This summer has been a busy one for our family. My husband got a job in New York, so we’ve traveled from Arizona to New York (yes, that’s 2,200 miles one way) twice this summer looking for a house to buy. Did I mention our family of five drove each time? We noticed a steep rise in gas and hotel costs thanks to inflation, but we didn’t spend much money on food because we took steps to avoid eating out on a road trip. Here’s how we did it.
How We Eat at Home
We avoid eating out in our daily lives. We eat out approximately five times a year, usually on each of our birthdays, so we’re used to eating at home. We make almost all of our food from scratch and occasionally rely on convenience foods like frozen chicken nuggets and fries. We eat a meal like that about once a week.
How We Avoid Eating Out on a Road Trip
When we travel, we rely less on homemade food and more on convenience foods. Here’s what we typically prepare and eat on the road:
Bacon, eggs, oatmeal, fruit
We are hearty breakfast eaters, so I make a big batch of fried eggs and bacon at home—enough to last the three days it takes to travel 2,200 miles. I put these in a leftover container in a cooler.
We could cook oatmeal from scratch, but I’ve found it easier to buy oatmeal cups, add water, and microwave them. We add nuts and raisins to plain oatmeal.
We also eat some easy-to-travel-with fruit such as apples and pears.
Sandwiches, chips, carrot sticks
We eat lunches on the road while we’re driving. We typically have ham and cheese sandwiches, chips, and carrot sticks.
Microwave burritos or Indian food and rice, salad
If I have room in the cooler, I buy microwavable burritos for the hotel room.
If I don’t have room in the cooler, I’ll purchase vacuum-sealed Indian food that needs to be microwaved. I also buy vacuum-sealed rice to heat in the microwave.
Finally, we eat a salad kit that includes lettuce, dressing, and seeds or bacon bits.
Our family snacks a lot on the road. Some of our favorite snacks are beef jerky, homemade muffins, nuts and raisins, granola bars, and squeezable pudding or applesauce.
What You Need to Eat Like This on the Road
To eat like this and avoid eating out on a road trip, you’ll need a few items:
- A large cooler
- Dry ice (you can buy this at a grocery store, but I find it’s cheaper some place like an ice cream supply store)
- A hotel with a microwave
To feed our family of five a meal like Chipotle costs approximately $70. We were on the road driving 12 days over the last two months. If we had eaten out for lunch and dinner, we would have spent $1,680 on food! Instead, we choose to avoid eating out. We paid for our road trip food out of our grocery budget. Because we bought some convenience foods, our grocery budget was a bit higher, but only by about $150 rather than how much we would have spent dining out every day while traveling.
Come back to what you love! Dollardig.com is the most reliable cash-back site on the web. Just sign up, click, shop, and get full cashback!
4 Ways We Save Money with Cross Country Travel
22 Ways to Save Money on Summer Travel
Holiday Traveling Any Time of the Year
Melissa is a writer and virtual assistant. She earned her Master’s from Southern Illinois University, and her Bachelor’s in English from the University of Michigan. When she’s not working, you can find her homeschooling her kids, reading a good book, or cooking. She resides in Arizona where she dislikes the summer heat but loves the natural beauty of the area.