The Ultimate Road Trip Food List & Meal Planning Guide

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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 french fries combo or gas station stacks you may otherwise have purchased!

Get road trip food ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner plus family-friendly snack ideas too.

Road trip food list & meal planning

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 ULTIMATE 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! Read our camping with kids checklist so you don’t forget anything.

Cooler with food prepared

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. You can get disposable airtight container options at the dollar store if you want to avoid having dirty containers to clean on the road.

For snacks, consider getting a BPA-free sectioned snack container to store different snack items. This is perfect for kids!

For one day road trips, a supermarket cooler bag will work with an ice pack to keep everything chilled.

Road Trip Meal Planner

Check out our road trip meal planning tips, meal ideas & grab the free printable meal plan and food list.

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! Having a quick bite to eat between stops will help keep them patient and happy in the backseat. Snacks with natural ingredients are a good option for the whole family and will help keep the energy levels up on a long drive.

There are so many options for road trip snacks. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Dried fruit
  • Fresh fruit
  • Crackers
  • Popcorn
  • Bliss balls
  • Cheese sticks
  • Nuts and seeds (sunflower seeds, pepitas, etc)
  • Pretzels
  • Chips
  • Fresh veggies with hummus or dip
  • Muesli bars
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Olives
  • Salami or twiggy sticks
  • Sweet biscuits
  • Chickpeas
  • Protein bar
  • Beef jerky
  • Sweet potato chips
  • Seasoned pumpkin seeds or trail mix
  • Granola bars
  • String cheese
  • Banana chocolate chip muffins – These are a great option for anyone with a sweet tooth. Switch to dark chocolate chips and cut out the sugar. They still taste amazing!

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 free breakfast included. That’s one or more meals along your trip that you don’t have to plan for and one less extra cost.

But if not, there are plenty of light options to get the day started before you set off for your next leg of the long journey. After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and is a great way to give you energy before starting the next leg of your journey!

Here are some simple road trip breakfast ideas:

  • Fruit
  • Yogurt
  • 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
  • Croissants
  • 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.

cold road trip lunch ideas

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:

  • Salad
  • Sandwiches (peanut butter, jam, Vegemite, honey spreads etc)
  • Wraps – pre-made or with simple chilled fillings
  • Muffins
  • Savoury scrolls like these pizza scrolls
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Boiled eggs (pre-peeled)
  • Tinned tuna or salmon
  • Cottage cheese on crackers
  • Kabana
  • 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. You can always add the dressing just before you serve it!

READ: NO-COOK CAMPING MEAL IDEAS

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.

PReparing road trip food at home

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
  • Frittata
  • Quiche

camping stove

Hot Dinner Ideas

If travelling for several days or weeks over a long road trip, it may be a good idea to bring a small portable camping stove. This will allow you to cook and heat meals you have pre-made at home and to make hot water for coffee or tea.

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.

Foil packet camping recipes are another great option for quick easy pre-prepped road trip food you can cook easily on the road.

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 at your rest stop to cook or heat meals.

TIP: If staying in a hotel room, choose hotels with basic cooking facilities you can use for dinners and meal cooking.

BBQ or camp kitchen dinner ideas:

  • Savoury mince or tacos
  • Sausages
  • Bacon and eggs
  • Baked beans
  • Tinned soup
  • Quesadillas
  • 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 healthy road trip snacks too. Healthy snacks are a much better option when spending so much more time sitting than being as active as you would otherwise. And while a little junk food is a fun treat, don’t overdo it!

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!


Family on road trip

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 for little kids so you can avoid worrying about choking.

Road Trip Drinks

When you are doing a long drive, it is essential to keep up your water intake the whole way. Sitting in a car with air conditioning or heating can dehydrate the body. Sitting for long periods can also make us forget to get our daily recommended water intake too!

So be sure to make water bottles for each member of the family. Reusable water bottles can be refilled from a large water dispenser when you stop for a pit stop.

Drinks such as coffee, soft drink or energy drinks are not ideal for hydration although if a morning coffee is part of your usual routine, not having this may result in a headache which is not ideal either!

TIP: Make sure to pack drink bottles for kids that are easy to use on their own in the back seat without spills.


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
  • Cups
  • Chopping board or tray if you are taking anything that needs more preparation
  • Sharp knife for food prep
  • Napkins
  • Wet wipes
  • Anti-bacterial handwash
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic bags to dispose of rubbish
  • Ziplock bags
  • Can opener
  • Water bottles

TIP: Disposable plates and cutlery may be a great option to avoid having to find places to wash up along the way!

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! These great road trip food ideas will help you get organised easily for your next road trip!

Road trip food list and meal plan bundle

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