Whether by plane, train or automobile, vacations can become out-of-this-world expensive if you don't plan ahead, particularly when it comes to food.
The temptation to grab a snack at every gas station or airport kiosk, or to stop in the nearest fast-food eatery can put a dent in your wallet and an extra pound or two on your waistline.
Don't wait until you're hungry to plan your next meal. Start your road trip right by making a food list and packing fun snacks to avoid those tempting stops.
"My husband never leaves for a road trip without a big bag of M&Ms, and I stick with carrot sticks," says Chattanoogan Cindy Tinker Close.
Her carrot sticks hit both targets: saving money and eating healthy. While M&Ms aren't exactly healthy, it's less expensive to buy candy at your local Walmart or another retailer than buying it at a gas station or airport where a big bag of M&Ms can set you back as much as $10. According to Business Insider, snacks and drinks are the most-overpriced items in airports.
Here are some suggestions for road trip foods. If you like to hit the road early, the list begins with some breakfast items that are easy to transport and continues through the day.
Breakfast On the Road
Breakfast may be the easiest meal to pack since you can eat it cold. Plus, you can start packing the night before and breeze through breakfast.
> Pack dry cereal, like Cheerios or granola, in resealable bags.
> Yogurt tubes are easy.
> Hard-boiled eggs sprinkled with a little salt.
> Peanut butter and banana wrapped in a tortilla.
> Or, the night before you leave, make fruit and yogurt parfaits by layering vanilla yogurt, granola and berries in a small Mason jar. Screw on the lid, and it's ready to go in the morning. Don't forget a plastic spoon.
Road Trip Lunch List
When it comes to planning for lunch and beyond, your packing list should include a small portable cooler for sandwiches or the makings of a charcuterie. Traditionally, charcuteries are served on a board, but you can make individual charcuteries in Tupperware containers filled with salami, cheeses, carrots, celery, crackers and some kind of dip or spread. Other road-friendly dishes include:
> Pita pockets stuffed with cheese, tomato, basil, turkey, hummus, cucumber or chicken or tuna salad.
> Tortilla pinwheels.
> Preassembled salads in a wide-mouth jar.
Dinner On the Road
If there's one meal where splurging might be in order, consider stopping at a roadside restaurant or café. It will not only give you a taste of another city, but it will also give you a break from travel.
If you're not ready to stop but your tummy is ready for a refill, consider packing:
> Cold rotisserie chicken packed alongside a salad in a container for passengers or, for the driver, carrots, celery, pita chips and hummus.
> A premade pasta salad with leftover meats, or go vegetarian with peas, green pepper and some red onion tossed in a little Italian dressing.
> Chicken and pickled vegetables in a pita.
> Sliced roast beef from the deli counter on sourdough bread with a little horseradish sauce and a bag of chips.