Meals for Road Trips & Vacations: Simplifying Make Ahead Meals

Premade meal heating in caste iron on cook partner stove in truck camper slide out kitchen

Whether your vacation comes in the form of a road trip in a camper, renting a beachfront house, escaping to a cabin in the mountains, or anything in between, you’ll most likely have access to a kitchen, and if you’re like me, you won’t want to spend too much of your time in that room!

But I also don’t want to eat junky gas station food while traveling, spend money at restaurants each night, or make use of too many fast food places while on the go.

The following 6 tips can help you have many premade meals ready to go - limiting the hours spent in your rental house, truck camper, campervan, or RV kitchen while on vacation.

1. Double Some Recipes at Home for Easy Premade Vacation Meals

To make best use of this tip, you would, ideally, have access to a freezer during your travels. But even if you don’t, using a fridge or quality cooler can work too.

About 6 weeks or so before leaving, begin thinking about meals that would freeze well, be easy to reheat on the road, and don’t require many extra moving parts (think one pot meals).

And then start plugging those meals into your weekly meal plan. When making dinner, say 5 weeks before leaving, double the recipe, giving you a portion for that evening and a portion to freeze for the trip.

Do this a handful (or two) of times in the weeks before leaving and you’ll end up with a variety of premade meals to enjoy after a long day of driving or exploring during your vacation.

2. Tips for Freezing Your Vacation Meals Ahead

If you’re new to freezer meals, these tips should help:

  • Know the size of your camper freezer (they are pretty small!) before going overboard with your make ahead meals

  • Plus freeze a few extra - they can thaw in the fridge to be eaten during the first leg of your trip

  • Label your freezer bag before filling it

  • Fill out any additional needed ingredients and reheating instructions on a Road Trip Meal Planner and Inventory (see next tip)

  • Freeze the bags flat

  • Layer wax paper between the freezer bags to prevent them from freezing together

3. Use a Road Trip Meal Planner & Inventory

As you’re making and freezing food in advance, keep track of what you’ve made, and include any ingredients needed to finish off each meal if applicable! This can help you prepare a variety of foods and will serve as a packing list on go-day.

Any simple chart will do, or you can print mine for free.

Free printable meal planner and inventory for a road trip or vacation

Remember to bring the list with you while traveling! It’s handy to know what you’ve got buried in the back of the freezer, and to be able to know any additional needed ingredients before digging a certain meal out. Don’t forget to update the list by crossing things off as you eat them.

4. Bring Some Simple Recipes Along

Before leaving, gather simple recipes to have on hand. Try to find ones with similar extra ingredients so that food and money aren’t getting thrown away.

Also pay attention to seasoning and the like so you don’t have to tote along too many of those. You could premix seasonings for certain recipes in baggies to save camp kitchen space and future time.

Having easy recipes already picked out also gives you a little head start on what you need to grab during a mid-trip stop at the grocery store, and makes cooking recipes on the road much easier!

5. Have Healthy and Easy Snack Options Ready to Go

Don’t get hangry and blow your budget on junky gas station food or drinks! Keep healthy snacks around that are easy to eat in the car.

For those traveling with kids: snacks, snacks, snacks! You’ll never have too many snacks. If you can turn the snack time into play you’ll gain even more miles (lacing cheerios on string to make jewelry, sorting a dried fruit/nut mix).

And if you are traveling with little ones, you might like our post - Road Trip With a Baby or Toddler: 44 Tips for a Smooth Journey.

6. Meal Prep Each Week to Simplify On the Go Meals

Taking a chunk of time every several days to slice some veggies and wash some fruit has saved us a lot of time, money, and calories. It’s so much easier to throw together a sandwich if all the pieces are ready to go, or grab some fruit if it is not buried in your fridge or cooler.

Food for sandwiches and snack in small rubbermaid

We’ve also found it helpful to have all sandwich related things packaged together in a small rubbermaid in the fridge. If we pull over for gas, it doesn’t take long to put together a few sandwiches to eat as we travel down the road.

Quick, easy, healthy, and inexpensive!

Hopefully some of these tips can help you make a plan that allows you to save your time, money, and calories for something better while on your next long road trip or vacation!

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As always, thanks for reading!

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