Are you planning a road trip? Planning is key to success on the road, and part of that is packing good food and snacks. Check out our road trip food list and what we pack when we head out on the road.
When planning your road trip food list you want food that is healthy, convenient and easy to eat on the road. Food that is portable, can be kept in a cooler, or not-refrigerated items work best. We go into detail for the best foods for a road trip and what you should pack.
Road trips are one of our favorite ways to see new places and experience awesome family vacation moments. There is always something unexpected and exciting about planning a road trip vacation with kids.
We always put together a road trip food list for our trip to make sure we have all the snacks and food we need on the road.
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Why Have a Road Trip Food List
Part of the fun of a road trip is stopping at fast food spots and enjoy junk food right? Well…sort of! I’ve learned after many road trips with the kids that it is better in the long run to pack your meals, snacks, and treats to prevent any unforeseen sickness or stops.
Often fast food is greasy and doesn’t sit well during long car rides and this can make the trip not fun at all. Also packing road trip food allows you to be more prepared and have less stops. This means you will arrive at your destination even quicker.
We like to maximize our driving times and prefer to save our stops for fuel and restroom breaks. If you have a full day of driving 8-10+ hours you may want to pick one meal to get out of your car to stretch.
Road Trip Food List: Non-Food Items
Before you decide what food to bring on a road trip you need to have a place to put them all. You want storage for your non-cold items like pretzels and dry cereal. I have a day trip bag that I use whenever we are in the car.
You also want to pack a cooler for the items that need to stay cool as well as drinks. After food storage it is important to think about containers and cleaning supplies. I always bring a few essential items for our road trip.
- napkins/paper towels/wipes
- Cups to distribute snacks. We pick them up the character ones from the dollar store but any cup will work. It is helpful if it fits in a cup holder to prevent spills.
- water bottles
- A large bag to carry everything. We like the CleverMade Snap Baskets.
- A cooler to store items. Check out the CleverMade Collapsible Cooler
Related Post: 10 Family Road Trip Essentials for an Amazing Trip
How Do You Pack Meals for a Road Trip
If you are spending an entire day driving you will probably have to pack meals for your road trip. You can do this a few ways. Pack all 3 meals and don’t include any stops for food, or what we usually do is pack breakfast and lunch.
For dinner we like to stop for an hour to eat and stretch. This allows us to recharge and we end up driving more. It breaks up the day and it really helps with everyone’s energy for the long car ride.
When planning meals on the road I like to keep it simple, easy, and not messy. I involve the kids the week before with meal planning and making a shopping list for our trip. We all pick out a few favorite healthy items as well as a few treats for the road.
Road Trip Food Ideas: Breakfast
Breakfast is one of the easiest meals to plan on a road trip because a lot of it is grab and go. We can easily pack breakfast items that everyone likes.
- Dry Cereal
- Granola bars
- Cereal bars
- Pre-made fresh fruit salad.
- Pre-made egg/cheese sandwiches. Make at home, wrap in foil, eat within 1-2 hours.
- Bagel with cream cheese.
- Pre-made oatmeal in a hot thermos.
Road Trip Food Ideas: Lunch & Dinner
Lunch and dinner can be a bit more difficult than breakfast but when on the road it is best to keep it light. Save your big meals for your destinations. These lunches may need a bit of prep at home but they will keep you satisfied while on the road.
- Pasta Salad
- Cheese Plate
- Deli Sandwich on Pretzel Bun
- Cut up chicken and vegetables
- Fruit salad
- Cold pizza
- Premade Salad
- Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
Road Trip Food Items: Snacks
Snacks are the best part about a road trip and these are some of our favorite picks. Always consider the age of your kids and if any of the items may be a choking hazard.
- String Cheese
- Trail Mix
- Peanut Butter and Pretzels
- Cream Cheese and Crackers
- Cut Up Veggies (Peppers, Celery, Carrots) and Hummus
- Apple Slices
- Protein Bars
- Veggie Straws
Road Trip Food to Avoid
We’ve talked about foods to eat on a road trip but what can you not eat on a road trip? I avoid anything that can be really messy or greasy.
- Fast food- Avoid greasy and fried items.
- Anything that needs utensils: Yogurts & Fruit Cups.
- Any cracker that seems to explode or make crumbs easily!
- Donuts and pastries. We have learned the hard way that an early morning sweet combined with driving can lead to motion sickness and throwing up. We now save the treats for once we arrive at our destination.
- Juice or sugary drinks. I find drinks like this always upset stomachs on the road and it is better to stick with water. It also cuts down on bathroom stops.
Road Trip Food Tips with Kids
Let your kids be part of the planning. This will help avoid meltdowns on the road.
Use a lunch box from home to keep everyone’s meals organized and put together. It is easier to pass out lunch when it is all prepacked.
Consider the age of your kids and how much mess they may make while eating in the car. When the kids were small I kept a beach towel under their car seats. That way if things got really messy I could remove the towel, wash it, and put it back; the car stayed clean.
Keep a garbage bag in the kids seating area. We drive a van and have a garbage bag in the front with us as well as in the third row. Empty it often during road trips!
A surprise treat can change the mood in the car when things start to feel exhausting.
Road trips can be the ultimate family vacation and we hope these road trip food ideas will help you enjoy your time on the road.
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