s an easy ham casserole that won’t drag you down with carbs. It’s keto and great for a vacation meal. This dish works well for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

Easy dinners to make on vacation

When you’re out of town and want to feed our family without having to go out to eat every night (and without sticking them with peanut butter sandwiches) try these easy vacation dinners. They are simple enough and you don’t need tons of ingredients. You also don’t lots of spices or tricky cookware you don’t have.

They’re simple, inexpensive, and satisfying. Of course, while you’re on vacation you’ll want to eat some meals out in restaurants. But for the other nights, try these dishes.

These meals are easy to make on vacation without all your normal spices, tools, appliances, and cookware. Simple and easy to make to fill your family if you want to save money while away on vacation.

easy travel meal ideas

Super Easy Spaghetti Recipe (Done in 15 Minutes!)

This easy spaghetti doesn't require hours of cooking (who wants that when you're busy on vacation having fun?) and is tasty.

easy travel meal ideas

Caprese Chicken (5 Ingredient)

This is a five ingredient chicken dinner dish. If you need to fill up with some healthy protein, this is a healthy vacation dinner option.

easy travel meal ideas

Chicken Feta Pasta (5 Ingredient)

This chicken feta pasta is tasty, cheesy, and healthy. It will be filling and easy to make in an evening after a long day.

easy travel meal ideas

Broccoli Chicken Mac and Cheese 

With 5 ingredients (not including salt and pepper, of course) is filling and quick and easy. It won't leave you with a lot of food or ingredients that go bad.

easy travel meal ideas

Taco Casserole (5 Ingredient)

This taco casserole blends quite a few spices, still with only a few ingredients. It's inexpensive and super tasty.

easy travel meal ideas

Chili Dog Pizza

Now, if you're going for broke and want to cook something that's a crowd pleaser you wouldn't ordinarily eat at home... this is it.

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Pasta With Tomatoes, Basil and Garlic

This is another super easy tasty pasta dish that'll fill you up after a long day of sightseeing.

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Sheet Pan Pesto Chicken and Vegetables

This is a sheet pan dinner (meaning, throw everything on a sheet pan and bake it, voila, SO QUICK AND EASY!) and only requires

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Ground Beef Teriyaki Ramen

Ramen is the KING of easy dinners. This 5 ingredient meal throws in some veggies and takes the ramen up a notch.

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Chicken Enchilada Bake

This chicken enchilada bake is easy to make, super tasty, and only has a few ingredients.

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Cheeseburger and Fries Casserole

This cheeseburger and fry casserole is comforting, filling, and uses frozen or canned ingredients.. read: super easy and inexpensive.

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Pizza Chicken Roll-Ups

These pizza chicken roll ups combine two beloved dinner staples... pizza and chicken. Put them together with a side of a roasted veggie and voila, easy dinner.

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Best Grilled Cheese Recipe 

These yummy grilled cheese sandwiches are perfect dinners, serve it up with some roasted veggies or a nice salad and you'll be filled up and ready to sight see again tomorrow.

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Best Buttered Noodles Recipe

Talk about only using a few ingredients... this one is simple, inexpensive, and still super delicious.

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Easy Crescent Taco Bake

This is one of our family's personal favorites. Easy to find ingredients, quick, filling, and a crowd pleaser on those late vacation nights.

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Smothered Chicken Bake (5 ingredient)

This is beautiful, rich, creamy, and a great way to make an inexpensive vacation dinner with baked chicken.

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Chicken And Broccoli Pasta (Instant Pot)

Chicken and broccoli pasta is a family dinnertime staple for many. Use the instant pot and make it tasty and quick for a 30-minute meal.

Beach vacation meal planning

Now, we’ve already talked about beach food ideas , which are easy foods for a day in the sand. But this list is about great foods to cook during your beach vacation in your beach rental house.

Tasty, light, fresh, and great off the grill; these are quick ways to whip up an amazing meal.

Idea for Beach Dinners

These are great meals that are beach inspired, you can get easy seafood, or foods you can cook with your grill, and easy beach dinners that you can either eat on the beach or in your beach vacation rental.

easy travel meal ideas

Easy Shrimp Pappardelle (5 ingredients!) 

Got some fresh shrimp? Here's a great and super simple 5 ingredient garlic shrimp pasta recipe.

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Best Oven-Baked Tilapia Recipe

If you've caught some fresh fish and want to cook it up, this uses the oven (so you don't have to spend an hour on a charcoal grill!) and the result is amazing.

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Best Crab Cake Recipe - How to Make Crab Cakes

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Balsamic Glazed Salmon

Embrace the seafood side with this easy to make and delicious glazed salmon.

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Prosciutto-Wrapped Scallops with Spinach

Gone scalloping? Here are some easy recipes to cook a delicious meal with scallops that are wrapped in prosciutto... which is always a winner.

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Express Shrimp & Sausage Jambalaya

Get some sausage with that shrimp and make an awesome cajun jambalaya one evening.

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No-Frills Shrimp Boil Recipe

New to the shrimp boil? This is a no frills shrimp boil that you can make as long as you have a pot, shrimp, potatoes, and corn. This is one of our favorite beach house dinners because it's so easy and delicious.

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Fried Whole Fish with Tomatillo Sauce Recipe

Ever wanted to try your hand at cooking a WHOLE FISH? Now's your chance to be the chef of this dish. Plus, you know the kids would think it's fun.

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Grilled Shrimp with Old Bay and Aioli Recipe

This shrimp dish is another one of our favorite evening meal recipes for when you're on vacation and want to whip up something quickly. It looks fancy but is super easy to pull off.

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Tilapia with Corn Salsa

This tilapia with corn salsa will please even the pickiest of seafood eaters. Plus it's simple and can be baked.

family enjoying their beach dinners on vacation

25+ Easy Vacation & Beach Meal Recipes

Ingredients   .

  • 15-Minute Spaghetti
  • 5-Ingredient Caprese Salad
  • Chicken Feta Pasta
  • Instant Pot Chicken & Broccoli with Penne
  • Broccoli Mac and Cheese
  • Taco Casserole
  • Chili Dog Pizza
  • Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil, & Garlic
  • Sheet Pan Pesto Chicken
  • Ground Beef Teriyaki Ramen
  • Chicken Enchilada Bake
  • Cheeseburger & Fries Casserole
  • Pizza Chicken Rollups
  • Best Grilled Cheese
  • Best Buttered Noodles
  • Easy Crescent Taco Bake

Dinners Perfect for the Beach

  • Garlicky Shrimp Pasta
  • Oven Baked Tilapia
  • Crab Cakes
  • Balsamic Glazed Salmon
  • Prosciutto Wrapped Scallops
  • Express Shrimp & Sausage Jambalaya
  • No Frills Shrimp Boil
  • Fried Whole Fish with Tomatillo Sauce
  • Grilled Shrimp with Old Bay and Aioli
  • Tilapia with Corn Salsa


  • Select meal from list above.
  • Follow link provided for the recipe.
  • Prepare and enjoy!

Other posts you’ll enjoy!

  • BBQ Menu Ideas
  • Family Backyard Picnic Ideas
  • Beach Food Ideas
  • 25+ Champagne Cocktails
  • 50+ Easy Southern Pie Recipes
  • 30+ Awesome Pound Cakes

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Rachel Norman

Rachel is a southern born and bred mother of 5 and founder of Southern Eats & Goodies. She's an entrepreneur, country girl, and world traveler who speaks 3 languages and loves Southern food.

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105+ Easy Road Trip Meals & Snacks: Best Road Trip Food

Packed for Life contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of these links, we may receive compensation at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. See my Disclosure policy for more info.

Road trips are exciting adventures to take with your friends, family or solo. However coming up with a list of the best road trip food & easy road trip meals and snacks can be hard.

Which is where our ultimate list of the best food for road trips comes in handy. To help you avoid hangry companions, outrageous food costs, and unhealthy gas station food stops.

We’ve taken our share of cross country & multi-day road trips over the years, both as adults, and with kids from months old to teenagers. So we know quite a few tricks when it comes to road trip meal planning.

Our list includes easy ideas for healthy snacks, breakfasts, lunches & dinners, for all ages we love. As well as gluten-free, and vegetarian options too.

Plus we provide essential packing tips and a list of non-food items to bring along, at the end of this post. Hop in the car, & let’s go!

Table of Contents


 Road trip snacks; canned salmon, grapes, carbonated water on wooden picnic table, looking out over water.

If you plan ahead and pre-make some yummy snacks and meals, your family will be well fed on the road. Whether you are heading on a Southwest USA road trip or a coastal road trip from Boston to Acadia National Park or elsewhere.

Healthy road trip food & easy meals the whole family will love.

Why Bring Make Ahead Meals For Road Trips?

Before I get into our epic food list, I’ll quickly go over a few reasons why we bring our own make-ahead road trip meals and snacks. And why you should too:

  • Road trip meal planning is a great way to reduce fast food temptation, junk food and save money for your family road trip .
  • Bringing good food for road trips frees up some of your hard earned cash to splurge on meals you will actually look forward to . 
  • We find our own make-ahead meals & road trip food tends to be healthier.
  • If you have dietary restrictions or allergies, creating a road trip meal plan will allow you to have safe meal options on the road.
  • Have fun picnics at rest stops, parks, or in your hotel room along your long drive.
  • Avoid hungry kidlets with healthy road trip snacks , so they can focus on road trip activities , not driving you crazy with whining. I know you feel me on this one!

Bringing your own food is well worth the time and money you can save on your adventure. Use our road trip planner to help organize your trip.

I love how make ahead easy travel meals are great for cutting down on the mess, stress and time it takes to prepare and clean up on the road. Because as a parent anything I can do to make my life easier is golden.

Road Trip Breakfast Ideas

easy travel meal ideas

We’ve found it’s easy to take these road trip breakfast ideas to go, or quickly eat hot in the morning.

As long as we’ve made them ahead of time, and brought them in our cooler. Or if we have access to hot water or basic kitchen facilities or a microwave.

Grab tasty breakfast recipes .

Cold, Non-Perishable Road Trip Breakfast Ideas

  • Granola 
  • Cereal Bars & Granola Bars
  • Breakfast Bars
  • Fruit & Veggie Pouches 

⭐️ PRO TIP : Bring a reusable coffee mug and water bottles for each family member. They’re a great option for filling up with hot water, tea, coffee and water on the go. We’ve found they’re less likely to spill in the car if you use a spill-proof refillable cup and snack cup for the littles.

easy travel meal ideas

Cold Breakfast Ideas for Road Trips

  • Yogurt – Tubes, Drinks
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Rye Crisp Breads & Goat Cheese
  • 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
  • Breakfast Cookies 
  • Vegan Blueberry Muffins
  • Bagels and Cream Cheese
  • Peanut Butter and Banana Wrap
  • No Bake Oat Bites 
  • Apple Pie Oat Bliss Balls
  • Croissant, ham, cheese
  • Croissant, jam & cream cheese
  • Pancake Sandwiches – nut butter / jam between two mini pancakes (make ahead)

easy travel meal ideas

Hot & Quick Breakfast 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

More kid friendly breakfast ideas here .

Road Trip Lunch Ideas

Camping & road trip  Lunch Ideas; chickpea salad, sandwiches, fruit & veggies.

Road trip lunch ideas are probably the easiest for most people to come up with, when it comes to thinking of meal planning for road trips . We like to think of them as picnic lunches.

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 I add easy road trip lunches to grab and prep along the way, like sandwich fixings. Or cheese, meat  and cracker plates for a longer trip.

Easy Non-Refrigerated Road Trip Lunch Ideas

  • Canned Tuna & crackers – The mini pull tab tins come in many flavours
  • Protein Bars , Energy Bars
  • Sardines or Mackerel canned with avocado, crackers or bread
  • Snacks for lunch: Beef Jerky, Trail Mix, Smoothie Pouches, Nut Butter Pouches
  • Peanut Butter (or other nut & seed butter) & Jam Wraps
  • Canned grape leaf rolls

Cold Road Trip Lunches

  • Sushi / nori rolls – sweet potato, cucumber and avocado,  smoked salmon, cucumber and avocado, smoked salmon & cream cheese
  • Sandwiches (see Road Trip Sandwiches below for ideas) 
  • Tortilla Pinwheels
  • Meat Kabobs
  • Pasta Salad
  • 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
  • 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
  • Cucumber, cherry tomatos & peppers salad

Road Trip Sandwiches

easy travel meal ideas

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 family vacation dinners they deserve a section, all on its own.

For easy,  awesome sandwiches we’ve found you will only need a few things to mix and match:

  • 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

Tasty Sandwich Ideas for Traveling:

  • 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

easy travel meal ideas

Tips for Packing Sandwiches on Road Trips

  • Start with heartier bread or toast it first . Put a layer of mayo, or mustard on each side. It actually helps prevent soggy sandwiches.
  • I often toast the bread, and then wait until it’s completely cooled before making and storing the sandwiches.
  • Keep wet sandwich ingredients separate like tomatoes. We add them right before eating.
  • Pack each ingredient separately . Then everyone can assemble their sandwich how they like, on-the-go. We’ve found this helpful with our pickiest eater.
  • Pack sandwiches in a hard sided container . Either use reusable individual sandwich containers or larger leak-proof containers for multiple sandwiches. We also love silicone sandwich bags to cut down on plastic.
  • Keep the sandwiches on top of the cooler for easy to grab meals on the road.

You may also like 50+ Easy to make, healthy road trip snack recipes

Easy 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. 

I 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 I find when you need a few dinner in the car ideas on hand. You can always re-use the lunch or even the travel breakfast ideas , because they are all tasty anytime of day. 

Check out our favourite easy vacation dinner recipes .

Cold Road Trip Dinner Ideas

  • Pasta Salad & Greek 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 
  • Mason Jar grain + protein + roast veggies (pre-made)

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.  

KOA has 10 fun on-the go recipes to try.

Mason Jar Meal tips

Mason Jars are a fun and easy way to store pre-made meals.

They are fairly sturdy (I’ve dropped them many times without breaking them) and come in different sizes. The 500ml and 250 ml are perfect for individual meals.

Choose a grain + a protein + roasted, steamed or stir fried veggies and you have a delicious meal to go.

  • Pre-cook a grain: brown rice, basmati rice, white rice, quinoa,
  • Choose a protein : roast chicken or beef, curried chickpeas, tofu
  • Cooked veggies: stir fries, steamed broccoli, curries, stew,

Hot Road Trip Dinner Ideas

One pan or pot dinner ideas are perfect for travel, camping and road trips. Especially if you ‘ve been entertaining the kids with road trip conversations all day.

As long as you remember the hot plate, or cook stove. I’ve been there, done that, forgetting the stove. Another option is to choose motels, or places to stay that have basic kitchen facilities. 

I’ve also gone the route of meal prepping ahead of time and putting individual meals in separate containers that are easy to reheat and clean up. 

If you are a camping family, what you plan for pre-made 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
  • Quesadillas
  • Rice and beans or ground beef for tacos or wraps
  • Chickpea Curry and Rice (pre-make and heat up)
  • Spaghetti 


Picnic table with snacks; chips, dark chocolate, apple sauce, seaweed snacks

We have a full article on our favorite road trip snacks to bring that both adults and kids will love. Good food for long journeys.

Here are a few snack ideas to get you started:

  • Energy Balls
  • Baby Carrots, Cherry Tomatoes, Snap Peas, Celery Sticks & Dip 
  • Cheese and Crackers
  • Apple Pear Muffins
  • Jerky, Beef Sticks
  • Potato Chips
  • Plantain Chips
  • Moon Cheese
  • Cheese Crisps
  • Seaweed Snacks
  • String cheese
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Gluten-Free Bars –  We like these mini Gluten-Free Bars  

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:

  • Coconut water
  • Water with crushed berries, or cucumber slices, or lemon
  • No sugar added fruit juices 
  • Flavoured Sparkling water 
  • Almond / Oat / Soy Milk

🚙 More road trip ideas 7 day Zion, Bryce and Grand Canyon itinerary

Road Trip Food & Meal Planning Tips

Road Trip Cooler full of food, apples, deli meat, cheese, carrots.

Meal Planning Tips

When meal planning healthy road trip foods, I think it’s important to consider a few key important things:

  • What road trip meals you want to bring, and which one’s you’d like to buy.
  • If travelling with kids, which foods do they already like. They aren’t going to magically start liking raw broccoli and raisins on your long trip. Adapt your food for road trips with kids.
  • Road trip meal ideas – Make a list of food ideas for breakfast , lunch, dinner, snacks and drinks. Make sure they’re easy food to travel with.
  • Creating a road trip grocery list is a good idea, so important items don’t get forgotten. But don’t stress, as usually you’ll be able to pick up ingredients along the way if needed.
  • How to pack food for your road trip, so it doesn’t get squished, and stays cool longer.

With so much to do when planning a road trip, it’s sometimes hard to be prepared when it comes to traveling food.

Road Trip Food Tips

Beyond throwing a bunch of items into the cooler and food bag and hoping for the best. Let’s give you a few of my top tips to make packing a bit easier:

  • Bread: Bring wraps, pitas and flatbreads – we find 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 we love that they give us cold water to drink as they melt.
  • Pre-Make Meals & Portion Out: Pre-make meals, and portion them out in mason jars or reusable plastic or glass containers.
  • 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: We always have a designated garbage bag for the car. It helps to keep the garbage contained, and the 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, we usually use small stackable Rubbermaid containers to pack our non-perishables.

🚙 More Road Trip Ideas: 4 Day family friendly itinerary in Acadia National Park

Road Trip Essentials

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. 

Reusable Items

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 
  • Biodegradable Soap

Travel Backpacks

You will definitely want to make sure you and your kids have their own travel backpack for the trip.

A good travel backpack can be multipurpose, for hiking, storing road trip activities and entertainment, plus give easy access to a couple of snacks, and a handy change of clothes.

There’s been numerous times my “safety first” approach & extra clothes has saved us on long trips. From puking children, to epic diaper blow outs, and unexpected spills, with kids it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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 – Yeti Roadi 24 Cooler

YETI Roadie 24 Cooler, Charcoal

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. It’s a bit of an invesment, so a good buy if you are planning on using it a lot.

Best Afforable Family Cooler – Coleman 316

Coleman 316 Series Insulated Portable Cooler

The Coleman 316 Cooler is a top pick for size, flexibility and price. It can hold a lot of food and ice, which can be kept cool at higher temps for 2-3 days.

Perfect for shorter trips, or if you plan on replenishing your food / ice every few days.

Best Soft Sided Cooler – TOURIT Leak-Proof Backpack

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 Next 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, & an airtight container, 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 Easy Road Trip Meals & Snacks List

With over 100 delicious and easy road trip meal ideas, you will find a party in your cooler for all taste buds or your next long journey.

 Plus don’t forget that a little pre-trip planning can go a long way towards a stress free vacation.

Grab a great road trip snack or two and head on out on the open road. I hope this helps you have an epic road trip.

3 road trip meals ideas; charcuterie plate, granola with yogurt and sandwich with fruit

Related travel tips and destination articles:

  • Easy ways to take a frugal road trip
  • Epic RV Gift Ideas: Gifts RV Owners will love and use
  • Epic Gifts for Beach Lovers – prep for your beach vacation
  • Best Walkie Talkies For Road Trips
  • Complete Road Trip Packing List For Families

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Donna Garrison is the founder of Packed for Life, an ever curious traveler with a passion for making memories with her family. With a unique perspective on travelling on a budget gathered over 30 years, 20 countries and 5 continents she gives families the tools & resources they need to experience the joys of travelling more for less through practical solutions. She helps over 20,000 families a month plan & take the family travel, camping and road trip adventures of their dreams in Canada, the USA and around the world. Contact her at: Donna [at]

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41 No-Cook Meals for Your Next Travel Adventure

We’ve challenged ourselves to come up with the easiest dishes to prepare on a trip. You’ll love these no-cook meals for traveling!

easy travel meal ideas

Let’s be real … nobody wants to cook on their vacation. However, it isn’t economical to eat out every meal, and if you are off the grid camping, then you can’t anyway. Luckily, there are lots of great no-cook meals for traveling out there! They might take a bit of preparation beforehand, and you’ll definitely need a cooler or refrigerator of some sort, but it can be done! 

While the options for minimal-cook or prepare-before-hand meals are endless, we are going to challenge ourselves today. For this guide, we will only use only recipes that you need absolutely no heat source for, once you’re on the road.  That’s not to say, you couldn’t modify some of them to make even better meals cooked over a campfire or stove—like s’mores! 

App-Guided Travel Adventures

While you’re traveling, don’t forget to download our app and search for nearby scavenger hunts ! Each adventure is designed to help you get to know new places and learn fun facts. Search through hundreds of tours , pub crawls , art walks, and ghost hunts and find one perfect for you!

No-Cook Breakfast Meals for Traveling

​Breakfast is the most important meal of the day right? It certainly is if you plan on taking a long hike or spending the day in one of the blazing hot national parks of the Western United States. While packaged doughnuts are totally an option, let’s what else we can find!

1. Overnight Oats

Overnight oats are a simple and nutritious way to start the day. All you need is something to keep them cold. There are a million ways to make overnight oats.  Most recipes call for milk of some sort, your favorite nut butter, and then embellishments. For a banana bread flavor, try oats, almond butter, milk, cinnamon, and maple syrup. Mix, and allow to sit in the refrigerator or cooler overnight. You want your mixture to be fluid and runny, as the oats will absorb the milk overnight. Add cut bananas in the morning and enjoy! Many people choose to add flax seeds, yogurt, or chia seeds for extra protein. There’s no wrong way to do it, whatever ingredients you have on hand will do!

2. Peanut Butter Protein Balls

Chilled peanut butter balls are not only an amazing-tasting snack but they’re also packed with protein and all the sugar you need for a long hike. You can make them before you leave the house, and just throw them in the cooler. Five easy ingredients of chocolate chips, ground flaxseed, peanut butter or other nut butter, honey, and oats are all it takes for this perfect camping trip power breakfast.

3. British Bean Bites

Sounds weird to Americans, but the brits eat cold beans and bread for breakfast all the time. Open a can of baked beans and served atop crunchy french or focaccia bread! The British version would be more akin to Showboat Pork and Beans than saucy baked beans. They’re usually in a thin, tomato sauce, not a sweet, thick BBQ sauce. 

4. Yogurt Parfaits

Low-sugar yogurt is packed with healthy protein. Add a little granola and fresh fruit for a complete breakfast. We love this one because the ingredients are available at pretty much any grocery store and can be used for other quick meals as well. A large can of rolled oats and a big tub of original Greek yogurt should be on everyone’s packing list for a road trip or camping trip. 

5. Boiled Eggs

This is the one cheater on the list. You’ll have to cook them before you leave, but boiled eggs are valuable to have around. You can at them on their own, or use them in several of the recipes on our list. Boil a batch of 12 before you leave the house, and they will keep for a few days in the cooler. Eggs will keep you full for a while, have healthy protein, and pack easily. Just peel and eat! Plus, you can use them for several of the other recipes on our list.

6. Bagels and Cream Cheese

Don’t know about you, but there’s nothing much better than an “everything bagel.” Pack a brick of cream cheese or goat cheese in your cooler, and you are good to go. You can top with blueberries for some extra anti-oxidants, or sprinkle with un-salted sunflower seeds for a little extra belly-filling protein. 

7. Banana and Peanut Butter

It’s simple, but it’s effective. Just beware with this one if you are sensitive to sugars. Bananas are a high sugar item, so you might consider pairing them with organic nut butter with no extra sugar added. Add a glass of your favorite milk, and you are good to go!

Better yet …

8. Banana Cereal

Nope, we don’t mean put bananas on your cereal, we mean make banana cereal. This was grandma’s specialty. We loved it, and your kids will love it, assuming they like bananas. Cut up the banana in thin slices, sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon and douse in milk. Eat up!

9. Avocado toast

There’s nothing you can’t do with the superfood avocado. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, it will show up everywhere on this list. It’s easy to pack, easy to find in most stores, and works to eat by itself, as a garnish, or as a spread or dip. It truly is a superfood. Since you likely won’t have a toaster, and it’s not as good on untoasted bread, consider grabbing some English muffins from the store. Mash your avocado a bit, making it soft. Spread over your muffin. Shred some of your boiled egg over the top and add a few diced tomatoes or spicy salsa … breakfast of champs!

10. Muffins

One of our favorite road trip treats is Otis Spunkmeyer Chocolate Chocolate Chip muffins. There is just something about them that screams wreckless vacation abandon! 

11. Chia Pudding

Like overnight oats, chia pudding can be made beforehand and kept in the refrigerator. A good chia pudding base only needs 3 ingredients: Chia seeds, milk, and something sweet. For a little extra flair, combine chia seeds, your favorite milk, pureed strawberries, or another berry, and a bit of yogurt. Let it sit in the fridge overnight, and the chia seeds will suck up all the liquid, expand, and turn into a kind of gelatinous pudding. Top with almonds and coconut shreds or cacao nibs for the perfect treat! Add a bit of honey if you need some sweetness. 

12. Just be gross, you’re on vacation

When all else fails, Poptarts are tasty. It’s not ideal on the health front, but there is no shame in having some easy, premade stuff on your vacation. While you certainly don’t want to eat 5 Little Debbies a day (well, you might want to, but you probably shouldn’t) it never hurts to have one. There’s nothing better to celebrate conquering that beast of a hike than a Cosmic Brownie. You earned it. If you are absolutely against big-brand packaged foods and all their harmful grossness, there are some stellar organic options out there for granola bars, breakfast bars, and even brownies. 

No-Cook Lunchtime Meals for Traveling

Lunch on a trip needs to be quick, easy, and filling. If you are traveling alone, that’s super easy, but if you need to please a whole picky family, we don’t envy you. That job is much harder. Good luck to you! Hopefully, you’ll find something below that your clan will enjoy. 

13. Charcuterie board

You’ll be the fanciest road-trippers at the RV park with this one. Cold cuts, salami, fresh cucumbers, cubed cheese, an assortment of nuts, grapes, and some tomato slices, and you have a lunch that not only fuels your body but looks super pretty! We love charcuterie boards because they’re easy to feed a lot of people with, and littles can come by and pick up a healthy bite as they play. It can be stuck in the fridge and pulled out later too, so it just works great. 

14. Egg Salad Sandwiches

You still have those boiled eggs right? Turn them into yummy egg salad and slap it on a sandwich. Pair with some potato chips, and get back on the trail!

15. Good Old Peanut Butter and Jelly

Hey, don’t knock it. It’s an American classic, and it is tasty whether you are 3 or 93. 

16. Tuna salad

Tuna salad is another protein-packed option that is easy to carry on the road. Buy some packets or cans, or better yet fresh tuna if you live somewhere you can get it. Add your favorite fixings. This tuna salad recipe with red onion, dijon mustard, and celery is super tasty! Serve with crackers or as a sandwich. It doesn’t get much easier. Tuna is handy to have around, as you can also add it to pre-bought pasta salads for a little extra protein or make tuna-stuffed avocados for dinner (later). 

17. Chicken Caesar Wraps

Chicken Caesar wraps are one of the best backpacking recipes. Whether you choose to grab a rotisserie chicken at the store before you leave or go with canned chicken, either way, it makes for a delicious meal. This chicken Caesar recipe with whole wheat tortillas , parmesan cheese, and cherry tomatoes is simple and yummy! 

18. Crab Salad

The grainy mustard and sharp cheddar in this creamy crab salad recipe make it extra delicious! However, like tuna or chicken salad, you can pretty much throw everything but the kitchen sink in a crab salad or put nothing but mayo, and it will be just fine in a pinch. Plop it in a pita bread pocket, and pair it with some fresh veggies, and you have the perfect lunch.

19. Berry Salad

Add a little extra beauty to your boring salad with some colorful berries.  Romaine lettuce topped with strawberries, blueberries, shaved almonds, and feta cheese or goat cheese is a quick, healthy camper lunch. Throw on your favorite dressing, we love this Brianna’s blueberry balsamic vinaigrette . 

20. Pimento Cheese Sandwiches

Pimento cheese is one of those things that we rarely eat unless we are traveling. Grab a tub at the store and use it on sandwiches, crackers, or as a spread for fresh veggies. It also makes a good addition to veggie tortilla wraps, lettuce wraps, or pinwheels.

21. Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Here’s where those ten cans of shredded chicken you bought are going to come in handy. Chicken salad can be very plain or really fancy. We love this cranberry pecan chicken salad recipe ! For a healthier option, omit the bread and serve as a lettuce wrap!

22. Smoked Salmon Stacks

A few packets of pre-cooked salmon are also nice to have around for fish tacos, to throw on your salad for a little extra filler, or to make this tasty lunch treat. This flatbread salmon stack is an easy option that requires just a bit of meal prep, so you might want to start the night before. If that is too much work, just load up some Ritz crackers with a bit of salmon, a slice of avocado, and a dash of salt and pepper for a quick and easy lunch. 

No-Cook Dinnertime Meals for Traveling

Dinner is probably the hardest category on the list, at least for Americans. We tend to save our largest meal for the end of the day, and we generally want something warm. So, a completely no-cook dinner is out of the normal for many of us (though sandwich or cereal night is certainly not unheard of in our house)! 

23. Greek Salad

A traditional Greek salad is not only healthy and tasty, but goodness it is pretty. While recipes vary all over the Mediterranean and the Balkans, they generally consist of fresh diced tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, and sometimes bell peppers, red onions, and cucumbers. You can make it any way you want, with whatever you have. Toss in a little olive oil or vinaigrette and a pinch of salt. Magnifique!

24. Stuffed Avocados

This is one of our favorite no-cook camping meals. Split an avocado, and remove the pit. Fill the center with a plop of your favorite meat salad. Sprinkle with salt and pepper or paprika. You can use any of the meat you have, salmon, chicken, tuna. Use the leftover tuna salad from yesterday’s lunch. Another option is to make taco-stuffed avocados . All you need is a taco-seasoning packet to add to the meat and veg you already have on hand!

25. Crab Ceviche

Ceviche is a cold seafood dish, popular all over Central America. It is traditionally made with fresh fish, lime juice, peppers, red onion, and whatever else you have on hand at the time! You can use any of the packaged or prebought fish you have to create “ camping ceviche .” For a side dish, whip up some 7-layer dip and tortilla chips for a complete no-cook dinner!

26. Veggie Gyros

These vegetable gyros feature our favorite item-avocadoes, plus chickpeas and yummy tzatziki spread. Chickpeas are packed with protein and all these veggies will get you to your daily allotment of vitamins and fiber. For the meat lovers in the group, you can easily add chicken you have on hand! 

27. Mexican 3-bean salad with guacamole

… Oh, sorry! Just dreaming about this Mexican 3-bean salad ! It might be a favorite meal idea on this list. Hiking and exploring make you hungry, and all the beans in this baby give you the fiber you need for a good night’s sleep! Pair it with fresh guacamole for the ultimate easy camping meal.  

28. Layered Taco Salad

Take some of that chicken you brought and mix in some taco seasoning. In a large bowl, layer it with cheese, beans, lettuce, and crushed Nacho Cheese Doritos. Alternate your layers of each until the bowl is full. Let everyone choose their own toppings of guacamole, sour cream, and salsa. 

Mexican food is the easiest no-cook dinner to make. Layer nachos with shredded canned meat, beans, and all the veggies and toppings you like! If you can warm your meat and beans, that’s great, but it is just as good cold!

Snack Ideas or Side Dishes

You’ll likely be more active on your vacation than you are in normal daily life. It seems most of us need a vacation from our vacation by the time we get home. So, you are going to need more fuel than usual. Plus, if you have kids in tow, then snacks are a primary food group (maybe the only food group)! Make sure you have some good ones on board!

30. Veggies and Hummus

Nothing super inventive here, but it’s easy and effective. Plus, you might get your picky ones to eat a carrot or bell pepper stick if it is slathered in yummy hummus or guacamole. You could make a big batch of homemade hummus before your trip, or make it easy on yourself and buy some tasty flavors at the store.

31. Trail Mix

No surprise here, trail mix is a great idea to have on hand. It fits easily in the backpack for long hikes. You can throw the bag at a kid in the backseat when needed, and it is filled with tummy-filling protein. Make your own trail mix , or snag a giant premade bag from Amazon before your trip!

32. Fresh-Fruit Salad

Nothing screams summer like a bowl of fresh fruit. This fruit salad with citrus dressing is delightful and is the perfect anecdote for that summer heat! You might even convince your kids to eat something healthy today. 

33. Beef Jerky

Beef jerky just belongs in a backpack. They go hand in hand. 

34. Pesto Pinwheels

Pinwheels are a classic party appetizer, but they also make a great one-bite snack. We love these pinwheels , but there are many great ones out there, so use what you have on hand! It does take a little bit of meal prep time as they need to sit in the refrigerator or cooler for several hours to set up. 

35. Deli Rolls

Don’t know about you, but to us, there isn’t anything better than a slice of your favorite cheese, rolled up inside of a piece of deli meat. Admit it, you have done it. You can make it fancy with a hummus spread or olive-decorated toothpick! It’s quick, easy, filling, and budget-friendly. We love it!

No-Cook Snacks for Traveling

36. s’mores.

Okay, so the best s’mores require a little smoking on a campfire, but technically you can make them with uncooked marshmallows. They’re still super tasty!

37. To-Go Banana Pudding

The banana version is the best, but you can try this treat with any premade pudding cup of your liking. Crush a bag of Vanilla wafers. Add it to your pudding cup. Slice up a banana for garnish and plop a dollop of Cool Whip on top. Yummm.

38. No-Bake Lemon Tarts

Lemon pudding snack packs can easily be turned into a tart. Line a small bowl, or just make a pile of finely crushed Graham crackers. Slather on a healthy slab of cold lemon pudding, and top with your favorite whipped topping. Sprinkle on nuts or coconut shavings to taste!

39. Cottage Cheese and Dried Fruit

This one won’t please everyone, but if you love it, you love it! Cottage cheese has healthy fat and is a good source of protein. It will keep you full, and if you top it with some sweet dried pineapple, it’s pretty tasty!

40. Fresh Strawberries and Whipped Topping

Strawberries topped with a little sugar take on a totally different flavor! If you don’t use granulated sugar, honey works just as well. Slice them up, add your honey or sugar, and allow them to sit in a cold environment for at least 4 hours. If you want a lush dessert, stock up on some pre-made angel food cakes or make one at home before your trip. The decadent strawberry mixture on top of some food cake with whipped topping is a fantastic dessert any day of the week!

41. Fruit Pizza

Pizza! Create this delectable treat with granola, nut butter, cinnamon, and chopped almonds. Combine together to make a delicious crust. You can add honey if you use unsweetened nut butter. Press into a pie pan or dish, or just press flat on parchment paper. Let chill in the refrigerator or ice chest for at least an hour. Cover in yogurt or softened cream cheese, then sprinkle with your favorite fresh fruits, cacao nibs, or drizzle with chocolate syrup!

Other Staples To Keep On Hand

If you tried to make everything on this list, your entire camper would be full of food and ingredients. Instead, try to group your choices by recipes that use and reuse a smaller number of ingredients. Remember you can always repurpose your leftovers from day 1 lunch for day 2 dinner. Get creative. With this sample shopping list, you’ll be able to create several dishes.

  • Canned or packed meats: tuna, salmon, and chicken
  • Canned beans of several varieties
  • Boiled eggs
  • Lots of fresh fruit and veggies
  • A tub of your favorite “crumbled” cheese – Feta or goat.
  • A jar of nut butter
  • A large bag of mixed nuts and seeds
  • Your favorite multi-purpose bread
  • Mayonnaise and brown mustard
  • Granola or oats
  • Olive oil and lemon juice or a vinaigrette dressing
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder

Closing Thoughts

Just because you don’t want to cook doesn’t mean you can’t eat like a king on your vacation. With a little forethought, some smart shopping, and perhaps a small amount of meal planning before you leave, you can ensure that you have everything you need to whip up fast, easy meals on the go. 

What are your go-to camping or travel meals? Let us know in the comments!

Going on a long hike? Here are a few more “ Healthy Travel Snack Ideas To Keep Your Belly Full. ” 

If you want an epic camping adventure this summer, check out our list of the “ 20 Best National Parks In The USA .”

Frequently Asked Questions

No one wants to cook on vacation. Some of the best no-cook traveling meals are not only filling but healthy too. While camping, try stuffed avocados, crab salad, or camping ceviche.

Travel food should be easy, and the ingredients versatile. Some of the best no-cook traveling meals can be made with bread, nuts, seeds, fresh fruit, and vegetables. And don’t knock canned ingredients!

It’s always best to seek travel advice from experts ! For starters, download travel apps to save on fares and an adventure app for fun. Also, plan some no-cook meals to fuel up between adventures.

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Road Trip Food List: Easy to Pack Meals & Snacks

This post may contain affiliate links, view our disclosure policy .

Are you looking for a road trip food list that includes the best road trip snacks and other food to bring on a road trip?

Road trips can range from being budget-friendly to out-of-this-world expensive if you do not plan ahead, especially when it comes to eating food.

The temptation to grab a snack at every gas station, as well as to eat out at restaurants or gorge on fast food, can really start to add up in terms of money and wasted time.

One way to save money and time while road tripping, however, is to bring your own food!

By making a road trip food list and packing fun road trip snacks, you’ll avoid having to stop and spend as much.

Our road trip food list includes easy road trip snacks, as well as portable breakfast, lunch, and dinner options – plus, a FREE Road Trip Food List printable to take with you to the grocery store.

The links on this page are Amazon affiliate links. If you click on the links and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Road trip foods, yogurt parfait

Table of Contents

Road Trip Food List: Breakfast

One of our absolute best family road trip tips is to leave bright and early in the morning when starting a long road trip.

As the most important meal of the day, luckily, having breakfast on the road is the easiest meal to eat cold and on the go.

If you decide to hit the road early, or if your hotel en route doesn’t offer a free breakfast, plan ahead by bringing along these simple road trip breakfast foods.

Our tried-and-true road trip food list awaits!

Road Trip Breakfast Ideas

  • Yogurt tubes and granola bars
  • Muffins, donuts, and scones
  • Bagels and cream cheese
  • Squeezable applesauce
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Peanut butter, banana, and granola wrapped up in a tortilla
  • Make-Ahead Fruit & Yogurt Breakfast Parfaits

Additional planning tip: For added morning fun, use the category “breakfast foods”, “brands or cereal”, or “types of fruit” while you play a road trip word game .

Road trip food, colorful sandwich

Road Trip Food List: Lunch

When it comes to planning for lunch and beyond, your road trip packing list should always include a reliable portable cooler .

Whether you chill made-ahead sandwiches, salami & cheese, fruits, or veggies, there are so many awesome road trip food ideas when it comes to having lunch on the go.

What we love about these road tip lunch ideas is that they keep us out of congested cities and fast-food drive-thrus during the busy noon hour.

Road Trip Lunch Ideas

  • Premade sandwiches with deli meat and cheese (make them extra fun by using shaped sandwich cutters !)
  • Peanut butter sandwiches (skip the jelly to avoid sogginess)
  • Pita pocket with mozzarella, tomato, basil, turkey, cheese, hummus, cucumber, and/or tuna salad
  • Home-ade Lunchables with summer sausage, cheese, and crackers
  • Tortilla with cream cheese, sliced olives, and pepperoni
  • Veggies and single-serve packs of ranch dressing, hummus, or guacamole
  • Pre-assembled Salad In A Jar

Road Trip Food List: Dinner

If there is one meal that you choose to splurge on, I recommend stopping to have dinner at a roadside restaurant or cafe.

Though this may not be your final destination, experiencing another city in this way will help you check more places off of your family travel bucket list !

If you’re not keen on stopping, however, here are the road trip foods we enjoy that are tasty and hearty enough to serve as dinner.

Road trip salad

Road Trip Dinner Ideas

  • Cold rotisserie chicken, chunked and served with a garden salad (package in a disposable salad container )
  • Pre-made pasta salad, such as Pizza Pasta Salad
  • StarKist ready-to-eat tuna salad in an avocado half or on a bun
  • Chicken and pickled veggies in pitas
  • Hummus veggie wrap

Additional planning tip: If you’re road tripping in the winter when driving conditions are much more unpredictable, packing extra road trip food is an essential component of your winter road trip packing list .

The best Road Trip Food List from Top U.S. family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!

Road Trip Food List: Snacks

In my opinion, snacks   are the No. 1 way to keep everyone (including you!) happy on a family road trip.

Homemade snack mixes and individual pre-purchased snacks are also a great way to help cut costs associated with buying food on the road.

For this reason, I suggest assembling an entire tub filled with fun and appetizing snacks and surprises that you know your kids will love.

We use these  16-quart storage tubs from Sterilite  that are the perfect size, price, and durability!

Road Trip Snacks Ideas

  • Chips and pretzels
  • Animal crackers (Suprise them with Barnum’s Originals !)
  • Filled crackers (peanut butter, cheese)
  • Nuts (cashews, almonds, peanuts)
  • String cheese, Babybel, Laughing Cow cheese wedges
  • Fresh or dried fruit
  • Healthy no-bake cookies
  • Candy and gummy candy

Be extra organized for your family road trip by clicking the following image to get your FREE family vacation packing list that is both customizable and printable!

Road Trip Food

Travel Snacks for Toddlers

Road tripping with toddlers presents its own set of challenges and requires additional thought when it comes to toddler-friendly road trip activities and food.

(It’s much harder to keep a close eye on them when they’re in the backseat, and you’re in the front.)

When considering toddler road trip foods, the most important thing is to avoid giving them anything to eat that could be deemed a choking hazard.

In addition, opt for healthy versus overly sweet options that may give them a tummy ache.

Our favorite healthy toddler car snacks and road trip foods include:

  • Graham crackers
  • Snap pea crisps
  • Applesauce and/or yogurt pouches
  • Cheese sticks
  • Soft mini muffins
  • Whole-grain crackers
  • Bananas and/or this apple slices

Road trip sick bag essentials

9 Essential Tips For Traveling With Food

As seasoned travelers, we’ve assembled a list of tips for traveling with road trip foods and make-ahead hotel room meals.

  • Use up your most delicate fruit first when on long-haul road trips.

In other words, start by eating bananas and berries, then move on to more sturdy produce such as apples and oranges that don’t spoil as easily.

2. Every family needs an organized packing strategy !

When it comes to road trip food, tortillas, pitas, or other sturdy flatbreads work better to bring along than do loaves of bread. They take up a lot less room and do not risk getting smashed.

3. When packing a cooler with items that need to stay chilled, be sure to lay the ice on the top, versus the bottom of the cooler.

This is because cold air sinks and will, therefore, disperse itself more evenly if laid on top of the food.

4. Aim to open the cooler only 1 or 2 times a day in order to maintain its refrigeration and keep the ice from thawing.

5. Also, make all food, including snacks, easily accessible throughout the duration of your family road trip.

This prevents someone (likely mom or dad!) from having to constantly bend over the back seat or stop to open the trunk every time hunger or boredom hits.

6. Avoid bringing anything made of glass on your road trip, including glass food containers. Glass is heavy, bulky, and very dangerous when broken within the confines of your family vehicle.

7. Assemble and bring along a road trip kit with the following road trip essentials for spills, clean-ups, and car sickness:

  • Anti-bacterial wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Garbage bags
  • Ziplock bags
  • Napkins/paper towels
  • Saltine crackers and motion sickness medicine

8. Each time you stop while on a road trip, don’t forget to pitch any garbage that has accumulated.

This prevents build-up and smelliness.

9. Head to the grocery store with our FREE printable checklist and purchase all of your road trip food in one shopping trip!

Road tripping is one of our favorite family vacations!  Get our awesome road trip food list that includes ideas for meals and snacks on-the-go and a printable checklist to take to the grocery store!  #roadtripfoodlist #bestroadtripfoods #roadtripsnackideas #toddlerroadtripsnacks #healthyroadtripsnacks #roadtripmeals

If you enjoyed reading our best Road Trip Food List , click here to check out our Related Posts:

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  • The Ultimate Guide for International Travel with Kids
  • 8 (Unexpected) Benefits of Traveling With Kids

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Jen Brommer is a family travel expert. She has been featured as an authority on several notable travel websites and is a member of the Family Travel Association (FTA), Midwest Travel Network, and TravMedia global media network.

A prominent content creator and influencer on Instagram, Jen has over 150K unique monthly blog readers from countries all over the world. She has spent the last 16 years planning fun, and hassle-free family vacations for her family of 5.

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Thank you for the road trip food list and travel tips.

You’re welcome! Was there something you saw that you hadn’t thought of before? Happy travels!!

This is a great list as we also big in road trip. Snacks is so important especially to keep them from asking are we there yet. Haha… I myself like peanuts to keep me awake when it’s my turn to drive.

Thanks for reading and for sharing your favorite road trip snack!!

This is such a comprehensive list and it is so helpful as I predict a lot of us will be going on more road trips once we can. Prepping these meals will definitely save some money and help the kids feel less bored. I know that my kids are usually pleased munching stuffs during road trips. I also like that it is more likely for the road trip snack to be more healthier than what you’ll buy elsewhere.

Thank you! Yes, the health factor of pre-packing is a big one, as is the enormous cost savings 🙂

I like to have a good mix of healthy (kids like apples, those are easy to eat) and snacky/salty. I am also very particular. about road trip drinks. Big coffees, la croix, iced tea!

I like your ideas! We’d be good road trip buddies!

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Live A Wilder Life

THE ULTIMATE ROAD TRIP FOOD LIST: 50 Scrumptious Travel Snacks

Post Summary: The definitive road trip food list with 50 snack ideas and meals to keep you happy the entire car ride. Plus, tips for what else to bring and recommendations for the best road trip coolers.

Road trips are the classic adventure that everyone needs to do at least once in their life, whether you’re traveling solo, with your best buds, or packing in the whole family. What’s the secret to a great road trip? Besides having your maps already downloaded to your phone (travel must #1), it’s to have a collection of the best road trip food at your disposal. Being prepared with good travel food will ensure you don’t:

  • Kill your travel mates because you’re hangry.
  • Get killed by your travel mates because they’re hangry.
  • Get lured in by every gasoline stop and somehow end up with bright orange Cheetos and Slim Jims.
  • Waste your travel budget dining on Subway and Wendys road trip meals.

After road tripping with a toddler for half a year around the US, we’ve figured out the ultimate road trip food list so we can enjoy the journey together feeling nourished and happy. Our list includes road trip food ideas for adults and kids as well as healthy car snacks.

After the road trip food list, we’ve included non-food items you’ll want to bring and some tips on choosing the best road trip cooler.

Need More Road Trip Tips? Check out our other articles below:

The Ultimate Road Trip Packing List: 41 Essentials For The Road 160 Fun, Deep, and Sometimes Silly Road Trip Questions 41 Fun and Challenging Road Trip Trivia Questions 17+ Fun Things To Do On A Road Trip How To Survive A Road Trip With A Toddler 40 Must Have Items To Have In Your Camper

*This road trip food list post may contain affiliate links, which means we might earn a small commission if you purchase from them. This is at no extra cost to you! We only recommend products and services we genuinely think are helpful.

The Ultimate Road Trip Food List

prepared food on top of a map

Healthy snacks for a road trip

We’ll start with healthy snacks for the road. I don’t know about you, but when we go on road trips, we tend to fall back on fast food and junk food. In an effort to have a quasi healthy road trip we make sure to include some healthy options so we can at least feel like we’ve balanced out all our snickers bars and Wendy’s frosties. Here’s our list of the best road trip foods that won’t leave you feeling sluggish at the end of the day. We also added in a few recommendations of some of our favorite brands.

Healthy Snacks For Car Rides 1. Fruit: Bananas, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, apples, oranges 2. Sliced veggies: carrots, cucumbers, celery, bell peppers, pickles, radishes 3. Cherry tomatoes 4. Olives (buy the pitted kinds) 5. Salsa 6. Deli sandwiches or wraps (already made from home or pre-purchased) 7. A simple charcuterie spread (summer sausage, pepperoni, sliced cheese, dried apricots, olives, crackers, etc.) 8. Popcorn 9. Yellow corn chips, blue corn chips, kale chips 10. Granola Bars and Energy Bars ( Munk Bars are our favorite! ) 11. Dried Fruit 12. Crackers (cheese crackers, saltines, whole wheat crackers, these almond crackers are my favorite!) 13. Pretzels 14. Nuts (almonds, peanuts, cashews, macadamia, walnuts, pecans) 15. Trail mix 16. Tuna (Get the kind that doesn’t need to be refrigerated! It can become a snack on crackers, a sandwich, or added to a salad) 17. Coconut chips ( Dang chips are our favorite. ) 18. Dark chocolate 19. Wasabi peas 20. Fruit leather 21. Whole-grain muffins 22. Bread (pretzel rolls, pita bread) 23. Water (Preferably in a water bottle like a Hydro Flask that will keep your water cold for hours.) *The following are all still healthy snacks for a road trip but will require a cooler. Skip them if you are going sans cooler. Further down, we’ll talk about the best road trip coolers. 23. Hard-boiled eggs 24. Small yogurt containers or drinkable yogurts 25. Humus 26. Guacamole 27. Pasta salad 28. Lentil salad 29. Grocery store salad kits (Can be eaten out of the bag! Just cut the top, pour in the salad dressing, and shake it away. You can also opt to do salads in a jar) 30. Cheese

Essential Road Trip Snacks

Pile of potato chips for a road trip

These road trip snacks might not be the healthiest, but look…you can’t always be perfect!

Road Trip Snack List 32. Beef Jerky 33. Chips 34. Fun candy (Any kind of candy that brings you joy for your road trip. Gummy bears, reeses pieces, airheads) 35. Ranch dip to go with your healthy veggies 36. Fun drinks (Just make sure the drink is able to be resealed or small enough that you’ll drink it all quickly. My favorite road trip drink is coconut water!) 37. Cookies

Road Trip Snacks For Kids And Toddlers

While we don’t put a distinction between road trip food for the adults and road trip food for kids, here are some fun ideas you can add in addition to the travel food listed above. We found that allowing for leniency with what we let our kid snack on will mean a more fun time for everyone in the car.

Road Trip Snacks For Toddlers and Kids 38. String Cheese or Babybels 39. Peanut butter pretzels 40. Clementines 41. Squeezable applesauce 42. Squeezable nut butters (peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter) 43. Graham crackers 44. Goldfish 45. Fruit snacks 46. Fruit roll ups 47. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich 48. Dry cereal 49. Nutella 50. Snap pea crisps ( I love the wasabi ones from Harvest Snaps . I can only get them online because my grocery store never has them!)

Essential Non Food Items

Utensils and napkins for a road trip

Now that you’ve got your travel food and made your road trip food list, let’s talk about non food items to have on your road trip packing list. We are both advocates for minimal waste living so we do advise using reusable items like real utensils, glass containers, and reusable straws rather than single-use items. I know it can feel like a nuisance, but once you get used to doing it, it’s easy to integrate it into your habits. We’ve provided links to different products, so you can check out some good options.

-Trash bags (old shopping bags work well) – Stackable glass or plastic containers (While glass may feel like a hazard, I find that most of them are built for endurance and would require some extreme throwing around to actually break. Either way, bringing containers rather than an entire bag of snacks is a great space saver.) -Reusable straws (we like this multipack option here ) -Bento boxes (another option is to make individual bento boxes with everyone’s preferred snacks put in. It’s essentially a healthier version of a Lunchable. Great option if you’re traveling with kids.) Check out these cute bento boxes here . -Utensils -Plates -Paper towels -Hand sanitizer -Ziplock bags -Wipes -Cups if you want to share drinks -Ice packs for the cooler (We prefer to use reusable ice packs like these , but frozen water bottles or ice cubes in a ziplock back will do the job as well.) -Reusable grocery bag to carry your non-perishable stuff -Plastic tub (If you’re going on a long road trip and will have lots of snacks, a good option is to pack all your non-perishable items in a tub like this .) -Cooler

Related : A Comprehensive Guide To the Best Toddler Carriers For Traveling

Best Road Trip Coolers

easy travel meal ideas

If you’re going on a long road trip, you’ll definitely want to bring a cooler so you can have more options for the journey. Things to consider when deciding what kind of road trip cooler to bring.

  • How much space will you have in your car?
  • How many days will you be driving and subsequently how much food will you need?
  • Cost of the cooler
  • If you road trip or camp a lot and will use a cooler several times a year.

Yeti Roadi 24 Cooler

YETI Roadie 24 Cooler, Tan

Our choice for the best road trip cooler is the Yeti Roadi 24 Cooler . It’s a mid-sized cooler that can fit a bottle of wine standing upright. We like its lightweight design and that its compact size can fit on the ground behind the passenger seat.

It has a mid-range price point, so if you are wanting something more economical, you’ll probably want our next pick.

Igloo MaxCold Cooler

Igloo Maxcold 40-100 Qt Commercially Insulated Coolers

If all you need is a no-frills cooler to keep your food cold, the Igloo Maxcold Cooler is a great option. The thin design also makes it a great choice for someone wanting to save room in the car.

Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze

Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Cooler - 30 Can Zipperless Hardbody Cooler - Navy Blue with Deep Freeze Insulation, HardBody Liner, and SmartShelf

If you like a soft cooler, the Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze consistently offers the best bang for your buck.

Yeti Tundra 45

YETI Tundra 45 Cooler, Navy

Lastly, if you are wanting a high-end cooler that will be great for camping and can take the wear and tear of consistent use, the Yeti Tundra 45 is your best bet. Yeti is the reigning champion of coolers and you can’t go wrong with anything you purchase from them.

Before you head out on your epic road trip, we suggest packing the night before. Alleviating as much stress as possible on the day you leave, especially when you’re doing a road trip with a toddler , is key to enjoying the road trip journey. We find that the night before, it’s best to:

  • Wash, cut, and peel all vegetables and fruit.
  • Pack up all non perishable food and supplies.
  • Prepare any road trip sandwiches you plan to eat.

Lastly, don’t forget to make sure all your tasty road trip snacks are within reaching distance in the car.

We hope you enjoyed our complete road trip food list. Happy road tripping!

** For more road trip inspiration follow us on Instagram . We travel… a lot.

NEED SOME TRAVEL INSPIRATION? A Complete Guide To A Utah National Parks Road Trip How To Plan A Cross Country Road Trip + Fun Routes To Take 10 National Parks To Visit In The East 50 Family Bucket List Experiences In The US


easy travel meal ideas

Hi, we’re Christina and Brad, Idaho based writers and photographers who live to explore. We did a short stint of traveling full time with our two year old and discovered we're much happier as part time nomads. What does that mean? We travel a lot! And then we go home. We love helping fellow parents and everyday adventurers discover new places and experiences.

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The Absolute Foodie

20 Easy Road Trip Lunch Ideas

Sep 20, 2022 · Modified: Mar 18, 2024

If you are setting out on a road trip with your family soon, you are going to want to check out some of these easy  road trip lunch ideas !

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easy travel meal ideas

20 Road Trip Lunches

1. road trip tuna melt, 2. make ahead italian collard green wraps, 3. apple and cheddar sandwiches, 4. cold chicken spinach pasta salad, 5. deli boxes, 6. italian pinwheels, 7. spicy tuna sandwiches, 8. southwestern quinoa mason jar salad, 9. chicken hummus bistro box, 10. peanut butter and banana roll up boxes, 11. almond butter peach sandwiches, 12. tuna burritos, 13. easy halloumi wraps, 14. cheese and fruit bistro, 15. hummus mashed chickpea sandwich, 16. non-creamy pesto pasta salad, 17. southwest chicken burrito bowls, 18. tangy veggie wraps, 19. easy blt wraps, 20. caprese salad cups.

Easy to make, store, and enjoy, these lunch ideas will be perfect for your adventures on the road with the family. Most of these road trip lunch ideas you can make ahead of time and store in a cooler as you travel. We’ve also included some lunches that you can simply pack and go, without the need for a cooler.

A vibrant multi-colored salad in a clear glass jar.

Either way, these road trip lunch ideas will keep you full while on the road and ready for any adventure you may find while on the trip.

No mayo is needed for this tasty tuna melt which means you won’t need to chill this on-the-go road trip sandwich. If you want the toasted bread, just hit up a park or campsite with a grill.

Here’s a lunch that takes a carb-free spin on an Italian sandwich. These make-ahead collard green wraps are healthy and easy to make.

Apples, cheddar cheese, and whole grain slices come together to create a fun and interesting road trip sandwich. Bring along some hard-boiled eggs to add to this dish for some extra protein power on the road!

A tasty cold meal that can be prepped ahead of time and stored in the cooler, this chicken spinach pasta salad will be a filling protein-packed meal for your road trip.

Made with fresh veggies, these deli boxes can be made on the go or prepped before your trip. Store in the cooler and you have lunch already made. Add some dried fruit if you think you will be in need of a road trip dessert!

Pinwheels allow you to take your favorite sandwich and turn it into a portable and fun lunch idea, this one goes for the Italian flavors.

Sriracha mayo is the key ingredient to these spicy tuna sandwiches. Store in a cooler and you’ll have a delicious sandwich ready for the trip.

Mason jar salads are easy to pack and can provide you with a healthy and delicious on the go lunch for your road trip. Bring some mozzarella string cheese along to add additional protein to this dish.

A homemade bistro box can be easy to travel with while you’re on the go. This chicken hummus box with pita pockets, will be a healthy road trip lunch everyone will enjoy.

The perfect snack or lunch idea for road trips, these peanut butter and banana roll ups are paired with fruit and veggies for a filling meal perfect for kids!

Almond butter and fresh peach slices are drizzled with a touch of honey for a sweet and healthy road trip lunch sandwich.

An easy to make lunch that you can prep before you leave, these tuna burritos are filling and store easily and make for a perfect road trip meal!

Halloumi cheese, red pesto, avocado, and walnuts are used to create a delicious and easy to make road trip wrap that’s healthy and beats fast food anyday!

Love fruit? This fruit and cheese box comes together in no time and will allow you to enjoy a healthy and delicious lunch on the go. Serve with tortillas for build-your-own-wraps!

Made with hummus spread, this sandwich adds in the flavors of mixed greens, tomato, red onion, and avocado for a tasty lunch. Serve with crackers, granolas or chips for one well rounded road trip food idea !

Make and prep ahead of time or just cook the noodles before you head out and prep when you are ready.

Spend 30 minutes before you head out prepping these southwest chicken burrito bowls make-ahead meals and you won’t regret it! You’ll have a filling and flavorful road trip lunch ready to go.

Spice things up a bit on the road by enjoying these tangy veggie wraps. It’s an easy make ahead lunch idea that’s worth talking about. Serve with sliced oranges for a fruity touch.

A good BLT sandwich is always a wonderful option for a road trip food idea, this recipe turns that sandwich into a wrap for extra goodness.

A low carb and healthy light lunch idea is these caprese salad cups. Served in cups for portion control and convenience, it’ll be a great road trip lunch idea.

easy travel meal ideas

20 Road Trip Lunch Ideas

We appreciate you taking the time to rate!

  • Road Trip Tuna Melt
  • Make Ahead Italian Collard Green Wraps
  • Apple and Cheddar Sandwiches
  • Cold Chicken Spinach Pasta Salad
  • Italian Pinwheels
  • Spicy Tuna Sandwiches
  • Southwestern Quinoa Mason Jar Salad
  • Chicken Hummus Bistro Box
  • Peanut Butter and Banana Roll Up Boxes
  • Almond Butter Peach Sandwiches
  • Tuna Burritos
  • Easy Halloumi Wraps
  • Cheese and Fruit Bistro
  • Hummus Mashed Chickpea Sandwich
  • Non-Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad
  • Southwest Chicken Burrito Bowls
  • Tangy Veggie Wraps
  • Easy BLT Wraps
  • Caprese Salad Cups


  • Choose a recipe to try.
  • Gather the ingredients needed.
  • Cook and enjoy!

More Lunch Recipes

Low calorie stuffed peppers with meat and vegetables on a black plate.

About Kristen

Kristen is a writer, photographer, cookbook author, and recipe developer. Her work has been featured in various online and print publications including Healthline, MSN, The Associated Press, Elle, Pure Wow, and many more.

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30 Make Ahead Recipes – Perfect for Road Trips!

May 30, 2023 | Roundups | 0 comments

Make Ahead Recipes

These make ahead recipes are perfect for roadtrips but are also great for super busy weeks when there's no time to cook.

Are you gearing up for a family vacation and looking for some healthy make ahead recipes to balance out the nutrition (and expense!) of restaurant meals? Or perhaps you're about to embark on a super busy season at work and know you won't have much time for cooking.

Whatever the specific circumstances, we all have seasons when made-to-order cooking is just not possible Enter, healthy make ahead recipes!

I personally LOVE bringing a few of these items on road trips. I don't know about you, but dining out three times a day with two little ones in tow is not my idea of a vacation.

A few of the recipes, like some of the breakfasts, lunches and snacks, even make good healthy airplane food.

I've tried to include a variety of flavor profiles as well as a mix of items that need refrigeration and those that don't. A solid cooler is definitely helpful if you're looking to bring these make ahead items on a road trip!

Do you have any make ahead recipes you love? I want to hear 'em! Send me a message on Instagram @prepdish .

Make Ahead Recipes for Breakfast

I don't know about you but I like to leave good and early for a roadtrip. And I definitely don't want to be stopping that early in the trip to buy food. I also want a meal that's going to leave everyone feeling good. Make ahead recipes for breakfast are key for this! You'll find a mix of recipes that need a cooler or insulated bag and those that don't. The scones, muffins or breakfast cookies would be great for plane travel as well.

Gluten Free Blueberry Scones

Gluten Free Blueberry Scones w/ Lemon & Ginger

Something about scones feels so fancy but, I promise, these are totally approachable! Made with almond flour, they also call for fresh lemon and ginger which imparts the best flavor.

Blueberry Chia Pudding

Blueberry Chia Pudding

Chia pudding makes the best make ahead breakfast or snack. You can add whatever fresh fruit your family loves. It's also super easy to make multiple jars at once so make a pre-portioned jar for everyone in your crew!

easy travel meal ideas

Peanut Butter Breakfast Cookies

The kids will think you're the best mom ever when you pull out cookies for their road trip breakfast. You can feel great knowing these are full of protein and healthy fats though. They're also sweetened with dates so no sugar rush here!

Batch Cooking Muffins

Cherry Berry Muffins

My cherry berry muffins are both gluten free and paleo. Loaded with flax and fresh berries, they're quite healthy as well. The best part? These freeze really well. Make a double batch and freeze them and you'll have a grab and go breakfast whenever you need it!

Gluten Free Chai Spice Muffins

Chai Zucchini Muffins

These little gems were an immediate hit when they hit our meal prep meal plans . The chai-inspired spices lend the best flavor. Plus, they call for zucchini and I love knowing everyone's getting a little hit of vegetables with breakfast! These make a great snack as well.

Freezer Breakfast Burrito Recipe

Freezer Breakfast Burritos

You'll need an insulated bag to keep these warm unless you're going to eat them right away, Trust me though, it's worth it. I love eggs in the morning because they actually keep me full for hours. You can make these ahead of time and freeze so you can easily heat up and bring in the car if you're leaving for a road trip.

Healthy Egg Muffin Recipe

Lumberjack Muffins

Lumberjack muffins are another easy way to enjoy eggs on the go! Load these up with whatever veggies you love.

Grain Free Granola Recipe

Paleo Cherry Vanilla Granola

This paleo granola is loaded with nuts, which means they offer plenty of protein and healthy fats. This one freezes well too. You can eat it on yogurt, with your favorite milk or all on its own by the handful.

Make Ahead Lunches

When it comes to a road trip lunch, I want something filling but veggie-packed. I don't want to eat something super heavy and then be trapped in the car all afternoon. You'll find lots of salads and healthy wraps below. These work great as make ahead lunches for a super busy week at work too!

Best Steak Salad Recipe

Steak Salad with Almonds & Blackberries

Simple and delicious, this steak salad is loaded with protein and flavor. You could of course sub a different protein if you prefer.

Salmon Wrap Recipe

Easy Salmon Wraps

If you're using this make ahead lunch for a road trip, you may want to wait to actually assemble the wraps when you're ready to enjoy. You can also use the homemade caesar dressing as a dip rather than in the actual wrap for less mess.

Tuna Salad with Grapes

Tuna Salad with Grapes

Tuna salad is the perfect make ahead lunch. The grapes give this version a lovely hit of sweetness while sunflower seeds add just the right crunch.

Middle Eastern Salad Recipe with Homemade Tahini Sauce

Middle Eastern Salad w/ Tahini Sauce

This salad is bright, fresh and loaded with veggies, making it the best healthy make ahead lunch, for a roadtrip or anytime.

BLT Lettuce Wraps

BLT Lettuce Wraps

Just like the salmon wraps above, you may want to wait to assemble these BLT lettuce wraps until you're ready to eat. I would skip the jicama fries though, as they're better fresh!

Greek Salad with Chicken

Greek Salad with Chicken

I love this make ahead lunch anytime. I do like to bring salad dressings in a separate small container to keep everything fresh.

Zucchini Pasta Salad

Zucchini Pasta Salad

This zucchini pasta salad is MADE by the lemon basil sauce. You'll basically want to eat it on everything.

Watermelon Feta and Arugula Salad

Watermelon, Feta & Arugula Salad

If you need a make ahead meal for the summer, this watermelon, feta & arugula salad works great for either lunch or dinner. Pair it with some shrimp or grilled chicken and you're good to go!

Make Ahead Dinner Recipes

Dinner is probably the trickiest meal when it comes to road trips. I've put together a few make ahead dinner recipes for ya though. Think about proteins that are good hot or cold like shrimp, salmon and chicken. Also, don't feel bad if you just put together “snack dinners” for everyone. There's nothing wrong with some fruit, veggie sticks, nuts and a hard boiled egg for a road trip dinner.

And if you're looking for make ahead dinner recipes for home instead of travel, definitely check out this make ahead dinners roundup .

Sheet Pan Shrimp and Veggies

Sheet Pan Pesto Shrimp & Veggies

I love this easy sheet pan meal as a make ahead dinner recipe because I think shrimp are just as tasty cold as hot.

Grilled Curry Chicken Skewers

Grilled Curry Chicken w/ Yogurt Mint Sauce

The chicken in this easy, summery recipe would be super tasty cold as well, perhaps over a simple salad.

Summer Quinoa Salad

Summer Quinoa Salad

This summer quinoa salad is an obvious pick for a make ahead dinner recipe. It's nutritious, super tasty and really good leftover.

Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

When it comes to make ahead recipes, it's great if you can find one that's best enjoyed cold like these chicken salad lettuce wraps. Eat them in a lettuce wrap, in your favorite tortilla, with crackers or over a salad.

Make Ahead Dinner Recipe BLT Pasta Salad

BLT Pasta Salad

A homemade creamy basil dressing brings this simple pasta salad together. This works just as well as a make ahead lunch.

Make Ahead Recipes for Dinner - Shrimp Cobb Salad

Shrimp Cobb Salad

Salads make a great road trip meal but they've got to be substantial or everyone will be asking for snacks within five minutes. This shrimp cobb salad fits the bill. You can also easily serve a deconstructed version to the kiddos if they prefer!

Easy Seafood Dish Coconut Lime Shrimp

Grilled Coconut Shrimp with Lime

Grill these shrimp at home and then bring them along as a make ahead meal that will have everyone looking forward to dinner and no one asking to stop at the drive thru.

Make Ahead Recipes for Snacks & Treats

While there's nothing wrong with some good ole goldfish and larabars for car snacks, sometimes it's nice to have something a little extra special. The below make ahead recipes for snacks and treats will satisfy those snacks cravings, while getting in some quality nutrition as well!

White Bean Hummus Recipe

White Bean Hummus

I love hummus as a make ahead snack because it's healthy AND filling. Dip crackers, pretzels or any veggie stick you like in this one. It's also delicious spread on a wrap or sandwich.

Make Ahead Treats Chocolate Energy Bites

Chocolate Bliss Energy Bites

We all know that part of the fun of road trips is the treats. That doesn't have to be M&Ms from the gas station though. These chocolate bliss energy bites are easy to throw together and make the perfect packable make ahed dessert!

easy travel meal ideas

Low Carb Snickerdoodle Bars

Sweetened with monk fruit extract, these tasty little bars are the perfect on-the-go sweet treat for the low carb eater in your life. They're also just plain delicious so consider giving them a try even if you're not low carb!

Healthy Popcorn Recipe Roundup

3 Healthy Popcorn Recipes

Homemade popcorn is such a great healthy alternative to chips. It has all of that delicious salty crunch, with no weird ingredients! These recipes take it a step further with fun mix-ins and spices for the popcorn.

Sweet and Spicy Pecans

Sweet & Savory Rosemary Pecans

The very first recipe I ever shared on our Prep Dish blog , these sweet and savory rosemary pecans remain one of my favorites today! You can of course just bring plain nuts along for a healthy travel snack but if you want to take it up a notch, you can't go wrong with these.

Make Ahead Recipes - Cranberry Almond Energy Bites

Energy Bites

Packed with protein and healthy fats, energy bites are excellent for part of breakfast, a make ahead snack OR a healthy dessert! They're super versatile and totally delicious. This is a great freezer-friendly recipe so make a big batch and freeze for later!

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

If you need a make ahead dessert that's perfect for road trips, these gluten free peanut butter cookies are an excellent choice! The best part? They're sweetened with dates and only require 3 ingredients!

More Resources for Make Ahead Recipes

What is batch cooking?

10 Healthy Freezer Breakfasts

The BEST Freezer Breakfast Burrito Recipe

10 Healthy Meal Prep Breakfast Ideas

Make Ahead Fall Dinner Recipes

Prep Ahead Lunch: Pecan Crusted Chicken Collard Wraps

Homemade Freezer Meals

More Resources for Healthy Road Trip Food

Healthy Travel Foods – Road Trips, Hotel Rooms & Airbnbs

Conquer the Gluten Free Road Trip

Easy & Healthy Travel Food

Healthy Hotel Room Food Ideas

10 Healthy Prep Ahead Snacks

5 Things to Prep for a Road Trip with Kids

Beginner Menu Guide


Allison Schaaf Chef, Prep Dish

Prep Dish is a gluten-free, paleo, and keto meal planning website. Celebrity personal chef & dietitian Allison Schaaf thoughtfully crafts each plan using her own well-tested recipes. Each meal plan allows you, the home cook, to spend only 2-3 hours preparing a week’s worth of crave-worthy, healthy meals using seasonal, whole foods (nothing processed!). We aim to save you time while keeping your family’s taste buds happy.

Along with a weekly menu, you’ll get a printable grocery list and recipes for prep day — just one day of preparation yields scrumptious, good-for-you dishes all week long. Learn more…

See How You Can Eat Healthy All Week Without Spending All Day Prepping Meals!

Get healthy and delicious done-for-you meal plans delivered right to your inbox! Join thousands of families who have discovered how Prep Dish makes life so much simpler!

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Easy Packable Meals for Long Drives

Road trips don't have to mean days of fast food. here, how to fuel your excursion with healthy options..

couple packing a cooler in their car trunk.

A major challenge of road tripping ? What to eat and how to pack it up. (Back-to-back fast-food meals appeal to almost no one over the age of 10.) However, with a little forethought, mealtime on the go can be satisfying and energizing.

Loading the cooler

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First, a few notes about packing: Generally, you'll want to pack the food that needs to stay coldest (meats, dairy) at the bottom and keep the cooler closed as much as possible. Resist the urge to go in and out for cold drinks and ice up an insulated water bottle instead. It's also worth investing in refreeze-able ice bricks because they stay colder longer than ice and you don't have to deal with melting. Lastly, it's best to keep dish components separate and assemble on site, so nothing gets soggy and wilted.

Creating a portable platter

Eating on the go doesn't have to be lowbrow: One elevated and filling meal that can be eaten for lunch or dinner, and doesn't require much on-site prep or deep refrigeration, is an antipasto plate filled with crudité, dips, charcuterie, cheese, nuts and crackers. It's an easy way to hit all your food groups, too. Keep it healthy by going heavy with veggies like carrots , green beans, radishes or sugar snap peas. (Consider blanching the veggies ahead of time, which keeps them crisp but not totally raw.)

From there, go for a few ounces of different styles of cheese (maybe a white cheddar or Manchego plus something softer like blue or Brie), and add a little high-quality salami or prosciutto (but keep in mind these are the less healthy options on the plate.) And while it's easy enough to buy a tub of a dip, you can also easily make something like your own protein-packed baba ghanoush. Recipes abound online, and the only time-consuming part is broiling or roasting the eggplant before scooping out the flesh and blending it with a few ingredients like lemon and tahini.

Then, load up a few small containers with the fun stuff: Marcona almonds, a fig jam, baguette or crackers, olives and market-made marinated veggies like roasted peppers and artichokes. Pack up a large plastic platter, and once you find a park along your way, you might as well be at your favorite bistro.


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Rotisserie chicken sandwiches, salad-in-a-jar or thermos gazpacho

If it turns out that you'll be doing most of your driving during the day, there are plenty of sandwich options well beyond peanut butter and jelly. Homemade chicken salad tastes even better (and packs more nutrition) when you add  fruit, nuts and fresh herbs . Poaching or roasting chicken isn't hard but using rotisserie chicken is a great no-cook option. Spread it in a croissant and add avocado slices to get more filling, healthy fats. (Keep the avocado whole until you are ready to eat; don't forget to pack a knife.)

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You can also whip up a quality BLT while on the road. Cook some turkey bacon that morning — it can stay crisp for hours unrefrigerated — and marinate tomatoes the night before you go. (Just sprinkle tomato slices with a splash of red wine vinegar and olive oil and store in a container in the fridge.) Get fresh bread, lettuce and mayo or an avocado and assemble it when you're ready to eat.

Need dinner? Make your time on the road work for you: whip up a salad that gets better the longer in marinates, like an Asian slaw salad that you can toss with pre-pulled rotisserie chicken, cooked shrimp and/or cashews before serving. Another creative way to get your greens in is to compose a salad in a jar that you stash in the cooler. These score lots of road-trip friendly points for being easy to store and eat, and the layers keep ingredients fresher and crisper.

two jars with salad and a bowl of vinegar dressing.

You can add what you want — think blue cheese and bacon bits for a take on a Cobb salad, or shrimp and beans for a taco spin — then shake to dress it all up. Pasta salad versions work here, too. Try combining jarred chickpeas with onion and oil and vinegar, then layering it on top of spiraled pasta, a handful of arugula and a couple tablespoons each of olives and feta. Mix it up and dig in!

Lastly, consider a light lunch or dinner of drinkable soup like gazpacho. The recipe below is tasty, fresh and stores well in an insulated travel cup.

Sippin’ Green Gazpacho

Yield: 6 cups


2 pounds English hothouse cucumbers (about 2 large), chopped

2 garlic cloves, smashed

2 cups coarsely chopped arugula

2 cups coarsely chopped mixed tender herbs (such as basil, parsley, cilantro and/or mint)

3 tablespoons (or more) sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

Kosher salt

3/4 cup (or more) olive oil


1. Purée cucumbers, garlic and 1/2 cup water in a blender until smooth.

2. Add arugula, herbs, vinegar and a large pinch of salt and purée, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender as needed, until very smooth.

3. With the motor running, slowly stream in oil; blend until emulsified. (The mixture will turn pale green and look creamy, almost like a salad dressing; add more oil and/or water if needed.)

4. Taste gazpacho and season with more salt and vinegar, as desired. You want it to be borderline too salty and acidic at room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container. Cover and chill until very cold, 4 — 12 hours. 

5. Pour into chilled glasses.

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I Really Like Food!

15 Make Ahead Meals for Road Trips & Days Out

By: Author Pauline

Posted on Published: 20th January 2020  - Last updated: 22nd June 2023

15 Make Ahead Meals for Road Trips & Days Out

Last Updated on 22nd June 2023 by

During a road trip with your friends or family members, you want to prepare and make everything ready for the journey.

Before you commence your days out, you want to make ahead meals for road trips to keep travellers full and satisfied. The list below comprises some of the astonishing make-ahead meals that will keep you and your loved ones well-fed in your entire journey.

Table of Contents

Make Meals Ahead For Road Trips

You may consider preparing a couple of these meals before you leave home. That ensures that things go smoothly as intended during your road trip or when you’re out there.

1. Peanut Butter Banana Sushi

Leading on the list is sushi that remains fresh. The meal is also referred to as breakfast sushi since it’s a delicious meal to start the day with.

You’ll have to make this meal early since it can get dubious about cutting the pieces in the car. With this meal, apply the peanut butter on a tortilla and then add sizeable banana cuts.

Sprinkle cinnamon on the ingredients and role up the substances in the tortilla. Finish by cutting the folded up tortilla into sushi-sized nibbles. The unrefrigerated meal stays fresh till the day’s end.


  • 1 full grain tortilla;
  • 2 peanut butter spoonfuls;
  • 1 full banana;
  • Cinnamon sprinkle;
  • Mix out the ingredients into the tortilla;
  • Chop into sushi chomps;

Benefits: This meal will liven up your state of mind, and bananas will additionally add you energy! Besides, you get some antioxidants loads from the sprinkled cinnamon.

2. Banana Apple Toast

If you want to remain healthy out there, this is the ideal meal for you. It’s termed as the group-up variant of the PB&J, not to forget that it can make a tasty breakfast.

You might need to make this before taking off. Toast one cut of whole-grain bread, then add the neatly cut apple cuts on top together with bite-sized pieces of bananas. Sprinkle with honey to wrap up.

The unrefrigerated meal will remain fresh until the day’s end.  

  • 1 cut of entire grain toast;
  • 1 entire banana;
  • Cut 1 apple into thin cuts; 
  • Honey drizzle; 

Benefits: Bananas and apples are useful for your heart, whereas honey has got antioxidants that keep you healthy.

15 Make Ahead Meals for Road Trips & Days Out

3. No-Bake Oat Bites

The bites are energy-filled to assist in beginning your day. It’s recommended that you prepare this meal at home.

You’ll just combine every ingredient and fold into bite-sized balls. Leave them sitting for 60 minutes before eating.

The unrefrigerated meal will stay fresh for approximately two days. Ensure you don’t leave the meal inside a hot auto since it will melt.  

  • ½ cup of almond butter;
  • 1 cup of folded oats;
  • A bunch of craisins;
  • 5 drops of vanilla concentrate;
  • ⅓ cup of honey;
  • ¼ cup of Dark chocolate chips; 

Benefits: This tasty energy ball is full of nutrients and thus an ideal way to commence your day out and about.

4. Avocado Honey Bagel

The meal is impeccably delicious and nutritious to kick your day away from work. While it might be simpler to set at home, you can likewise prepare it in your auto. You can store all the ingredients within a reusable bag.

If you intend to make it from your car, ensure you carry a plate and knife with you to ease the preparation method.

You’ll begin by slicing your bagel into two and spreading avocado on every half. Then top the item with a bunch of equitably distributed pistachios.

Finally, sprinkle the meal with honey and put it within a sealed compartment in the vehicle. The unrefrigerated meal will stay fresh for one day. 

  • 1 whole-grain bagel;
  • Honey sprinkle;
  • Bunch of pistachios;

Benefits: This is ideal for individuals who appreciate exceptional flavours and need a kick-off for their day.

5. Tuna Salad

When the time for lunch comes, you should “tuna” those cravings around with the salad. You need to prepare this meal in the auto before consumption.

You might store all of the ingredients within a reusable bag. Remember to bring a bowl, a knife, and a fork to ease preparation.

To begin with, remove tuna from the can and void it into a bowl. Then, pound an entire avocado and mix with the cranberries into the fish. Utilise whole grain saltines to plunge into your salad of tuna.  

  • 1 big can of fish;
  • ½ cup of cranberries;
  • A bundle of whole-grain crackers;

Benefits: The well-balanced meal satisfies your tummy since it’s loaded up with healthy fats and lean protein.

6. Chicken Salad Sandwich

During those long road trips, you need this meal. The meal is to be set up in the vehicle directly upon utilisation.

You can store the entire ingredients within a reusable bag. Ensure you bring a plate and a can opener to simplify your preparation.

To start with, open a canned chicken. The size should correspond to the number of people you want to feed.

After opening, empty the substance on a whole-grain bread slice. Then, toss on top salted veggies from an unopened container.

Finally, spread bundled sauces of your decision on the bread and entirely sandwich it.  

  • 1 to 2 chicken cans; 
  • Packaged condiments;
  • 1 jar of salted veggies;
  • 2 whole-grain bread slices;

Benefits: It’s one of the fewest unrefrigerated meals that you choose to put veggies into keeping you energised out there! Besides, you get the fulfilment of a sandwich for your lunch.

15 Make Ahead Meals for Road Trips & Days Out

7. Bean & Cheese Burrito

Burritos are part of the most satisfying meals that you can enjoy on an excursion. Make a point to bring a plate and a can opener to make preparations simpler.

You have to prepare this meal within the auto right upon utilisation. You can keep every one of these ingredients inside a reusable bag.

The formula is simple as well. Just wrap and distribute the entire ingredients with the tortilla as you find it fitting. 

  • 1 medium-sized container of dark beans;
  • 1 whole-grain tortilla wrap;
  • Gouda cheddar cuts; 

Benefits: This is an incredibly healthy and simple meal to make, and that offers you satisfaction outside there.

8. Taco Bowl

This is a fiesta for a road trip when eating this meal on your auto. This meal is to be set up in the vehicle directly upon utilisation.

Make a point of bringing with you a bowl and a can opener for easier preparation. Use a reusable pack to store the entire ingredients.

The meal is effortlessly made because you’ll put every other ingredient inside a travel holder. Ensure jarred, or canned food remain closed until consumption.

  • 1 beef can;
  • ½ of a small container of salsa;
  • Pack of tortilla chips
  • 1 jar of beans;

Benefits: This is a gluten-free meal, which is also nutritious. Besides, it’s balanced in proteins, healthy fats, and carbs to keep everyone full when outside there.

Healthy and Creative Kid Snacks on the Go

Here are some of the most filling and entertaining snacks to keep your kiddos invigorated during the drive.

Indeed, a portion of these are snacks for the kids, but who said you couldn’t participate in the good times? To keep the children occupied when they aren’t eating, look at these excursion snacks.

9. Caterpillar Kabobs

The snack is produced using lots of grapes; hence it’s a bunch of fun. You will have to prepare it before taking off.

You’ll initially take a paddle skewer (it’s safe for kids) then squirm grapes on individually. Put in a reusable can until the time of consumption. The snack will remain fresh within an ice cooler for 3 days.

  • A bunch of green grapes;
  • 5 to 7 paddle skewers;

Benefits: Grapes are jam-stuffed with nutrients such as vitamins K and C. Besides, the caterpillar sticks are too adorable to miss attempting. 

10. Ant Logs

Try not to let this meal name alarm you! This tidbit is an extraordinary blend of protein and fruits to keep kids full.

You can prepare the meal in advance or while in the vehicle. If you’ll make in the auto, make a point of carrying a plate and a knife to ease the process.

Spread the peanut butter over celery sticks and include raisins (they resemble the ants) on top. If you’ve to prepare this meal before commencing your journey, put the contents within a reusable container.

The snack stays fresh within an ice cooler for 3 to 4 days. 

  • 5 to 7 celery sticks;
  • Peanut butter;

Benefits: These are profoundly engaging, simple to make, and you can serve them at room temperatures.

11. Apple Cookies

For long car rides, kids at times may require some little sweetness. You’ll need to prepare this prior to starting the journey.

Slice an apple into cuts that look like a cookie. Next is to put the remainder of the ingredients in the middle of two cuts to make the bite resemble an apple sandwich.

This snack will remain in the ice cooler for 2 days.

  • Peanut butter ;
  • 2 green apples;
  • Almond cuts;
  • Dark chocolate chips; 

Benefits: You trick your little young into eating a cookie that comprises a nutritious sweet remix.

15 Make Ahead Meals for Road Trips & Days Out

12. Necklace Snack

This is a snack that you wear and also enjoy! You can make this meal in the car or before setting out. If you’ve got the plan to prepare it in the vehicle, bring a plate with you to ease the preparation procedure.

You’ll entwine pretzels and Cheerios on a string to have a necklace resemblance for your kids to wear and nibble on. To keep the snacks for long, store them in an airtight bag. 

Benefits: The snack engages your little ones for some time.

13. Cheese & Apple Pirate Ships

These apple pirate ships and cheese are lovable and something you’ll adore to have out and about. You might need to prepare them before taking off if you don’t have pre-cut slices of apple or cheddar squares.

Chop the apples into the shape of wedges and to resemble the boat base. Attach those cheeses in toothpicks and fix them on the apple to have the flag figure.

Pack into a reusable holder and bring them out for nibble time! The snacks remain in the ice cooler for 2 days. 

  • Pack of toothpicks;
  • Pack of apple cuts;
  • 6 to 8 small cheddar cheese squares;

Benefits: Apples are an excellent source of cheese and antioxidants, while cheese is an incredible source of calcium. This tidbit will, without a doubt, astound your little ones.

Healthy Road Trip Snacks That Hold You Over

At times, road trips feel a bit dull, mainly directly around the halfway point. In your excursion, you begin to believe nothing will inspire you to arrive at the destination.

It’s occasionally exhausting, and you’ll likely lose vitality the more stay in the vehicle. Fortunately, there’re many snacks to hold you over, and one of them is the healthy trail mix remix.

14. Healthy Trail Mix Remix

If you’re seeking for a substantial bite, trail blend is the ideal selection to keep you invigorated. You’ll need to prepare this before taking off.

With the remixed recipe, you don’t have to stress over feeling exhausted. Just combine every ingredient and gather into reusable packs to eat later.

The unrefrigerated trail blend can remain fresh for one week if not deserted in a hot auto. 

  • ½ cup of craisins;
  • ¼ cup of dark chocolate;
  • ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds;
  • ½ cup of walnuts;
  • ⅓ cup of almonds;
  • 1 ½ cups of plain popcorn;

Benefits: Pumpkin seeds are nutritious and contain magnesium, protein, iron, and the sky is the limit. The raisins will assist in supporting low blood sugar when you are feeling tired.

Healthier snacks and meals not only give you the necessary energy, but they also make you enjoy the trip. When you give your body the needed nutrients, it gives you the vitality and satisfaction that’s required to make the most of your days out. Whether traveling soon or in the future, you shouldn’t thus hesitate to make ahead meals for road trips!

What are the best make-ahead meals that don’t require refrigeration?

Trail mix, sandwiches made with peanut butter or other non-perishable spreads, whole fruits, granola bars, and baked goods like muffins or banana bread can all be good options. If you have a cooler or a way to keep things cold, you can expand to options like pasta salads, cold chicken or turkey sandwiches, or cheese and crackers.

How can I keep my make-ahead meals fresh during a road trip?

Using a high-quality cooler can help keep your food at a safe temperature. You should also pack your food in airtight containers or bags to maintain freshness. If you’re bringing along perishable items like meat or dairy, make sure they’re kept cold to avoid foodborne illness. Frozen water bottles can help keep things cool while also providing a source of cold drinking water as they thaw.

Can you suggest some vegetarian or vegan make-ahead meals suitable for travel?

Absolutely! Grain salads with farro, quinoa, or bulgur wheat that are dressed with vinaigrette can be a hearty option. Chickpea salad sandwiches, vegetable wraps, or cold sesame noodles can also be delicious and filling. For snacks, consider cut-up vegetables and hummus, trail mix, or homemade granola bars.

What are some easy and nutritious make-ahead breakfast ideas for road trips?

Overnight oats made with your choice of milk (dairy or non-dairy), chia seeds, and your favorite fruits and nuts can be a great, filling breakfast. Hard-boiled eggs can also be a good protein-packed option. If you prefer something sweeter, consider making a batch of healthy muffins or breakfast bars. Remember to include some fresh fruits for a balanced meal.

How can I incorporate dietary restrictions into my make-ahead meals for travel?

If you or your travel companions have dietary restrictions, the key is planning. For gluten-free travelers, focus on meals based around proteins and naturally gluten-free grains like quinoa or rice. Vegans and vegetarians might enjoy grain salads, nut butter sandwiches, or bean salads. For those on a low-carb or keto diet, focus on protein-based meals like cold chicken salad or hard-boiled eggs, along with cut-up veggies and dip. Always double-check labels if you’re purchasing pre-packaged food to ensure they meet your dietary needs.

Pauline Loughlin

I'm Pauline, a mother of four grown children, my passion for cooking stemmed from the joy i get cooking for my family. I love to try new dishes, especially when dining out but creating and sharing my own recipes is my favourite thing to do!

  • Pauline Poutine On A Sandwich Recipe!
  • Pauline Chocolate, Stout & Ancho Chili Con Carne Recipe
  • Pauline Never Waste a Fry Again: Exciting Recipes to Revive Your Leftover French Fries
  • Pauline Quick and Tasty Hibachi Chicken Recipe at Home

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50+ Road Trip Food Ideas- Easy Meals On the Go!

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When you’re taking a road trip, bringing the right food can make a huge difference.

Not only is sustenance a necessity on a long trip, but it also breaks up the drive and gives everyone something to look forward to. Especially when you’re traveling with kids! 

There are a lot of factors to consider when picking food for a road trip. Which foods are best for eating on the road? How much should you pack? How should you store it? How can you stay organized and neat? 

Not to worry, this guide has all the information you need to create a perfect road trip meal plan!

Road trip food

Everyone has different road trip strategies and traditions.

Some families prefer to bring food for breakfast and lunch and eat out for dinner, whereas others would rather bring all the food they will need for their entire trip.

Some families prefer to focus on healthy meal and snack options, while others see road trips as a perfect excuse to let loose and enjoy some “fun” food choices.

Whatever your preferences are, we’ve got you covered. 

We’ve divided up our food ideas by meal, although there may be some overlap (a meal that’s good for lunch can also be a great option for dinner, etc).

How to store your road trip food

For any road trip longer than a couple of hours, we highly recommend bringing a cooler with ice or ice packs . This allows you to bring food that needs to be kept refrigerated and greatly increases your meal and snack options.

Cooler of road trip food

A few tips on coolers:

  • The ice in your cooler should last for several days, depending on the kind of cooler you have and how often you take the lid off.
  • If you find you need more ice, you can pick some up at a gas station or grocery store.
  • Avoid opening your cooler frequently to prevent the ice from melting quickly and to keep the food cool for longer. 
  • Keep ice/ice packs on top of your food, not just at the bottom of the cooler. This will keep your food cool better and longer, as cold air sinks.

**Meat and dairy products should not be left at room temperature for longer than two hours. The warmer the room (or car), the shorter the time perishable food can be left out. 

Road Trip Breakfast Ideas

Bagel and cream cheese

Breakfast is arguably one of the easiest road trip meals to plan for. There are a variety of breakfast foods that are simple to pack and convenient to eat on the go. Here are a few of our top choices.

  • Banana bread
  • Banana with peanut butter
  • Fresh fruit
  • Protein bars
  • Boiled eggs
  • Bagel and cream cheese
  • Yogurt parfait
  • Mini cereals

Road Trip Lunch Ideas

An assortment of lunch food packed in two containers

There are a lot of different options for lunch on a road trip. Some people might prefer light snacking throughout the day, whereas others might want a full lunch meal. If you prefer hearty snacks as opposed to a large meal, scroll down to the snack section for ideas of foods to supplement your lunch. 

And even if you’re packing a lunch instead of eating out, this still might be a convenient time to stop and get out of the car for a little bit. A park or rest stop is often a convenient place to stretch your legs and have a quick picnic lunch. 

Sandwich tip – wait to add ingredients that have any moisture (tomatoes, condiments, avocado, etc) until right before you eat to prevent your bread from getting soggy.

  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Sub sandwich with lunch meat and cheese
  • Cream cheese and raisin bread sandwiches- this has been a favorite of our family’s for years. We would always have it for road trips growing up, but I’ve never seen anyone make it like we do, so I’m sharing the love by including the recipe here! Scroll to the bottom to learn the simple recipe. They are a huge hit with kids!
  • Hawaiian roll with cheese
  • Rotisserie chicken- presliced, great on a roll, bread, or just eaten plain
  • Crackers with cheese and summer sausage- precut cheese and sausage into slices before you leave
  • Tuna sandwich
  • Egg salad sandwich
  • Lunchables- kids love these and honestly, they can be fun for adults too
  • Salad- prepared from fresh ingredients before you leave (wait to add dressing until you’re ready to eat) or from a salad kit

Road Trip Dinner Ideas

A container packed with pasta salad and green salad

Dinner always seems like the hardest meal to plan for on the road. Many people are used to eating hot meals for dinner, but that’s not really an option for a road trip unless you stop to heat something up at a gas station. 

But there are some delicious meals you can prepare ahead of time for dinner, especially if you are bringing a cooler. 

  • Barbeque chicken sandwich
  • Chicken and cheese sandwich
  • Pita sandwiches
  • Chicken salad sandwiches
  • Turkey rollups – from Costco or homemade
  • Premixed salad kit
  • Fruit salad
  • Chicken Caesar salad (Costco has a great premade kit)
  • Taco salad- store chopped ingredients separately, then combine and add dressing when you’re ready to eat
  • Pasta salad
  • Potato salad

Road Trip Snack Ideas

Two bowls of mixed nuts

No road trip is complete without road trip snacks. Having something to snack on can prevent people from getting hungry and grumpy during the stretches between meals. It can also help to keep the driver awake if they start to feel drowsy while driving and keep kids entertained!

  • Granola bars- Lara bars, Cliff Bars, fig bars, Kind bars
  • Crackers- Goldfish, Pirates Booty, Wheat Thins, Cheez-Its, animal crackers
  • Pretzels- regular or peanut butter filled
  • Pringles- a nice, non-greasy chip option
  • Yogurt- Gogurts are less mess and easy to eat in the car
  • Fresh fruit (apples, grapes, strawberries, mandarin oranges, blueberries, bananas)
  • Dried fruit (apricots, apples, bananas, mangoes, pineapple) 
  • Celery and peanut butter- prepack the peanut butter in a condiment cup and dip the celery sticks
  • Veggies and hummus- carrots, broccoli, celery, cherry tomatoes
  • Fruit leather
  • Popcorn- Simply Pop brand or make a fresh batch before you leave and snack on it throughout your trip.
  • Sunflower seeds- great for snacking on if you’re starting to feel drowsy 
  • Nuts- Mixed nuts, almonds, peanuts, cashews
  • Cheese- Babybel cheese, string cheese, cubed cheddar, mozzarella, and/or pepperjack
  • Rice cakes with peanut butter

If you’re traveling with kids, plan a “movie night” during the drive and pull out the popcorn and treats while you watch a fun show the whole family can enjoy. It’s a fun way to break up the drive!

Road Trip Desserts and Treats

A tin of chocolate chip cookies

Sometimes it’s nice to have some food that feels a little special when you’re on a long driving trip. Pack a couple of these dessert foods for a fun treat to pull out during your drive. 

  • Rice Krispie treats
  • Cookies (chocolate chip, peanut butter, snickerdoodles)- made in advance or store bought
  • Brownies- make and individually wrap before your trip
  • Candy- if you want something non-meltable choose a candy like Sourpatch Kids, Redvines, Starbursts
  • Fruit snacks

Don’t forget to Bring…

In addition to meals and snacks, there are some other non-food essentials that you don’t want to forget on a road trip. Skim through this list to make sure you aren’t missing anything important. 

  • Paper towels – a necessity for inevitable spills and messes
  • Wet wipes – for wiping hands and faces after eating
  • Reusable water bottles – it’s important to stay hydrated on a road trip. Bring reusable water bottles and refill as necessary when you stop for gas. 
  • Sandwich bags – useful for for divvying up food, storing leftovers, etc
  • Garbage bags – bring a couple of garbage bags for storing trash so you can keep you car clean and organized
  • Grocery bags- useful for organizing food, trash, etc
  • Hand sanitizer – prevent germs by cleaning everyone’s hands before eating. Also very useful if the place you stop to go to the bathroom doesn’t have soap…
  • Plates and bowls – may be a necessity, depending on your meals
  • Plastic utensils – forks, spoons, knife
  • Cooler and ice/ ice packs – store food that needs refrigeration
  • Collapsible car organizer – hugely helpful for storing non-refrigerated food and staying organized, especially in a van
  • Condiment cups – These are amazing for dividing up condiments and dips in small portions 
  • Salt/pepper packets , condiment packets – useful for adding flavor to your foods (depending on your meals). You can pack your own or buy small packets before your trip.
  • Snack catcher – If you’re traveling with a toddler or young child, bring a snack catcher to use for crackers and other small foods. They are much less likely to spill their snack all over the car and create a mess. And it acts as an activity to keep them entertained trying to get their food out of the container!

Road Trip Food Tips

  • Keep a hand held vacuum in your car – you can easily vacuum up any spills and inevitable food crumbs, keeping your car feeling much cleaner.
  • Make food in advance and freeze it – there is so much to do to get ready for a road trip. Where possible, make food several weeks in advance and freeze it until you’re ready to leave on your trip. This works great for muffins, breads, cookies, and some sandwiches and meat dishes.
  • Throw out your trash when you stop for gas. Regularly clearing out the garbage will prevent buildup of trash in your car and the stinky smell of rotting food.
  • Have a pre-filled road trip bag- If you’re going on road trips frequently, have a bag ready with the nonperishable items you need for your road trip. Keep inside a list to restock the bag after a trip. It’s much easier to just grab your bag when you’re getting ready for a trip than having to repack it every time.
  • Try to avoid foods that are excessively greasy, sticky, or crumbly – messy foods can be a pain on a road trip. Minimize mess, minimize stress.
  • Bring a couple of water bottles and refill as necessary when you stop for gas. We try to stick to mostly water as our beverage of choice for road trips to avoid sticky spills.
  • Stock up on food and meals at a wholesale store before your trip. Costco has great pre-made meal options that you can buy right before your trip. We love the Costco sandwich rolls, Caesar salad, muffins, potato salad, and fruit bowls for road trips. And of course, you can’t go wrong with their bulk snacks like trail mix, dried fruit, fruit leathers, popcorn, crackers, etc.

Benefits of packing your own food for a road trip

Family with a cooler of food

Although it’s a little more work and preparation than stopping for food, there are a lot of benefits to bringing your own road trip food. Here are some reasons to skip the fast food and pack your meals.

It’s more cost-effective

Eating out for every meal, even if it’s at a fast-food restaurant, can get expensive. This is especially true if you’re traveling with your whole family. 

Save money by bringing your own food! If you plan ahead, you can buy most of your road trip foods at a wholesale store, then divide it up into the portions that you want. 

It saves time

Stopping to order and pick up food takes time. Sometimes it can be nice to break up your trip with a food stop.  But if you’re trying to make good time, stopping for every meal adds extra hours to your road trip. 

If you’ve packed all or most of the food you will need, you have snacks and meals to pull out when people get hungry without having to pull over!

It’s often healthier

Eating out for every meal is often quite unhealthy. When you pack your own food, you have more options and control over what kinds of foods you are eating and how many sweets and treats you want to include. 

Easier to Accommodate Preferences and Dietary Restrictions

If you’re traveling with dietary restrictions, it can be risky leaving food to whatever you happen to find along the way. Packing your own meals ensures you have plenty of safe food to eat. 

And if you’re traveling as a family, you can easily cater to everyone’s preferences by packing food you know everyone will enjoy. That way you don’t have to spend a lot of time picking a place that everyone can agree on.

Cream Cheese and Raisin Bread Sandwich Recipe

Cream cheese and raisin bread sandwiches- a perfect road trip food

As promised, here is our family recipe of cream cheese and raisin bread sandwiches. They are sure to be a road trip hit for people of all ages!


  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • ¾ C powdered sugar
  • 1 loaf cinnamon raisin bread


  • Soften cream cheese to room temperature. 
  • Using a mixer, combine cream cheese with powdered sugar. 
  • Lay out half of the raisin bread and spread the cream cheese mixture evenly between all pieces. 
  • Top the cream cheese with another piece of raisin bread to complete your sandwiches. 

**You can freeze the whole premade loaf and pull it out when you want to use it, just let it come to room temperature before eating. This is perfect for road trips because you can pull it out in the morning and it’s ready to eat by lunch!

Final Thoughts

Selecting and preparing road trip food can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! With this list of food and road trip tips, you have everything you need to prepare for a great trip.

If you’re planning on flying with kids, check out these awesome toddler airplane snacks !

Other posts you might be interested in:

How to Have a Successful Road Trip with a Toddler

Road Trip Activities for Toddlers (That They Will Really Love!)

7 Essential Tips for Road Tripping with a Baby

30 of the Very Best Travel Activities for Kids!

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Very thorough with lots of good information. Makes me want to go have a cream cheese raisin bread sandwich right now.

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Thank you!! And yes, they really are so delicious!

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You’re on Vacation, Thank Goodness. Here’s What to Cook

By Emma Laperruque , Christina Chaey , Antara Sinha , and The Bon Appétit Staff & Contributors

Is there anything more satisfying than setting up an OOO autoresponder? Thanks for your email but I’m not checking my email. Thanks for your email but I’m on the beach, sipping cold wine , playing Scrabble, insert your chillest pastime here. The only doozy is what to cook for dinner (and, hopefully, make for dessert).

Vacation food hinges on two things: what local produce is ripe and what kitchen equipment your lodging has (or, more likely, doesn’t have). These summery recipes are as effortless as they are fun, like floating around a pool on an inflatable doughnut. So crank up the AC and let’s make something good.

Things You Should Just Bring

Just to be safe. No, we’re not going to tell you to bring a stockpot or food processor or your whole spice cabinet. But there are some ingredients and gadgets that we wouldn’t want to be without, especially if we’re driving. Here is our packing wishlist—pick what you have space for.

  • Flaky salt and kosher salt because bland food is bad food, and bad food is not invited on vacation.
  • Black pepper and chile flakes: See above. Bring freshly ground or whole peppercorns plus a mill .
  • Olive oil and vinegar for perking up whatever you overbuy at the farmers market, from tomatoes to corn to lettuce.
  • That condiment you put on everything: Zhong sauce ? Yellow sriracha ? Kewpie mayonnaise ? All three?
  • Coffee or tea . In case you’re one of those people who becomes Not Nice when you don’t get your caffeine fix as soon as you wake up.
  • Storage containers for leftovers (dinner tonight is the easiest lunch tomorrow) and adventures (so you can win Best Meal at the Top of the Mountain ).
  • Knives —yes, even if the Airbnb kitchen photos look promising. Chef’s at a minimum; gold star each for a serrated and a paring .
  • Microplane for citrus, ginger, Parmesan, garlic, etc. As Christina Chaey puts it , “Once you start traveling with your Microplane, you may never go on another trip without it.”
  • Sheet pan : You can’t pack every pan, so you might as well pack the most versatile one.
  • Wine opener because vacation. Go lo-fi with this under-$10 option or spend a little more for an electric wonder .

Recipes That Taste Like Summer

And they’ll taste even better when you blast your go-to karaoke songs while you cook.

Platter of tomato chicken on a green linen.

One-Pan Braised Chicken with Soy Sauce and Tomatoes

On lazy summer nights when you can’t fathom doing more than the bare minimum number of dishes, make this deeply comforting one-skillet chicken and tomato dish from contributing recipe developer Christian Reynoso. The chicken thighs marinate, cook, and get served in a single skillet; as the chicken cooks, the marinade cooks down into a luxuriously buttery, salty sauce that’s perfect for spooning over rice or thick slices of toast. — Christina Chaey, senior food editor

Beige surface with a yellow plate of steak fattoush.

Grilled Corn and Steak Fattoush

If you can gather everything for tonight’s dinner with a single sweep of the sleepy village supermarket, then it’s a vacation winner in my books. Bonus points if it doesn’t require a blender or stand mixer or any such machine that your cute rental is unlikely to have. This grilled corn and steak fattoush fits the bill, demanding nothing more of you than a few bowls and a hot grill by the pool, grass in your toes. —Shilpa Uskokovic, food editor

Creamy Lemon Zucchini Pasta recipe

Creamy Lemon Zucchini Pasta

When most people go on vacation they pack extra bathing suits and flip-flops; I pack my Microplane and Thermapen. After staying in one too many vacation homes without a box grater on premises, my newest must-pack vacation item is a collapsible box grater that packs up flat and is no bigger than a small notebook. I use it to shred zucchini and Parmesan for this decadent summer pasta, turn a pile of carrots into a big grated salad , or make a quick grated raw-tomato sauce . —C.C.

Pink plate of cucumber chickpea salad on marble.

Crispy Chickpea and Cucumber Salad

When a friend invited me to lunch and a lazy day on the beach, I thought about taking a bottle of wine. But sun and rosé midday can’t possibly lead to good, so instead, I made good use of some garden-gown cucumbers to make this salad. A quick search of my pantry confirmed I had everything else I needed to make this bright and crispy salad, one full of protein thanks to the addition of sautéed chickpeas and feta. While I can't say the others didn't wish I'd opted for rosé, I can say they all asked for the recipe. —Dawn Davis, editor in chief

Pieces of blueberry muffin cake on a pink stone.

Blueberry Muffin Cake

This cake is for those of us who believe baking is relaxing. You won't need more than a mixing bowl and whisk to achieve a tender crumb. Whether your vacation kitchen is fully stocked or barely functioning, this cake is designed to impress under any conditions. The shortcut: store-bought granola in place of a homemade streusel topping. Because even though you're baking, you're still on vacation. —Mehreen Karim, recipe production assistant

Image may contain Drink Cocktail Alcohol Beverage Plant Fruit Food Citrus Fruit Lime Grapefruit and Produce

Salted Watermelon Juice

I made this juice on vacation precisely as the headnote dictated: We needed to use up the rest of a whole watermelon we bought. I froze the cubes before blending for a thicker slushie texture. It is definitely thirst-quenching after baking in the summer sun on the water all afternoon. And it can easily be boozed up with most whatever you have on hand. —Ryan Harrington, research director

Image may contain Food Plant Dish and Meal

Picnic Tomatoes

The hardest part about this recipe is finding ripe, heavy, juicy tomatoes. Which—at the Jersey shore, where my family gathers for a prosecco-fueled reunion every summer—isn’t hard at all. It reminds me of the tomato-mayo sandwiches I grew up on, with just enough herbs to look like you put in a lot of work (you didn’t). —Emma Laperruque, senior cooking editor

Image may contain Plant Food Bread Lunch and Meal

Broccoli Melts

This sandwich is endlessly adaptable––make it with any bread (even pappy sliced white); switch the cheddar for pre-sliced provolone, gouda, or some other melty cheese; and use lemon juice instead of vinegar.The result is good for a lazy brunch or laid-back dinner. —S.U.

Image may contain Drink Cocktail Mojito Alcohol Beverage Fruit Food Pineapple and Plant

Minty Limeade

This is such a simple recipe that I can make anywhere, as long as I have lemons, limes, and mint leaves. If you like checking out the local farmers market wherever you are, it's a breeze to grab these fresh ingredients. The recipe is minimal on tools (a pitcher and something to mash with), in case your Airbnb kitchen doesn't have much. —Karen Yuan, lifestyle editor

Grilled corn salad in a large shallow bowl with cilantro feta and serrano chiles.

No-Brainer Corn Salad

This recipe never fails as my summer vacation standby. Sure it’s hands-down delicious (salty! sweet! crunchy!) and takes full advantage of peak-season corn, but the best part is its total flexibility. Use whatever nut, herb, and cheese you can find at the store, whatever vinegar and oil is stashed in the cupboard, and et voila. It’s a salad. It’s a condiment. It’s your new summer fling. —Sasha Levine, digital director

I was raised by a mother who waited all year for sweet summer corn, an obsession that was passed down genetically. When I'm feeling fancier than corn on the cob, I make this choose-your-own-adventure salad. Don't have serrano chiles? Use black pepper or red pepper flakes. Don't have a grill? Boil or microwave your corn. —Kate Kassin, editorial operations associate

A brightly colored noodle salad with sliced purple cabbage red radishes watercress cucumbers yellow beans and carrots.

Salad Ramen

A big bowl of hiyashi chuka is one of my favorite things to eat on a scorching summer day. It's an easy recipe to make for a crowd, and you can top it with whatever fresh vegetables you manage to find. —Wilder Davies, Epicurious staff writer

Image may contain Dish Food Meal Plant and Pasta

Summer Squash and Basil Pasta

This pasta is extremely easy, extremely summery, and extremely delicious—the definition of low-effort, high-reward vacation cooking. —Sonia Chopra, executive editor

Overhead shot of honeydew melon crudo on a pink plate and yellow gradient surface.

Melon and Avocado Crudo

I love this quick crudo—it gives me big beach vibes. It is bright, light, and so simple to put together. Honeydew melon gets a bad rap so it's refreshing to see it put to good use here. —I.A.

Sheet Pan Gnocchi Recipe

Sheet-Pan Gnocchi

Crispy gnocchi, juicy burst tomatoes, a tangle of fresh greens dressed in roasted garlic: It’s a crowd-pleasing sheet-pan dinner and it’ll be ready in just about half an hour. —S.C.

Tomato Caesar salad recipe

Tomato Caesar

This Tomato Caesar by Chris Morocco is light, refreshing, and showcases summer tomatoes in all their glory. The only prep you really need to do is make a shortcut Caesar dressing—store-bought mayo makes it come together quickly and fuss-free. —Antara Sinha, associate cooking editor

Kuku kadoo topped with herbs in an iron skillet

This is excellent at any temperature, just the thing for late risers and early birds alike. I've used onions or shallots instead of the leeks, and broccoli or asparagus in place of zucchini. It's a great way to disguise bits and bobs of leftovers and clear out the fridge on the last day of your trip. —S.U.

Seared Squash and Halloumi Burger Recipe

Seared Squash and Halloumi Burgers

I know I’m not the only vegetarian who has showed up at a cookout with a veggie burger that came out of a cardboard box. I feel like I leveled up once I started sandwiching melty slabs of halloumi and punchy summer squash between buns instead. —S.C.

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50 Easy Beach Vacation Dinner Ideas For A Stress-Free Trip

easy travel meal ideas

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Southerners love a trip to the beach like a grandpa loves naps. Something about spending lazy days walking along the shore or lounging in a chair—toes in the sand and whatnot—just hits differently than any other type of vacation. Other than packing the essentials like pimiento cheese , it always bodes well to have a low-key meal plan that means less stress and more sun. We're talking portable pasta salads, hand-held sandwiches, easy seafood recipes (shrimp tacos, anyone?), and other fresh recipes to make your beach trip feel footloose and fancy-free.

These vacation-ready recipes require minimal prep, helping you channel the loose, carefree spirit of your time off. Many of them can be made on the grill so you can maximize your time outdoors. Feeding a family? Most of these recipes are kid-friendly , too. Here are dozens of super delicious beach meal ideas to make all summer and beyond. We love a beach trip any time of year, after all.

Shrimp-And-Corn Succotash

This dish basically screams summertime, from the fresh corn succotash to the herby mayo mixture that coats shrimp. The shrimp and green beans need just a few minutes to cook before they are stirred in with the other ingredients. You can substitute any fresh veggies you picked up on the road, making this a decidedly vacation-friendly recipe.

Bourbon- And Cola-Glazed Steak Kebabs

Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Christine Keely

Fire up the grill to make these kebab skewers marinated in bourbon, cola, and brown sugar. Simmer down the reserved marinade in a pan for a sweet and tangy dip. All you need is a side salad and crusty bread to complete the meal.

Lemon Vinaigrette Pasta Salad with Field Peas

Buy a bag of frozen field peas to save yourself some time after a busy day out on the water. Loads of herbs and tomatoes give this pasta salad that fresh summery flavor you desire. A lemony vinaigrette adds refreshing zing.

Slow-Cooker Carnitas Tacos

If we can put it in the slow cooker and forget about any worries while having a stroll on the beach, we're happy. These carnitas make taco night oh-so easy. You just need to gather the toppings and make a pitcher of your favorite drink.

Summer Brunswick Stew

This classic stew starts with a pound of pulled pork from the nearest barbecue spot. Throw in a few fresh vegetables, chicken broth, and barbecue sauce, and you've got a hearty meal in less than 45 minutes. Start with a little barbecue and adjust according to taste.

Creamy Broccoli Slaw

Store-bought broccoli slaw mix can be a real timesaver. This slaw makes a dependable sidekick for any casual lunch or dinner during the summertime. Pair with grilled fish or a hamburger—your choice.

Sheet Pan Fajitas

We've transformed more time-intensive fajitas into a family-friendly recipe you can pop in the oven and have ready in just 20 minutes. Drizzle it with fresh-squeezed lime juice at the end to really take it over the top. Make your own fresh salsa or pick some up from the deli.

Creamy Avocado Dip

Like a creamier take on guacamole, this dip is the perfect snack to replenish tired beachgoers after a long day. The addition of sour cream makes it that much more luscious and creamy. You can serve it with tortilla chips and sliced vegetables, or use it to top burgers, tacos, and sandwiches.

Buttermilk Alfredo Pasta With Chicken And Spinach

Fact of the matter: Everyone loves this easy one-pot supper (made with rotisserie chicken for ultimate ease), adults and kids alike. Throw in some baby spinach to cover all the food groups. Whip it up on any hungry but lazy night.

Hot Crab-And-Artichoke Dip

There is always a place for creamy crab dip on the snack spread during the summer—or any season, really. This bubbly, warm dip is supremely satisfying on a breezy night. For the best-tasting dip, look for freshly picked crabmeat at the local seafood counter. 

Fried Chicken Sliders With Pimiento Cheese

If these don't become an instant family favorite, we're not sure what tree they're barking up. It calls for store-bought chicken tenders, which means you can assemble them in seconds. Make the homemade pimiento cheese in the morning so it has time to gel in the fridge.

Bacon-Ranch Pasta Salad

Bacon and ranch always make a dynamic flavor duo—including in this hearty pasta salad that is begging to be paired with your burgers. Cooking the bacon in the oven allows you to sit back and relax. This recipe tastes best when it has a little time to chill in the fridge.

Maque Choux With Sausage

This classic Louisiana dish makes the most of all of the summer veggies like corn, okra, and tomatoes. Sausage is just an extra perk. Even better, it comes together in 25 minutes.

Southern Fried Corn

Introducing the newest all-star side dish to make with fresh corn kernels. It's skillet-fried and packed with buttery flavor, but the ingredient list is simple and short.

Egg Salad Sandwiches

We couldn't forget this classic sandwich spread you can make ahead and snack on all week. The well-rounded flavor comes from the addition of grated onion, salad seasoning, and just a pinch of sugar. Put some fresh fruit and potato chips on the table, and you've got a quick and easy meal.

Tuna Pasta Salad

Here's a marriage of two of our most favorite portable things: tuna salad and pasta. Dressed with a lemon vinaigrette, the pasta salad is packed with fresh arugula, cherry tomatoes, and pickled peppers. Serve it as a dinner side and eat the leftovers for lunch all week long.

Slow-Cooked Barbecued Chicken Sandwiches

A little brown sugar, Coca-Cola, and bourbon (optional) are the secrets to this slow-cooked chicken. It can be served over cornbread, like seen here, or on sandwich buns whenever hunger strikes. Our recipe for Sweet Potato Cornbread adds a touch of sweetness to the Southern favorite.

Chicken Salad-Stuffed Tomatoes

Summer tomatoes have never looked so delicious. This five-ingredient recipe makes use of a rotisserie chicken, which you'll shred and mix with peppers and mayonnaise. Serve on a slice of bread for the kiddos who haven't gotten on the 'mater train yet.

Creole Burger

Every beach trip needs a burger night, but we've upped the ante on the basic hamburger. We added the bold flavors of Creole seasonings (hello, Zatarain's) to the ground chuck and topped the patties with grilled red onions and a tangy sauce.

Shrimp-Tomatillo Tacos

Tasty shrimp tacos in just 20 minutes? Yeah, that'll do. A homemade tomatillo sauce and fresh-sliced veggies will turn your Taco Tuesday into something special.

Shrimp-Okra-And-Sausage Kebabs

This recipe is basically jambalaya on grilled skewers, which we never knew we needed—but totally do. Using a very hot grill allows them to char beautifully and cook in just three minutes. Brush them with lemon juice, butter, and hot sauce for the final touch.

Spaghetti With Marinated Tomatoes And Mozzarella

Fans of Caprese salad will eat up this summery dish. Once you make the Mouthwatering Marinated Tomatoes , all you need to do is toss them with cooked spaghetti and fresh mozzarella. As a bonus, you can serve this pasta at room temperature on a sweltering night.

Potato Salad With Dijon And Scallions

This mayonnaise-free potato salad is quicker to prepare than many. The recipe gets a major upgrade with fingerling potatoes, tangy Dijon mustard, and pickled onions. The pretty pink color of the onions will add a dressed-up feeling to your barbecue or picnic.

Sweet-And-Spicy Salmon Rice Bowl

Just a half hour is all that's needed to turn out this hearty one-bowl meal. Salmon is topped in a super delicious honey-Sriracha sauce. Or, use Sambal oelek if you see it in the Asian food section in the market.

Greek Grilled Chicken Pita

These hand-held pitas are ideal to pack for lunch on the beach or to prepare for a casual dinner after a busy day. Pick up a container of tzatziki from the deli for a cool and creamy topping.Throw in a bag of Zapp's potato chips for good measure.

Deviled Crab Melts

Melty, toasty, and wonderfully crabby, these melts are an easy seafood dinner just waiting to happen. Use fresh lump crabmeat and a good sourdough from the bakery. Stir together a spicy crabmeat mixture and stick these open-faced sandwiches under the broiler for a speedy supper.

Skillet Shrimp Destin With Orzo

You won't believe how easy this elegant dinner is to throw together in one skillet. The orzo simmers right in the garlicky wine sauce, and then we throw the shrimp in to cook at the end. Sprinkle with fresh herbs to make it fancy and serve with hunks of crusty bread.

Fish Muddle

Our Test Kitchen pros say you can taste the coast in every bite of this old-school Lowcountry dish. The hearty combination of shrimp, fish, and potatoes makes for an incredibly satisfying meal. Serve over rice or grits.

Old Bay Rémoulade With Crudités And Shrimp

Test Kitchen Pro Ivy Odom created this recipe as an ode to her family beach vacations as a child. "It's the perfect first-day-at-the-beach supper, which, now that I'm an adult, is ideal paired with rosé spritzers and enjoyed with my friends," she says. Keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and serve it all week.

Sweet Heat Hot Dogs

Nothing says "its summertime" more than a cookout, and nothing says "cookout" more than hot dogs right off the grill. These hot dogs get fired up with a brush of Sriracha sauce and a mayonnaise dressing spiced with sweet-hot pickles.

Crab-And-Bacon Linguine

You'll be surprised how easy this pasta is to prepare. White wine, heavy cream, and bacon combine to make an elegant pan sauce for the jumbo lump crab. Serve the pasta family-style outside for a relaxed meal that tastes like it came from a restaurant.

Fish Tacos And Toppings Bar

Bake your own fish at the beach house for a lighter take on the deep-fried fish tacos you'd get at a restaurant. Set up a fresh toppings bar for everyone to personalize their plates. Prepare the Asian slaw we included in this recipe, or use your own slaw if you have some on hand.

Summer Orzo Salad

This is the ideal dish to have on hand at the beach. Not only will it save in the refrigerator all week while you're there, but it can be adapted to lunch or dinner with additions like chicken, steak, shrimp, or whatever veggies you have on hand. And you don't have to fire up the stove for anything except boiling the orzo.

Beef Sliders With Bacon Jam

Not in the mood to flip patties on the grill? Make a big batch of oven-baked sliders with this fun recipe the whole family will enjoy. They'll especially love the bacon jam, a smoky, thick, and caramelized concoction you'll prepare on the stove.

Grilled Cajun Shrimp Kabobs With Sausage

Run by the local seafood market to grab some fresh shrimp, and you can have dinner on the table in just 20 minutes with this recipe. Smoked sausage, bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes cook alongside it in this all-in-one meal. For a more filling dinner, serve the kabobs over rice or grits.

West Indies Crab Salad

If you're looking for something lighter than crab cakes, this is your recipe. This Mobile, Alabama, original is an easy and delicious way to use fresh crab meat. The crab salad is dressed with a delicate mixture of rice vinegar, lemon zest, and chopped mint instead of mayonnaise.

Black Bean Burgers With Avocado Slaw

You can freeze these flavorful black bean burgers ahead of time and bring them to the beach with you for an easy meatless dinner. Pro tip: Pre-baking the beans on a sheet pan will reduce the moisture, resulting in the perfect binder for these lightly spiced burgers.

Tropical Lettuce Chicken Wraps

Bring a touch of the tropics to your table with these easy chicken wraps. With a rotisserie chicken from the store, dinner will be ready in 15 minutes. You can serve them on lettuce leaves or in a whole wheat wrap.

Grilled Grouper

Throw your fresh catch on the grill and enjoy a full-flavored meal that takes only minutes to prepare. The fish marinates for a few minutes in lemon juice, but it's the caper and herb sauce that really packs a punch. Prepare some white rice or new potatoes to round out your dinner.

Ham Delights

This easy, crowd-friendly dinner starts with a package of King's Hawaiian Rolls . Give the ham and cheese sliders a few minutes in the oven to get gooey and warm. Serve them right out of the oven.

Tomato-And-Watermelon Salad

Combine sweet, juicy watermelon chunks with fresh tomato, onion, and a red wine vinaigrette for a salad that is the essence of summer. This recipe uses basic pantry ingredients and is quick to prepare, but tastes best after it has time to chill in the refrigerator.

Cajun Shrimp Foil Packets With Red Potatoes And Zucchini

With foil packet dinners, cleanup is minimal and cooking is quick. These flavors are ideal for a beachy night, and the only seasoning you'll need to buy is a jar of Cajun spice.

Lemon-Pepper Shrimp Scampi Pasta

Antonis Achilleos; Prop Stylist: Lydia Purcell; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn

No Southerner can turn down fresh Gulf shrimp sautéed with garlic in plenty of butter. The scampi sauce comes together quickly in a skillet. Adding some pasta water thickens the glossy sauce just enough to coat the pasta.

Scallops With Pesto, Corn, And Tomatoes

This dish combines the best produce of the season with fresh-caught seafood in one spectacular dish. Thanks to a jar of refrigerated pesto, it can be prepared in less than 20 minutes. If you've never cooked scallops before, don't worry. We've provided tips on how to get the perfect sear.

Crab Boil With Beer And Old Bay

Blue crabs should be plentiful at the beach considering they're in season from April to October . Grab a few pounds of the live ones for a traditional crab boil. A seafood boil is simple to prepare; just remember to save the crabs until the end so they don't overcook.

Simple Pan-Seared Fish

This basic recipe works well with grouper or red snapper or any other firm, white fish. The fillets are seasoned simply with salt and pepper. It's the vibrant  pea salad that really makes the dish shine.

Fried Whole Fish With Tartar Sauce

This classic  fried fish  recipe came to us from the kitchen of Chef Nicole Mills of  Pêche Seafood Grill  in New Orleans. She recommends using using snapper, redfish, or flounder. To enhance the flavor, whip up a snappy homemade tartar sauce spiced with peppers and garlic.

Oven-Roasted Corn On The Cob

After you try this life-changing recipe, you may not cook corn any other way. Slathered in butter and herbs and wrapped in foil, these ears soak up all the flavor you could ever hope for. Serve them with seafood or whatever you're cooking on the grill.

Crab Cake Bites With Old Bay Mayo, Chives, And Lemon

Crab cakes are a staple on the coast that offers endless variations. Here's a simple recipe from Adam Evans, chef at award-winning Birmingham restaurant  Automatic Seafood and Oysters . Make sure to include a dollop of Old Bay Mayo with every bite.

Shrimp Salad

If you're looking for a cool meal on a hot summer night, try this chilled shrimp salad. We've mixed up a creamy and lemony dressing with a touch of fresh dill and Creole mustard. Serve it in soft bread rolls, in a wrap, or as a salad topper for a low-key dinner on the porch or poolside.

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Travel Recipes: 20+ Meals to Make in a Hotel Room Microwave or Kitchenette

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easy hotel meals

For our next family trip, we need easy hotel kitchenette meals!  That’s what this post is all about: healthy microwave recipes (and other adaptable ideas for hotel travel recipes) for money-saving family travel.

hotel travel recipes

We are less than three weeks away from our next family vacation: a week in San Francisco! As architecture, science, aquarium, Star Wars and nature nerds – it’s the perfect vacation spot for us.

Our planning is coming together well:

  • We were able to get a great deal on flights. We’re flying out of a neighbouring state which was much cheaper than flying from the airport closest to us.
  • We’ve got our CityPasses – so we will have a few days of unlimited trollies, a boat tour and other transit and our choice of a few museums and aquariums. City Passes are a great deal and you can find them for lots of touristy cities!
  • We’ve booked our tickets for our Alcatraz At Night tour.  You need to book these months ahead!

Our favourite way to travel is to rent an apartment or a home for a week. Then we explore the area from our comfy home-like base.  We often do this through AirBNB or VRBO .  There are lots of great reasons to do this:

  • more space!
  • separate bedrooms for night owls and early risers!
  • but the real money saver is the ability to cook our own meals.  Eating in restaurants for an entire week adds up for a family! (Even if you ate fast food, it would likely be over a thousand dollars for four people at three meals a day.)

Usually, our travel meal planning is pretty straightforward. We pretty much make the easiest recipes from our master list of meals .  Then we splurge on a handful of special meals in restaurants.  We pack food or eat at “home” for the rest of the time.

This time around, however, we’ve got more of a challenge: our apartment doesn’t have an oven or a stovetop!  THAT limits our usual cooking options.

Accommodation in San Francisco is EXTREMELY expensive – so the best budget rental we could find has a tiny kitchenette – basically a microwave, kettle and coffee maker. (It’s in a beautiful old Victorian house in a great neighbourhood and has a wonderfully reviewed host who will pick us up and drop us off at the airport!  This tiny kitchen was a trade-off we were willing to make.)

But, as our travel dates approach, I’m left wondering what exactly we’re going to make with our limited kitchen.

We’ve been searching and brainstorming and have some great ideas to share – I think we will eat very well and stay on budget. Plus, these recipes will be great for family road trips! Here are our ideas…

easy hotel meals

Travel Recipes: Easy Hotel Kitchenette Meals

1. keep meals and snacks simple..

  • We each bring a refillable water bottle in our carry-ons. Then we fill it each morning before touring.
  • Note to the wise: don’t be as daft as me. Be sure to fill these water bottles AFTER you’ve cleared airport security. On one trip, I lost all sense and filled all four of ours at home.  Then I had to dump them all ~ in a garbage pail of all places ~ while hundreds of other impatient travellers in line glared at me and surely commented about how stupid I am. Yeah – that felt awesome.
  • oatmeal, cereal, milk, fruit, toast and microwaved eggs will be our menu.
  • fruit, veggies, granola bars, etc. 
  • This helps stave off temptation for expensive snack bar junk.
  • Some museums and amusement parks don’t allow outside food – grrrrr – if they do pack and save!

2. Travel with your Instant Pot?

  • I think this would be especially genius for a road trip: bring your Instant Pot !  You can saute (like a stovetop!) and bake (like an oven!). It gives you so many more options for meals.
  • If you do pack your pressure cooker – these Instant Pot Dump Recipes would be perfect! Super low prep, fast and delicious.
  • Note: Ed’s concerned that the steam could set off the hotel smoke detector! That would suck. It might be best to vent out a window or on a balcony to be safest.

3. A microwave rice cooker might be useful to pack. Or maybe – one of our favourites – a Griddler ?

4. cooking in the coffee pot.

  • In looking for food ideas for our trip I kept seeing ideas to cook soup or noodles and other foods in the hotel coffee pot.
  • It’s a kinda cute idea – but YUCK.  I can’t help but think that coffee from that machine will forever taste terrible.  We won’t be doing this one out of our deep respect for coffee.

5. Cooking with the iron (using aluminum foil):

  • Iron paninis
  • Iron grilled cheese
  • Iron quesadillas

6. Easy Healthy Microwave Meals: easy hotel kitchenette meals

  • We’re going to use our microwave more than we ever have on this trip.  What follows are some really delicious looking ideas…

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Friday 25th of August 2023

Great ideas! Many thanks for sharing - will definitely bookmark for our upcoming road trip of New Zealand :) (If you are interested in demographics of your readers - we are a retired Aussie couple in our 70's about to drive around NZ for a month and 'eating in' will help our travel dollars stretch.)

Robin & Ed Hicken

Saturday 26th of August 2023

I love that! Can I say we're jealous - your trip to New Zealand is at the top of our list of dream trips! Have so much fun!

Wednesday 30th of March 2022

Here's an idea for you: we just travel with a portable electric element, a sauce pan and a frying pan. You can cook just about anything with that, and don't have to worry about e.g. the steam from an instant pot setting off the smoke alarm! We also sometimes take a rice cooker with that, which doesn't emit steam the way an instant pot does.


Thursday 31st of March 2022

These are great ideas, Sherry! Thanks for sharing. :)

Wednesday 22nd of April 2020

def bookmarking this blog post because it will come in handy once the covid is over and i can travel to all parts of the world.


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40 Easy Meals for Large Groups on Vacation

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These easy meals are perfect for large groups on vacation together like a family reunion at the lake or a college friends reunion at the beach. All the tips you need to plan an easy week of dinners and enjoy your time with loved ones.

a photo collage shows several big batch recipe for feeding a crowd.

My husband comes from a very large, very awesome, extended family. His dad was one of seven siblings who all got married and brought grandkids to the family.

Once every two years they gather at a sentimental Minnesota cabin for a huge extended family reunion.

All the siblings and the grandkids and the great-grandkids hunker down for a week of fishing, swimming, canoeing, biking, and boating together.

But my favorite part is how all the families come together for a big family dinner at the end of each day.

After watching the aunts plan this epic feast for a few family reunions in a row, I wanted to share all their best tips with you.

I hope these easy recipes for feeding a crowd help you gather your own loved ones for a special reunion you’ll all remember.

Yo-Yo for Breakfast and Lunch

Assign duties, plan for easy clean-up, easy dinners, no cook dinners, make ahead dinners, slowcooker recipes for a crowd, instant pot recipes for a buffet, easy side dishes to add.

  • Classic Potluck Salads

Easy Desserts for a Large Group

Plan for leftovers.

Photo collage shows a huge family reunion next to shots of kids playing in the lake.

The key to enjoying an epic week of family fun is to spend a little time getting things in order before you arrive for the trip.

1. Use a Sign-Up Genius:

Someone should set up a simple signup form so that every family in the group can take one night for the cooking.

If your group is large enough, it’s ok to have two families team up per evening if that helps things along.

Everyone should mark what they plan to make so you don’t have an entire week of repeition with something like hamburgers.

2. Be Considerate of Dietary Restrictions

Be sure to note if you have any family allergies or special dietary restrictions before you meal plan. In our family we have to note gluten-free and dairy-free options.

3. Know the Available Amenities in Advance

Does your vacation rental have an oven? A microwave? What kind of small appliances will be available? Is it a fully stocked kitchen or no?

These are not questions you want answered as you arrive with a trunk full of food. Be sure to call ahead!

4. Make Your Packing List

Make a list of what you need to bring from home and what you’ll buy at the grocery store when you get there. I like to travel with my own spices and sometimes a few other kitchen staples if we’re driving.

5. Know the Grocery Store Availability

Where is the local grocery store? What kind of stock do they carry? Is it just a small town pantry or is it a national chain? Don’t plan a menu with items you won’t be able to get at your destination.

6. Plan Shopping Transportation and Timing

How far is the grocery store from where you’re staying? When will you shop vs. when you arrive? Will you have a car full of luggage or can you go back again with an empty trunk? Think through your grocery trip logistics and make your plan.

It’s been our experience that when spending vacation time with a really large group like our family reunions, individual families or groups have different ideas of how they’d like to spend their days.

Everyone will be running off in different directions, so let them be responsible for a “YoYo breakfast and lunch.” (Yo-Yo stands for: “you’re on your own!”)

If you need ideas for food to plan for your own family for breakfast and lunch, don’t miss these posts:

A photo collage shows a sample of easy recipes that make great breakfast ideas for hotel rooms.

While everyone is still at home planning for the trip, the group sends out a meal sign-up form.

Every family chooses one evening to take total control for the dinner. They provide the main dish, all the side dishes, and the dessert for the entire group.

That may sound like a lot of work, but it is an amazing strategy because:

  • One Night of Work: Your family does all the work once and then you’re free to enjoy the rest of the trip with free evenings!
  • Everyone Still Pitches In: While the family in charge may do all the planning, shopping, cooking, and set-up of the meal, everyone else usually shows up early and offers to handle the last-minute tasks as needed. They also for sure help with the clean-up afterwards.

After all, it’s the decision making and shopping that are the real drag, right? Actually cooking and eating with family can be the best part of the family reunion.

When you’ve got a large group eating together on a family vacation, it is crucial to consider the clean-up duties afterwards.

Now is not the time to be dining on fine china. Go ahead and stock up on paper dishes, napkins, and utensils.

This will leave just the cooking tools used for clean-up which is a lot easier to process at the end of the meal.

A slowcooker is filled with sloppy joe filling.

If your cooking skills are on the light side or you just plain don’t enjoy cooking, these easy dinners are fast and easy to pull together for a crowd:

Hot Dogs with Chili Bar : This thick chili is perfect for topping a hot dog and it could be made at home and frozen to bring on your trip. Just thaw and heat and serve with the hot dogs. Or just do the chili bar itself with a big double-batch of the chili and plenty of toppings.

Spaghetti with Meatballs : This is my recipe for my favorite Italian meatballs in tomato sauce but you could easily use a giant bag of frozen meatballs and prepared jars of your favorite tomato sauce instead. HINT: If serving kids, be sure to offer a short noodle like penne or farfalle, it is so much easier for them to eat.

Crockpot Sloppy Joe’s : Pop this easy sloppy joe mix into your slowcooker for a satisfying meal your whole family will love. Pair it with any of the simple side dishes mentioned at the bottom of the post and a pile of buns.

Taco Night: Tacos are super popular but could be tricky to make for a crowd unless you do things in big batches. My taco skillet would be easy to make in large pans and serve for a group. This crockpot chicken tacos recipe would be a hands-off way to prep the meat. Then just stock up on store bought salsa, tortillas, and toppings. My homemade Mexican rice would be a perfect side dish.

Chicken Chili : This healthy red chicken chili (with no beans) makes a giant serving to feed a crowd. I love to serve it with sour cream, shredded cheese, and big bowls of tortilla chips for dunking.

Meatball Subs : You could serve this as sandwich bar and put all the meatballs in a big slowcooker to keep warm and just serve the sub rolls on the side.

easy travel meal ideas

If your family reunion is meeting up somewhere nice and sunny, there’s a good chance that spending time in a hot kitchen is not high on your priority list.

In that case, plan for one of these cool no-cook dinner ideas for your large group:

Salad Bar: You could spend all your prep time just chopping raw veggies and proteins for the ultimate salad bar. Bring some hardboiled eggs from home or pre-grilled chicken.

Deli Sandwiches: Head to the grocery store and pick up a fun variety of fresh sliced breads (rye, sourdough, white, honey whole wheat) along with a variety of deli meats and cheeses. The key to this is all in the presentation and wide variety to make it interesting. Splurge on some unique condiments like horseradish sauce or this easy spicy sandwich spread or pickled sandwich toppings, too.

Ultimate Snack Board Night: Snack boards are so fun for a big crowd because you can plan a much bigger variety of items on the board when you’ve got plenty of people to help you eat it. Start with my cheddar snack board but then consider adding a hot dip like my jalapeño artichoke dip or this Swedish meatball sausage dip .

Take-Out or Pizza Delivery: If you want a hot meal minus the cooking, consider using your budget for the evening to order take-out or pizza from a local place! It’s technically a no-cook meal and could be a fun twist for the evening. Add a root beer float or ice cream sundae bar to finish the evening so it looks like you still put thoughtful effort in.

An aluminum foil pan has a pasta casserole.

If you’re the ultimate planner and want a recipe you can make ahead and bring along for your trip, these recipes are for you.

Bake them in advance and freeze them. They will travel well to your final destination.

Or, you could plan to make them ahead on site and freeze them earlier in the week if you want to get your cooking out of the way for when your assigned evening comes later.

Make-Ahead Sausage Lasagna : You can freeze this awesome sausage lasagna in advance or make it a few days before you want to serve it and store it in the fridge. Serve with garlic bread and a big green salad.

Make-Ahead Freezer Breakfast Burritos : Surprise your family with a “breakfast for dinner” option. You could prep these burritos at home and freeze them. Serve with muffins from the grocery store bakery and fresh fruit.

Classic Beef Bolognese : My hearty bolognese recipe isn’t quick and easy but it does freeze really well. Spend a lazy Sunday prepping it before your trip and freeze the whole batch in a big casserole pan. Serve with pasta, gnocchi, or as a chili with fresh bread for dunking.

Chicken Tetrazzini : We have a strict “no mushrooms” rule in our family, so this version of the classic make-ahead casserole is always a hit!

Stovetop Beef Stew : This freezer-friendly stew tastes amazing over mashed potatoes. You could freeze it in advance and then buy refrigerated potatoes at the grocery store or plan to make my slowcooker mashed potatoes on site.

Shredded Chicken for Tacos : If you know you want a taco night, you could prep ahead my kids’ favorite green chile shredded chicken and freeze it.

Chicken Spaghetti : The kids will thank you when you pull a pan of this hearty casserole out of the oven! You can prep it at home and freeze it.

Chicken Enchiladas : These easy chicken enchiladas could be made in assembly line fashion and frozen in advance or prepped earlier in the day for baking at night.

Sausage Pasta Casserole : My mom is famous for this easy pasta casserole with spinach and sausage. It is always a huge hit with a crowd. Serve it with fresh pineapple, trust me it works.

A colorful slowcooker on a wooden cutting board with a striped towel.

Want to enjoy your cooking day and not be stressed about getting dinner done on time for the family?

Plan ahead with an easy Crockpot dinner that you can prep ahead. This lets you enjoy your family even more!

Crockpot Italian Beef Sandwiches : You could actually plan to cook this Italian beef at home, shred it, and freeze it in a large 9×13 aluminum pan to bring on your trip or you could plan to cook it in the slowcooker on site. Plan for fresh rolls and pickled peppers for topping.

Tuscan Chicken Pasta : The chicken and sauce can cook in the slowcooker while you make a double (or triple) batch of the pasta in a big pot on the stovetop.

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches : Plan a barbecue sandwich or platter night with cornbread, slaw, and baked beans. If you’re not a fan of pork, these slowcooker bbq chicken thighs would be a good alternative. You could also make these slowcooker sweet potatoes for an easy side dish that tastes great with the meat piled up on top.

Crockpot Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya with Rice: You could make this dish with or without the shrimp depending on your family’s preferences and budget. Frozen shrimp works just fine!

Open Face Turkey Sandwiches : These awesome turkey sandwiches start with my favorite slowcooker turkey breast recipe that would be super easy to pop into a Crockpot! It’s a fun way to serve turkey to the family, just used jarred gravy if you don’t want to make it from scratch.

Teriyaki Meatballs with Rice: Get a giant bag of frozen meatballs and pop them in the slowcooker with your favorite teriyaki sauce. Hint: My homemade teriyaki recipe is thick and perfect for this and only takes a minute to mix together. Serve them with fresh pineapple or my easy roasted peppers and pineapple side dish that would be easy to scale for a large crowd.

Chicken Noodle Soup : Everyone’s favorite classic soup for good reason. Let this one simmer away in the slowcooker while you’re enjoying your vacation. Serve with a smorgasbord of fresh breads, biscuits, or crackers.

Sandwich Buffet: Pick one or two of these Crockpot sandwich recipes to serve buffet-style to give your family options.

An Instant Pot is on the kitchen counter.

If you know you’ll have access to an Instant Pot (or 2 or 3 . . .) these easy recipes are perfect for feeding a large crowd:

Apricot Chicken with Herb Butter Rice : Just add a green vegetable like green beans or asparagus to round out the meal. The sauce for the apricot chicken makes a lot, you could probably add more chicken to help it stretch even farther.

Ground Turkey Soup with Tomato-based Broth: This is one of my family’s favorite soups. Add a few loaves of fresh bread or biscuits.

Instant Pot Butter Chicken with Naan Bread Dippers and/or Rice: If your family likes things a little on the spicy side, this would be a fun alternative to the classic recipes on this list. Even my kids love this classic Indian dish.

Once you have your menu set, keep the side dishes extra easy and rely on easy to find staples from the grocery store:

  • Fresh Bread
  • Bagged Salad with a Dressing
  • Frozen Vegetables
  • Fresh Fruit: wash and present it in big bowls or pretty on platters
  • Bags of Potato Chips
  • Frozen French Fries or Tater Tots

Classic Potluck Salad s

These easy sweet side dishes mixed with Cool Whip are one part side dish, one part dessert. They are 100% popular with big crowds:

  • Pistachio Fluff
  • Ambrosia Salad
  • Snicker Salad

Plain Cheesecake with Toppings Bar : Go to Costco and stock up on a handful of giant cheesecakes and serve them with one of these delicious toppings and whipped cream.

Freezer-Friendly Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies : This recipe can be prepped ahead and frozen as cookie dough balls you could bake on site or you could just go ahead and bake them up and freeze them in advance for easy packing.

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake : Layered with ice cream sandwiches and Cool Whip, this is the easiest dessert you could make!

Vanilla Glazed Cupcakes : Bake your favorite box mix of cupcakes and plan this easy vanilla glaze. SO much less work than frosting!

With everyone cooking every night and planning for a large crowd at dinner, you can count on one thing for sure:

There’s definitely going to be a lot of leftovers.

In fact, you may want to build in a leftovers night to your family schedule where everyone brings what they have left to a big potluck of random dinner fun.

A photo collage shows several hands reaching for food on a buffet table alongside photos of the recipes included.

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  • Healthy, Quick & Easy Lunch Recipes

16 Easy Lunch Recipes in Three Steps or Less

easy travel meal ideas

Photographer: Jen Causey, Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall, Prop Stylist: Phoebe Hauser

Enjoy one of these delicious and nutritious lunches any day of the week. No matter what you’re craving, from wraps and sandwiches to bowls and salads, you can make any of these dishes in just three steps or less. Make our fan-favorite ​​Chopped Power Salad with Chicken for something both satisfying and flavorful. Or, make the tuna salad ahead of time for our refreshing Tuna Salad & Tomato Sandwich to enjoy on a quick lunch break.

Chopped Power Salad with Chicken

Enjoy this filling and colorful salad for lunch or dinner. The dressing gets made in the same bowl that the salad is tossed in, so the greens absorb every bit of flavor.

Best Chicken Salad Recipe

What’s the key to the best chicken salad? Use punchy, flavorful ingredients that pack in the flavor, like zesty herbs, acidic lemon juice, sharp onion or shallots. This herbaceous chicken salad recipe is perfect sandwiched between two slices of whole-wheat country bread, but don’t stop there! Enjoy it with crackers, in a wrap or serve it on top of greens.

Cucumber Sandwich

This creamy, crunchy cucumber sandwich recipe strikes a lovely balance between decadent and light. The cream cheese-yogurt spread complements the crisp refreshing cucumber, while the hearty flavor and texture of the whole-wheat bread hold everything together.

Tuna Salad & Tomato Sandwich

This classic deli-style tuna sandwich is packed with protein and topped with a juicy slice of fresh tomato. This recipe makes one sandwich, but you can easily double or quadruple the recipe to make more. Sweet pickle relish adds a contrast of flavors to the mix, but if you prefer something less sweet, dill pickle relish can be used in its place.

Stuffed Sweet Potato with Hummus Dressing

Hearty yet simple to prepare, this stuffed sweet potato with black beans, kale and hummus dressing is a fantastic 5-ingredient lunch for one!

Chicken, Spinach & Feta Wraps

This chicken, spinach and feta wrap recipe is elevated by the convenience of rotisserie chicken and the scrumptious flavor of sun-dried tomatoes. Whisk together the easy dressing, toss with the chicken, add spinach and wrap it all together for a delicious lunch or dinner. Using rotisserie chicken speeds up the process, but you can also reach for this recipe if you have leftover cooked chicken on hand.

Black Bean-Quinoa Bowl

This black bean and quinoa bowl has many of the usual hallmarks of a taco salad, minus the fried bowl. We've loaded it up with pico de gallo, fresh cilantro and avocado plus an easy hummus dressing to drizzle on top.

High-Protein Tuna & Chickpea Salad Sandwich

This zesty tuna sandwich gets an extra boost of protein from chickpeas. Smashing some of the chickpeas into the tuna enhances the texture and helps hold the filling together. The combo of garlic and Sriracha adds a delightful kick, but feel free to opt for an alternative hot sauce of your preference or skip it altogether for a milder flavor.

Chickpea, Artichoke & Avocado Salad with Apple-Cider Dressing

This delicious 400-calorie salad is a helpful tool for weight loss because it provides a good balance of fiber, protein and healthy fats from loads of veggies and beans, all tossed in a tangy apple-cider vinaigrette. To meal-prep these for lunch throughout the week, pack the dressing and the salad separately and make sure your veggies are thoroughly dried before packing them together.

5-Ingredient Brie and Blackberry Jam Grilled Cheese

This irresistible sandwich pairs creamy Brie cheese with a sweet-and-savory blackberry jam spread for the perfect ultra-quick lunch or dinner option. You can easily double the recipe using a medium pan, or use a sandwich press if you have one on hand.

Edamame & Veggie Rice Bowl

The ingredients in this vegan grain bowl recipe can be prepped ahead for an easy lunch to pack for work. The tangy citrus dressing is a refreshing flavor with the sweet caramel of the roasted sheet-pan veggies.

Green Goddess Tuna Salad

Canned tuna makes this recipe convenient and pantry-friendly while also offering an impressive punch of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon, sardines or mackerel would work just as well in this quick recipe. Use the remaining herb sauce as a dressing for salads or grain bowls, as a spread on sandwiches or as a dip for vegetables. This recipe is easily doubled to make a big batch to meal-prep for the week. Serve on bread or in a wrap, over a bed of greens or scooped up with your favorite chips, crackers or cucumber slices.

Cucumber–Tuna Salad Sandwich

Cucumber adds a refreshing crunch to the creamy tuna salad in this easy sandwich. We opted for Greek-style yogurt to reduce fat and calories and add some tanginess to the dressing. Add some relish, chopped celery or pickled peppers to the tuna mixture to boost the flavor even more. Serve with potato chips, chopped fresh veggies or with bagel chips on the side.

Chicken & Spinach Salad with Creamy Feta Dressing

The creamy feta dressing steals the show in this protein-rich salad that makes a perfect lunch or quick and easy dinner. While you can buy feta cheese already crumbled, we like crumbling our own fresh from the block for this salad. While we prefer the slightly sharper flavor of sheep’s-milk feta, cow’s-milk feta works just as well.

Tomato & Burrata Sandwich

This easy sandwich is a harmony of flavors that you can toss together for a quick lunch or dinner. Fresh heirloom tomato pairs well with the slightly salty, creamy burrata and tangy balsamic vinegar. Be sure to toast the ciabatta, as it adds a welcome crunch and keeps the bread from getting soggy. If you're looking to add more protein to the sandwich, sliced deli meat like chicken or turkey would be delicious.

Rainbow Veggie Wraps

There's definitely a sushi vibe to these kid-friendly wraps, which are stuffed with vegetables, cheese and hummus and then rolled and sliced. Serve them with store-bought green goddess, a creamy herb-filled dressing, to take it up a notch with ease. They look impressive but they're easy enough for kids to assemble themselves for an easy lunch or dinner.

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easy travel meal ideas

Backpacking Meal Ideas – Easy and Quick Meal Prep for Sustained Energy 🌲

T he weather has never been sunnier, kids are home from school, and all we crave is some time away from the hustle and bustle of the city: in just a few words, it’s time to go hiking! However -and I have learned this the hard way-  organization is key when embarking on an outdoor adventure,  and this is especially true when it comes to our food supply! In this article, I will provide you with some awesome  backpacking meal ideas , as well as  some general guidelines I use when planning and preparing them ! 🌲

Some weeks ago, I went on my first long hike with the family, and I promised myself that I would like to do it more often! It was not only a beautiful opportunity to  bond with my kids and husband but also to reconnect with Mother Nature !

At the same time, I am certain that one of the key factors that have contributed to the success of the trip has been  meal planning ! Backpacking food needs to be  lightweight, portable, and easy to prepare , while also providing the necessary energy and nutrition to sustain us throughout the hike.

This is why, the night before the hike, I made sure to prep c omplete and balanced meals  for all of us, including  breakfasts, snacks, dinners, and lunches . I then packed each of them in  convenient food bags  (I used the  reusable food bags from Qinline ). I love using them as they are way lighter and easier to bring around than the usual lunch boxes!

In this guide, you will find all the tips and tricks I used to plan and prep delicious and energizing recipes, as well as lots of incredible backpacking meal ideas that will help you stay fueled and satisfied throughout your hike!

Strategic Backpacking Meal Prep: 10 Tips to Structure Your Meals Effectively

As hinted above, planning and structuring balanced backpacking meals is key to a successful family hiking trip! More specifically, there are a  few key aspects to consider when doing that, including your nutritional and dietary needs (and those of your husband/kids), weight constraints, cooking equipment, and, last but not least, personal preferences.

From a more practical point of view, here are  some steps to help you plan and structure your backpacking meal ideas effectively:

1. Determine your daily caloric needs

Calculate the approximate number of calories you’ll need each day based on your activity level, body weight, and the duration of your backpacking trip. This will serve as a guideline for determining the approximate amount of food you’ll need to pack. Repeat the same for each member of the family.

2. Consider your macronutrient balance .

Aim for a balanced mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in each of your meals. Complex and simple carbohydrates provide respectively slow-releasing and quick energy, proteins aid in muscle repair and recovery, and fats will help you stay full and satisfied for longer. Customize your meal plan to suit your specific dietary requirements and preferences.

3. Choose lightweight and compact foods .

Another key suggestion is to look for foods that are both lightweight and have a high calorie-to-weight ratio. In particular, you can opt for dehydrated or freeze-dried options, as they are lighter and take up less space compared to their fresh counterparts. Examples include dried fruits, nuts, instant rice, powdered milk, and dehydrated meals.

4. Plan for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks .

Create a rough meal plan that includes all meals and snacks for each day of your backpacking trip. This will help you ensure that you have enough food to sustain you throughout the journey. In doing this, also consider the ease of preparation and the cooking equipment you’ll have available.

5. Pack versatile ingredients .

Select ingredients that can be used in multiple meals to save space and reduce weight. For example, instant oats can be used for breakfast or as a base for a savory dinner dish. Tortillas can serve as wraps for lunch or dinner, or even as a snack with nut butter.

6. Incorporate variety and flavor .

While it’s important to prioritize weight and nutritional value, don’t forget to include a variety of flavors and textures in your meals. This will help keep your taste buds satisfied and prevent food boredom. Another great tip is to pack spices, condiments, and small flavor enhancers like dried herbs or hot sauce to add some spice -literally- to your meals! In addition, consider the preferences and dietary needs of each family member to ensure everyone can have satisfying and nourishing meals.

7. Consider cooking methods .

Evaluate the cooking methods you’ll have access to during your backpacking trip. For example, if you have a stove, you can plan more elaborate meals. If you’re relying on cold soaking or no-cook options, focus on meals that require minimal or no cooking. If possible, consider packing a lightweight stove. And don’t forget cooking utensils!

8. Factor in perishability and food safety .

Consider the shelf life of the food you’re packing, particularly if you’ll be out for an extended period. Similarly, make sure to properly store perishable items in order to prevent foodborne illnesses as well as food waste.

9. Test and adjust .

Before your trip, try out some of your planned meals at home or during shorter practice hikes. This will help you determine if the meals meet your taste preferences, nutritional needs, and cooking capabilities and, if necessary, make adjustments.

10. Pack strategically : as mentioned above, organize your food items in reusable bags or containers, separating them by meal or day. This will make it easier to locate and access your meals without having to dig through your backpack.

By following these simple steps, you can effectively plan and structure your backpacking meals to ensure you have nourishing, tasty, and practical options throughout your entire outdoor adventure!

Backpacking Meal Ideas: 3 Nourishing and Delicious Backpacking Food Recipes

Now that I have revealed to you all my secrets for creating balanced and energizing meals for your next outdoor adventure, here are  three of my favorite backpacking food recipes.  I actually tried all of them on my last trip, and everybody could not stop raving about them! They were all so tasteful, easy to digest, and carry around.

All you have to do is  add some water and let everything cook for a couple of minutes.  As far as the ratio of water to ingredients is concerned, I suggest sticking to a  1:2 ratio of grain to water. (I used approximately 32oz of water per serving for each of them) . My suggestion is to experiment with it and find what best suits your desired consistency!

Before proceeding with the actual recipes, just some quick notes about them. First of all, I tried to keep each portion above 600 calories, but you can tweak them to accommodate your nutritional requirements. For this reason, I won’t disclose full measurements for the ingredients in each recipe: my intent is to give you some great backpacking meal ideas you can draw inspiration from!   Lastly, each recipe is complete in all the micro and macronutrients you need for sustained energy. Therefore, I highly suggest including all the food groups in them in your meals!

1. Tuscan Quinoa Orzo 🌿

Mediterranean vibes for this flavorful Tuscan quinoa orzo, packed with slow-releasing carbs, plant protein, and healthy fats -mainly coming from the flax seeds. A light, yet earthy and comforting backpacking meal idea!

  • Dried vegetables
  • Mediterranean seasoning (rosemary, thyme, and marjoram)

You can bump up the protein content of this recipe by adding some canned tuna, or beans!

2. Brown Rice Ramen with Dried Veggies and Peanuts 🍜

This is one of my all-time favorites: instant ramen with veggies and peanuts. Fully plant-based, easy to make, highly nourishing, and simply delicious!

  • Brown rice ramen noodles (I love these from  Lotus Foods )
  • Powdered mushroom
  • Sesame seeds

Add some lean protein -such as canned tuna, meat, or beans- for some extra protein!

3. Coconut and Dried Fruits Breakfast Oatmeal 🍓

A super easy and convenient breakfast, ready in less than 5 minutes. All you have to do is add some hot water, stir well, and let everything sit for a couple of minutes before serving!

  • Old-fashioned oats (read more about  which is the better type of boat for your breakfast  here)
  • Dried fruits mix (raisins, Goji berries, dried apricots, dried strawberries, nuts, hemp seeds, shaved coconut)
  • Cinnamon (read more about the  amazing properties of cinnamon  here)
  • Coconut sugar

Other great backpacking breakfast options are these  Raisin Date Oatmeal  and  Tropical Coconut Oatmeal  recipes. (Make sure to leave out the liquid components and pack everything in a food bag).

Additionally, I highly suggest bringing some easy-to-grab, yet nutritious snacks with you. Some of my favorite ones include these  Cliff Mini Energy Bars , and these  Nature Valley Granola, Nuts, and Dark Chocolate Bars.

And you? What are your go-to meals when hiking? Please let me know in the comments or head over to my socials. All the links are down below 💗

Clean Backpacking Meals


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    Depending on where you go on vacation and how much your eating out budget is, you will likely want some easy meals to make yourself. (But if you're just looking for snack ideas for a day at the beach, head over to our Beach Food Ideas post!). Whether you are in an VRBO, AirBnb, a townhouse, or a hotel with a kitchenette, you usually will have a few key appliances and ingredients to make ...

  3. 105+ Easy Road Trip Meals & Snacks: Best Road Trip Food

    Road trip meal ideas - Make a list of food ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and drinks. Make sure they're easy food to travel with. Creating a road trip grocery list is a good idea, so important items don't get forgotten. But don't stress, as usually you'll be able to pick up ingredients along the way if needed.

  4. 40+ No-Cook Meals for Traveling

    5. Boiled Eggs. This is the one cheater on the list. You'll have to cook them before you leave, but boiled eggs are valuable to have around. You can at them on their own, or use them in several of the recipes on our list. Boil a batch of 12 before you leave the house, and they will keep for a few days in the cooler.

  5. Road Trip Food List: Easy To Pack Meals & Snacks

    Fruit. Squeezable applesauce. Hard-boiled eggs. Peanut butter, banana, and granola wrapped up in a tortilla. Make-Ahead Fruit & Yogurt Breakfast Parfaits. Additional planning tip: For added morning fun, use the category "breakfast foods", "brands or cereal", or "types of fruit" while you play a road trip word game.

  6. 20 Easy Travel Lunch Ideas For Your Next Road Trip Or Travel Day

    Pack them in foil to retain their warmth and avoid making a mess. 7. Mason Jar Salads. Layer fresh veggies, protein, and dressing in mason jars for a convenient and visually appealing lunch option. Keep the dressing at the bottom and the greens on top to keep the cold salads crisp and enjoyable.

  7. 9 Homemade Meals You Can Carry on the Airplane

    And don't forget: drinking lots and lots of water is the primary key to feeling well during air travel. Those airplanes are so dry, and our systems get bloated and wacked out during travel. Drinking plenty of water makes a substantial difference. 1 / 9. Pesto Pasta with Lemon, Spinach, Edamame & Toasted Almonds.

  8. The Best Road Trip Food: 101+ Easy Meal & Snack Ideas You'll Love

    Especially on those remote stops, you may find it really hard to locate gluten-free or vegan road trip snacks or easy meals. So here are a few ideas for make-ahead meals you can add to your road trip meal plan. ... As a quoted family travel expert in media outlets like Fodor's, NBC, CNN, and Forbes, and a 2023 planDisney Panelist, I aim to ...

  9. THE ULTIMATE ROAD TRIP FOOD LIST: 50 Scrumptious Travel Snacks

    20. Fruit leather. 21. Whole-grain muffins. 22. Bread (pretzel rolls, pita bread) 23. Water (Preferably in a water bottle like a Hydro Flask that will keep your water cold for hours.) *The following are all still healthy snacks for a road trip but will require a cooler.

  10. The Best Road Trip Food Ideas & Meals With Free Meal Planner

    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.

  11. 20 Easy Road Trip Lunch Ideas

    18. Tangy Veggie Wraps. 19. Easy BLT Wraps. 20. Caprese Salad Cups. The Goods. Easy to make, store, and enjoy, these lunch ideas will be perfect for your adventures on the road with the family. Most of these road trip lunch ideas you can make ahead of time and store in a cooler as you travel.

  12. 30 Make Ahead Recipes

    10 Healthy Meal Prep Breakfast Ideas. Make Ahead Fall Dinner Recipes. Prep Ahead Lunch: Pecan Crusted Chicken Collard Wraps. Homemade Freezer Meals. More Resources for Healthy Road Trip Food. Healthy Travel Foods - Road Trips, Hotel Rooms & Airbnbs. Conquer the Gluten Free Road Trip. Easy & Healthy Travel Food. Healthy Hotel Room Food Ideas

  13. Packable Meals That Make for Easy Road Trip Food

    Instructions. 1. Purée cucumbers, garlic and 1/2 cup water in a blender until smooth. 2. Add arugula, herbs, vinegar and a large pinch of salt and purée, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender as needed, until very smooth. 3. With the motor running, slowly stream in oil; blend until emulsified.

  14. 15 Make Ahead Meals For Road Trips & Days Out

    The list below comprises some of the astonishing make-ahead meals that will keep you and your loved ones well-fed in your entire journey. Table of Contents. Make Meals Ahead For Road Trips. 1. Peanut Butter Banana Sushi. 2. Banana Apple Toast. 3. No-Bake Oat Bites.

  15. 50+ Road Trip Food Ideas- Easy Meals On the Go!

    Celery and peanut butter- prepack the peanut butter in a condiment cup and dip the celery sticks. Veggies and hummus- carrots, broccoli, celery, cherry tomatoes. Trail mix. Fruit leather. Popcorn- Simply Pop brand or make a fresh batch before you leave and snack on it throughout your trip. Beef jerky.

  16. 30+ Easy RV Meals to Whip Up on Your Road Trip

    Easy RV Meals: Beef. 17. Spanish Rice with Ground Beef. "This Spanish Rice recipe is made with ground beef for a main dish meal! Ready in less than 30 minutes!". - Add a Pinch. 18. Easy Barbecue Steak Bites. "Become the master of the grill this summer with this easy, flavor-packed Barbecue Steak Bites Recipe!".

  17. Easy Meals to Make on Vacation

    Flaky salt and kosher salt because bland food is bad food, and bad food is not invited on vacation. Black pepper and chile flakes: See above. Bring freshly ground or whole peppercorns plus a mill ...

  18. 50 Easy Beach Vacation Dinner Ideas For A Stress-Free Trip

    Throw your fresh catch on the grill and enjoy a full-flavored meal that takes only minutes to prepare. The fish marinates for a few minutes in lemon juice, but it's the caper and herb sauce that really packs a punch. Prepare some white rice or new potatoes to round out your dinner. 40of 50.

  19. 25+ Freezer Meals to Take on Vacation

    Chicken and Cheese Taquitos (or Instant Pot Taquitos) The magic of this freezer meal is that the taquitos go directly from freezer to the oven and to the table in no time. Serve with your favorite Mexican toppings, like guacamole, sour cream, and salsa, on top. Kids love these! (Or try our Beef Taquitos instead.) 3.

  20. Travel Recipes: 20+ Meals To Make In A Hotel Room Microwave Or

    Travel Recipes: Easy Hotel Kitchenette Meals 1. Keep Meals and Snacks Simple. Water is healthy and free! ... In looking for food ideas for our trip I kept seeing ideas to cook soup or noodles and other foods in the hotel coffee pot. It's a kinda cute idea - but YUCK. I can't help but think that coffee from that machine will forever taste ...

  21. 40 Easy Meals for Large Groups on Vacation

    Plan for fresh rolls and pickled peppers for topping. Tuscan Chicken Pasta: The chicken and sauce can cook in the slowcooker while you make a double (or triple) batch of the pasta in a big pot on the stovetop. BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches: Plan a barbecue sandwich or platter night with cornbread, slaw, and baked beans.

  22. The 38 Best Road Trip Snacks You Can Pack

    Chia Seed Protein Bites. This recipe has no gluten, eggs, dairy or corn, so it's the perfect road trip snack for those with certain food allergies. They're also no-bake, so even the littlest hands can help make these protein-packed treats! Go to Recipe. 21 / 38.

  23. 22 Recipes to Make in Your Vacation Rental

    If you're spending your summer vacation in a rental house, you might not have access to a fully-stocked kitchen, and that's where these recipes come in handy. Whether it's a recipe that uses store-bought ingredients, a one-pan meal or a five-ingredient recipe, these dishes are perfect for any meal. Recipes like Baked Eggs in Tomato Sauce with Kale and One-Pan Chicken & Asparagus Bake are ...

  24. 15+ Easy Three-Step Lunch Recipes

    Make our fan-favorite Chopped Power Salad with Chicken for something both satisfying and flavorful. Or, make the tuna salad ahead of time for our refreshing Tuna Salad & Tomato Sandwich to enjoy on a quick lunch break. Enjoy one of these delicious and nutritious meals for lunch in just three steps or less, from wraps and sandwiches to bowls and ...

  25. Easy and Quick Meal Prep for Sustained Energy

    Backpacking Meal Ideas - Easy and Quick Meal Prep for Sustained Energy 🌲. Story by Caitlin Havener. • 10mo • 6 min read. In this guide, you will find all the tips and tricks I used to ...