Healthy Meal Ideas for Road Trips with Kids

Healthy Meal Ideas for Road Trips with Kids

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Are you planning a road trip with your kids this summer?  If so, you are probably wondering how you are going to provide healthy meals on your road trip and how to find snacks and meals your kids will enjoy!

This is part one of a three-part series of posts with tips for making road trips opportunities for creating memories – unplugged.

Road Trip Food Ideas

When our girls were younger, we lived in the Midwest for 9 years while the rest of our family lived in Oregon.  This meant that every time we visited family, it was a twenty-seven hour drive each way.  That’s a lot of family bonding time! 

My husband and I took turns driving but we only drove during the day.  We weren’t into driving all night long, so this trip took two and a half days from our house to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

As a health-conscious mom, it can be difficult (and expensive) to find healthy food on road trips!  Meals that fill your family up and aren’t super expensive.  You can only eat so many Taco Bell bean burritos, Subway sandwiches, Burger King veggie burgers, and Wendy’s baked potatoes before you are tired of the smell of fast food.  And it never seems like fast food actually fills anyone up!

Healthy Road Trip Meals

It takes a little meal planning and preparation to have healthy road trip meals, but in the end, you will feel better, save your money to use on things you want to see and do instead of fast food, and occupy some time along the way as well.

Meal prep on the road probably looks crazy to someone walking past your car at the rest area.  After all, who makes a salad in a bag and eats in their car?  Someone who cares about their family more than what the stranger walking by thinks.   So here are 11 easy and healthy meal ideas that you can take on your next road trip.

11 Healthy Meal Ideas for Road Trips

Food can be a huge distraction while driving.  It can also get messy, but if you plan ahead, you can bring along some healthy choices that will save a lot of money along the way and also provide better nutrition.  If you are leaving on your trip in the morning, why not pack breakfast along in the car?  This will help you get a few miles down the road and provide some distraction right from the beginning.

Healthy Breakfast Meal Ideas for a Road Trip

Breakfast Burritos – A couple of days before the trip, fry potatoes, scrambled eggs/tofu, and then make up a bunch of breakfast burritos with potatoes, eggs/tofu, cheese, sour cream, and salsa.  Wrap them in foil and freeze or keep in the fridge.  The morning you are leaving, put them in the oven while you are getting ready to leave and you will have a yummy hot breakfast ready to eat on the way.

English Muffin Sandwiches – English muffin sandwiches are also very easy to make ahead.  Assemble your sandwich with a fried egg, slice of cheese, and veggie bacon strips inside an English muffin.  Wrap each sandwich individually and freeze until ready to use.  Then just heat up in the oven or microwave and you have another hot breakfast that is portable and made to order for each person’s preferences.

Instant Oatmeal – Most hotels have hot water available, so another easy addition to breakfasts on the road is instant oatmeal or grits and hot chocolate packets and fruit cups.  If you get to a hotel and find that their continental breakfast is just coffee and donuts but the donuts are all gone, you have some options.

Muffins are also an easy take along to add to breakfast or a snack along the way.  Our favorite muffins to take along in the car are Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins.  They are healthy, sweet, moist, and not very crumbly.

Healthy Lunch/Supper Meal Ideas for a Road Trip

Eating along the way on a road trip can take up valuable time and resources.  It’s good to get out and stretch, but it’s also great to have the option of eating along the way to help pass the time for the kids.  The following healthy road trip meals and snacks are easy to prepare along the way.

Baked potatoes are another really easy thing to take along on a road trip.  If you bake them in the morning with your burritos, they will keep nice a warm for several hours wrapped in a towel in a small ice chest. 

If you enjoy chili on your baked potato, add a can of your favorite chili to your baked potato ice chest and it will be warm when you are ready to eat.  You can then add your own toppings to your cold ice chest and you won’t have to stop at Wendy’s for a baked potato for lunch.

Salad in a bag is a super easy thing to make ahead as well.  Chop up your lettuce and whatever other veggies each person likes in their salad.  Put each ingredient in a sandwich bag and seal it up.  Add a bottle of your favorite salad dressing to your ice chest or prepare individual servings of salad dressing for each person.

When it’s time to eat, combine the ingredients and add the dressing and enjoy.  This can be modified for any type of salad such as potato salad, pasta salad, etc.  You can also pack your salad in disposable containers such as empty cottage cheese cartons that you don’t need to keep.

Veggies and dip are also a great snack or addition to your lunch.  Snack sized bags of baby carrots, celery sticks, olives, grape tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and pea pods are easy for kids to manage in the back seat.  You can prepare small containers of ranch dressing or hummus for dipping to add to the fun of eating veggies.

Haystacks are one of our favorite easy meals to take along in the car.  Haystacks are simply a big taco salad that is layered rather than mixed.  Build your haystack with tortilla or corn chips on the bottom of your stack, then add chili beans, shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, avocado, sliced olives, salsa, chopped onions, corn, and top with ketchup, ranch, salsa or all three.  You can add or delete any of these items in your own haystack.  The meal is filling, simple, and easy to prepare and take along in the car.

Veggie wraps are another healthy and simple meal option for a road trip.  Start with tomato or spinach tortilla wraps and spread one half of each shell with cream cheese.  Then add veggie bacon strips or veggie turkey slices, lettuce, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, peppers, and whatever other veggies you enjoy in a sandwich.  Add a few slices of avocado and roll up your wrap.

Italian pocket bread salad.  This recipe is a bit drippy so you may want to eat this one outside of the car, but it is super simple to take along and prepare.  It is delicious to eat.  You will need one package of pocket bread.  Flatbread works ok if you use it as a taco shape around your salad, but anyway you eat it, it will probably be a bit drippy.

Chop up one cucumber, one Roma tomato, a can of olives, and a can of cannellini beans (white kidney beans) and put all of this into a gallon Ziplock bag.  Add some Italian dressing (this is what makes it drippy) to taste and toss in a half cup of feta cheese.  Shake the salad up in the bag.  Cut your pocket bread rounds in half and spoon the salad mix into the pockets.  Be sure to bring along some napkins!

Sandwiches are always a healthy meal on a road trip as well.  Carrot buns are a super delicious way to add some veggies to your meal while making your sandwiches yummy.  Possible sandwich fillings for the road include Morning Star Grillers with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and cheese, or open-faced buns with peanut butter and jelly.

The carrot buns have a slightly sweet flavor from the carrots and they are delicious with peanut butter!  You can also make a sandwich spread and add that to your sandwich.  Check out the recipe for Carrot Buns here.  These buns freeze really well so you can prepare them ahead of time.

Plastic bin filled with paper plates, napkins and other picnic items.

Be sure to pack paper plates, plastic silverware, napkins, a sharp knife, peeler, can opener, and some trash bags.

Do you have a favorite healthy meal idea for road trips that your family loves?  I’d love to hear your ideas!  Please drop a comment below and tell me your favorite food for the car.  Save this list for later by pinning it or sharing it on Facebook.

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30 thoughts on “Healthy Meal Ideas for Road Trips with Kids”

  1. I have five kids and meal planning when we go on trips is a MUST! I don’t know how people with kids do it without some kind of prep and planning. All of these are great ideas!

    1. My kids are still too young for most of this, they would make such a mess eating most of these in the car! lol

      It will be great for picnics next summer though!

  2. These are so insightful! I love the making ahead and bringing with you. You’ll save so much money and feel way better. Thanks for sharing!

  3. These are great meal suggestions! Eating at fast-food restaurants is fun occasionally, but I don’t know anyone who wants to eat at them for several meals in a row.

    When our kids were small, I loved long road trips because it was such a great way to spend time together.

  4. I try to do some meal planning for road trips as well! We at least have breakfasts, lunch and snacks available in the car between our picnic basket and cooler. I like your salad in a bag idea – will have to add that in next time we travel!

  5. These are all great ideas! It can be really hard to stay healthy when you’re traveling. I love packing sandwiches and grab-and-go snacks like muffins and veggies when we’re traveling in the car.

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