One of the best parts about a road trip are the funky diners and local cafes you run across (along with the characters that run them). They can give you a great sense of the local flavor and an excuse to pull over, they can also be greasy and often offer up guilty pleasures (like a stack of pancakes for every meal). Jump below for some delicious alternatives:
• Farmers' Markets: these days you can find a farmers market in almost every city and a lot of time (especially in the summer) you can find roadside stands with local fruits and vegetables. Stock up on fresh fare and snacks to keep you full.
• Get A Cooler: there are lots of stylish alternatives to the giant cooler your parents had and even some that collapse down when they're empty. Having a cooler opens up a lot of possibilities including keeping local produce fresh as you travel. (And if you have a beer cooler, you could even use it to cook up a steak).
• Bring a Blanket and Plan for Picnics: with a cooler and a blanket, your road trip can be filled with picnics and meals with great views. Take a page from the picnic book and make some of these dishes ahead of time.
• Potato Salad without the Mayo: Just to be on the safe side, make this Potato Salad from Real Simple and keep it in the cooler. Fresh herbs, pepper and a bite of tangy vinaigrette make it fresh and filling.
• Bring Treats: These Chocolate Walnut Cookies will keep well and offer a nice dessert on the road. They might also keep you from stockpiling sweets as you pass through small towns.
• Bring the Basics: To assemble sandwiches, bring some basics that make it better. We love the Mozzacado Sandwich because it's simple without being boring. Good bread, tomatoes, avocado and cheese make it special. Stock your cooler or find fresh stuff along the way.
• Trail Mix: You can Make your own or you can succumb to one of our favorites at Trader Joe's: Temptation Trail Mix (here's a recipe for it if you don't have a TJ's near you.
• Hard Boiled Eggs: If you've got a cooler, then you can keep hard boiled eggs fresh. We love them for the quick burst of protein and the fact that all you have to do is peel, salt and eat.
• Plan your stops: If you're going through small towns, make your stops count and find one or two diners or local eateries that you really want to check out. Maybe there's a world famous pie place or the best fried chicken you'll ever have. Ask friends, consult the internet, but find a couple of highlights. We often wing these road trips just to find out later that we were a couple miles from a great local stop, but just didn't know it (we ate at a Denny's instead).
What's your favorite road tripping food?
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(Image: Laure Joliet)