While road trips are great fun, they can also be stressful journeys if you fail to plan in advance. Aside from making sure you have everything you need once you reach your destination, you should also think about how you’ll fuel up along the way.
The chance to stop by a rest area may not arise at opportune moments, so stocking foods and snacks for the ride is essential. Don’t let a breezy car ride turn into a mess of hangry emotions. Skipping meals and snacks will turn you and your passengers cranky. Empty stomachs and car rides don’t go well together.
Thankfully, we’ve got you covered with a list of clever and easy road trip foods for your next jaunt on-the-road.
Meat Sticks And Jerky
Nuts And Seeds
Nuts and seeds pack a nutritional punch that’s tough to beat in the realm of snack foods, and they are incredibly filling. Choose crowd-pleasers like peanuts, cashews, and almonds for your road trip. Avoid mess-producing nuts like pistachios unless you have a receptacle on hand to handle the shells.
- Spicy Roasted Cashew Nuts from Recipes from a Pantry
- Easy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Recipe from Inspired Taste
I love bean salad, but on a road trip, fresh salads aren’t ideal fare. Beans are filling and nutritious, though, and roasting them is the perfect way to transform them to a perfect on-the-go snack.
Cereal isn’t just an easy breakfast option for rushed weekday mornings. It’s one of the most portable and easy road trip foods, too. For real sustenance, choose cereals packed with fiber. Most cereals are fortified with essential vitamins and minerals, so don’t worry about nutritional content aside from verifying that there are not mountains of sugar inside.
Granola And Protein Bars
Buy packaged bars at the grocery store or make your own. You’ll find an endless array of options at the supermarket — from chocolate-covered candy bar-like fare to protein-filled sports bars.
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Purchase boxed versions to save money since buying bars individually adds up quickly. Make your own if you prefer to have control over the ingredients. Here are a few of our favorite granola and protein bar recipes.
- Chewy Peanut Butter Granola Bars from Gimme Some Oven
- Healthy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars from Cookie and Kate
- Peanut Butter Protein Bars from Well Plated by Erin
- Easy Homemade Protein Bars (no-bake) from Sweet Peas and Saffron
- Quick ’n Easy No-Bake Protein Bars from Oh She Glows
IMHO, the easiest most wonderful on-the-go snack cheese is Babybel cheese. They look like tiny cheese wheels and are individually wrapped in wax. Babybels are adorable and so incredibly tasty. They have several varieties including Gouda and swiss cheeses.
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String cheese is another ultra-portable cheese option, but I personally think the little Babybel cheeses are superior for fun on the road.
Single Serve Yogurts
You’ll need a cooler to bring yogurts along, but I think it’s worth the trouble. Yogurt is one of my favorite snacks, and it contains probiotics that aid in digestion.
Fruits And Vegetables
Prep is the key if you plan to bring fruits and vegetables along for the ride. The best options are fruits that require no cutting or slicing: apples, grapes, and bananas, for instance, are perfectly portable and unlikely to cause a mess.
Other fruits like peaches, nectarines, and pineapple are a bit messier and should be cut and portioned prior to leaving on your trip. Cherries are a delicious snack fruit, but keep in mind you’ll need a trash bag or container to discard the pits.
Chop up vegetables into containers and eat plain or with small dip cups.
Grocery stores now sell individually packaged cups of hummus that are great for lunches and on-the-go eating. Eat with crackers, veggies, or pita bread. You can also make your own hummus and bring it along in mini Tupperware containers.
- The Best Hummus Recipe from Downshiftology
- Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Hummus from Foodiecrush
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Ah yes. The go-to road trip food of peanut butter and jelly! Easy as pie and no need to stuff it in a cooler. Other sandwiches are a possibility, too, though you’ll have to lug around a cooler to prevent lunch meat and cheese from spoiling. If you’re worried about bread getting soggy, you can pack everything separately and assemble on-the-go, but don’t do this unless you plan to stop at a picnic rest area on the way.
Nut Butters And Dippers
Whether you’re dipping celery sticks, crackers, or pretzels, your favorite nut butter is a crowd-pleasing snack option that doesn’t require special storage considerations. Buy ready-made nut butter or make your own in a food processor. Whenever possible, use fresh nuts to avoid a stale tasting result.
- Homemade Cashew Butter from Fit Mitten Kitchen
- How to Make Almond Butter from Cookie + Kate
- How to make Homemade Peanut Butter from The Kitchn
Dried fruits are easy road trips foods that are super accessible for when you’re not keen on getting your hands all sticky and juicy with fresh fruit. Or maybe you don’t have fresh fruit readily available (i.e., it’s not in season).
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Not sure which types of dried fruit to look for? Good options include raisins (these often come in individual servings), apricots, mango, bananas, and apples.
Snacking on chocolate bars during your whole road trip might give you a tummy ache and leave you feeling groggy. But indulging in some sweet treats is totally fine as long as you don’t overload on sugar. Too much sugar can upset your stomach and give you a headache. But a small chocolate treat can give you that boost to keep driving.
Buy trail mix at the grocery store or make your own with your favorite blend of nuts and dried fruit. Include pieces of chocolate to sweeten up the mix. Portion it for easier serving in your vehicle.
- How to Build a Healthy Trail Mix from the Healthy Maven
- Healthy Trail Mix from Five Heart Home
- Recipe for Trail Mix from Simple Easy Creative
Get yourself a size-able Tupperware container and make it your mission to fill it with hearty muffins for your trip. Muffins are great, one-hand foods that work well for early morning breakfasts and afternoon snacks.
- Quick and Easy Blueberry Muffins from Inspired Taste
- Coffee Cake Muffins from Damn Delicious
- Maple-Sweetened Banana Muffins from Cookie + Kate
Snack Packing Tips
Before you pack any of the snacks above there are a few essential snack packing tips to consider.
- Use a cooler if you’ll be packing perishable foods, especially if you’ll be stopping in multiple places and leaving food in the car.
- Pre-packed foods are your friend!
- Don’t forget napkins or wet wipes. Even with the least messy foods, your hands might end up sticky or covered in crumbs.
- Have a plan for trash. Bring a designated garbage bag to deal with trash. Stuff wrappers and other waste into the bag and toss it when you eventually have access to a trash bin.
- Consider dietary restrictions. Is anyone lactose intolerant? Skip anything with cheese or dairy. Are you riding with any vegan or vegetarian passengers? Make sure there are enough plant-based options on offer.
Important Qualities For Easy Road Trip Foods
The best easy road trip foods share the same important qualities.
- Mess-free. Soup, for instance, is a poor choice for eating on-the-go. It’s tough to eat in a moving vehicle, and you’ll inevitably end up spilling and making a mess.
- Portable. A big wheel of cheese and giant baguette sound lovely for a picnic, but they’re not ideal for a road trip. They take up lots of room and are tough to handle inside a moving vehicle.
- Portioned. Whenever possible, try to portion out foodstuffs for your road trip. Buy small individual-size snacks or portion out homemade items yourself. You don’t want to have to deal with cutting or slicing on the road. The legwork should have already been done prior to heading off on your trip.