road trip food in a cooler

One of the hardest parts of packing for a road trip is coming up with road trip food and meals to have on the way. While you can plot out places to stop, fast food day in and day out on the road is not ideal.

Not to mention gas station food. Somewhere between the beef stick, greasy hot dog, and bags of salty snacks, I start to get really grossed out. And if you are gluten-free, vegan, or have dietary restrictions or allergies, this can be even harder!

It is not only unhealthy to eat like this for multiple meals over several days, but it is also expensive. And costs you time.

Plus, if you are on a road trip in somewhere like Arches National Park, you won’t have the option of stopping somewhere for lunch inside the park. You will have to bring your own.

But if you plan ahead with your road trip foods and pre-make some road trip meals and snacks, you can definitely keep your family well-fed on the road.

About Road Trip Meal Planning

Now, road trip meal planning does take some time in advance of your trip. But it will be well worth it to save you money and time. In fact, bringing your own healthy road trip meals is a lifesaver, especially when trying to do family travel on a budget!

You can actually premake, plan, and organize (also important) road trip breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. And if it’s a longer trip, there are plenty of grocery stores on the road you can stop at. But where do you get these road trip food ideas? Right here, with over 101+ suggestions in this post.

And, if you are vegan or gluten-free or in need of road trip snacks for toddlers, don’t worry! I haven’t forgotten you. I also include a helpful road trip foods list to make your road trip meal planning easy too!

Here is the ultimate list of road trip meals and food you will love!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase using this link. See my disclaimer.

Why Bring Your Own Road Trip Foods

road trip food Mother, father, girl and boy loaded bags in the trunk of car.
Photo credit: @ dima_sidelnikov |

If you are wondering what food is good for road trips and what are the best snacks for road trips or need unique road trip food ideas, you have come to the right place!

Before we get to the list of healthy road trip snacks and meals, let’s quickly look at why you should bring your own food or make-ahead road trip meals and snacks on your trip. Yes, it is way easier and more convenient to buy it along the way, but that also means you’re more likely to buy junk food or fast food because your options are limited.

But keep this in mind about road trip meals:

  • Your own make-ahead road trip meals and snacks like trail mixes and muffins are healthier.
  • Bringing your own healthy road trip snacks and food saves you a lot of money.
  • Choosing road trip meal menus in advance assures everyone has something they can and will eat.
  • Having your own road trip food limits stops or having to surrender to what is available at the time you are stopping.
  • It is easy to pull over at a rest stop with a picnic table and eat or have a road trip meal in your hotel room, RV, or even in the car.
  • You can easily answer the “what’s for breakfast, lunch, dinner” question with your already planned, make-ahead road trip meals.
  • Road trip snacks can keep kids full between meals and busy in between road trip activities (and I’m talking about delicious healthy snacks other than potato chips or junk food).
  • You can bring road trip food whether you are on a family road trip with a cooler, going camping, or traveling in an RV with a kitchen like the Forest River Cedar Creek 38RTH (it has a kitchen with an island!). But no matter how you travel, there are road trip foods and meals for every mode of transportation.

The Reality and Practicality of Road Trip Food

Now, let’s be real. It isn’t possible for all of the healthy road trip snacks and food you bring to be homemade, especially if, say, you are going on a 10-day Midwest road trip.

That’s a long time and a lot of food to pack for a road trip. And it is a lot of road trip food ideas to come up with. There are many easy things that can serve as healthy road trip meals that can be purchased.

In fact, sometimes granola bars are an easy, healthy road trip food to fill the gap in between meals.

And, it is both practical and easier to include nonperishable road trip food with some easy meals you can make ahead. It is also part of the fun to eat out while on a vacation.

But it is still healthier and easier when you control what you are bringing overall. And when you plan ahead, as opposed to being left with whatever is available on the road, you can save money and time and eat better.

Coming up with healthy food and snack ideas can be a challenge for families. But not to worry – this post has you covered! This post is full of easy road trip meals that will help you plan for your upcoming adventure.

So here are the best road trip foods for traveling and some of my best tips!

BVWK Road Trip Food Tip #1
Use a road trip food list and meal planner like mine below to plot out your meals and snacks. It is based on many of the road trip food ideas in this post. Not only will this help you shop ahead and assemble what you need, but it will also help you organize the cooler so that the first meals are on top. It can also help you at destinations if you need additional ingredients.

Road Trip Breakfast Meal Ideas

If you are wondering, “What should I eat for a long car drive?” remember to include breakfast on your road trip food list. You need the energy to drive all that way, and driving on an empty tank – literally and figuratively – won’t work for a long road trip or journey.

Breakfast is an important part of our morning routine. But, because of the time of our departure, we don’t usually eat before we hit the road. And sometimes, we leave before our hotel offers breakfast, so we like to purchase some healthy foods for breakfast on the go.

Having road trip breakfast ideas that are portable and easy to eat in the car is very important for the success of our road trips. For this reason, things that are either nonperishable or easy to hold (like breakfast sandwiches, muffins, etc.) are the best for this important meal. Here are some of the best foods for healthy road trip meals to eat for breakfast.

road trip food breakfast on a table
Photo credit: Stock image via Canva

Nonperishable Road Trip Breakfast Ideas

Cold Grab and Go Road Trip Breakfast Ideas

road trip food breakfast sandwich
Photo credit: Stock Image via Canva
BVWK Road Trip Food Tip #2
Bring refillable coffee mugs and water bottles on the trip, so you can fill them up at home, the hotel, or at gas stations on the go. Oddly enough, gas station coffee is often quite good if you don’t have a hotel with a coffee maker! If your kids drink juice, remember their refillable cups as well, as juice boxes tend to squirt everywhere!

Road Trip Lunch Meal Ideas

Lunches and dinners can be somewhat interchangeable on the road. But I separated them here into road trip lunch ideas and dinner ideas in the more traditional sense. Healthy snacks can also fill in the gap between meals.

road trip food
Photo credit: Stock Image via Canva

Non-Refrigerated Road Trip Lunch Ideas

  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
  • Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches or Wrap
  • Energy Bars or Granola Bars

Cold Grab And Go Road Trip Lunch Ideas

  • Charcuterie Box of Cold Cuts, Deli Meat, Cheese, Hummus, and Fruit
  • Quinoa (I love it Greek salad style)
  • Turkey or Ham and Cheese Pita
  • Avocado Toast
  • Cream cheese and Cucumber roll-up (or sandwich)
  • Cold Pizza
  • Pasta Salad
  • Premade Salad In A Jar
  • Chicken Salad Wraps
  • Tuna salad sandwiches on whole wheat or pita bread (or just plain tuna salad in food containers)
  • Turkey and Cheese Roll-Ups/Pinwheels (great for toddlers)
  • Beef Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado and Tomato Lettuce Wrap
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
BVWK Road Trip Food Tip #3
When road-tripping with toddlers, it’s better to plan for mini-meals, rather than three squares a day. If you snack them all day with carby snacks, they won’t get as much nutrition.

I like to plan meals like a little “bento” style lunch box for my kids with easy-to-pick-up finger food. I like pinwheel wraps for the little ones. These are turkey and cheese or cream cheese and cucumber rolled up and cut into slices. Having a lunch box that stays cool also helps kids to go back to it when they are hungry again. Remember to include toddler-friendly non-food items like utensils and straws or sippy cups.

Road Trip Dinner Meal Ideas

For dinner on the road, you can likely have the same things that you had for lunch. But surely your family will thank you if you mix it up a bit! Here are some great road trip dinner ideas that can be served cold.

road trip food
Photo credit: Stock Image via Canva

Cold Grab and Go Road Trip Dinner Ideas

  • Cold Burrito (if you don’t mind it that way)
  • Quesadilla
  • Southwest Crispy Chicken Wrap
  • Pizza Cupcakes
  • Pesto Chicken Wraps
  • Cold Pizza
  • Low Carb Turkey Club Wrap
  • Pasta Salad with light olive oil or some other healthy dressing
  • Salad In A Jar (use a plastic mason jar and a light olive oil salad dressing)
  • Hummus and Veggie Pita or Wrap (I love hummus, beets, and feta).
  • Greek Salad Chicken Wrap
  • Rice and Beans (You can keep shredded cheese, canned beans, and sour cream in your cooler and make rice and beans, then make rice and bean burritos with the leftovers. Add some canned salsa for a kick.)
BVWK Road Trip Food Tip #4
You will definitely need to bring a cooler (we love the Yeti brand) or a portable fridge to keep some of the items and meals cool.

I recommend:

  • Label the meals, so you know which road trip meal is for and when.
  • Keep the ice on top of the cooler to keep items cold, especially if you have things that can spoil, like deli meat.
  • Limit the times you need to open the cooler.
  • Keep the cooler out of the direct sun.
  • Pack individual lunch boxes or mini coolers with cold packs for each day to avoid opening the cooler.

Road Trip Snacks For Kids and Adults

What is a long trip without ongoing snacking? Our family is notorious for lots of car snacking, and this is probably one of my favorite tips for taking road trips.

It keeps the “hangry” monsters at bay and can help get you to your next destination in peace. But, it is important to pack healthy road trip snacks that are healthier than potato chips (though you can buy baked potato chips or some other healthier version).

Granola bars and energy balls are the ultimate road trip food because they are nonperishable, can keep you full in between meals, and are considered healthy snacks that will keep you from buying junk food on the go.

If you are wondering what is the most popular road trip snack or what are good snacks for a long car ride, this depends a bit on what you like. But we like to choose things that are easy to grab or make at home, easy to eat, and easy to pack road trip snacks.

Things like beef jerky, cheese and crackers, energy bars, energy balls, and Gogurts have protein, so they will keep you full in between meals. Even just a handful of nuts or trail mix can tide your hungry family over until the next meal.

We also like to include some snackable fresh fruits and vegetables to attempt to keep our family healthy while traveling, like baby carrots, apples, and bananas. Even muffins with vegetables in them, like carrot or zucchini muffins, are – in my opinion, the most popular road trip snack for toddlers and kids.

Now, aside from snacks you make on your own, I am a huge fan of single-serving road trip snacks for kids to take on the road trip ( I try to get healthier versions and not junk food). It makes road trip packing easier for you. And it also helps the kids to access them independently.

If you are taking a road trip with a toddler, they will definitely need to snack a lot. So, I also included a list of road trip snacks for toddlers here as well.

Grab and Go Road Trip Snack Ideas

road trip food. Happy young family, father with three children - smiling boy, cute toddler girl and a little baby enjoying a picnic sitting on a wooden bench having fruit and sandwich as healthy lunch outdoors during a trip to Dinant, Belgium
Photo credit: @ FamVeldman |

Road Trip Snacks For Toddlers

If you are traveling with toddlers, some of our family’s favorite road trip snacks have been these.

BVWK Road Trip Food Tip #5
Remember to add your road trip food list to your Road Trip Packing List. I also recommend keeping foods accessible to the kids therefore they can access snacks as they need to during the trip.

Need any ideas for road trip activities for kids, toddlers, and teens? Check out my post on over 35 best road trip activities kids will love!

Gluten-Free and Vegan Road Trip Meals & Snacks

If you are traveling with a dietary restriction, have allergies, are gluten-free, or a vegan, it can be hard to find snacks and food that meet your needs. My husband and I are primarily gluten-free, so I speak from experience here. Finding road trip lunch ideas and dinner ideas without gluten is always a challenge on the road.

Planning ahead is going to be key. 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.

Gluten-Free and Vegan Road Trip Meal Ideas

Gluten-Free and Vegan Road Trip Snacks Ideas

Road Trip Food: Desserts

Ok, you are driving a really long way. Your kids are doing a good job. You’ve eaten healthy foods. It’s time to live a little and give everyone a little sweet treat. Here are some ideas for easy, portable road trip snack desserts to keep everyone happy.

Road Trip Grab and Go Snack Desserts

BVWK Road Trip Food Tip #6
Remember the non food items to bring on the road trip. Items you will need include:

  • Disposable Cutlery
  • Disposable Plates, Bowls, Cups
  • Napkins
  • Wet Wipes (to get the sticky off)
  • Single-Serving Condiment and Dressings
  • Sandwich Bags or Containers to store food or leftovers
  • Trash Bags

road trip food car filled with camping equipment and cooler
Photo credit: @ ImageSource |

Final Thought on The Best Road Trip Food

Packing for a road trip can be daunting, and wondering, “What kind of food should I bring on a road trip?” just adds to the list. I hope to make road trips easier for you with this post and my printable road trip food list and meal planner.

But know that the best foods for road trips are the ones that are easy, portable, healthy, and everyone will eat. Though, I always remember a few sweet treats to bring as well.

And when wondering what I should eat when driving long distances, I use a road trip food list like mine to plan ahead and make sure I have healthy options that limit stops and will keep me full. Planning your food ideas for the road ahead can save money and time. And healthy road trip foods can ensure that you have the energy to continue the journey and eat well on the road.

These 101+ ideas for the best road trip foods and my list of healthy snacks and meals give you many ideas to keep you full and fed on the road. All you have to do is enjoy the journey.

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  1. These are all great ideas. We are planning a long road trip this summer, so this list is going to really come in handy!

    1. Considering a road trip from Arizona to Wyoming to Cincinnati and back to Arizona. Thanks for the ideas. At 73 I need to do things right. In past trips I have prepared things like sandwiches and burritos which I kept in a cooler. About 20 minutes before I stop for gas, I wrap them in foil and lay them in a warm place near the engine. Then, I stop for gas, stretch my bones have a hot meal before hitting the road. I also keep plenty of water on board to stay hydrated. I got this information from the book “Manifold Destiny” which includes recipes.

  2. Wow! You are so organized! For me, I love packing almond butter sandwiches for road trips because peanut butter hurts my stomach.

  3. wow! I love the links to all these goodies – perfect for road trips, beach or pool days! We always have HEAVY snacks – little baggies of snacks, apples, protein bars, lots of water, seltzer, of course a yeti of coffee for mom! We usually do stop and treat ourselves to a road trip stop lunch, but sometimes thats not always possible. I love the idea of a hummus, feta, beet wrap. We always brown bag it to the beach, and need new ideas!

    1. Thanks, Harmony. I love brown-bagging it and having picnics at the beach. And yes, definitely the Yeti coffee! I don’t leave home without it!

    1. Thanks, Lillie. I love the no-bake energy balls. They are my go-to travel snack for road trips, planes, and ski trips!

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