Pit Stop: Quick Grocery Grabs For a Well-Stocked Roadtrip Cooler

Before we took off for our last major roadtrip, I had a thought. 

Traveling isn’t very different from camping, and if I can make food while I’m camping, I certainly ought to be able get away without buying every meal on the road. So, out of the necessity of being a budget roadtripper, I’ve gotten pretty good at making my own food both to pack for the trip and while on the road, as well as figuring out what kinds of foods work well for roadtrip travel.

Nearly every grocery store these days has some kind of deli counter, or at least some options chilled in an ample cooler. Taking advantage of these options can help you quickly and easily build a roadtrip-friendly spread for your cooler if you’re itching to get on the road without doing a lot of prep, or just don’t have time. I typically prefer to make my own food whenever possible to take on the road, but in a pinch there are plenty of grocery-store duplicates to do the job. This is also a handy list of ideas you can grab from if you’re without a kitchen and restocking your snack supply while you’re on the road.

  • Pre-cut veggie sticks and fruits. It’s easy to pick up packets of carrot sticks and apple slices these days, and they often include a tasty dip! These are a simple option to load out your cooler with healthy options.
  • Even easier, and usually less expensive then their pre-cut cousins, whole fruits are a great option. Apples, pears, grapes, and oranges travel well and are easy to eat on the go.
  • If you don’t have time to wait in a deli line, or your store doesn’t have a deli counter, there are tons of flavorful pre-packed sandwich meat options in the grocery store cold case these days, and you don’t even have to resort to bologna. (Unless you’re me. I like bologna.) We discovered sliced spicy Buffalo turkey from Target’s generic brand on our last trip. The plastic containers doubled as handy storage for leftovers, too!
  • Most grocery stores now carry salads galore. Whether you like pasta, potato, or macaroni, there’s an option for everyone. Some stores have even started selling new options like quinoa and grain salads.
  • For a quick sweet breakfast option, stop by the bakery section for a package of small pastries or muffins. Muffins in particular travel well.
  • “Snack packs” designed to fit in school lunches sometimes have some interesting options as a last resort - mini packs of pretzels, cookies, and other goodies are usually easy to find.
  • Drinks are pretty easy to find, depending on what you like: packs of canned or bottled sodas are an easy grab, but there are lots of juice and tea options as well. You can also grab larger bottles of soda or juice and refill your own cups when you make gas or bathroom stops.  

Usually, thinking “picnic” will help you determine what will hold up well over the course of a trip. Is it easily packed? Does it come in individual containers? How much preparation is involved before I can eat this? Does it need to stay cold? All of these considerations will help you come up with tons of ideas for simple lunches and meals you can do yourself without shelling out for restaurants or fast food for your whole trip. Knocking out a couple of meals here and there can make or break a budget, and you can still eat well with a little bit of planning.
Happy Thursday, and tasty travels!!

Or, add this handy list to your Pinterest pinboard! (And follow me!)

Happy Thursday, and tasty travels!!


See even more trip tips and ideas at Can't I Just Orbit?


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