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Simple, healthy recipes for the road

Packing for a 6-week road trip in our SUV with only a tent meant we had to get pretty choosy about what to bring and what had to be left behind. One thing I wasn’t putting in storage was the 2.5qt crock pot we picked up in Nicaragua. That’s right, I packed it in my checked luggage and brought it home. Go on and laugh, but we use that thing almost every day while we’re traveling!

In Nicaragua, it was great because it’s just too hot to turn on the oven. Even standing over the BBQ nearly did me in when it was close to 40 degrees.

Now that we’re roadtripping back in Canada, we try to get out walking or exploring in the morning, then cover some ground in the afternoon. We throw something in the crock pot when we already have everything out to make lunch, and it cooks away while we drive in the afternoon (well, I drive and she works). Today, we had breakfast in the Ottawa Valley and lunch near Gatineau, at which point we threw dinner in the crockpot and hit the road. Neither of us had to worry about making dinner after setting up camp south of Montreal.

There’s more to it than that, though. You can get really tired, really quickly of eating convenience foods. When you have exploring to do, you don’t want to be feeling all sluggish and crappy from eating fast food or prepared foods. You can still eat homemade without having a real kitchen at your disposal.

Some of the best crockpot meals are just made of whatever’s fresh and handy, with a salad and rolls on the side. With that in mind, don’t feel like you have to follow these recipes to the letter. Use whatever you’ve got and enjoy!

Here are a few recipes you can try out next time you hit the road. All are for 2 people and a 2.5 qt crockpot, but can be doubled into a larger one.

Turkey Tetrazzini with Rice

I use rice because pasta is a pain to clean out of a crock pot when you’re camping or washing up on the side of the road. You can use fresh or flaked turkey… it’s all good.

Start by mixing in your crockpot:

  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1 tsp vegetable or olive oil

Crockpot turkey tetrazzini with rice for travelers


  • 3 chopped mushrooms
  • 3 tbsp chopped, cooked bacon
  • 1 diced green onion
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper

Recipes for the Road: Turkey Tetrazzini with Rice

Cover with:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup white wine

Simple recipes for travelers: Crockpot turkey tetrazzini with rice

Stir, cover, cook on high and leave it alone for 2-3 hours, until the rice is cooked. Check it with a fork and make sure there’s no liquid at the bottom of the crockpot. By now, you should have arrived where you’re going and all you have left to add is:

  • your cooked turkey, either fresh or canned. I won’t judge, but I will say that it’s awfully hard to cook a turkey while you’re camping.
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese

Stir and let it go another 10 minutes while you set the table, put up the tent… whatever it is that you do. Then eat.

Simple, healthy recipes for the road

Don’t hold it too long but if you must, turn it to Low.

6-Hour Pulled Pork

This is a good recipe for longer drives. Serve on fresh rolls with pickles and coleslaw.

Add to your crockpot:

  • 1.5 lb pork shoulder or cottage roll, lightly oiled and seasoned with salt & pepper
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup of your favourite BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning

Stir your liquids around the pork and cover. Cook on High until the roast shreds easily with a fork, about 5 to 6 hours. Remove the meat from the crock pot and shred it with two forks, then return to the sauce, stir and serve on rolls.

Vegan Stew for the Road

This one is a good compromise when one person is vegan and the other is not. It’s rich and filling without being cruel. It’s a win, and it’s super easy as everything goes into the pot at once. It’s also a great way to use up any produce you don’t want to spoil.

Mix in your crockpot:

  • 1 can of lentils, drained (rinse if possible, but don’t worry if you can’t)
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 large or 2 small potatoes, washed and diced with peels left on
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 4 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, chopped fine
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning

Cover and cook 3-4 hours on High and serve with rolls or toast for dipping. Hold on Low if needed.

Rice Pilaf & Chicken Breast

This is a nice dinner when you’re passing by a grocery store some time that same day and can get the chicken without having to store it in your cooler, with all your fresh produce.

Start by mixing in your crockpot:

  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1 tsp vegetable or olive oil


  • 1 diced red pepper
  • 1 diced shallot or small white onion
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 1/4 cups of chicken stock OR 2 1/4 cups of water and one Mr. Noodles soup base packet (if you have bulk chicken soup base on the road, kudos. I’m going to assume Mr. Noodles is easier for road tripping).

Stir and place on top:

  • 2 chicken breasts, lightly oiled and seasoned with salt & pepper

Cover and cook at least 3 hours on High. Slice into the thickest part of the breast to check for doneness before serving.

Vegetarian Chili

If you don’t tell your friends its vegetarian, they won’t know. Believe me, I’ve tried it.

Mix in your crockpot:

  • 1/2 packet of Yves veggie ground round
  • 1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large fresh tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 can brown beans in tomato sauce
  • 3 chopped mushrooms
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup fresh bean sprouts, if desired
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cover and cook 3-4 hours on High. Holds well on Low.

Now, a few important notes:

  • Put a grown up in charge of the crock pot. Some get hot on the outside casing, and you definitely need to make sure it’s secured while you’re moving. Imagine a car accident with flaming hot turkey tetrazzini in your lap… not cool. Or worse, in your face because you were holding it in your lap… don’t do that. We did have an incident on highway 17 and lost about 2/3 of a crockpot on the floor. It’s a messy lesson to learn, but at least it didn’t end up on my face.
  • Don’t kill your car with your crockpot. Our SUV has a 150W AC outlet, which is great for the crockpot but won’t power a toaster. It also only works while the car is turned on. If you have a cigarette lighter in your car but no AC outlet, you can get an inverter. Just don’t leave it plugged in while you’re out wandering around, or you’ll be waiting on a jumpstart when you get back.
  • Never, ever leave it unattended. You don’t want to burn your car-home down.

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Trevor Schwandt spent 25 years as a chef in Ontario, Canada, and is on a mission to see the world. An avid traveler, he’s backpacked Europe and explored his way around Central America and the Caribbean. Trevor’s the more adventurous of the Seeking Sanity blog duo, constantly on the lookout for a new set of ruins to hike, local cuisine and brews to try, and increasingly exciting ways to scare Miranda silly.

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