Planning a family road trip is a ton of fun, but coming up with easy road trip meal ideas for your family can be stressful. We’re usually taking a road trip because we’re trying to save money and avoid the cost of flying. And, we all know that eating meals out can be quite expensive.
I’ve compiled all my Road Trip Posts together into an Ultimate Road Trip Guide that you can read here.
That’s why when we took our family on a road trip from Oregon to Wisconsin and back last summer, we worked hard to limit how often we ate out. We were able to really reduce our expenses by planning ahead and being prepared.
For the most part, we tried to prepare our own meals with food we picked up at a grocery store along the way.
Knowing that dinner is the most expensive meal to eat out, we decided to eat that at a rest area, in our car, or in our motel room on most days.
Breakfast is easy to manage in a motel room, so we ate that in as well, and decided that if we were going to eat out it would be at lunch.
Most of the time we stuck with this plan, and well … because we were trying to have a great time, sometimes we deviated from the plan.
But, even with a few splurges along the way, we saved a lot of money, had plenty of time to play, and ate good food.
One of the things that really helped us to be successful was packing a great hotel cooking kit. It had just the things we needed to make simple meals at rest areas or in our motel room. Read my How to Pack a Hotel Cooking Box post for all the details.
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Things to Avoid
Raw Meat –
There are just all kinds of cross-contamination problems with putting this in the same cooler as the rest of your food. It also takes a lot more ice to keep it at the right temperature.
Milk is no fun to pack because it takes up a lot of space in your cooler – even when it’s mostly empty – and it can easily sour or make a mess.
While we did use bread at times, it gets squished easier than bagels and molds quickly with the warmth of sitting in a car.
Easy Road Trip Meals For Families
You’ll see that most of these meals are pretty simple. And, most of them don’t make a mess that requires a lot of washing up. Just gather the trash, throw it out, and put the rest of the food away.
A set like this from Amazon would be a great help for simple road trip meals.
Simple Breakfast in the Car or Motel:
We tried to stay at a motel that had breakfast included in the price of the room. This is really the best and simplest way to go. We could get our fill of coffee, cereal, fruit, yogurt, waffles, hard-boiled eggs, etc. and then head out for the day.
For the days we were on our own, we packed simple food that could be eaten quickly while we were packing up and trying to head out for the day. Here are the things we frequently ate:
- Cheerios with Yogurt Stirred In
- Hard-boiled Eggs – Make in your Instant Pot
- Microwaveable Sausage
- Yogurt and Fruit
Lunches On the Road
Usually eaten at a rest area, it was easy to pull out our Hotel Cooking Kit and we had everything we needed. Kids could pick and choose, then burn off some energy with a ball or frisbee.
- Bagels w/ Cream Cheese
- Bagel Sandwiches
- Cheese Sticks, Fruit, Lunchmeat
- Sandwiches, Chips, and Veggie Sticks
- Tortilla Chips and Bean Dip, and Salsa
- Veggies with Peanut Butter ToGo
- Cottage Cheese with Fruit Cups
- Jerky, Veggies, and Applesauce Cups
- Egg Salad with Triscuit Crackers and Cucumber Slices
Easy Road Trip Dinner Ideas
Usually, after a long day of traveling, we were happy to plop down in our motel room and make something simple for everyone to eat. Then, we’d hit the pool for some fun.
- Microwave Quesadillas
- Shredded Chicken or Bean Burritos
- Rotisserie Chicken and Potato Salad
- Chinese Chicken Salad
- Instant Pot Baked Potatoes with Chili
- Taco Salad
- Meat, Cheese, and Triscuit Crackers
- Chicken Salad Lettuce Boats
- Lunchmeat and Pickle Roll-Ups
As you can see, there are a lot of easy road trip meal ideas for families. You don’t have to eat fast food all along the way and you can save a bunch of money while you’re at it.
We loved having our Instant Pot on hand for easy 1-pot meals. The clean-up is really simple and it’s nice to have a homemade meal that is comfy and warm after a long day of traveling.
Healthy Snacks For Kids
Get over 120 Easy Healthy Snacks For Kids. Keep these snacks handy so you'll always have something healthy and quick to grab.