Road trips are fun, but at some point, you’re going to find yourself hungry and at a gas station. If you’re fortunate you’ll land at a Flying J or Pilot, and most of these have a fast food chain attached to their facility, so that’s an easy solution. If I’m in Franklin, NC I’ll stop at the Hot Spot gas station and order Crab Bisque and Basil Shrimp at Caffe’ Rel. When I’m in Meridian, MS whether I need fuel of not I’ll stop at Seafood Express, located inside the Green Maple Leaf gas station, for one of the best Shrimp Po’ Boys around.
My list doesn’t include the above circumstances; most stomachs can survive those situations. This list covers food that’s never had a heartbeat, contains ingredients you can’t pronounce and it’s stuff that you’re going to eat while driving.
I’m not a fan of eating while driving! Not because of the safety concern, I’m more worried about taking a bite out of a Taco Bell burrito and then suddenly all that refried bean goodness oozes out the other end of the tortilla making a mess of my clothes #RealWorldProblems.
For most road trips, I’m wearing some sort of dress clothes, so this has some bearing on my food choices. For instance, as much as I love powdered donuts this isn’t an acceptable gas station food. More than likely that first bite is going to cover your pants in that white sugary powder. Stay away from chocolate candy like Snowcaps & M&M’s, too easy for a piece to fall out of your hand and end up under your butt, where it melts. When you exit the car you’ll have melted chocolate all over the seat of your pants, I’ll let you put together the visual. Pizza is a no go due to the grease and foods requiring using both hands for consumption need to be avoided no matter how skilled you are driving with your knees.
Gas station food needs three things, taste, portability and it has to fill you up. Grabbing a package of Swedish Fish or Twizzlers is tasty and portable but after the sugar buzz wears off you’ll once again be hungry.
*** Disclaimer *** Provided you’re not gluten or lactose intolerant, equipped with a nut allergy, been blessed with high blood pressure and/or diabetes and have decided to go vegan the foods below should sustain you till you get to your destination.
First on the list is Beef Jerky and Slim Jims, actually make that any processed meat product wrapped in plastic that doesn’t need refrigeration.
Positives – High in protein, easy to eat and little or no mess.
Negatives – High in salt and the smell might offend passengers, which might be a good thing depending on who is riding with you. Beef jerky can be a tad expensive when purchased in a gas station.
Most every gas station will have a rack filled full of Little Debbie snacks. Oatmeal pies to cosmic brownies, there’s a snack for everybody. My favorite, the Nutty Buddy or anything from their Zebra collection.
Positives – As tasty as it gets, inexpensive, easy to hold and almost never expires. Don’t forget their seasonal offerings such as Fall Party Cakes.
Negatives – Loaded with sugar and not the most filling, so if you happen to eat four or five keep an eye on that calorie count.
Roller food, those tasty cylindrical tubes of nutrition. Looking to snack on an egg roll, tamale, hotdog or taquito while driving 75 MPH? If so, then grab those tongs and pluck a few of these rolling beauties.
Positives – Cheap, usually $1.00 plus they taste good and are relatively filling. Where else can you eat food from three different ethnicities all in a single stop?
Negatives – Be careful if you load any these items up with salsa. ketchup or mustard, it’s very easy to end up with a goopy mess in your lap. Stay away from any item that’s not rolling, a sure sign that the bottom is more than likely over-cooked.
String cheese and almonds both tasty and relatively healthy. Pork Cracklins is another favorite, exercise caution as these tasty pig bits can be rock hard, and no one wants a chipped tooth while traveling. Don’t forget crackers, endless flavors, delicious, easy to hold and besides a few stray crumbs, they’re not very messy.
The one area I stay away from is the refrigerated pre-made sandwich and salad section. You have no idea how many times that stuff has gotten warm and then re-chilled, and I guarantee that any sandwich you buy will be soggy. Also, stay away from gas station fruit, bananas covered in spots are sketchy as hell.
Of course, the simple solution is to pack your own food, which I do on occasion, but seriously eating grapes and celery sticks aren’t much fun, and it tastes like you’re eating grapes and celery sticks.
Also ,keep a package of wet-wipes in the glove box, no one wants to shake your hand if it’s covered in honeybun residue.
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