5 Essential Road Trip Recipes

Save your waistline (and your wallet) by packing these easy, approved-for-the-car dishes.

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With spring in the air, the weather is just starting to inspire some sunnier weather getaways. And with sunshine comes the vagabond days of summer...

But just because there's an open stretch of highway ahead and your travel itinerary is more about drifting with the wind, it doesn't mean healthy eating should also go to the wayside.

Instead of shelling out dough for overpriced roadside junk, we've compiled our favorite pre-made meal recipes and snacks to fuel your four-wheeled travels.

1. Pumpkin Loaf (above)


  • 1 (15 ounce) can of pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup of water
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and lightly dust flour into three 7 x 3 inch pans (this way the bread won't stick to the pan). Using a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water, and sugar until evenly blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Once mixed together, pour dry ingredients into pumpkin puree mixture and blend evenly. Pour mixture into pans and bake 50 minutes in the pre-heated oven. Loafs are done when a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Hint: pour the mixture into cupcake tins instead of pans for easier on-the-go packaging.

Servings: 24


2. Grown-Up Peanut Butter Sandwich

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup granola cereal
  • 2 small bananas
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 8 slices thick whole wheat bread
In bowl, combine peanut butter, granola, chopped peanuts, and honey. Mix well. Spread whole wheat bread with peanut butter mixture. Slice bananas over top the peanut butter mixture and cover with other other slice of bread. Enjoy.

Hint: These sandwiches freeze extremely well so to make them road trip-friendly, wrap in plastic immediately after preparation and freeze. The day of your road trip, let them thaw in an insulated lunchbox and enjoy them by lunchtime.

Serves: 4

[recipe modified from about.com]

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3. Vegitarian Bean Burrito

  • 4 flour tortillas (6 0r 7 inches in diameter)
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1/4 cup canned chiles
  • 1/4 cup canned whole kernel corn
  • 2 tbsp. thinly sliced scallions
  • 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 med. avocado, diced
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • 1/2 cup salsa
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wrap flour tortillas in aluminum foil and warm in the oven five to ten minutes. In the meantime, in a large bowl, combine rice, beans, chiles, corn, scallions, cilantro, and salt. Toss to mix. Divide filling into four tortillas and top with avocado, 1/4 cup of lettuce, and 1 tablespoon salsa. Roll up and wrap burritos tightly. Refrigerate until trip, then transfer to insulated lunchbox.

Hint: Pack your own salsa and add it later if you want to avoid getting burritos soggy on the drive.

Serves: 4


4. Tuna Tortas with Pico de Gallo

  • 1 can (6 ounce) solid white tuna packed in water
  • 4 ounces Roma tomatoes, rinsed and seeded
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/3 cup minced red onion
  • 2 fresh serrano chilies or other small hot chilies, rinsed, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sandwich rolls (3 oz. each), split in half horizontally
Directions (at home):
Mix together Roma tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, red onion, chilies, and salt. Pour into an airtight container (choose one that you can keep chilled in an insulated lunchbox the day of road trip). Slice sandwich rolls in half, wrap, and set aside for the day of the trip. Pack a can of tuna and a fork.

Directions (on-the-road):
Open the tuna can, mix tuna into chilled tomato mixture, assemble mixture on sandwich rolls and enjoy.

Hint: Try to buy a tuna can with a peel back lid to spare yourself the worry of packing a manual can opener.

Serves: 2


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5. Ham and Cheese Loaf

  • 1 and 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. instant dried yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1/2 cup and 2 tbsp. whole milk
  • 3 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 5 slices thick, good ham
  • 3 tbsp. cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 6 tbsp. Gruyère cheese (grated)
Whisk the flour and yeast together in a bowl, slowly whisking in the salt and sugar after the flour and yeast are combined. Pour in the milk and begin stirring with a large spoon. Add the softened butter into the bowl and mix until butter is evenly distributed. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it on a clean, lightly powdered counter top for about ten minutes - until dough is soft, elastic, and smooth. Put the dough in a lightly buttered bowl and let it rise in a warm place for about an hour. The dough should roughly double in size during this hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Take dough out of bowl and use a rolling pin to gently roll dough out into a thin-edged rectangle. Brush mayonnaise on top of dough and then sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Top mayo and cheese with ham. Starting at one edge, carefully start to roll up ham-mayo-cheese covered dough as if you were rolling up a burrito. Form the stuffed dough into a tight log. Vertically cut log into six pieces (they should look like swirled cinnamon rolls) . Place these cross-sections face up into a bundt pan. Sprinkle with Gruyère cheese. Let the dough rise again in the pan until almost double in size. Bake for 25 minutes until bread is golden and cheese slightly browned.

Hint: Try not to knead the dough for too long or too short - just enough for it to become elastic and smooth - otherwise your dough either will be too rough or won't rise. Ten minutes of kneading should be a good time marker.

Serves: 6


Between Meal/ Healthy Snack Ideas:
-Non-fat popcorn sprinkled with garlic salt (pop beforehand)
-Fresh Fruit - think cherries, grapes, apple slices, oranges
-Sugar-free jello cups
-Dried fruit and nuts
-Rice Cakes
-Bagel Chips
-Trail Mix
-Wasabi Peas

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