Road Trip Food

Road Trip Food

I’ve been taking road trips as long as I can remember.  As a kid we would drive up the east coast every summer to go see my grandparents, first in Pennsylvania and then in Massachusetts.  Off we would go, in a wooden paneled station wagon, my brother, my mom and dad.

As a single woman exploring the U.S. in my tiny red Civic, camping and doing it on the cheap, I learned about all the free places to explore along the road.

Now, I’ve spent the last ten years taking trips with my kids and I feel like an expert, even though it doesn’t always go smoothly.  Kids still get grumpy, we have to make unexpected stops and plans change.

These are my “rules” I always follow that make me feel like an expert and generally make it a great time.

  1. Healthy food
  2. Getting kids outside/ stopping/ making the journey the trip not just the destination
  3. On the road entertainment that doesn’t include endless screen time.

In today’s post I’m going to talk about food on the road.  In upcoming posts, I’ll write about the second two “rules”.

So as I said I’ve been road tripping for ever, but my eating habits and desires are very different from when I was a kid.  Now, I don’t eat fast food, I don’t eat much meat and my kids eat no meat, so how do I do it, how do we pull healthy food from the car and the road side? Creatively of course.

It’s almost like packing school lunches for every meal- well not every meal- eating at a restaurant occasionally is also a necessity for me to add variety.  But the first thing to do is to count meals on the road.  Then buy and pack what I can’t get from local grocery stores/ farmers markets etc.  I love getting to peer into the lives of people whose town I’m passing through by shopping with them and people watching.  On the road, I plan on shopping every 3-4 days.  By doing this I also don’t need too big of a cooler or too much ice.

Then there are the supplies- not the food, but the kitchen on the go- having a small tool box/ kitchen box for cutting fruit, making sandwiches, even getting fancy and cooking up eggs or pancakes roadside- I once had pancakes for lunch by a river just because we wanted to- we weren’t camping there, but it was a great spot for a long stop of food and fun.

Here’s a quick list to reference when your planning your next road trip:

  • Make a meal list- come up with a variety of ideas that appeal to everyone in the car
  • Create your shopping list (if you can use it over and over on your trip to restock- make it digital)
  • Plan on restocking fresh food every 3-4 days
  • Look up local markets- farmers, health foods, etc. in advance
  • Look at route in advance to see where to restock, so it fits into itinerary
  • Get creative with meals- PB&J for 7 days gets old- instant pancakes if you’re carrying a stove, salads- fruit and green, beef jerky if you eat meat, cracker sandwiches, rice cake sandwiches, pre-made pastas and rice for mixing it up
  • Do some cooking at home before you leave
  • Check out restaurants in advance of being hungry
  • Find local parks to stop at- kids play while you make lunch/ dinner, then kids play while you eat, relax and stretch before getting back on the road.