Rethinking food options during long drive days

Patrick w

Active Member
Aug 13, 2021
586
I have been curious as to what you folks are doing for long drive days. I've done the mc d way, the cracker barrel way, and while expensive was usually less hassle.. is also terribly unhealthy.

I picked up an ecoflow river pro mini. It will do 1400w continuous, which is more than enough for a .5cu ft microwave to run for 40 min continuously. 850 or so watt capacity). The microwave I already have draws about 900w.

I've tried the 12v hot lunch box. It does work, but it requires more planning time wise. It works good when I'm alone but not so good when it's the whole family and only one box.

Thought was to pre pack meals and then just find some place to stop heat and eat. From fridge to piping hot usually takes 3 min or less. Thus for 4 of us would be around 12 min, and consume 180-200w.

Just a thought.
 

jmkay1

2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah
Oct 10, 2013
7,727
Northern Virginia
Chicken salad sandwiches from the can are usually very easy and quick to make and really only mayonnaise needs refrigeration. Just remember to leave the dang can opener out of the camper. [:I](thank good I had my trusty swiss army knife with me). I also buy those cheese and sausage trays with a pack of crackers. Think of it as the adult version of lunchables. if a rest area has grills and I just so happen to have charcoal I’ve even made hotdogs. I also Always carry a jar of peanut butter with me so a quick pB&J sandwich is made right from the back of my trunk. Now the longest travel day is usually 12 hours or under for me When I pull into camp So it’s not on a cross country trip But the above usually is getting made right there at the rest area.
 

MNTCamper

Super Active Member
Jun 14, 2014
1,342
MN
We do 800+ mile days regularly. Here is what we do. If we are going to do breakfast in the car, we do yogurt, bananas or other fruit, and for a treat for kids, mini donuts in the small boxes. For lunch, we premake sandwiches and have fruit and snacks. We also have additional snacks and sunflower seeds and licorice and so on for driving. We try to minimize our stops because that all takes time. We always cook dinner after we stop for the evening.

If you are trying to do long days, it is very important to leave as early as you can, like 4 am early if you are able to. There are times we stop for fast food, but usually we don't do that.
 

Snow

Super Active Member
Jul 19, 2007
12,238
Ontario
90% percent of our driving meals are cold boxed lunches. Either make sandwiches ahead of time, or open the TT and make them when we stop for gas or shopping. The other 10% is hit food, either restaurant bought or quick simple stuff I can toss on the BBQ at a rest stop. The restaurant food will be non fast food things like chicken dinners, rbs, roast etc and they will be eaten, once we arrive at our campground and have the essentials hooked up.
 

Patrick w

Active Member
Aug 13, 2021
586
Chicken salad sandwiches from the can are usually very easy and quick to make and really only mayonnaise needs refrigeration. Just remember to leave the dang can opener out of the camper. [:I](thank good I had my trusty swiss army knife with me). I also buy those cheese and sausage trays with a pack of crackers. Think of it as the adult version of lunchables. if a rest area has grills and I just so happen to have charcoal I’ve even made hotdogs. I also Always carry a jar of peanut butter with me so a quick pB&J sandwich is made right from the back of my trunk. Now the longest travel day is usually 12 hours or under for me When I pull into camp So it’s not on a cross country trip But the above usually is getting made right there at the rest area.
Wife won't eat anything from a can. Kids don't eat pbj. They did for a while until the school banned nuts.
Wife is health concious, so she won't let the kids eat hotdogs more than once a week. It's inconvenient, but I'm sorta glad that she does limit their intake of processed foods. They eat too well, and thus became more finiky. Heck I am always happy with an egg in the morning. I've done the can of tuna fish and crackers...different times I guess.

Trying to get them to eat oatmeal now is even challenging. I never complained as a kid about being hungry. You ate what you had.
 

Patrick w

Active Member
Aug 13, 2021
586
Chicken salad sandwiches from the can are usually very easy and quick to make and really only mayonnaise needs refrigeration. Just remember to leave the dang can opener out of the camper. [:I](thank good I had my trusty swiss army knife with me). I also buy those cheese and sausage trays with a pack of crackers. Think of it as the adult version of lunchables. if a rest area has grills and I just so happen to have charcoal I’ve even made hotdogs. I also Always carry a jar of peanut butter with me so a quick pB&J sandwich is made right from the back of my trunk. Now the longest travel day is usually 12 hours or under for me When I pull into camp So it’s not on a cross country trip But the above usually is getting made right there at the rest area.
Wife won't eat anything from a can. Kids don't eat pbj. They did for a while until the school banned nuts.
Wife is health concious, so she won't let the kids eat hotdogs more than once a week. It's inconvenient, but I'm sorta glad that she does limit their intake of processed foods. They eat too well, and thus became more finiky. Heck I am always happy with an egg in the morning. I've done the can of tuna fish and crackers...different times I guess.

Trying to get them to eat oatmeal now is even challenging. I never complained as a kid about being hungry. You ate what you had.
We do 800+ mile days regularly. Here is what we do. If we are going to do breakfast in the car, we do yogurt, bananas or other fruit, and for a treat for kids, mini donuts in the small boxes. For lunch, we premake sandwiches and have fruit and snacks. We also have additional snacks and sunflower seeds and licorice and so on for driving. We try to minimize our stops because that all takes time. We always cook dinner after we stop for the evening.

If you are trying to do long days, it is very important to leave as early as you can, like 4 am early if you are able to. There are times we stop for fast food, but usually we don't do that.
Wow...800... I thought 500 was a lot. Do you allow the kids digital entertainment?
 

kitphantom

Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 26, 2009
13,827
Albuquerque, NM
We've done long days most of the time for 30+ years. Most of our camping is 5-8 hours away. We do simple lunches, out of the cooler or (now) the fridge. When we're base-camped and do a sightseeing or hiking day, we pack a the cooler with the same things we eat out of the fridge. Once in a great while, we'll stop at a McD's or Wendy's, or such, but that's rare, and getting more rare.
Hard boiled eggs or egg salad, cheese, crackers or corn chips, hummus, yogurt, fruit. If we're hiking, we have trail food too, granola bars, jerky, etc.
 

MNTCamper

Super Active Member
Jun 14, 2014
1,342
MN
Wife won't eat anything from a can. Kids don't eat pbj. They did for a while until the school banned nuts.
Wife is health concious, so she won't let the kids eat hotdogs more than once a week. It's inconvenient, but I'm sorta glad that she does limit their intake of processed foods. They eat too well, and thus became more finiky. Heck I am always happy with an egg in the morning. I've done the can of tuna fish and crackers...different times I guess.

Trying to get them to eat oatmeal now is even challenging. I never complained as a kid about being hungry. You ate what you had.

Wow...800... I thought 500 was a lot. Do you allow the kids digital entertainment?

We don't allow for digital entertainment. Our youngest is 19 now, but we have been doing this for almost 20 years. Once they learned to read, they were all good with books and we left early so they slept the first 4 hours. Very lucky that they are great in the car - they know we only stop for gas!! Actually, when not pulling the camper, we have taken days that are almost 1200 miles and they are great, was just family bonding time. I am a lucky Dad.
 

KeizerTrailer

Active Member
Aug 31, 2020
140
Keizer, OR
We always pack our Ozark Trail 12 can (Yeti knock off) soft cooler with PBJ and meat/cheese sandwiches and drinks and a small sack of snacks/lickies/chewies for our travel days, it really helps avoid the fast food and truck stop snacking that, from experience, that will happen. It keeps our stops to a minimum and also short stop times means we can get there sooner, or at least get to stop off somewhere that's more exciting than a rest area or McD's parking lot. Our DD's are raised on books, games and learning to cope with boredom. The DW and I are lucky they like car rides.
 

RCmom

Active Member
Jun 19, 2021
101
New Jersey
As a parent, I'm ok with a road trip meal being a little less healthy than most other meals. My 16 yo is a bit picky about food. About 5 years ago I got some advice from a camping friend... let the pickiest person plan meals. That's when I let her start packing her own road trip meals and snacks. She packed cucumber slices, carrots sticks, grape tomatoes, roasted almonds, cheese sticks, oatmeal raisin cookies and lemonade. Care to guess who packs travel meals and snacks now? (She packs her own school lunches too)

I really appreciate the "snack attack" meals she packs. They're easy, 95% healthy and filling. And because she picks out and prepares everything, I have less to worry about before a trip.

Road trip entertainment for 2 plus a dog does involve technology. Why? Because there are a lot of fun game apps that also double as learning. Mad libs is still a road trip favorite. She and I also have what we call "the Google game". Every time we stop, be it a traffic light, stop sign, highway traffic or gas/pit stop, she Googles our location and finds an interesting fact about where we are. Intercourse PA was an interesting Google search (there's a quilt museum there!)

Hope your road trips are as fun as mine and my daughter's!
 

Dingit

Super Active Member
Mar 8, 2017
2,102
We pack a cooler and make sandwiches at lunch time. We usually need a cooler anyway so why not? I have a picky eater so finding a suitable restaurant isn't likely.
 

BBQdave

Active Member
Aug 31, 2016
300
North Carolina
We pack a cooler and make sandwiches at lunch time. We usually need a cooler anyway so why not? I have a picky eater so finding a suitable restaurant isn't likely.
Pack a cooler! :)

It really seems like fast food quality has gone down. I can inexpensively (compared to restaurant prices) pack healthy - want I want food :)
 

generok

Super Active Member
Gold Supporting Member
Feb 7, 2013
3,443
Anchorage, AK
This was one of the MAJOR factors in moving to the Dark Side for us. I got so tired of eating on the roof of the PUP in nice weather, and digging in a cooler and eating in the truck in the rain... and it rains a LOT in Alaska.

With the TH, we pack all the food inside. When it is time to eat, we find a place to pull over, go inside, make lunch, sit down, eat, and get back in the TV and press on when done. We've done everything from sandwiches, to grilling burgers and dogs, to microwaving something once we start the genny (onboard).

I feel the pain of the OP... the eating on the road process with the PUP always seemed long and messy to me. But, when we did it, we usually went with something pre-made that was finger food and needed no heating. With all the dietary restrictions, it could be tough to find something that works consistently.

Also, about 7 years ago, we flat out stopped long haul days. For us, a 350 mile day is long haul now. If our destination is 500 miles away, it takes us two days there and two days back. It's just easier on us.
 

Dingit

Super Active Member
Mar 8, 2017
2,102
It's definitely easier with the truck camper. Even though it's also a popup, I can work in there pretty comfortably with the top down (and popping it up requires minimal effort if one wants :p).

Not having kitchen and bathroom access on the road are the main problems with popup trailers.
 

Sneezer

Super Active Member
Aug 8, 2015
3,066
DFW, TX
We pack a sack lunch. Usually deli meat or PB&J. Breakfast is usually McDonald’s - DW loves their sausage McMuffins, so we do that. If we have to do dinner before our destination, then we will just stop somewhere. Try and find something local usually, but sometimes due to timing/distance it will be fast food, or Chipotle if there is one.
 

xxxapache

Super Active Member
Jul 30, 2008
4,498
Camping is a vacation. I let caution fly to the wind and eat what I want when I want from the time I pull out until I get back home. While driving, I eat a lot of Pringles, Slim Jim's, Twizzlers, ect. She mostly pigs out on chocolate.
 

tenttrailer

Art & Joyce - Columbus, O
Jul 18, 2013
3,775
Thornville, OH
We normally bring sandwiches and we have a cooler of cool drinks. We stop at a rest area or road side stop. Once in awhile we will stop and buy sandwiches place. Sometimes we get the 2 for 6 at Bk but we supply our own drinks, maybe get a free glass for water and fill with ice and our can of pop.
 

WimStang

Member
Jul 17, 2022
17
We generally make a hearty breakfast and then snack through lunch, with dinner, depending on time of day, being a nice restaurant or a great dinner made at the campsite. We travel flexible, but have no kids to worry about.
 

Sjm9911

Super Active Member
May 31, 2018
12,205
Nj
I dont usally drive through two meals. We eat at home or grab fruit, bagles for breakfast. Luch is usally at a fast food place ( cracker barrel qualifies), gives us a break and a stretch. Usally in the campground and set up before dinner. Sometimes, cooler and sandwiches. But usally its my time off feom making food, so its burgers and junk.
 




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