A few years ago, a friend and I packed two coolers and our camping gear into the car and headed across the country on a few roads less traveled with intentions to stay on budget and eat (mostly) healthy. We were not going to fall prey to gas station snacks - with a few exceptions like sunflower seeds - but did decide we’d allow for a good slice of pie at a small town café or some splurge-worthy roadside food here and there…like barbeque.
Because we travelled mostly secondary roads where fresh options can be few and far between, we stocked our coolers with delicious options so we'd eat well from New England up to Ontario, and then down through the Midwest, over the Rocky Mountains and out to San Francisco.
Here are the 10 Essentials for Eating Well on the Road
- Small containers of a favorite yogurt. Perfect for a quick breakfast with some berries and whole grain and pumpkin seed granola for crunch.
- No-fuss fruit. Things like organic grapes, berries, cherries and stone fruit like nectarines, peaches or plums are easy to eat with one hand on the wheel.
- Pre-cut veggies and dips. This eggplant “bacon” makes for a great dipper. And this sunny hummus with toasted sunflower seeds is just delicious.
- A few servings of pre-cooked grains. This minty cucumber-quinoa salad holds up well in a cooler.
- A selection of cheeses plus crackers or some crusty bread. These cheeses pair well with just about any of our summer wines if you have an overnight stop and you’re just not that into putting much effort into making dinner but want something nice!
- A few bags of crunchy snacks like popcorn, tortilla chips and pretzels. Throw in a few jars of salsa and some hot mustard (for dipping the pretzels) and you’ll have a few really good snack options at the ready.
- Miniature cookies. These mini sesame chocolate chip cookies pack nicely and are perfect for when you just need a little something sweet.
- Ice cold drinks…plus a few for back up. Keep a few bottles of Yerba Mate, lemonade or ice tea on hand for when the afternoon drowsies hit. Extra bottles are easy to stash and then add to the cooler when the cold ones are gone!
- Jerky! Turkey, tofu, salmon, beef, bison – there are so many types to choose from. It’s the perfect road trip snack when you need a protein fix.
- Handwipes. They’re obviously not road food but they’re essential for cleaning up your hands (and other stuff) after a meal in the car or dining al fresco. EO Lavender Hand Wipes keep everything sanitized plus you’ll get a little aromatherapy to boot.