Last time we did a long road trip we left half an hour after I got home from work. Can I suggest to you, this is not helpful when it comes to organising yourself for travel food? We ended up spending 3 days eating breakfast and lunch at McDonald's and dinner did not fare much better. We were so desperate to eat normal food!! What I learnt from that trip is that travel food takes some organising. When you can do this it can not only be healthier, it is much, much cheaper.
Next time we hit the road, these are my plans:
Utensils: You never know if your motel room's tea-making facilities are going to be wonderful or negligible. In Australia they always have a kettle. Mostly they'll have a toaster. I would plan to take a sharp knife, small chopping board, bowls, spoons, plates and cups. A picnic set would be great but if you're concerned about how to wash up then disposable will be the way to go....just this once.
Breakfast: take cereal, fruit bread or croissants, jam and butter.
Buy a litre or two of milk wherever you end up (or you could buy UHT if your family isn't going to freak out about it) and I don't refrigerate the butter block we're actually using, so that will travel just fine.
Lunches: stop in at any supermarket and grab some bread rolls, lunch meat and fruit.
Alternatively, these could be bought the night before when buying milk and an ice-brick could be frozen in the motel-room fridge so things can be kept cold in a cooler bag for a few hours before lunch.
Food: We enjoy things like crackers, chips and home-baked goodies. All these things can be bought or cooked before you leave. I stow some under my feet and some in a cooler bag right behind Mr Busy's seat (we have a wagon-style car so it's easy to get to all the time). I also make sure I have fruit that isn't messy - think apples, bananas, grapes, mandarins. Make sure you have some wipes and a plastic bag for rubbish.
Drinks: take teabags, plastic mugs and a thermos which can be filled before you leave. Either have small UHT (ie. 250ml) carton of milk or 300ml carton of fresh if you can keep it cold.
Each person refills and packs their own water bottle.
Dinner: I have yet to figure out a way to do this self-sufficiently. Next time we're on the road we'll be bringing breakfast, lunch and snacks and then buying dinner. We have five adult-sized people now so it gets a bit pricey, but cheaper than buying everything.
What are your best tips for frugal food while travelling?