Planning a road trip? Looking for easy, make-ahead meal ideas, whether for a weekend break or a longer trip? Or maybe you want some easy recipes for meals on the road? Here are 25 great ideas for you!
Easy Make-Ahead Road Trip Meals
I'll be honest- planning meals for a road trip is one of the things I dislike most.
Don't get me wrong- I like cooking and I DEFINITELY like eating… but I am not good at creating a meal plan.
I also have a daughter who has gone from eating whatever we give her to being more and more particular about what she likes- and she'd rather not eat at all than eat something she doesn't love. At home, it's pretty easy to cook separate meals, but in the van, it becomes a whole different issue- and it makes the process of meal planning a lot harder.
Why plan meals on a road trip at all??
Oh, I hear you. In an ideal world, we'd just head off into the unknown and see what we find. One of the things we enjoy most about travelling is sampling local foods and dishes and enjoying discovering new things.
Both Mr WB and myself are fairly easy to please and can make do with all sorts, but anyone with kids knows that it's just not that easy. I also don't want to spend my time on the road worrying about whether she'll eat anything- so it makes MY life easier if I plan it out a little in advance.
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Road Trip Meal Planning
So, where do you even start with planning meals for a road trip??
For me, I break it down into 2/3 day intervals. Generally, we like to pop into a shop and buy fresh bread, fruit and other bits every 2/3 days. We don't do MASSIVE week long shops when we travel- our fridge is nowhere near big enough to deal with that and there's the worry about what happens if you lose power or gas? All that food will go to waste.
Of course, if you're only going to a weekend, you can easily make-ahead several dishes and just heat them up- much easier.
TOP TIP for picky eaters- Make them choose some meals
One way I tackle our favourite picky eater is to get her to pick 5-7 dinners she will eat. (Annoyingly, this seems to change every week or so!) I also make her come shopping with me- I find if she chooses it, there's a higher chance she'll eat it.
While we're on the subject of kids, here are some posts you might find useful:
Our Normal Road Trip Food shopping method
On a ‘normal' two-week road trip to mainland Europe, this is my tried and trusted routine:
- Buy stuff in UK which we struggle to get overseas (see below)
- Make-ahead meals for first night or two
- Buy things as you travel (at local markets, supermarkets or Lidl)
- Do this every couple of days so we can buy fresh bread, fruit and croissants! Yum!!
- Try to ignore jeans not doing up….!!
- Remember that people eat EVERYWHERE and try not to overbuy before you leave the UK.
This system has worked fairly well for us. It's allowed us to discover new things, let Jade choose what she fancies and my stress levels don't get too high trying to plan out a whole weeks worth of meals.
What about perishable foods?
We have a fridge which works both whilst we're driving (battery) and when we're parked up (gas). So we bring a small amount of perishable food with us- milk, cheese, ham, meat, yogurt, fruit, bacon.
We don't buy too much in case there is a problem and the fridge breaks- it's always been a little tempermental and is the part of the motorhome I trust the least!!
Easy Road Trip Recipes
When I'm on a road trip, especially if it's a holiday, I don't want to spend hours of my time in the galley, prepping, washing, chopping, cooking and washing up!
Here are a few easy recipes we use and love. Most only use one pot and many can be made in advance if you prefer.
5 easy road trip Breakfast ideas
- Greek Yogurt and fresh fruit
- Muesli/ cereal
- Scrambled eggs in a wrap or on toast (toast is HARD to cook on a gas hob though!)
- Bacon/ sausage sandwich (bring your own bacon from the UK. Alternatively, look in European supermarkets- but it won't look the same. It's usually much thinner and cooks MUCH faster.)
- One Pan English Breakfast
Note how those went from fairly healthy to full-on delicious! I'm making myself hungry!
10 easy Lunch ideas for a road trip
We tend to do lunch as we travel- or if we're exploring we'll treat ourselves to a cheeky lunch out. Just don't do that at Neuschwanstein Castle! (Jeez- you thought Norway was expensive!!!!)
- Fresh crusty bread and… anything. Cheese, ham, tuna, butter, garlic cheese, crisps, chicken, leftover beef, fish fingers…
- Salad. We try and add some fruit or salad in where possible- we'll pretend to be healthy every once in a while! If we're parked up I love to fry up some chicken and pop it onto a quick salad with avocado, tomatoes and peppers. Or try these delicious healthy salad recipes. TOP TIP- WASH your salad. Even the ones in bags. They don't always wash it in Europe. It also doesn't seem to last as long (that might be the heat) so don't over buy.
- Grilled Cheese (see below for recipe)
- Couscous (see below)
I have still not found a decent way to make toast in the van. It's an ongoing process that I will continue to work at! Still, Grilled Cheese sandwiches are a perfect snack:
Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipe
- Sliced Bread
- Cheese (Cheddar and Mozzarella work well)
Butter bread thinly and put butter side down into hot frying pan (not too hot and use butter, not oil.) Add slices of cheddar and mozzarella cheese. Add other slice of bread on top, butter side up. After a couple of minutes (when bottom slice is brown but not burnt), flip sandwich over. Grill for a couple of minutes. For an extra touch, transfer sandwich to oven tray and bake in oven at 170'c for 5-7 minutes until cheese is totally melted.
Burritos are basically large wraps, with beans and/ or rice added into the wrap. One of the easiest ones is the bean and cheese burrito, but you can easily add in meat, sauces and any leftovers you might have.
- 1 whole-grain tortilla wrap
- 1 medium-sized can of black beans (cook in advance if needed)
- Cheese- sliced or grated
Simply spread ingredients over wrap, fold in all ends tightly and enjoy!
5 Easy Road Trip Sandwich ideas
Sometimes, simple is best. Here are some easy road trip sandwich ideas:
- Sausage or Bacon Sandwich – great for breakfast or lunch!
- Ham/Chicken/ Salami Sandwich – with or without cheese
- Jam or Peanut Butter Sandwich
- Egg Mayo Sandwich
- Tuna sandwich
Couscous is magical. Lighter than rice and so versatile. I make a big helping of this and it lasts for lunch and dinner quite happily.
The trick is to double the amount of liquid to cous cous. One cup couscous= 2 cups stock. I love to use chicken or vegetable stock. Nothing fancy; those little cubes in some boiling water are just fine. Stir until the cube disolves, then pour it over the couscous. Leave to stand for 10 minutes. The beauty of this is you can add whatever you like to it. We like lemon, mint, feta, avocado, red peppers, spring onions, celery… the list is endless. I generally make a bowl of plain couscous and we each add different fillings to it.
10 easy or make-ahead road trip meals for dinner
Ahhhh… now this is the fun part. Everyone's been driving in the exact same motorhome for several hours… and as soon as you arrive somewhere and the van is parked up for the night, they all turn to you and ask ‘what's for dinner?'…!
All of these recipes take no more than 30 minutes or you can make many of them ahead for the first few days of the trip.
TOP TIP- Be kind to yourself. Many people dislike ‘pre-made' sauces, feeling that they're ‘cheating' if they don't cook everything from scratch. But it's your trip too, so don't be judgemental about sauces from a jar. Yes, there might be a bit more sugar or salt- but it's a heck of a lot better than a pizza or McDonalds. So be kind to yourself and make things easy.
Some easy or make-ahead meal ideas for dinners on the road:
- 3-way mince (Bolognaise, Chilli, Savoury)
- Spanish Omelette
- Lamb Kebab
- Easy make-ahead taco Bowl
- Chicken Quinoa
- Pea/ Pesto Pasta
- Cheats Pizza
3-way mince: Bolognese, Chilli or Savoury
Here's the recipe for 3 way mince bulk cooking. You can get savoury mince, bolognese and chilli from 1 pack of mince. It's the perfect ‘make-ahead' recipe and is very easy to heat up on the road.
1 pack of 500g mince makes 5 meals:
2 x savoury mince
2 x chilli
1 x bolognese
Start with chopped onion, pepper, garlic and grated carrot all in one large pan with a little oil (or butter) until softened.
Split the mix between 3 pans & add the mince. Cut it long ways in the packet before adding so it's easier to break up in the pan.
You can add any vegetables at this point. Previously I've used courgette, mushrooms and aubergine, all finely chopped. You can get 6/7/8 kinds of vegetables in there!
Brown the mince on a low to medium heat so it doesn't clump together, break it up with a spoon as it cooks.
Add the seasoning to the chilli pan (cumin, turmeric, chilli powder, garlic powder and paprika) and garlic powder to the savoury mince & bolognese pans.
Once browned, strain peas & sweetcorn (one small can of corn & 1 small can of peas and add to savoury mince pan.
Add one can of chopped tomatoes to the chilli pan & 1 to the bolognese, stir through. Drain and rinse the kidney beans and add to the chilli. I used half a can of beans, I'll save the rest for a salad.
Rinse the tomato cans out with a little water & add to the savoury mince pan. Stir in Bisto granules (or beef stock & maybe cornflour or thickener as needed). Add a little Worcestershire sauce & pepper to taste.
Taste & adjust seasonings if necessary.
Divide & eat, or store in the fridge until ready.
Many thanks to Phillippa from PhilyaBelly for the recipe – follow her on Instagram
- Spaghetti, rice or potatoes.
- Garlic or crusty bread
- Grated cheese
- Side salad if your family will eat it.
I LOVE this Spanish Omelette. It's so easy to make and only uses one pan.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 potatoes
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 4 eggs
Heat the oil in large frying pan. Peel potatoes and slice thinly. Put the slices in the pan with the onion & garlic. Cover the pan and cook until the potatoes are tender, turning them occasionally. Beat the eggs.
When the potato and onion mixture is cooked, add it to the eggs and mix together. Heat another spoon of oil in the pan, and turn the heat down as low as it will go. Pour the egg, onion & potato mixture into the pan.
The essence of this dish is slow cooking and it should take about 20 minutes. When there is no liquid left turn omelette over for 2 minutes. It's now ready to serve and eat! Delicious- perfect with salad or french loaf.
Take 500g (4 people) of lean lamb mince and add spices (salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, paprika… whatever you like!) Mould into balls or around a skewer and cook on BBQ or in oven until browned.
If using BBQ and wooden skewers, soak the skewers in water for about 30 minutes first.
Serve with Tzatziki- Greek yogurt, mint, lemon and cucumber
Easy make-ahead Taco bowl
- 1 can of beef
- ½ of a small jar of salsa
- Bag of tortilla chips
- 1 can of beans
- 1 avocado/ guacamole
- Sour Cream
Warm beef and cook beans as directed on label. Mix and add on top of chips (can be warmed in oven) Add Salsa, avocado/ guacamole, sour cream and grated cheese as desired (we pop the whole thing in the oven to melt the cheese.
- 4 chicken breasts
- 1/4 tsp. herb de Provence (or any herbs)
- 1 cup. quinoa
- 1/4 cup. white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup. olive oil
- 2 green onions
- 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 4 cup. rocket/ lettuce/ salad
- 2/3 cup. olives, quartered
- 12 oz. tomatoes, halved
- Season chicken breasts with herbs, salt and pepper. Grill 3 minutes per side on medium-high or until cooked through.
- Cook quinoa as label directs.
- Mix vinegar, olive oil, green onions, Dijon mustard and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Toss half of the vinaigrette with cooked quinoa, salad/ rocket, tomatoes and olives. Serve chicken over quinoa with remaining vinaigrette.
Pea / Pesto Pasta
- fresh or frozen peas
- lemon zest
- Chopped chives, for serving
- Cook pasta. Drain and return pasta to pot.
- While pasta is cooking, roughly chop 1 cup peas. Add ricotta and lemon zest and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add ricotta mixture, remaining 1/2 cup peas, and pasta water; toss to combine. Sprinkle with chopped chives, if desired.
Alternatively, cook pasta, add several large spoons of pesto and some grated cheese and mix well.
Salmon with rice and vegetables
We eat salmon a lot- it's very good for you.
Grill and serve with rice, couscous (see above) and vegetables.
Sure, you can make your own dough and add toppings- and if that works for you, then go for it. However, we cheat.
- Grab 2 pitta breads per person and pop them under the grill
- You want them warm, but not ‘crispy'
- Turn over, and spread with pesto (green or red)
- Add mozzarella cheese, ham, salami, mushrooms… whatever you like!
- Grill until bubbling
If you'd like more inspiration, here are a couple of our favourite camping cookbooks:
Healthy Road Trip Snacks
We've done an entire post on 15 quick & healthy road trip snacks (many of them Keto friendly) but here are a couple more ideas for you:
- 1 large can of tuna
- 1 avocado
- ½ cup of cranberries
- A packet of whole-grain crackers
First, take the tuna out from the can and empty it into a bowl. Next, mash a whole avocado and add it with the cranberries into the tuna. Use whole-grain crackers to dip into your tuna.
- 2 green apples
- Peanut butter
- Dark chocolate chips
- Almond slices
Cut an apple into slices that resemble a cookie, then layer the rest of the ingredients in between two slices to make the snack look like an apple sandwich. The snack will stay fresh in an ice cooler for two days.
Barabrith– great snack for afternoon tea!
Whilst we're on the subject, don't forget to bring:
- Washing up liquid
- Big scrubbing pad for BBQ if using
- cleaning supplies
- Pans/ pots
- Kitchen roll
- Bottle/ can opener
- Mugs and glasses
- Tea/ coffee/ sugar