10 Easy Meals to Take on Long Car Rides

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

It’s the time of year when travel is inevitable. Many of us are going over the river and through the woods to see loved ones for the holidays. And while it’s tempting to stop at every gas station or greasy spoon you see when you are on the road — it’s part of the fun, after all — long road trips usually call for more than one meal and several snacks. For families, that can be costly and unhealthy, not to mention cut into your travel time. (Are we there yet?)

There is nothing more convenient than having a satisfying meal to dole out to your crew when they start getting hungry (which never seems to be at the same time). And if you are starving and your kids have decided to take a snooze, you can eat and not disturb the peace happening in your car. We all know that’s priceless.

Here are 10 easy and delicious recipes you can make ahead and bring with you to make car rides just a little easier.

1. To Go Sandwiches from Easy Peasy Pleasy

These super-easy Hawaiian Roll sandwiches from Easy Peasy Pleasy are my go-to for long trips. The options are endless and they don’t take up a lot of room in your cooler so there’s plenty of space for drinks and fruit, too.

2. Pizza Pasta Salad from Caramel Potatoes

We are huge pasta salad fans, and this pizza pasta salad from Caramel Potatoes doesn’t disappoint. It has everything you need to keep your belly full: meat, veggies, starch, and cheese. Grab a bundle of plastic forks and put the pasta in individual containers and lunch is done.

3. Copycat Starbucks Protein Bistro Box from Damn Delicious

It’s necessary to stop at a place like Starbucks during a long trip, so I always pack these copycat Starbucks protein bistro boxes from Damn Delicious so I don’t grab the real things for my kiddos after ordering my latte. The mix of nut butter, eggs, and cheese keeps them full for hours, and I don’t feel guilty for splurging on cake pops for all.

4. Cheese and Bacon Hash Brown Muffins from Recipe Tin Eats

It’s nice to get an early start and beat the morning traffic, and our family isn’t always hungry at 6 a.m. Cheese and bacon hash brown muffins from Recipe Tin Eats are the perfect solution. I make them the day before and throw them in the car so as everyone starts to wake up, breakfast is ready for them to grab.

5. 5-Ingredient Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels from Cooking for Keeps

With a few ingredients and 20 minutes, you can make roll-ups that are sure to kill your fast-food cravings. This recipe from Cooking for Keeps is easy enough for the kids to help with. Mine love shredding the chicken and rolling the sandwiches up.

6. Perfect Picnic Lunch from Sandy Toes and Popsicles

An outdoor picnic is always great, so why not make it a picnic in your car? This brilliant idea comes from Sandy Toes and Popsicles. Just pack a variety of meats, fruits, cookies, and veggies in separate containers and let everyone help themselves. The boss mom move is to freeze the Capri Sun drinks and use them as ice packs.

7. Snack Packs from Gluesticks

I love this idea from Gluesticks of packing a mini-meal in sandwich-shaped containers. We have a ton of these, and they are easy to throw together. For bigger eaters, just pack two!

8. Breakfast Quesadillas from The Pioneer Woman

These hearty quesadillas from the Pioneer Woman are packed with eggs, bacon, and cheese. While Ree adds avocado, I’d say skip it for a long car ride, as it most likely will be brown and unappealing by the time you’re ready to eat.

9. Pepperoni and Cheese Pizza Bombs from Sizzling Eats

Instead of stopping for pizza while on a long car trip, makes these pizza bombs from Sizzling Eats the day before. You get all the delicious flavor of pizza without the mess.

10. Sushi Salad from Clean Eating Magazine

We are huge sushi fans and while making it is very time consuming, this sushi salad from Clean Eating Magazine is perfect to store in individual containers when we hit the road. It’s made with cooked crab instead of sushi-grade tuna or salmon, and the dressing really makes it.

What meals and snacks do you pack for a long car ride?