This article may contain compensated links. Read the full disclosure.
Road trip food and meal ideas will not only save you a load on your holiday budget. They can also help you to eat healthy while you travel too… avoiding the greasy burger and chips combo you may otherwise have purchased! Get road trip food ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner plus family-friendly snack ideas too.
Road trips can be a budget-friendly family vacation that is fun for all ages, however, you can quickly blow out that budget if you are dining out for every meal during your road trip.
With some simple road trip meal planning and enough food inspiration, you can plan a thrifty road trip without having to stop for a single takeaway meal!
This road trip food list is loaded with snack and meal ideas for the whole family, whether you are taking a short driving holiday over a weekend or getting set for an extended road trip adventure together.
PLUS – GRAB YOUR FREE ROAD TRIP FOOD LIST PLANNING PRINTABLES
Preparing For Your Trip
Aside from the usual steps to prepare for your road trip, with itinerary planning and a rough plan on where you will be stopping along the way if travelling over multiple days, your preparation should also include meal planning.
Road trip meal planning will keep your budget down and help you avoid the fast-food trail from destination to destination.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t dine out at all. Sometimes that’s part of the fun, but if you want to avoid paying for meals at each stop. Or you want to ensure you are eating healthier options, creating a road trip meal plan is essential!
Many of these meals and tips are also perfect for planning a family camping trip too!
Storing Your Food On The Road
You will need a good-quality large cooler to keep your food from spoiling.
A standard cooler with ice packs will get you through a few days of chilled food and meals. Anything longer and you will either need a proper 12V powered travel refrigerator or to stop and grab extra ice or fresh groceries along the way.
Either will work, but of course, your options are more limited if you need to stop for supplies. This will mean knowing where on your road trip you can source ice and groceries too.
TIP: Avoid opening your cooler unless it’s absolutely necessary! This will keep food chilled longer.
Pack individual meals in stackable, compact food containers.
For snacks, consider getting a BPA-free sectioned snack container to store different snack items. This is perfect for kids!
Road Trip Snacks
Options for road trip snacks are endless! Most snacks you enjoy at home can easily be enjoyed during your road trip. In saying that, snacks that don’t require any extra preparation and are minimal mess are preferable.
Especially if you are taking a road trip with kids!
There are so many options for road trip snacks. Here are a few to get you started:
- Dried fruit
- Bliss balls
- Cheese sticks
- Nuts and seeds
- Veggie sticks and hummus
- Muesli bars
- Cherry tomatoes
- Salami or twiggy sticks
- Sweet biscuits
TIP: Pack a few special treats for those moments when the kids are over of being car-bound and need a mood boost.
Road Trip Breakfast Ideas
If you are staying at hotels along the way, you may get lucky enough to find some with breakfast included. That’s one or more meals along your trip that you don’t have to plan for.
But if not, there are plenty of light options to get the day started before you set off for your next leg.
Here are some simple road trip breakfast ideas:
- Dry cereal – such as Cheerios that you can enjoy even without milk
- Breakfast muffins
- Pre-made bacon and egg muffins or wraps
- Bagels with cream cheese spread
- Banana bread
- Blueberry pancake bites
- Breakfast oat cookies
TIP: Pouches are a simple, no-mess option for yogurt or pureed fruit. Keep them chilled, eat then dispose of the package.
Road Trip Lunch Ideas
There are plenty of simple cold lunch options you can make ahead for road trip meals. Plus how much nicer is it finding a beautiful spot within nature or with a view along your drive, than sitting in a fast food store!
Try these cold lunch ideas for your road trip menu:
- Wraps – pre-made or with simple chilled fillings
- Savoury scrolls like these pizza scrolls
- Cheese and crackers
- Boiled eggs (pre-peeled)
- Tinned tuna or salmon
- Cottage cheese on crackers
- Pinwheels with chicken, turkey or other fillings
You can prepare salads in mason jars or smaller containers in individual serves to make it easy to serve.
Although you will want to eat salad early in your road trip to avoid it becoming wilted or soggy. You can always add the dressing just before you serve it!
TIP: Bring condiments and pre-cut sandwich and wrap fillers with you if you are travelling for more than a day. This will keep everything a little fresher and prevent soggy sandwiches and wraps.
Road Trip Dinner Ideas
After a long day of driving, you want a dinner meal that is filling enough to satisfy each member of the family, without being too complicated or heavy.
Dinner may be the one meal of the day you do decide to find somewhere to dine out, especially if you are setting up in a room for the night and have options nearby.
But if you want to keep those costs down and bring your own food for your entire trip, there are absolutely plenty of options for your dinner meals.
Cold road trip dinner ideas:
- Pre-cooked roast chicken or other cold roast meat sliced or pulled apart for adding to sandwiches, wraps or enjoyed alone
- Cold salads such as pasta, egg or potato salad
- Rice with chicken with veggies
Hot Dinner Ideas
If travelling for several days or weeks, it may be worth bringing a small camping hot plate. This will allow you to cook and heat meals you have pre-made at home.
Make-ahead your one-pan meals at home and individually pack into containers so that you either have to just cook or reheat on the hot plates. We stick with mostly one-pan meals when in a campervan too.
This will give you endless other options to enjoy camp style meals during your road trip without the full camping set up.
Or alternatively, use public BBQ facilities along the way to cook or heat meals.
TIP: If staying in hotels, choose some with basic cooking facilities you can use for dinners.
BBQ or camp kitchen dinner ideas:
- Savoury mince or tacos
- Bacon and eggs
- Baked beans
- Tinned soup
- Chilli con Carne
You can pretty much turn any one-pot or dump recipe into a camp stove or BBQ top recipe. Bag each meal individually, heat or cook and serve.
TIP: If you don’t want to bring your own, find an app for your phone that will tell you where the nearest public BBQ facilities are along your journey.
Healthy Road Trip Food
Taking your own make-ahead road trip meals is an easy way to ensure you are eating well while travelling. You can choose healthy options and avoid the greasy, carb-loaded takeaway food that tends to be associated with road trips.
It also means choosing healthier snacks too.
Not only is this better for your health, it will also make you feel better while travelling to not have those heavy processed meals sitting in your stomach while stationary for most of the day.
Travel stomach aches aren’t welcome here!
Baby & Toddler-Friendly Road Trip Food
If you are doing a driving holiday with a toddler or baby, you will need to plan in a few different options to suit them.
This means ensuring you have enough baby food (and formula if needed), to last the full journey.
Bring baby food pouches for convenience or use small individual serve tubs for homemade baby food.
Make sure you have plenty of toddler road trip snacks because a full tummy will help keep them happy! Small snack foods and finger foods are ideal so you can avoid worrying about choking.
Essential Non-Food Items
Having your road trip food packed and ready is the most important part, but don’t get caught out on the road by realising you have forgotten any of these non-food essentials for your road trip.
- Plates & bowls
- Knives, forks, spoons
- Chopping board or tray if you are taking anything that needs more preparation
- Sharp knife for food prep
- Wet wipes
- Anti-bacterial handwash
- Plastic bags to dispose of rubbish
- Ziplock bags
Printable Road Trip Food List & Meal Planner
Grab the free road trip food list and meal plan bundle to help you plan your ultimate driving adventure on a budget!
For more road trip planning resources, itineraries and activities, check out these articles: