Road Trip Food

Travelling with kids is like taking your work on vacation. You still have to meet all the usual needs (road trip food/sleep/laundry) while throwing in a bunch of extra jobs (cleaning sand out of the back of the car, ice cream highs, entertaining everyone during the long-distance drives).

A little prep-ahead road trip food goes a long way towards keeping everyone happy. Whether it’s lunch on the side of the road or just giving everyone enough calories to make it to your final destination, having a bag of go-to snacks is necessary.

Here are a few prep ahead road trip food recipes that are perfect for packing into your lunch bag or cooler. They are easy to make, simple to serve, and packed with nutrition.

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Homemade Hummus

Hummus is SOOO cheap and fun to make, I really don’t understand how grocery stores can justify the price of pre-made hummus. It’s also the perfect road trip lunch. Skip the soggy sandwiches and have this dip instead!

I’ve written this recipe as a larger batch. This way you have enough to feed a bunch of hungry kids. Hummus also freezes really well, so if 4 cups is too much for your family, freeze smaller portions so you can enjoy your hummus all summer long!

2 cans of chickpeas (2 x 14 oz cans)

1 cup tahini roasted paste (raw tahini can taste bitter)

1⁄2 cup lemon juice

2 cloves of garlic

1 to 2 tsp salt, to taste

1⁄2 cup cold water

1⁄4 cup olive oil

Optional Flavour Additions:

Roasted red peppers


Chopped olives

Toasted pine nuts

Za’atar spice mix

Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Combine the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic in a large blender or food processor. Blend until it starts to form a paste. Add a 1⁄2 cup of water. Then add more water 1 tbsp at a time until you have a smooth and creamy dip. The flavour additions can be pureed into the hummus at this point or added on top afterwards. After adding any additional flavours, taste the hummus and add salt. The exact amount of salt required will depend on the saltiness of the chickpeas. Scrape the hummus into an airtight container. Top with olive oil and any additional flavour toppings. Hummus will last in the fridge for up to 4 days, or up to 4 months in the freezer.

Tex-Mex Dip

This recipe is based on my go-to sandwich filling as a teenager. However, it is much nicer as a Tex-Mex alternative to hummus. A perfect dip for vegetables and corn chips at a road side lunch stop. Best of all…it’s ridiculously easy to make!

1 can of refried beans (14 oz can)

11⁄2 cups of salsa (mild, medium, or spicy)

Optional 1 cup of finely shredded cheese (cheddar or mozzarella)

Simply mix the salsa into the refried beans. For a bit of added creaminess, stir in 1 cup of finely shredded cheese. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Like hummus, this dip can also be frozen for up to 4 months. Bonus tip: Frozen dips work great as ice packs for your cooler. A two-cup container will take about 1 day to fully defrost in the fridge or cooler.

Back Seat Road Trip Food

Having a good supply of snacks is a road trip necessity. It’s hard to eat well while travelling, so start with some healthy snacks and save the chips, cookies and ice cream for the road side cafes and diners.

This list of snacks focuses on everything you need to feel good: fresh fruits and vegetables, protein and fiber.

Vegetable Sticks: Stick with firm vegetables like carrots, celery, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans and sweet peas. Cucumber and coloured peppers just don’t last well on a long road trip. To add a bit of flavour to your vegetables, toss them with some fresh herbs (mint, basil, parsley or chives) and a pinch of salt.

Fruit: Chopped fruit doesn’t last very well in a hot car. If you don’t have a cooler, stick with whole fruits instead. Better yet, stop off at a roadside fruit stand to pick up some fresh seasonal fruit!

Nuts and Seeds: I love serving nuts and seeds because they are so good at filling kids up. The fat and protein are really sustaining. Make your own mixes with dried fruit, pretzels, cereal or candy-coated chocolate pieces. I don’t recommend chocolate chips because they’ll melt in a hot car. Also, don’t give nut mixes to young kids, as it is a choking hazard.

Wholegrain Chips and Crackers: Wholegrain crackers (like flax crackers or brown rice cakes) and chips (like low-salt corn chips) are also hearty snack options. They tend to have more fibre and protein than other crackers, which means they’ll keep everyone full for longer.

Salty Snacks: There are lots of snacks that seem to be healthy, but really are just an alternative potato chip. These include things like pea snacks, vegetable chips, etc. While these sometimes contain more fibre and protein than a typical potato chip, they are usually quite high in salt and fat, and are more of a treat than a snack. Choose homemade popcorn instead.

Emillie Parrish
Emillie Parrish
Emillie Parrish loves having adventures with her two busy children. She lives in Victoria and is the author of the fermentation-based blog