HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Road Trip Menu Ideas

Ok so we're heading out on a road trip soon. Last time, we only took a couple of bagels w/cream cheese--for a 6 hour trip. Not good. Not enough food. There are places to stop along the way (no place all that great within 10 minutes of the highway), but we've decided to take a proper picnic feast. We've also decided that the theme will be a "southern picnic". I'm actually thinking of wrapping sandwiches in wax paper. We may take some fried chicken, a mason jar of iced tea, maybe some homemade biscuits. What other food items travel well in the spirit of a southern picnic road trip? We'll have a small cooler and a few ice packs. All ideas welcome.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. when we were away at summer camp as kids, they served the same fried chicken lunch for Parents'/Visiting Day every year. it came in a red & white checkered cardboard box lined with waxed paper, and the best thing about it was *always* the brownie. your post instantly conjured up that visual for me...thanks for the trip down memory lane :)

    anyway, if you're doing a fried chicken picnic, you've gotta have brownies! preferably with a fudgy center, cakey/chewy exterior, and cracked top...

    1 Reply
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      So many wonderful ideas here in this chain. I think we'll need a bigger cooler! Thanks to all above and below this post (for some reason my post landed in this weird spot, instead of the very bottom)!

    2. The NY Times had an article about 100 or 101 great picnic foods. It was written by Bittman and had some really great suggestions. Its a truly comprehensive source for what you are looking for. Here is the link for it, but, sorry, I don't know how to make it highlighted to just click on it from Safari (I know its off topic, but how do I do this?). http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/02/din... Just paste it into your search bar or it comes right up if you do a google search. Have fun!!

      1 Reply
      1. re: doughreme

        ooh, i forgot about that article. excellent call!

      2. oops!! LOL. I guess it forms the link when you reply. Please ignore my previous stupidity. Not very computer savvy.

        2 Replies
        1. re: doughreme

          You did fine!

          I'm diggin it..
          His ideas:

          40 Mix cooked couscous with olive oil; add pimentón, cumin, salt and pepper, chopped shallot or red onion, toasted slivered almonds and orange zest and juice. Cooked cauliflower is good, too.

          41 Toss a load of chopped parsley with a little cooked bulgur — say three to one in favor of the parsley. Chopped seeded tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper and lots of lemon juice. Call this real tabbouleh.

          42 Make tabbouleh as above and embellish with more vegetables — like cucumbers and radishes — and/or crumbled feta, or bits of cooked chicken. Or smoked tofu, or bacon, whatever you can think of. How can you go wrong?

          1. re: doughreme

            doughreme--Thanks so much for that article. I don't think I saw this Bitten piece. I loved it! Chock full of ideas. Thanks again!!! This is the type of thing I was looking for :)

          2. You could make Poor boy sandwiches.

            Coleslaw to go with chicken.

            2 Replies
            1. re: salsailsa

              I was going to suggest a muffelatta too.

            2. I love roast chicken sandwiches. A hearty sub with roast chicken a simple aioli, some grilled mushrooms, lettuce and tomato which is hearty but still very tasteful. You can make ahead or but together on the road. A NON mayo potato salad is a great flavor and keeps well, desert is a must, brownies I love and takes no room or fresh made cookies. Also appetizers. Sounds funny while driving somewhere but I love simple cajun seafood spread some crackers and some veggies. Healthy and easy to pack. But filled with healthy alternatives but still have the crackers. Dips are great for trips. Not just chips and onion dips, but cajun seafood, a good fresh onion dip, you can also cut up peppers, cucumbers which are great. I also like bread sticks which are easy and munchy. Sweet tea is great. I have a big travel cooler, but at any party store you can buy a large disposable one or basically any Walmart. Use and throw away if you want. Party stores are great resources for simple disposable quick serving dishes. Pudding is also another good go to. I make a vanilla pudding. Put them in a small tupperware and top with M&M for kids, granola or just fresh fruit or nothing. Sweet easy treat. Fresh bananas are great.

              Anything works, many options.

              4 Replies
              1. re: kchurchill5

                No mayo for the potato salad but dips and seafood spreads are okay? I don't understand this at all.

                1. re: KTinNYC

                  Dips are in my smaller containers and be kept colder. Potato salad to me is usually in a much larger container and I just prefer taking a non mayo is all. Take mayo if you want. I just prefer NON mayo for traveling. But dip containers are usually very small and keep very cold. By all means take mayo. Not any big deal, I just prefer non mayo.

                  1. re: kchurchill5

                    Large containers hold more mass so it will hold it's temperature better then small containers. Anyway, I don't see how, seafood and sour cream is less prone to spoilage then mayonnaise, especially a commercial mayonnaise.

                    1. re: KTinNYC

                      Keep in mind that most of the "warm mayo" food spoilage stories you were told by your gramma usually had more to do with the potatoes providing a great growth medium for bacteria and not spoiled mayo. any pre-packaged mayo you are going to buy these days will be fine even in a warm car ride for quite a while.

              2. how about:

                - three bean salad
                - very ripe tomatoes, sliced and served with optional salt or sugar... they're even better after warming in the car for a bit. or tomato/cucumber sliced salad.
                - fresh, cucumber pickles
                - corn on the cob. you don't even have to boil / grill them. if they're fresh and properly picked, they'll be great raw, too.
                - baked potatoes baked on the car engine while you drive

                13 Replies
                1. re: cimui

                  As a southerner, I can attest that a proper southern picnic would never be complete without sliced fresh tomato, sliced cucumbers, and sliced cantelope.
                  Bring a knife and slice it all on top of the cooler. Add salt. Enjoy.

                  But also hummus and pita. Not southern but for me, a picnic must.

                    1. re: Davwud

                      too hard to move I think. Although, if you could get em there, they would be appreciated.

                      1. re: hollyd

                        I think the OP wants food to eat on the trip, not take there.

                        1. re: hollyd

                          Make the filling and put it in a zip top bag. When on site, pipe into the egg white parts.


                      2. re: hollyd

                        hummus and pita "southernfied" with tomato and cucumber slices would be lovely, too!

                        if deviled eggs are too messy (mine are, under normal circs, smooshy, eggy blobs, anyway), perhaps hard boiled eggs with salt? they're not fancy, but they are very much a southern picnic staple and IMO great on a road trip (.... unless anyone in the car gets gassy after eating eggs, but that's another story ;).

                        1. re: cimui

                          speaking of "southernfied"...fried green tomatoes!

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            oh goodness. drool.... something tells me this is going to be in my near future. i bet there's a healthy way to make it, too... maybe breaded with cornmeal, spritzed with olive oil and baked in an oven.

                            1. re: cimui

                              "i bet there's a healthy way to make it, too"
                              there sure is! make a wash with a mixture of egg white & buttermilk, and a "breading" with cornmeal & corn flour seasoned with paprika, celery salt & black pepper.

                              bake in a 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes (assuming slices are about 1/4-inch thick), turning once.

                          2. re: cimui

                            cimui, you are on to something. I was thinking of doing a few hard boiled eggs and keeping them in the shell until ready to eat. It's easy and cheap enough!

                            1. re: Ora

                              I save my ketchup and salt packets from takeout specifically for the purpose of accompanying my travel-ready hard-boiled eggs. They are one of my favorite snacks, ever -- and actually nominally healthy if you're not worried about your cholesterol levels. Pickled eggs are also well loved in the south.

                              [Or, if you want to desouthern-fy it (since I'm on a roll with the made-up words ;), maybe tea eggs would be to your liking.]

                              1. re: cimui

                                pickled eggs is a great idea! I like to pickle them in the jar from pickled beets, so they turn pink.

                              2. re: Ora

                                My sister had HBE's packed on a road trip & one exploded.
                                I do not have additional details, but to hear the story is quite hysterical.

                        2. Not exactly southern but we've always loved those little sandwich spirals. You take a tortilla or other sandwich wrap, spread like cream cheese and some herbs or something with some smoked salmon or the like. Roll it up, refrigerate over night and slice into medallions. If you make a bunch of them and put in Tupperware, you can eat a bit at a time.


                          1. Engine Block Beef Roast - 5 or 6 hours isjust about the perfect cooking time...

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: KiltedCook

                              this is wild. I have never heard of cooking meat and potatoes on the engine block. Awesome.

                              1. re: KiltedCook

                                Funny story, but while vacationing in the keys one year on our last day we caught a beautiful Hof fish (poor mans lobster) NO way we were going to put it back and almost no room in the cooler. So the guys we went with cleaned/fillet it and then put in on a couple of our left over rolls and a little cheese and put in on the engine block. Dinner in about 30 miles or so.
                                TRUE STORY! I though they were all nuts, but it was great.

                                1. re: KiltedCook

                                  Won't this be too late to eat as a picnic en route?

                                  1. re: nemo

                                    I was just basically telling a funny story and saying what I think could be done. Thirty minutes into the trip and we could eat our. Just in the car. Take it as literal as you want. I just thought it was interesting that someone else brought it up and thought I would share it.

                                  2. re: KiltedCook

                                    Is there a car or truck built in the last 10 years that has enough room in the engine compartment to fit a steak much a roast beef?

                                  3. These are terrific ... first, they taste amazing. But I've started making them for picnic food and they are perfect. I don't do the meringue. I just make the puddings, add a little homemade whipped cream, put on the top of the mason jar, and they travel great in an ice chest:


                                      1. re: jenwee

                                        Love this idea as I was trying to think of a few tea sandwiches to bring as well. I may make of small portion of Frank Stitt's recipe.