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Healthy and Memorable Meals On The Road

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Whether you want to save money, or you want to eat healthier and avoid fast food with a little planning, good food on the road is possible. 

There are tons of blogs for meal and snack ideas and recipes for the road- I won’t bore you with more of that! Google meals on the road for plenty of ideas and recipes.  Or check out Pinterest – my favorite place for finding new meal ideas for road and camping trips. 

Let’s talk about planning your meals so you are not making last minute decisions that cost extra money or leave you eating unhealthy food in desperation.  Of course, splurging a little or eating the dessert or greasy diner burger is a wonderful part of vacation – but it is even better when you have planned it and anticipation makes everything more exciting. 

Before you start planning your meals think about your trip itinerary. 

Are you going to be spending hours in the car focused on getting to your destination?  Plan for meals in the car.  Are you taking a leisurely road trip with lots of scenic stops?  Plan your meals at your stops.  Are you going to be in a car or RV?  If you are in an RV you have so many options; pull into a park, scenic area, rest stop or Walmart and you are home for lunch or dinner. 

Meals in the car.

If you are eating while driving – look for sandwich type meals, cheese and crackers, hummus and carrots or any variation on this type of food.  My mother and I love one of our local deli’s; we sometimes splurge and get those foot-long sandwiches for our road trip. Or consider mason jar or lunchable type meals- ideas for this type of meal prep have exploded with people trying to eat healthier and save time during the week. 

Meal stops

If you are stopping along the way for your meals; plan on stopping at an area where you can picnic or even BBQ.  There are many great options for meal preparation if you are getting off the road for meals.  One of my favorite camping/road trip meals is walking tacos – Dorito or Frito snack bags loaded with taco fixings. 

Whether you are eating in the car or stopping along the way, you will want to plan for storage of your food and making it easy and accessible when it is time to eat! 

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The Red Bag- Store everything you need for cooking and serving your meals in one place.

My family does a lot together, camping, outings to the park, road trips.  My mother, the bag lady, decided somewhere along the way that we needed a picnic bag! It has been the best thing ever.  She packed in it everything you could need for an outing to the park, a picnic or bbq, camping, and road trips.  If you are going on a road trip, the red bag will make serving meals simple and easy! PS – The red bag has changed colors along the way – but even when it was yellow, we called it the red bag. 

I have made a list for you for everything to pack in your red bag to make meals on the road super easy. 

Storing your food

Here’s a blog with great information about storing your food in coolers and a few yummy recipes!  I usually freeze gallons of water to keep food cold and so I have extra water as it thaws.  Freezing foods you won’t need right away helps keep other food cold and uses less ice. 

If you are going on a long trip you may want to consider dry ice to keep food frozen that you won’t need right away.  Check out this handy guide for using dry ice for food storage.  Do not keep items that should not be frozen in dry ice! 

Non-perishable items can be stored in reusable grocery bags or pretty much anywhere but remember to keep them accessible. 

Remember to consider which items you will want to get to first, so you are not digging down in the bottom of your cooler or searching 3 grocery bags for that one item you need right now or realizing the item you need in the car right now is in the trunk.  Consider packing each meal in its own container for your cold and dry food. 

Cooking your food on the road.

If you are eating in the car, you won’t be doing much cooking.  But if you are stopping along the way for your meals there are many options for cooking your meals. 

If you are going to BBQ, is there a grill at your planned stop or will you bring a portable grill.  I have a Coleman grill to go that is super easy to set up and has grill, cooktop and griddle accessories, but it does take up a lot of room.  It also uses propane, so you must bring that along too.  I bought all the bells and whistles; mine attaches to a full-size refillable propane tank, so I don’t have to throw away those single use propane canisters. 

Take some tips and hacks from backpackers; there are backpack stoves that cook a single pot meal in minutes.  I have a snow gig camp stove with an electric starter – it boils a small pot of water in under a minute.  I would not recommend it for a large family camping trip but for a quick hot meal on the road it can be useful.  Bring along a pot or skillet large enough for your one pot meal and remember the fuel.    My favorite simple backpack meal – rice side dish packets with a few additions – red beans and rice, black beans and rice – in a tortilla with cheese.  

Consider clean up as well for those portable items and dishes you will use.  Do you have a portable sink – we use buckets for our dishes.  Will there be access to water?  Consider, what the girl scouts call a beaver bag, for each of your travelers – a plate or cup and utensils for serving meals in an easy storage bag. 

And finally, if you are planning to eat out on the road make your meal your destination!

Even if you plan to eat at restaurants if you don’t plan ahead you could end up at a fast food joint eating crappy food or you could decide it is time to eat and find nothing for miles.  When planning your itinerary plan your meals at places you want to stop – cool small town restaurants, that fun roadside diner, those road side attractions with the fun stores serving up fudge or taffy, the big city restaurant you have been hearing about.  How far will you drive before lunch?  Where will you be at that time – search for restaurants and attractions in that area.  I remember when I was a kid and my dad lived in Oklahoma, we always stopped at the same restaurant in Springfield, MO where they baked their bread in flowerpots.  Make memories on the road!

Sparkle Adventures offers custom travel adventure planning services for your next adventure.  We do the planning; you have the fun!  Check out  our adventure planning services and pricing at  and get your next adventure started today. 

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