Thursday, 08 July 2021 16:09

On the Road Again: "Mothering Boys"

By Katherine Morna Towne | Families Today
On the Road Again: "Mothering Boys"

We do picnic-type meals with some frequency during the summer, whether at the lake or the park or on road trips. Figuring out foods that are fairly easy to prepare and eat, can be made in large quantities, travel well, and have a high likelihood of being eaten by the majority of my children has been a task I’ve spent a lot of time on. 

When I was growing up, any time we were going to be in the van for a while, my mom would bring a loaf of bread and a package of bologna or sliced ham and pass back sandwiches as kids were hungry. To this day, bologna on bread is one of my favorite things to eat, no joke! But the family I’ve created with my husband doesn’t care for bologna on bread, or ham on bread (some of them don’t like anything on bread, crazy kids!), so I’ve had to get creative with food-on-the-road. Here are some of our recent favorites:


It’s so easy to put a tray of frozen meatballs in the oven for twenty minutes, let them cool for ten, and then pop them in a container to go. I’ve done this while getting everyone and everything ready for whatever excursion we’re setting out on. I bring a bag of rolls (already sliced, or I pry them open with my fingers) and put one meatball in each one for an easy slider. I also bring a bunch of forks for those who don’t like sandwiches and hand out meatballs speared on the end of the forks like lollipops, which the younger kids especially like. 


As with the meatballs, I put the hot dogs on a tray in the oven for twenty minutes and let them cool for ten. If I have enough time, I like to then put each hot dog in a bun and then wrap it up in parchment paper or foil — my kids tend to get more excited about food that’s individually wrapped (and honestly, so do I!). If I don’t have the time, or I know people are feeling extra anti-sandwich-y that day, I’ll put the hot dogs in a container and bring the buns and some forks, just like with the meatballs.


Like with the meatballs and hot dogs, the frozen nuggets go in the oven on a tray for twenty minutes and then cool for ten. In our house, a cooked component (even if it’s no longer hot by the time we eat it) is fairly crucial to happy on-the-go eating, and chicken nuggets are particularly kid-friendly.


Yes, one last heat-and-go option! I get a huge bag of pizza bites — usually just cheese so my littlest guys don’t freak out (which also makes this good for Meatless Friday families) — and put them in a big container. It’s really cute to see my boys standing around the big bowl of pizza bites, popping one after another — there’s something really appealing about a container of easy finger foods.


My last go-to option requires a bit more hands-on work, but takes less time overall. I cook simple quesadillas in a frying pan: just tortillas and cheese, which makes this another great meatless option. When I’m making quesadillas for an at-home meal, I’ll include chicken and veggies, but for travel, cheese is good enough. This is another food that wraps up nicely in individual portions — I cut them into wedges and wrap two or more wedges up in parchment or foil for easy distribution. 

The items mentioned above serve as the “anchor” of my on-the-go meals — a part of a formula I use every time: main dish plus chips plus fruit plus dessert. I buy those big bags containing individual chip bags, as well as fruit (fresh when I can take the time to wash it and figure out a good crush-proof container — grapes are some of the easiest to travel with, as are a bag of clementines — but often applesauce pouches, which are so easy) and usually a dessert (a box of cookies, for example). The container of cooked food, the fruit, and the dessert fit inside a reusable shopping bag, and the big bag of chip bags gets carried alongside. Easy peasy! I generally don’t worry about plates, but I do try to make sure to bring a lot of napkins. And having the boys bring their school water bottles is the easiest beverage solution.

I hope this is helpful to you as you spend time outside and/or on the road with your family this summer!

Kate and her husband have seven sons ages 16, 14, 13, 11, 9, 7, and 2. Follow her at, or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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