5 Easy Tips for Eating Real Food on Road Trips


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One of the things I love most about homeschooling my children is the opportunity to travel. We take our homeschooling adventures on the road a couple times a year with long road trips. We’ve driven to Florida beaches, Boston, and New York over the years, and have plans to head to Philadelphia and Montana (separate trips!) one of these days. Road trips are awesome! They’re a great way to learn about our country, and a frugal way to see friends and have a lot of fun. But, they can also be challenging for people who like to eat healthy, real food.

We’re very lucky to have wonderful friends all across the country – crazy friends who welcome me and and my four children and let us join their lives for a week or two (or three…) at time. Since it’s crazy expensive to fly with my four kids, we just load up the car and drive. After taking road trips for a number of years, I’ve found lots of ways to continue to eat a healthy diet, even from the car. Luckily, it’s not impossible to stick to real food even when you’re on the road with these 5 easy tips for eating real food on road trips.

5 Easy Tips for Eating Real Food on Road Trips

1. Preparing

Preparing ahead of time is essential if you want to eat real food on a road trips. Being organized and having food prepared ahead of time will make all the difference in the world! I know this because I’ve traveled both ways – organized AND winging it – and from my experience, being prepared is the only way to insure success.

  • Buy non-perishable real food products ahead of time – coffee, mints, chocolate etc. All can be on hand and ready to pack weeks before you leave.
  • Use freezer cooking recipes to make yummy road trip food weeks in advance.

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  • Buy, and use, perishable convenience items instead of making your own everything. I often get hung up on the desire to do it all myself – but really. The important thing for me is to have easy choices, or road trip food won’t happen. Instead of washing lettuce for instance, I buy ready-to-go organic greens from Earthbound Farms at JewelOsco. I love all of their triple-cleaned greens, especially the ZEN blend of tender Asian greens, spinach, and kale.
  • Make snacks & meal components that take under 5 minutes to prepare. Yes, it’s possible! Keep reading for some great ideas!
  • Don’t forget plates, napkins, silverware, wipes! Trash bags are also very handy for a number of reasons.

By the way, check out the Best Road Trip Ever Sweepstakes from Albertson banner stores (JewelOsco, Safeway, Vonns etc)! Share your best road trip ever and you could win a lot of prizes, including a new car! 

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2. Breakfast

We usually start our trips early in the morning, even before we eat breakfast. I’ve tried many recipes for muffins which travel well and incorporate power greens and other delicious ingredients. My easy eggy breakfast muffins (they’re sort of like quiche muffins, but very easy!) freeze well and reheat easily in the microwave. It’s not hard at all to make a batch a few weeks before our trip for the freezer, heat them minutes before we drive away, and then eat them in the car on the way to our destination. Also, put the extras in the cooler for the drive so you can avoid the hotel breakfast if you have to stay in a hotel. More often than not, the cheap hotel rooms we stay in en route don’t have microwaves, but there’s generally one in the breakfast room we can use to reheat these muffins in a pinch!

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3. Snacks / Lunch

I’ve found that if I pack enough healthy snacks, we just snack most of the day and skip lunch. I make a seriously easy two minute trail mix– just open bags of raw nuts (we like almonds, pecans, cashews, and walnuts), dump in a bag and add a bit of delicious Dove chocolate covered fruit (we love their chocolate covered blueberries and cherries!) for a nice treat!

5 Easy Tips for Eating Real Food on Road Trips - two minute trail mix - from SimplifyLiveLove.com #RoadTripHacks #CollectiveBias #JewelOsco

My personal favorite is when it gets so hot that the chocolate melts. Then I stick the bag in the fridge and the chocolate hardens on the nuts! YUMMM-O! To keep my kids from making a huge mess with this trail mix, and to keep the arguments over the chocolate to a minimum, I just make  individual snack bags for each of them. Other real food snacks that we pack include beef jerkey, hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit, cheese sticks, and frozen tubes of organic yogurt.

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4. Dinner

Dinner’s the hard meal – if we’ve made all day long in the car on real food, sometimes I find it easy to give up and order a pizza or something unhealthy from the hotel room (it generally takes me two days to drive to our road trip destinations). If I pack a really easy wrap sandwich and a few other ingredients, I can save some money and eat better!! Coupled with a bag of organic chips, and salad, it is possible to eat a quick and healthy meal at the hotel.

5 Easy Tips for Eating Real Food on Road Trips - easy wrap sandwiches - from SimplifyLiveLove.com #RoadTripHacks #CollectiveBias #JewelOsco

Our favorite wraps are super simple – add organic greens, diced cucumber & tomatoes, feta cheese, organic ranch dressing, and some meat (lunch meat if you eat that, or cooked diced chicken). It really takes me only a few minutes to throw these wraps together and they are really good! You can tailor these easy wraps to your own tastes. I just recommend adding greens, veggies, protein, and some type of dressing. I also recommend that you eat them the day you prepare them, as the tortillas get a little mushy if they’re not eaten soon enough. And then, whatever greens are left over after preparing the wraps, make a quick salad for eating with the wraps! That way, none of your healthy food is wasted.

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5. Don’t Forget Drinks!

We mostly drink water on road trips, and always travel with eco-friendly water bottles. I also have to have my coffee. Because, hello! Caffeine!  Because hotel coffee is most often terrible, I like to take along my own. A little drink container with organic half and half also comes in handy, because I like dark coffee with plenty of quality cream, which is also hard to find on road trips.  I’ve found it works really well to pack my Bodum and use the hotel coffee pot for heating water. That way I don’t have to deal with filters. And I’m totally going to admit that I throw in single serve bottles of wine for my own sanity (for drinking after arriving at the hotel, of course!)

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These ideas help us eat real food on road trips, but I’d love to hear your ideas as well!!

What awesome travel tips do you have to share? Be sure to share your Best Road Trip ever for a chance to win big! I’d love to hear about your dream travels!

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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  1. These are all great ideas. We often will bake a few things a week before a trip and take that along. We will also make sandwiches on the road and make each of the kids a snacking box. That way, everyone has the same thing and it reduces arguments.

  2. Good ideas! Would you tell me more about the Bodum item and how it works? I might have found some xmas ideas and I thank you!

    1. Hi Dee, the bodum is a coffee press. In a nut shell, you put ground coffee in the bottom, then add water to a line on the vessel, wait 5 minutes or so, and then slot push the press down, which takes the code grounds to the bottom. A lot of people use these in Europe and you can get an inexpensive press on Amazon, at IKEA, or Bed Bath and Beyond even. They work really well and are great for traveling. We have a glass version and also a more expensive stainless steel pot as well. I highly recommend them! 🙂

  3. Pre-planning and bringing our own food on the road is the only way we can afford to travel. Our homemade gorp melted on this last trip and I am in love with it after being set in the freezer. Better than a candy bar!

  4. I love this post. It’s something I always struggle with, getting healthy food when we are traveling, it’s made me realise it’s doable

  5. These are all great tips and some our family uses. I will be making sure to pack my husband’s aero-press for our next trip. Great way to save on coffee runs. #client.

  6. Those trail mixes sounds really good. Anything with Dove chocolates in is sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing this idea.

  7. Hey, great share…….

    I got to read this article just at the right time as me and my friends are planning for a road trip next week. You have shared really amazing tips. I am going to keep all the things in my mind and will also share this post with all my friends.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful post. Keep sharing more….