Road Trip Food (with Toddler)

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Soooooo we just got back from an 8 day road trip that covered 9 states and involved driving from Ithaca to a lake in Maryland to spend a couple of days with John’s family and then from there to St. Louis for the wedding of two very dear friends! Which I was a bridesmaid in! I was actually a groomsperson, but I wore a dress and stood on the women’s side. And the reception and other events were in a super fancy, amazing hotel (well, this one) so we decided to splurge and stay there rather than staying in a motel 6, where we’d have to leave our precious baby with a babysitter we’ve only just met. (Well, we did leave him with a babysitter, but it helped me knowing he was in the same building!)

BUT with all the gas and hotel money (and random concomitant costs, the babysitter, pedicure for me with the bride and bridesmaids, disposable diapers for Will) I was determined to buy most of our food for the trip in advance to save a little money. I thought I would share how we did this in case anyone else is going to be on the road and would like some food ideas! (Though this list is admittedly low in the fruit/vegetable area, I have to admit. I know we could have packed apples and avocados or something, but I just didn’t want to deal with the stickiness and mess.  Will got some veggies in the veggie burgers (and at the lake, while we were there), and we’re all going to eat lots of good greenness this week to make up for it.)

I was really worried about how all the food was going to work out (especially with Will), so I made a little chart (above) to semi-plan our meals. I blocked out the meals we would eat at the lake house, and then as we ate meals I blocked those out as well.  We ended up buying ZERO food on the road until the very last day! We did buy a few diet cokes and one pack of gum, and the last day we bought some McDonald’s for breakfast and a package of smoked salmon and a pint of blueberries at a Trader Joe’s for lunch. But otherwise, for breakfast, lunch, and dinners this is what we ate.


Turkey jerky sticks.  I bought 10 of these at our health food co-op. Jerkey is basically the most expensive food per pound of all time, but based on road trip experience I know that having easy access to good protein is important!

Salami. Less expensive than jerky, and also doesn’t have to be refrigerated. Inspired by Robert Capon’s description in The Supper of the Lamb of tossing hunks of cheese and salami along with a pocket knife to kids in the back seat of a car during road trips. (Obviously we didn’t toss salami and a knife to Will; we both just like the idea of using a pocket knife to slice things with on the road. Maybe in a few more years.)

Cheese. For obvious reasons.

Bread.  To go with the salami and cheese.

Hard boiled eggs.  I bought eggs at home, took them to the lake in a cooler and then hard boiled them for the STL leg of the journey.

Sausage.  I bought some organic ground pork and seasoned it myself and made sausage before we left (cheaper per pound than organic sausage). I made sausage, egg and cheese sandwiches the morning we left our house and the morning we left the lake house for lunches those days. And Will loves sausage, so that was his protein for a lot of his meals.

Nuts. Mostly cashews with some other random things mixed in.

Banana Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies.  I added chocolate chips, omitted all the sugar, and substituted ground flaxseeds and ground walnuts for a cup of the oats. I loved these.  Loved them. (I also made a batch using this recipe.  These tasted a little more strongly of banana, but were super tasty).

Tins of sardines and oysters.  Opened these periodically for Will (and John).

Veggie burgers.  I made some veggie-bean burgers before we left, but they were too crumbly so I broke down and bought some pre-packaged veggie burgers for Will– with beans, rice and vegetables all in one fairly non-messy format, it was worth the money.

Oatmeal packets.  I bought some for breakfasts, and we didn’t end up eating as many of them as I thought, but oh well!

We had a lot of picnics in grassy spots by gas stations or at rest stops.  This was our first lunch, and certainly the most scenic stop we made. Will sat on top of a picnic table and ate a veggie burger.

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