There is nothing worse than settling into a road trip and realizing that you forgot to pack your lunch. You don’t want to settle for fast food, especially if this will be a long trip. With some preparation and creativity, you can make wholesome meals with minimal cooking equipment.
Eat While Driving
Your number one priority should be driving safely, so don’t try to cook while behind the wheel. If your road trip takes more than a day, you can make it easier on yourself by cooking as much as possible before leaving. Plan all of your meals as far ahead as possible and make enough for leftovers or an extra lunch if needed.
With modern conveniences like coolers with freezable gel packs and microwaves, most foods can be prepared without cooking. Foods like sandwiches, salads, and soups require little preparation and keep well relaxed and ice (be sure to wrap the food with plastic bags or containers). Many fruits can be sliced up and put into freezer-safe containers for later use in yogurt or cereal.
If you are heading out to hike or do some other activity, sandwich fixings can be easy to grab snacks.
Hot Meals On The Go
While fast food might seem the most straightforward option on a busy trip, it is probably not healthy. If you have access to a stove or grill (or even just a campfire), there are many simple options for on-the-go meals that don’t require any cooking equipment besides what you already have packed with your car. Sandwiches (and similar foods), of course, remain an easy go-to meal since they can be adapted for almost any situation; bringing along peanut butter and jelly lets you make several variations. If packing sandwiches isn’t an option, instant oatmeal, cereal, or soups are easy options.
For campers, breakfast can be as simple as mixed nuts, granola bars, and many other items packed with protein to give you energy for hiking. Eggs are a great option when cooking over an open fire because they take little equipment to prepare and can go far in filling hungry bellies. You can even pack eggs with bread to create “egg sandwiches” that are almost the same as your favorite fast food menu item but much healthier.
If you have access to a microwave at home before your trip, it might be worthwhile to buy several pre-made frozen meals that don’t require very much effort on your part. These brands, like Lean Cuisine, often offer low-calorie options that are perfect for a road trip.
When shopping for pre-made meals, be wary of sodium and avoid anything with preservatives or many chemicals. You should also check to ensure that the calorie content is comparable to what you usually eat in a day.
If you want a complete meal, it might be worth your while to prepare some parts of the meal yourself before leaving home. Instant brown rice and quinoa can serve as side items or fillers if mixed with some vegetables or other healthy ingredients from your refrigerator. Muffin mixes don’t require any preparation but turn out delicious cupcakes on the go when paired with canned fruit cocktail and dairy milk (use frosting from a grocery store bakery if you have access to one). Soup mixes are another great option since they take little preparation and make a lot of soup for you to eat throughout your next few days on the road. Take your baked potato soup crock pot with you, it’ll come in handy.
Packing Your Meals
Once you have the perfect road trip meals, be sure they stay fresh and clean. Use two or three-gallon freezer bags (depending on what you are packing) to separate different types of food in your cooler. Using multiple plates for each meal is also a good idea since dirty dishes can get mixed with clean ones if they are all piled up together.
When packing your food in the car, avoid blocking any vents or windows where hot air might escape from the vehicle. Try to pack things around the back seat, so they don’t get thrown around while you drive. And remember to bring snacks too! You can never have enough drinks and junk food on a long trip.
Finding The Right Balance
Ultimately, it’s up to you to choose what kind of meals will be best for your next road trip. It can be tempting to indulge in fast food every day while traveling, but this is probably not the healthiest option available. Pay attention to how much sodium you’re eating, and try to stick with fresh vegetables as often as possible. Find an ideal balance between making things yourself and buying pre-made items that save you time without sacrificing nutrition or taste. Experiment with different foods until you find something that works best for your appetite during long drives. If nothing else, remember that sandwiches can be a healthy and convenient way to eat when you’re in a hurry.