what we eat on road trips 

We've had so many people ask us what food we bring on trips for car snacks, camping meals, etc. and if I'm being completely honest, I've been hesitant to write a post about it because I feel like everyone thinks we eat super healthy, organic, gmo-free, no preservative paleolithic diets and I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that our roadtrip staples include ramen and oreos. BUT. I think we've found a pretty good balance that is better than stopping at McDonald's daily and saves us a lot of money, so without further adieu, here is a run-down of what we eat on roadtrips (and while camping):

The biggest thing we did to improve our eating situation was purchase a Yeti Cooler. Now before you exit this web browser and write us off as frat daddies, here me out! Our cooler is amazing! And we got really lucky finding one for a reduced price at an REI Garage Sale. Since getting it, we've been able to bring along refrigerator foods like cream cheese (for bagels in the morning), veggies to snack on, salami and cheese for lunches, and many other things that wouldn't do well sitting in the car, and we've found we need to replace the ice every 3-4 days. Callen does have this huge moral thing against buying ice (we still do it, but I think it causes him physical pain) and one time we filled it with snow (fo free) so that's also an option if you're in the mountains (kind of joking? I mean, it worked) and you don't think germs exist. I'm starting to think this blog post is full of bad advice, but it's honestly all stuff I wish I knew before our first road trip so hopefully it helps one of you semi-non-germ-fearing, yeti-loving, half-healthy adventurers! Here is a breakdown of our typical meals on-the-road or at a campsite:


For us, mornings either consist of packing up the tent and hitting the road, or waking up early to get somewhere before sunrise, so our huge priorities for breakfast are 1. easy to make (no cooking) and 2. easy to eat without making a mess (while driving, hiking, or between tent packing).

- bagels (cinnamon swirl for me and blueberry for callen) with cream cheese

- granola with yogurt (warning - this can get messy)

Embarrassing moments: One morning in Joshua Tree National Park, Callen had left over Little Caesar's pizza. Also, I am guilty of having oreos for breakfast on a day in Alabama Hills that I didn't feel like putting in the effort to smear cream cheese on a bagel. You should probably stop taking advice from us now. 


- Tortilla with three slices of hard salami and a cheese stick rolled up. We call these roll-ups. We're really creative. Bonus: if you can score some mayo and mustard packets (from subway or gas stations), these make the roll-ups way more enjoyable.

- The classic PB&J (or my own personal variation, peanut butter with chocolate chips. I convince myself it's healthy because dark chocolate is good for your heart)


We often try to cook our dinner. It tends to be at the campsite, once the sun has gone down so our focus is 1. staying warm and 2. killing time (you never really think about how annoying darkness is until you're at a campsite with no electricity but it's 7pm so you can't go to bed yet). We use a Jetboil to cook almost all of our meals. It's so easy and we love that you can eat right out of it and only have one dish to clean. 

- Canned soups (think hearty food that will keep you warm and full all night). Our favorites are anything creamy-broccoli-cheesy. 

- Ramen!!!! Of course! We love ramen. So easy, so delicious.

- Flavored mashed potatoes. The kind that come in little flakes in a bag and you just add boiling water and magically end up with mashed potatoes. These are kind of gross at home, but everything is 10x better when you're camping, so these are pretty much amazing.

- Flavored rice. Same deal as the mashed potatoes.


Priorities are 1. easy to eat on the go 2. not gross.

- Oreos. I know, I know, you're disappointed in me. But I love oreos and I only allow myself to buy them for road trips so it kind of balances out.

- Nuts. Healthy! Look at us! We eat mixed nuts sometimes!

- Easy veggies like carrots, celery, etc. (think veggie plate at a party). Bonus: dip them in your cream cheese. It probably negates all the value of eating veggies but it tastes good.

- Granola bars. Clif bars for hiking (these also make a good easy breakfast), fiber one bars, and chewy bars for when you think you want to eat but you're actually just bored so you eat a chewy bar which is debatably worthless.

- Popcorn

Bad habit: We LOVE sunflower seeds. They're so tasty and great for keeping you entertained/awake on long drives, but I'm pretty sure they're horrible for your teeth so we're trying to break this habit. 

Also, I'd be lying about who we are if I did a food post and tried to convince you guys we don't stop to buy food more often than we'd like, so here are our favorite places to stop:

- Subway. It's sub-par, but it's not horrible for you and we're happy splitting a foot-long.

- McDonald's (At this point I'm just writing this post so someone will send us to rehab and fix our food habits) But it all seriousness, it's cheap and they have good coffee.

- Little Caesar's Pizza. Callen's personal favorite. $5 hot-and-ready large pizza, how can you resist? I try to limit us to one per trip, but believe me, Callen searches Little Caesar's in every town we drive through.

And I wouldn't be doing us justice if I posted a food post without linking to my favorite video clip of Callen possibly ever. So if you haven't had enough of our antics yet, check out minute 1:16 of this Youtube video for a little tip on cooking pop tarts over a fire. 

So, now that you know what we eat, are you ever going to trust us for advice again? Was making this my first advice-giving blog post a bullet in the head for my personal brand? Are you currently writing me an e-mail begging me to change my ways?

In all seriousness, I hope this helps someone. I hope this clears the mysterious air of assuming every outdoorsy person lives off of dried fruit and nuts (props to those of you that do! but dried fruit makes me gag). I hope this makes planning a road trip feel more accessible and easy for at least one person. It's not about having perfect systems and doing everything right, it's about getting on the road and enjoying the beautiful places that you love. And improving with each trip. That being said, we're clearly not perfect so if you have any advice, I'd LOVE to hear it! We are always trying to improve our food intake, so let us know if you have any camping and road trip staples you'd like to share!

If you found this post helpful, you might enjoy reading some of our other Advice for Adventurers posts:

Backpacking Favorites

Bringing Your Dog

Finding Free Campsites

Sleep Systems