Are you planning a road trip and looking for some delicious and easy road trip dinner ideas to make ahead of time?

Whether you’re hitting the open road for a few days or even longer, packing the right meals can make your journey much easier and less expensive. This is especially true when you have kids!

easy road trip dinner ideas #roadtrips

To help you out, I’ve put together a list of 20 Road Trip Dinner Ideas that are easy to make ahead of time so that you can keep your travels on track and your stomachs full!

Read on to discover some scrumptious and hassle-free meal options for your next road trip.

Things to Consider When Thinking of Road Trip Dinner Ideas

Road Trip Dinner Ideas

Packing food for road trips is an easy way to cut any extra cost. A rest stop, gas station, or full meal stops can rack up quickly. This is especially helpful when you’re traveling with a car full of people.

Diners will cost you the most time and money. Let’s not go that route! That’s our focus here for your next family road trip.

Bringing your own food isn’t as simple as throwing your food in the car. You need to consider some things first before you even decide what type of food you’ll take.

How many dinners you’ll need? 

Ask yourself many days/nights you will be traveling and if you want to pack all of your dinners or stop at some restaurants. If you want to enjoy some local foods as you travel through different towns, leave some wiggle room for those stops. 

What types of foods will be easiest to transport and eat in the car?

When it comes to packing food for road trips, lunch and dinner options really end up being interchangeable.

The types of make-ahead meals you’ll want to pack will be easy to eat in the car, probably kept in a cooler, and you may or may not be able to heat it up. Think sandwiches, wraps, salads, etc.

Will you be able to keep food cold?

If you don’t have space for a cooler, you’ll have much fewer options.

There are very few things that you can take without a car cooler. Especially homemade foods that will be substantial enough for dinner, but won’t need to be kept cold. Therefore, be sure to plan for space for a cooler if possible.

Can food be heated?

It’s fine to eat a few cold food meals, but it’s nice to have a hot meal for dinner as often as possible when you’re on a fun road trip.

Consider whether you’ll be stopping to spend the night anywhere, will there be a microwave to heat up your food?

Keep in mind that truck stops are great places to stop on a road trip. They often have microwaves where you can heat your food for free if you’re comfortable doing that.

How will leftovers be handled?

Consider what you’ll do with leftover food so nothing is wasted. Be sure to bring extra zip lock bags or containers for store leftovers if needed.

Don’t forget drinks and sides

Make sure you leave room for drinks and any snacks or sides that need to be stored in the cooler. 

Will you need utensils?

Consider purchasing travel utensils, which are really handy to take on a trip or even just a picnic. They can be cleaned easily and stored for their next use.

Best Road Trip Dinner Ideas

The best road trip foods offer easy access and are a combination of simple but satisfying! You can make delicious meals for the road, even though they may look different than your typical at-home dinners. 

1. Jar Salads

Mason jar salads are a great way to pack foods that are nutritious and convenient! They are the perfect road trip dinner idea for those looking to eat healthy while they’re traveling.

A salad in a jar is so practical, and you can throw them in a cooler for your road trip, either already mixed with a dressing or with the dressing packed separately. 

The layers in a Mason jar salad make them ideal for a quick and easy meal. The salad greens and vegetables stay crisp while the dressing stays at the bottom until you are ready to eat.

To make a Mason jar salad, start with the dressing on the bottom of the jar, then add your favorite veggies, proteins, and grains. Finally, top it off with some salad greens.

There are endless combinations when it comes to making Mason jar salads. A few popular choices are the classic Caesar salad, a Mediterranean salad with falafel and feta cheese, or a southwestern salad with black beans, avocado, and salsa.

2. Ham and Cheese Sliders

Mini sandwiches are perfect for on-the-go eating. They can be packed up in a cooler to keep them fresh while you travel.

Ham and cheese sliders are a great option for a road trip, because they’re easy to pack up and take with you.

Simply wrap them in foil and store them in a cooler to keep them fresh. You can also add some veggies or chips on the side for a more complete meal. Plus, they’re kid-friendly and can be customized to suit your tastes.

Whether you’re hitting the road for a family vacation or a solo adventure, ham and cheese sliders are a convenient and delicious dinner option that you won’t regret packing.

To make ham and cheese sliders, start with a package of slider buns. Split the buns in half and add a slice of ham and a slice of cheese to each one. You can also add some mustard, mayo, or other condiments to the buns if you like. Or pack these in the cooler to put on later if you’ll be stopping to eat. Place the top of the bun back on each slider and brush them with melted butter. Sprinkle with garlic powder and any other seasonings you prefer. Cover with foil and bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and the buns are lightly toasted. These will be great enjoyed cold or reheated if you have that option!

3. Turkey and Cheese Pinwheels

These are super easy to make ahead of time and will be a hit with everyone in the car. They’re compact, and when you’re packing food for a road trip, space is at a premium. You don’t want to bring anything too bulky or heavy.

Turkey and cheese pinwheels are perfect because they’re small and easy to pack. Thankfully, you can make a lot of them without taking up too much space.

This is also a road trip dinner idea you can easily customize. You can make turkey and cheese pinwheels with any kind of tortilla, turkey, and cheese that you like.

Add veggies or condiments to give them more flavor. Everyone in the car can make them the way they want to.

Turkey and cheese pinwheels are a great choice because they’re packed with protein. They’ll keep you satisfied until your next pit stop.

To make turkey and cheese pinwheels, start by laying out a tortilla and spreading some cream cheese or mayo on it. Add a layer of sliced turkey and a layer of cheese. Roll the tortilla up tightly and slice it into pinwheels.

Pack them in a container and store them in a cooler until you’re ready to eat. They’re the perfect on-the-go dinner!

4. BLT Wraps

A classic sandwich gets a road trip makeover in the form of a BLT wrap. This meal is a delicious combination of bacon, lettuce, and tomato wrapped up in a flour tortilla. But why is it perfect for a road trip?

BLT wraps are incredibly easy to make ahead of time. Simply cook your bacon, chop your lettuce and tomato, and assemble the wraps. Store them in an airtight container in your cooler, and they will be ready to eat whenever you are. No need to fuss with heating anything up or dealing with a mess.

BLT wraps are also a versatile meal that can be customized to your liking. Want to add some avocado or cheese to your wrap? Go ahead! The beauty of this dish is that you can easily modify it to your personal taste preferences.

After sitting in a car for hours on end, your body craves some nutrient-dense food. This wrap satisfies that need while also being incredibly tasty. These wraps are a delicious and practical dinner option for your next road trip.

5. Chicken Caesar Salad Wraps

If you’re a fan of classic Caesar salad, then this Chicken Caesar Salad Wrap is the perfect road trip dinner idea for you!

This wrap is loaded with delicious, healthy ingredients that are easy to make ahead of time. The best part is that it’s not too heavy and won’t leave you feeling weighed down on the road. Plus, it’s another cold food option that is delicious!

To make the Chicken Caesar Salad Wrap, simply grill or sauté chicken breasts and chop them into small pieces. Then, mix together romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese, and Caesar dressing. Spread this mixture onto a whole wheat tortilla and top with the chicken pieces. Roll it up tightly and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to hit the road.

You can add more toppings like croutons, bacon bits, or even a squeeze of lemon juice for some extra flavor. These are also incredibly portable, so they make a great meal option when you’re on the go. Plus, they’re a much healthier alternative to greasy fast food that you may be tempted to grab while driving.

Next time you’re planning a long road trip, make sure to add these wraps to your meal prep list. You won’t be disappointed!

6. Veggie Wraps

Veggie wraps are a delicious and nutritious option for dinner on a road trip. Not only are they easy to make ahead of time, but they are also easy to eat on the go.

Since vacations are notorious for junk food, it will feel good to offset some of that with the food you pack for the road.

One of the best things about veggie wraps is their versatility. You can use any combination of vegetables that you like, making it a great way to use up any leftovers you have in your fridge. Some great veggie options are sliced cucumber, bell pepper, shredded carrots, and avocado.

To make your veggie wrap a little more filling, add some hummus, cream cheese, or even some leftover grilled chicken. Roll it up in a wrap or a tortilla, and you’re ready to hit the road.

Veggie wraps are a great dinner option for road trips because they are light and healthy. Plus, making veggie wraps ahead of time is easy.

7. Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is an excellent option for a road trip dinner, because it’s easy to make ahead of time and can be enjoyed cold or at room temperature. You can customize it to fit your taste preferences or the dietary restrictions of anyone else traveling with you.

Pasta salad typically consists of cooked pasta mixed with various veggies, cheeses, and a dressing of your choice. Some popular add-ins are cherry tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, peppers, and feta cheese. You can also switch up the pasta type, using anything from traditional macaroni to bowties or penne.

One of the great things about pasta salad is that it’s easy to transport. You can make a large batch and store it in a cooler or portion it out into individual containers for each passenger. Or you can store it in individual serving sizes. Plus, if you’re looking to make your meal more substantial, you can add some protein, like grilled chicken or shrimp, to the mix.

8. Tuna/Egg/Chicken Salad Sandwiches or Wraps

These are all easy to make ahead of time and pack individually! What’s better than a classic chicken salad sandwich or a tuna salad wrap? These meals are filling, packed with protein, and can be enjoyed at any time of the day.

Plus, you can easily swap out the traditional bread for lettuce cups or wraps if you are looking for a lighter option. The best part is that you can make these salads ahead of time and store them in a cooler or fridge until you are ready to hit the road.

Simply chop up some veggies, add your preferred protein, mix in some mayo or Greek yogurt for added creaminess, and season with your favorite spices. You’ve got a tasty and satisfying meal ready to be enjoyed on the road.

In addition to being a great dinner option, these salads also make for a filling and healthy lunch or snack on your road trip. 

9. Cold Cut Sandwiches

Cold cut sandwiches are the perfect option for packing meals to take on the go. Not only are they delicious, but they’re also incredibly easy to make ahead of time and pack for the road.

Whether you prefer turkey, ham, or roast beef, there’s a deli meat sandwich out there for everyone. Plus, you can add all sorts of toppings and condiments to customize your sandwich just the way you like it.

When making cold cut sandwiches for a road trip, be sure to use sturdy bread that won’t get squished or go stale too quickly. A ciabatta roll or hearty wheat bread is a great option. Layer the deli meats and cheeses, and add your favorite toppings like lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, or peppers. If you want to keep your sandwich from getting soggy, pack any wet ingredients separately and assemble the sandwich just before you’re ready to eat.

Another benefit of cold cut sandwiches is that they don’t need to be reheated. Plus, they’re a relatively healthy option compared to fast food or gas station snacks.

With a variety of cold cuts to choose from, you can mix and match your sandwiches throughout the trip to keep things interesting.

10. Burritos

If you’re looking for a hearty and filling dinner option that’s also easy to pack and take on the road, burritos are an excellent choice. Not only can they be made ahead of time, but they also require minimal prep work and are easy to eat on the go. Plus, there are countless variations of burritos, and they can be enjoyed cold!

To make burritos for your road trip, start by assembling your filling. Options are shredded chicken or beef, beans, rice, cheese, lettuce, salsa, and sour cream. You can also add in any other ingredients you enjoy, like avocado or jalapeños. Next, lay out a large tortilla and add your filling down the center. Be careful not to overfill, as this can make it difficult to wrap the burrito. Once your filling is in place, fold the sides of the tortilla inwards, then roll up tightly.

To keep your burritos fresh for your trip, wrap them in foil or plastic wrap and store them in a cooler with ice packs. When you’re ready to eat, simply unwrap and enjoy!

10 Road Trip Dinner Side Ideas

Don’t forget to pack some dinner side/snacks to complete your meals. If you’re taking a long trip with little kids, you’ll want to make sure they get full at meals and also have snacks to entertain them! Here are a few ideas to get you started that range from healthy snacks to travel treats!

  • Trail Mix – the best way to get in protein with a sweet and salty flavoring
  • Hard-boiled Eggs
  • Fresh Vegetables – slice before you leave and store in a reusable bag
  • String Cheese
  • Banana Bread
  • Potato Chips
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Peanut butter crackers
  • Avocados – just peel and eat with a spoon to get your healthy fats in
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Granola Bars

We hope you’ve enjoyed this list of easy road trip dinner ideas. Have fun on your adventure!

Before you go, here are more posts you’ll enjoy:

What to Pack in Car Emergency Kit

16 Family Campgrounds in NC Mountains

The Best North Carolina National Parks

8 Amazing Health Benefits of Walking Barefoot

The Best North Carolina Caves

Road Trip Dinner Ideas

Road Trip Dinner Ideas