Skip to Content

Best Road Trip Food Ideas (With Easy Home-Made Recipes & Food Lists)

Image of Iain The Founder Of The Road Trip Expert

To learn how this content was created please read our Editorial Guidelines.

One of the most important parts of preparing for your journey is coming up with some healthy road trip food ideas. It can be stressful trying to feed everyone while you’re away.

This article has everything from an extensive road trip food list to a selection of homemade recipes to impress any companion. I’ve outlined a selection of awesome sandwiches, healthy snacks, and the all-important road trip grocery list!

In this tasty guide, I’ll give you my best car food ideas!

Armed with all this information, you can make sure your trip is an enjoyable one by setting off prepared with some fantastic road trip meals!

There’s even a section on the best road trip food recipes for those of you with a sweet tooth!

Affiliate Disclosure: Thank you for supporting The Road Trip Expert. When you purchase through links on this site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Please see our advertising disclosure for more details.

road trip food infographic

Why You Need Great Road Trip Food Ideas

road trip food
Having a picnic on a road trip is awesome!

Not only does having great food for road trips give you more freedom as you drive and explore, it prevents you from having to eat awful, overpriced gas station rubbish.

Thankfully, if you plan a road trip, it gets a lot easier. You just need a solid road trip food list and the right gear!

Would you rather pay over the odds for a soggy burger in a cramped cafeteria, or spread out and enjoy your well-planned picnic with your favorite people?

Don’t worry, I already know the answer…

This guide will give you plenty of road trip food ideas and ensure you don’t miss out on the most popular snack ideas for traveling in the car.

You Might Also Like

Road Trip Packing List

Road Trip Food List

Road trip food list
Road Trip Food Ideas

Use this road trip food list to make sure you have everything you need. Read on for a more extensive breakdown of potential options or use the quick list and be on your way!

  1. Sandwiches, salads, wraps, and pasta dishes
  2. Fresh & dried fruits
  3. Nuts, seeds, and healthy snacks
  4. Chopped vegetables & dips or salsa
  5. Chocolate, sweets, chips, and jerky
  6. Cold drinks, juices & energy drinks
  7. Coffee or other hot drinks
  8. Pastries, sausage rolls, or other baked treats
  9. Cheese, deli meats, and olives if you’re feeling fancy

But what else should you take aside from those road trip food essentials?

Loading up the car with supplies will help you keep your trip within budget. We also have an article on the Best Car Accessories to help you out.

Below is my extensive road trip grocery list. Obviously, you don’t need to go out and buy everything on this list, however, it should give you inspiration for the types of foods that are great to take with you on the road.

To keep things simple and to make packing it up much easier, I’ve broken this down into 3 categories;

  1. Foods that require a cooler/refrigeration
  2. Easy-to-store snacks
  3. Non-food items

Don’t forget: If you are looking to impress your friends check out the homemade ideas lower down in this article!

road trip food ideas
Get down to the grocery store with your road trip food list…

The Cooler – Road Trip Food List

Here is a list of food you should bring in a cooler on your road trip.

  1. Boiled eggs
  2. Chopped veggies – carrot, celery, and cucumber sticks, cherry tomatoes
  3. Dips – Hummus, Guacamole, Ranch
  4. Pickles
  5. Olives
  6. Road Trip Sandwiches
  7. Fruit – apples, oranges, berries, and grapes are great for snacking on!
  8. Assorted cheeses
  9. Deli meats – salami, pepperoni, ham
  10. Chicken wings and drumsticks
  11. Sausage rolls, pastries, pies
  12. Salad

This list of road trip food ideas requires you to take some form of refrigeration. This could be in the form of a cooler box filled with ice packs, or a mini-fridge that runs from the car battery.

Either way, this will make your meal stops way more epic.

Easy-To-Store Snacks – Road Trip Food List

  1. Chips
  2. Pretzels
  3. Bread Buns
  4. Crackers
  5. Rye Bread/Crisp Breads
  6. Nuts
  7. Dried fruits – apricots, apples, raisins, banana chips
  8. Tinned fish – mackerel, sardines
  9. Granola bars
  10. Candy bars
  11. Cupcakes/muffins

Top Tip:

If buying in bulk, break down snacks into single servings! That way they are way more accessible and you won’t plow through your entire stash on the first day.

Non-Food Items – Road Trip Food List

  1. Paper towels or napkins
  2. Coffee cup/thermos flask
  3. Plastic plates (re-usable)
  4. Cutlery (again, preferably re-usable)
  5. Sharp knife for chopping
  6. Chopping board
  7. Wet wipes
  8. Garbage bag
  9. Foil
  10. Tupperware tubs
  11. Washing up items – bucket, liquid, sponge
  12. Corkscrew/bottle opener (how else are you going to crack open the good stuff once the day’s driving is done?)

It’s easy to get carried away with planning and preparing to eat all this exciting food, but don’t forget all the non-food essentials that you’ll need!

There are loads of disposable options out there however I always prefer to take reusable options wherever possible.


Not only is this eco-friendly travel, but it will also help you save you money on a road trip!

Have I missed anything from this extensive road trip food list? Let me know in the comments.

You Might Also Like:

Road Trip Meals

Road Trip Meals

Use this section to help plan out your road trip meals.

Things to consider

  • Whether you will have access to facilities to heat up food
  • The ability to keep food items cool in the car
  • Eating utensils

Road Trip Breakfast Ideas

  1. Healthy yogurt with fresh fruit, nuts, and a drizzle of honey
  2. Breakfast bagel with soft cheese, deli meat, and a side of fresh fruit
  3. Fresh croissants with jam, peanut butter, and banana
  4. Delicious toast with banana, apple, and syrup
  5. Seeded breakfast bagels with avocado, smoked salmon, and soft cheese or bacon

What should I bring for breakfast on a road trip?

Aside from those options listed above, consider bringing anything that will help you feel energized during the long journey ahead. Focus on foods that release energy slowly instead of sugary alternatives!

Road Trip Lunch Ideas

  1. Tuna salad with mayonnaise, fresh vegetables, and blueberry muffins
  2. Chicken salad

Road Trip Dinner Ideas

  1. Homemade quiche with salad and a glass of wine
  2. Soup with buttered bread and a cake for desert

The following section includes some handy products that you can take with you to allow you to prepare and eat some fantastic homemade road trip meals.

Scroll down to see our recommended handy products to keep food fresh during your road trip!

Looking for entertainment during your road trip? Why not try a Free Trial of Audible and listen to a variety of podcasts and audiobooks,

Useful Products For Your Road Trip Food

The night before setting off for a road trip is when the final preparations are made. Make sure that you have everything from our Road Trip Essentials List ready to go, and your alarm clocks are set.

If you are planning a long road trip, these handy products will help you store, prepare, and serve all your amazing meals! If you’re reading this in advance of your road trip then you could consider ordering them on Amazon.

If you use our affiliate links, we may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to yourself! This All-in-one picnic backpack includes all the gear you need for the perfect road trip picnic!

Road Trip Picnic Gear

Whilst on the road, one of my favorite things to do is stop off and become part of the scenery whilst I enjoy lunch. It’s handy to have camping chairs, a table, and a camping stove so that you are not limited to cold dishes.

  • Road Trip Picnic Set

Deluxe Picnic Backpack Set for 4

  • Coffee flask

Keep your coffee hot and fresh with this perfect coffee flask for the car!

THERMOS Stainless King Beverage Bottle

Road Trip Food Storage

It’s important that everything is kept fresh and ready to go, here are the best items for road trip food storage

  • Car Trunk Organizer With Cooler Bag

You can store all of your snacks, meals, and eating items with this premium trunk organizer. It’s perfect to pack away everything you need regarding road trip food storage!

Car Trunk Organizer

  • Tupperware Containers

These containers are perfect to store your food in whilst out on the road.

Food Storage Containers

  • Cooler Bag

This collapsible and insulated cooler bag is perfect to keep everything fresh whilst you are on the road. Then easily prepare everything when you stop off for a break.

I usually pack mine in the morning before I set off. This means the food stays as fresh as possible. Don’t forget to pack a table and chairs so you can enjoy your meal at any location!

OlarHike 30 Liter Large Cooler Lunch Bag

How To Pack The Cooler For A Road Trip

Road Trip Cooler Box
  1. You will need ice, frozen gel-packs, or frozen water bottles to pack inside the cooler and keep everything very cold. You can also use frozen juice boxes or block ice ( which stays frozen longer than cubes)
  2. If you plan to have the air-conditioning on, then keep the cooler inside the car where the temperature is lower than the trunk
  3. Avoid opening the lid of the cooler more than is necessary, as this will let the heat in.
  4. Try to select the right size cooler for the amount of food you have. Then fill the cooler with ice and insulate it by wrapping it in a bath towel (on the outside).
  5. Try to make packing the cooler the final step of your preparation, so that food stays in the refrigerator as long as possible.
  6. Make sure to keep meat and poultry separate and sealed. Put the frozen or very cold food first and put it at the bottom, then fill up the cooler.
  7. Spread out the ice/gel packs evenly to ensure all of the food stays very cold.

How To Eat Cheaply On A Road Trip

Here are my top tips to keep the costs down and eat cheap on a road trip

  1. Pack a variety of healthy snacks to avoid spending money at service stations
  2. Eat a wholesome breakfast to keep you going longer during your journey
  3. Make a large flask of coffee before you set off in the morning to save on hot beverage costs
  4. Keep the journey exciting and fun with some road trip questions to take your mind off snacking
  5. Look online for restaurant discount codes and deals in your area

Road Trip Food FAQs

In this section, we will cover a variety of questions that may help you when preparing road trip food.

What should you avoid eating on a road trip?

If you have a lot of miles ahead of you, it’s great not to feel sluggish, tired, or lethargic. Avoid eating too many sugary foods to prevent the inevitable spike then slump! Try to stick to healthy alternatives like wholegrain sandwiches and healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, and seeds. Fast food will be tempting, but try to prepare food in advance to take with you.

What should I eat when driving long distances?

Good sources of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats will keep you feeling energized and alert whilst driving long distances. Examples can include whole grains, nuts, bananas. Try not to consume too much caffeine and instead focus on having a high water intake.

How can I eat cheap on a road trip?

To eat cheap on a road trip you should prepare as much food as possible prior to departure. Use a cooler to store the meals and stop off at a scenic location for a picnic. Avoid buying snacks and beverages from gas stations and rest stops. Use the internet to find cheap restaurants if you want to try the local cuisine

Healthy Road Trip Snacks

Healthy road trip snacks

A quick list of my favorite healthy road trip snacks:

  1. Peanut butter sandwiches
  2. Protein bars
  3. Carrots with hummus
  4. Nuts and seeds mix
  5. Dark chocolate

Road Trip Food Ideas For Kids

kids snacks for a road trip

Taking a road trip with the kids is so much fun, but, as I’m sure you’re already aware, it requires some serious thought! When it comes to food, being prepared with snacks for the kids is absolutely essential.  

You don’t want the back half of the car getting grumpy and irritable! Of course, on long road trips, a range of healthy (but equally tasty) and ‘treat’ snacks is also important. 

Here is my go-to list of road trip snacks to pack for the kids:

Healthy Snacks

  1. Chopped or ‘bitesize’ Fruits – apples, orange, strawberries, pineapple
  2. Chopped or ‘bitesize’ veggies – Carrot Sticks, Celery Sticks, Cherry Tomatoes
  3. String Cheese
  4. Popcorn (Sweet and Salty)
  5. Cereal (Dry cereal in a small tub makes a great snack in the car)
  6. Granola bars
  7. Trail mix
  8. Dried Fruit
  9. Drinkable Yoghurts
  10. Jerky

Treat Snacks

  1. Fruit gummies
  2. Crackers
  3. Pretzels
  4. Cookies
  5. Mini waffles
  6. Mini Pancakes
  7. Pepperoni sticks
  8. Muffins
  9. Cup-cakes

Parents Magazine offers some additional great travel snacks for kids.

Top Tip:

Each morning (or the night before) pack the snacks into separate containers. That way the kids know how many snacks they have for the day.

Tubs or lunch boxes with separate compartments are great for this, as you can store a range of snacks in one easy place – and it’s fun for the kids to have a variety in front of them!

While you’re at it, why not keep the kids entertained in the car with these amazingly fun road trip games for kids.

Eating Healthy on the Road

Healthy Road Trip Food

Everyone knows that a healthy diet is important these days, and a small amount of preparation really helps you to ensure the whole gang will eat healthily whilst traveling.

Believe me, I learned the hard way. I’ve taken plenty of road trips without really giving much thought to what foods I would take.

As someone who eats relatively healthily at home, I assumed this would be an easy thing to continue whilst on the road.


It’s far too easy to find yourself in the middle of nowhere on a road trip, with a single overpriced fast food restaurant as your only option.

Preparation is Key

But how do you eat healthily on the road I hear you ask?

Well, it’s actually much simpler than you would think.

Plan ahead.

  • Head to the grocery store before your trip with a grocery list
  • Pack enough food for your trip
  • Plan out your breakfast, lunch, and dinner whilst on the road

This will help you to maintain a healthy diet and to eat well-balanced meals whilst you are away.

Why Eating Healthy on your Trip Is Important

Not only is eating healthy on the road a great way to keep energy levels high (very important for long drives) but it prevents you from having to eat foods and snacks you wouldn’t generally eat at home.

This is especially relevant if your road trip is a long one. You don’t want to find yourself in a position where you have to constantly eat greasy, unhealthy (and overpriced) food

Below is a list of my go-to healthy foods to pack on a road trip:

Healthy Foods to Pack on a Road Trip

salad, fruit, vegetables
Packing up salads separately is a great way to preserve the ingredients
  • Water

It might sound obvious but drinking plenty of water is super important for staying healthy. Not only does it prevent dehydration, but it also helps fight fatigue.

This is super important when driving long distances.

Take reusable water containers and fill them whenever you get an opportunity. The recommended daily amount of water intake (according to the Institute of Medicine) is around 3.7 liters for a male and 2.7 liters for a female.

  • Fruits and Veggies

Pre-chop your fruit and veggies into bite-size chunks the night before you leave on your road trip. That way they will be accessible and easy to eat. Berries are great as they’re already bitesize!

  • Nuts

Nuts are high in protein and good fats and – as with the fruit and veggies – nice and easy to eat on the go. Avoid salted nuts if you really want to stay healthy!

  • Cooked meats/fish

Pre-cook lean meat and fish such as chicken and prawns to prepare healthy meals with.

  • Salads

Pre-pack salads in Tupperware boxes to put with your meats etc for full well-balanced meals. Take any dressings separately to better preserve the salads.

  • Jerky/Dried meats

Jerky is a great source of protein and easy to store as it doesn’t require refrigeration.

  • Hard-boiled eggs

Another great source of protein and easy to eat the next day.

  • Protein Bars/Granola Bars/Crackers

Take a range of healthier snacks that are easy to store in the car.

Top Tip:

Read this article for more advice and tips on how to eat healthy whilst traveling.

Road Trip Sandwiches

Delicious Brie, Roasted Pepper, Cranberry and Cress Sandwiches

Ok, so you know you want to stay healthy on your road trip. You’ve been to the grocery store and bought enough food to feed the family for a year, time to think about pre-preparing some meals.

The easy solution: sandwiches!

Often overlooked, sandwiches are the ideal meal stop. Whether you’re just pulled in at the side of the road, have found an awesome place for a picnic or have reached your night’s camping spot, they are great.

They are simple to make, easily portable, and you can make a variety to suit the tastes of each person on the trip.

Not to mention these homemade bad boys can be eaten cold – they are good to go when you are!

Sandwich Recipes

The Food Network recommends a couple of great sandwich recipes that are perfect for road trips.

Top Tip:

Avoid watery ingredients such as tomato! Of course, everyone knows how to make a sandwich – duh – but for road trips, it’s important to make sandwiches that are designed to last the whole day and travel well. No-one likes soggy sandwiches!

Homemade Road Trip Food Recipes

Looking for something to impress?

Homemade road trip snack ideas are the way to go. Nothing beats home-cooking. And there’s no reason you can’t take some of it on your road trip too.

Often tastier than the options on the road, often healthier, and often cheaper – what’s not to like?

I also like to make batches of healthy muffins to take with me. They’re quick and simple to make, easy to store, and a great snack on the road. Here are my 2 favorite recipes

Go ahead and make them then let us know in the comments what your favorite road trip meals are!

Mini Banana Bread Muffins



  • 5 bananas (overripe)
  • 2 cups oats
  • A handful of chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp desiccated coconut (optional)


  1. Blend the oats until fine
  2. Chop the bananas and add to oats, along with the baking powder and coconut
  3. Blend in a food processor until a thick sticky mixture
  4. Place a small amount in muffin-sized baking trays
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes
  6. Sprinkle with desiccated coconut to finish

Top tip:

Make them vegan by removing the chocolate chips or replacing them with dried fruit!

Healthy Quinoa and Veg muffins


  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • ½ cup cooked spinach
  • 1 red pepper finely chopped
  • ½ white onion finely chopped
  • ½ cup grated cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg whites


  1. Combine all ingredients and mix well
  2. Place a small amount in muffin-sized baking trays
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden

And voila, you have a batch of sweet and savory healthy muffins to snack on.

If you liked these and want more homemade road trip food ideas, The Food Network has some excellent simple recipes to follow.

Your Road Trip Food Ideas

Now, we’d like to hear from you.

Which list will you be using for your road trip?

Do you have any other road trip food ideas you would like to share with us?

If you have an awesome recipe, comment below and let us know!

Disclosure: Some or all of the links in this article may be affiliate links. This means I earn a commission if you make a qualifying purchase, but this is at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting The Road Trip Expert.

Disclaimer: You are using The Road Trip Expert website at your own risk. None of the authors, contributors, administrators, or anyone else connected with website in any way whatsoever can be responsible for your use of the information contained in or linked from these web pages.

Image of Iain The Founder Of The Road Trip Expert

Iain Salter

Founder & Editor of The Road Trip Expert

Iain founded The Road Trip Expert in 2019 and continues to manage the website to this day. The inspiration to start the blog came during an extensive road trip around Europe with two friends that spanned several months and involved over 25,000km of driving. He first developed a passion for backpacking in 2014 and has had the pleasure of exploring over 60 countries.


Lauren Greene Whyte

Thursday 5th of November 2020

Thanks for some of these great ideas other than the "survivor" sandwich of peanut butter & jelly. I am planning a trip across the U.S. and for the 1st part, I'm making some tabouli with pickled turnips, fresh babganoush and pita.