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Driving around the country in a truck is no easy task; ask any of the truck drivers on the road right now. With fewer healthy options while on the road than ever before, many long-haul truckers have figured out ways to have gourmet meals without the restaurant. From bacon-wrapped asparagus, lobster tails, and ribs, there isn’t anything you can’t cook in a truck these days.

These long-haul truck drivers have gotten creative with meals on the road

Long-haul truck drivers found creative ways to cook
A truck driver fuels up at the Love’s Truck Stop in | George Frey/AFP via Getty Images

Back in the day, truck stops used to be family-run establishments with restaurants. Business Insider spoke to a few different truck drivers who said this is no longer the case. Truck driver Derek Rogers says most of the friendly “mom and pop truck stops” have long been replaced with commercial chains that only offer pre-made food options. In some cases, that means fast food, while others have prepackaged food that sits around for hours at a time.

Rogers said that for what one meal at a truck stops diner costs, he could manage three meals made with real ingredients. While some drivers spend up to 14 hours a day working, with 11 hours of those being used for driving, not much time is left for other things.

Before small appliances like the air fryer and Keurig coffee maker were widely available, some long-haul truckers used the truck’s engine. Truck driver Trish Bennett said, “drivers could wrap their food in tin foil and put it by their turbo. They could keep driving and have dinner an hour later.” Business Insider says that a semi-truck diesel engine usually runs between 195 and 220 degrees.

Some truck drivers use a slow cooker, others try out an air fryer

Rogers says that he uses an air fryer, slow cooker, and Keurig coffee machine for his meals while on the road. He has a bed and a two-by-two foot kitchen area for his appliances inside the truck cab. He says this gives him the freedom to cook almost anything. Lobster tails, shrimp, and steak were on the menu for New Year’s Day. On regular days, this truck driver makes chicken wings, tacos, stuffed mushrooms, and even surf-and-turf using his appliances.

Using a 12-volt lunchbox and a slow cooker, Bennett says she has no problem making meals. Many of these trucks are equipped with a microwave, which helps her cut down on cooking time. Some truck drivers say meals can cook using the slow cooker while she drives around the country. By the time the workday is over, the meal is cooked and ready in the truck’s cab.

There is room for a small fridge to hold enough supplies for a few days. Breakfast for long-haul truckers can consist of eggs on a hot plate, french toast, or coffee from a coffee maker. There are also ready-made options like Aunt Jemima’s pancake on the go. Another lunch idea is a pita pizza. Pita, tomato sauce, veggies, and cheese dropped into an air fryer for a few minutes. Derek Rogers shared photos of ribs with jalapeños that he cooked in the air fryer.

Affordable small appliances make a big difference in the day-to-day

All of this requires a lot of planning and preparation before putting the ideas into motion. Sometimes leftovers are easier for the first night, Rogers says. Bennett and Rogers have cleaning stations where the pots and pans get washed after each use. Then, the supplies have to be stored away before hitting the road.

With fewer options on the road and longer hours than ever before, it is no surprise truck drivers have gotten creative with meals. The roads in America are unforgiving and long, especially with truck driver shortages plaguing the industry. Having an enjoyable and well-cooked meal is just a small consolation.


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