If your kids are involved in any organized sports or after-school activities, chances are, you’re eating a meal in the car multiple times a week. Whether it’s the commute to the field straight from school or a late-night dinner on the way home from the studio, your kid’s gotta eat! We’ve been there, and that’s why we’ve rounded up some of the easiest dinner ideas for the car that are nutritious and won’t make a huge mess. If you’d rather have something ready at home, try our list of make-ahead meals instead.

Salad in a Jar

salad in a jar is an easy dinner in the car idea
Mariana Medvedeva via Unsplash

It does a parent’s heart food to know they’re feeding their kids something nutritious before rushing off to a strenuous practice or game, and that’s why salad in a jar is a great option. With so many options, from kale, spinach, and iceberg lettuce to proteins like steak, chicken, or tofu, not to mention the plethora of dressing options, there is something for every type of eater in this dinner-in-the-car idea. The best news? You can contain the mess by layering everything in a jar! Just make sure you leave enough room so you can shake everything up and give it a good mix.

Mini Corn Dog Muffins

corn dog muffins are good dinner in the car idea

These adorable corn dog muffins are a nice twist on the stick version and are perfect for eating on the go. Our recipe uses homemade cornbread and produces a soft and delicious blanket around sliced hot dogs. Pack some sauce in a small container and let your kids dip their hearts out on the way to their activities.

Cold Pepperoni Pasta Salad

pepperoni pasta salad recipe
Dear Crissy

If you want to make dinner in advance and not worry about keeping it warm, a cold pasta salad is the way to go. This pepperoni pasta salad from Dear Crissy has tons of noodles, veggies, and salami, which should entice young pizza lovers. Pair it with a breadstick or two, and eating in the car just got a lot easier.

Related: 14 Creative Bento Box Lunches That Will Totally Inspire You

Air Fryer Lasagna Cups

Wondermom Wannabe

Want to feast on pasta without the huge mess while eating in the car? Try these air fryer lasagna cups! They are easy to make, take only 30 minutes to whip up in large batches, and are the perfect size for eating by hand. The best part is you can use store-bought sauce and noodles, which makes this dinner-in-the-car idea even more time friendly. Get the recipe from Wondermom Wannabe.

Chicken Taco Pinwheels

chicken taco pinwheels are a good dinner in the car idea
Lisa’s Dinnertime Dish

Served cold, these chicken taco pinwheels from Lisa’s Dinnertime Dish make a great option when eating dinner in the car. They require only five ingredients, are made easily with rotisserie chicken, and can be made a day in advance. Just slice before you head to the car, and you have a healthy, hearty dinner.


Brinner anyone? Whether you take the time to whip up your own mini quiche or go the easy route with the frozen option, this handheld menu item from Scrummy Lane is a sure thing. Depending on the flavor, quiche is packed with protein and veggies, so your kids are filled with energy when it comes time to run those laps at practice.

Sausage & Mozzarella Calzone

sausage calzone is a great dinner in the car idea
Pinch of Yum

Most kids never turn down pizza, but when looking for dinner ideas for the car, parents usually think twice due to the potential mess. This is why this sausage and mozzarella calzone from Pinch of Yum is a great idea because everything is inside the crust. It’s made with FOUR ingredients, one of which is frozen bread (that you don’t have to slave over). It’s also fully customizable, so if your kids aren’t into sausage, swap it for something they like.

Baked Chicken Taquitos

Baked chicken taquitos are an easy dinner you can eat in the car
Kristine’s Kitchen

Freezer friendly and great to make in large batches ahead of time, these baked chicken taquitos from Kristine’s Kitchen make a great option for dinner that kids can eat in the car. This finger food has no-fuss ingredients like rotisserie chicken and is reheated in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

Egg Roll in a Bowl

Egg Roll in a bowl is a good dinner in the car idea
Spend with Pennies

Once again, parents can avoid a mess by dishing up this egg roll in a bowl from Spend with Pennies when looking for dinner ideas for the car. It uses ground meat (your choice of turkey, beef, or sausage), veggies, and that leftover rice you’ve been keeping in the fridge. Store in a thermos, then enjoy when you’re on the go!

Avocado Turkey Wrap

A turkey wrap is a good dinner kids can eat in the car
Chelsea’s Messy Apron

Dinner doesn’t have to be gourmet or difficult to be satisfying, especially when your brain is already packed with pick-up and drop-off times for practice. This simple recipe uses traditional ingredients like turkey, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. If that’s not your kiddos’ jam, Chelsea’s Messy Apron also has versions that include a Southwest Turkey and Greek Turkey Wrap.

Slider Sandwiches

Favorite Family Recipes

Mini sandwiches make the perfect food for eating in the car, and this version can be served either hot or cold. Made with a pack of Hawaiian rolls, you can easily meal prep a dozen sandwiches to round out your week. Make with deli meat and cheese of your choice, then pour the savory sauce over top before baking. Check out this version at Favorite Family Recipes.

Peanut Butter Banana Roll Up

Not all kids need a robust meal before practice, or maybe they’re just picky eaters! That’s where the peanut butter banana roll-up comes in. This simple recipe can be a hearty snack or part of a larger meal and comes together quickly by smearing PB on a tortilla, adding a banana, rolling, and slicing.

Related: 21 Easy Recipes That Even Picky Eaters Will Like

Fried Rice

Chinese fried rice is a good dinner in the car idea
Rasa Malaysia

Fried rice makes a great Thermos meal; it’s packed with meat, veggies, and fried eggs, so it’s also a well-rounded meal. Because your kids will be eating in the car, skip the chopsticks to cut down on the mess. Get the recipe from Rasa Malaysia.


Cold Sesame Noodles

dinners you can eat in the car cold sesame noodles
Gimmie Some Oven

Want to skip the worry over serving a hot meal in the car? This cold sesame noodle recipe from Gimme Some Oven makes dinner prep a breeze because you can make it in advance, chill it, and then pack it in a lunch bag.

Walking Tacos

You might be sitting in the car instead of walking while eating these tacos in a bag, but they are still a great option! A walking taco is a deconstructed taco served right out of a chip bag, so it contains the mess and makes it way more fun than a boring meal in a crumbly, messy shell.

Bento Box Dinner in the Car

bento boxes make eating dinner in the car easy

You can never go wrong with a bento box for dinner, especially if you have a kid who loves to graze or likes options. Check out our roundup of creative bento box ideas that are equally good for snacks or dinner as they are for lunch.


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