Calling All Road-Trippers: You Only Need 1 Hand to Eat These 15 Meals

September  2, 2016

Road trip food is a tricky beast for a few, chief reasons:

  1. You need your hands for other things, presumably driving or co-piloting.
  2. You can’t fill up on snacks, because what if you’re full by the time you get to the shack on the side of Route 1 with the sign that scrawls “County’s Best Blueberry Pie”?! That would be shameful.

Our solution to tackling this is to focus on the meals: Bring something that will grant you the power not to stop at the normal drive-through dinner options, but leave the periphery free and clear for snacks along the way (blueberry pie and Doritos both count).

Here, then: Our favorite full meals you can eat with one hand and without utensils—for this summer’s last road trips and all of those thereafter:

The Sandwiches (duh):

The Wraps Actually Worth Eating:

The Wildcards:

Tell us what you pack on road trips—or your biggest travel-related food fiasco—in the comments.

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • spacemonkey
  • pierino
  • PHIL
  • Smaug
  • 702551
Kenzi Wilbur

Written by: Kenzi Wilbur

I have a thing for most foods topped with a fried egg, a strange disdain for overly soupy tomato sauce, and I can never make it home without ripping off the end of a newly-bought baguette. I like spoons very much.


spacemonkey September 5, 2016
The other problematic thing about many of these items is the need for a fridge. I wouldn't want those shrimp rolls at room temperature for very long...and a good road trip snack is something that can get baked in the car with no worries about pesky bacteria growing.
702551 September 6, 2016
That is no longer a showstopper.

There are powered coolers these days, now more worrying about ice packs. You just plug them into the 12V cigarette lighter. Not quite cold enough for frosty beers (to be consumed when you reach your destination, of course), but good enough to keep a lot of food items stable.

Heck, my *TEN*-year old Toyota has three cigarette lighter sockets within the car (including one in the trunk). If I need to keep something cool or warm, it's not a big deal.
pierino September 3, 2016
I am looking forward to a taco truck on every corner come November.
PHIL September 2, 2016
Besides the hazard. I would rather stop and take a breather an eat comfortably. It is a hassle eating in the car, whether or not the car is moving.
Smaug September 2, 2016
Studies have shown that eating and drinking while driving can be just as dangerous as driving drunk. An automobile is at best marginally under the control of the driver; you owe it to yourself and anyone else on or near the road to stick to one thing at a time.
Cary September 2, 2016
Yes, thank you! And everyone one of those sandwiches with their chewy bread and damp fillings would be in pieces in your lap if you tried to eat them with one hand, driving or not.
702551 September 2, 2016
Yes, pull over and eat. You owe it to the other people using the road as well as yourself and your passengers.

Cary is right, sandwiches are actually rather poor one-handed eating items, they are often sloppy with both hands, especially when the filling has soaked through the bread. Sandwiches handle best when they are consumed right after they are assembled.

Many of the pictured items are also rather greasy, something else to avoid while operating dangerous machinery. A couple of these show dipping sauces which are extremely dangerous and have a high potential of making a mess.

One of the cleanest portable snack items -- Japan's onigiri -- regretfully aren't listed here. Pity. However, that's not an endorsement to eat and drive.

Pull over for the sake of public safety. Saving a few minutes by eating while operating a motor vehicle shows poor prioritization.