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Cooking in a semi-truck: How to save money and eat well on the road

A white plastic spoon stirs a mixture of veggies, chicken and rice in a black crock pot.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Are you wondering how to save money on food without having to eat unhealthy meals? Eating on a budget doesn’t mean you have to live off unhealthy snacks and truck stop food.

One easy way to save money and improve your diet is by cooking your own meals in your semi-truck.

In fact, with a little ingenuity and the right tools, cooking in a semi-truck is a great way to save money and eat healthier.

Top 5 money saving cooking tips

Making food on a budget may feel intimidating at first, but you’ll soon find that there are a ton of easy ways for you to save money and eat better by cooking your own food.

The following are just a few tips you can use to help save money and eat well on the road: 

1. Take advantage of sales and discounts.

    When you do buy food on the road, head to any truck-friendly large retailer and buy the food they mark down in price. Keep an eye out for deals, coupons, discounts and rewards programs at your favorite stores. You may only save a few cents each time you shop, but your wallet will thank you in the long run.

    2. Plan your meals in advance.

      Just like you trip plan with each load, meal plan with each trip so you can maximize your budget, optimize the space in your truck and meet your health goals.

      3. Bring ingredients from home.

        One simple way to avoid impulse purchases and unexpected expenses on the road is to buy and prepare as much food as you can at home before you head out. Doing this will allow you to not only use what you already have, but also avoid paying higher prices while you’re traveling.

        4. Use simple recipes.

          Another way to lower your grocery expenses is to use simple recipes that don’t require a large number of ingredients. Picking recipes with fewer ingredients can save you money and cut down on meal prep time when you’re cooking.

          5. Make your snacks instead of buying them.

            Snacks are an important part of any good road trip but can also be one of the biggest expenses for drivers. Packing or making your own snacks can not only help you save money but can also improve your diet.

            Helpful tools for cooking on a budget in a semi-truck

            There is a wide variety of cooking equipment for truck drivers to use when cooking in their semi-truck. However, the following are some of the most notable tools for truck drivers to use when cooking in their cabs:

            • Auxiliary Power Unit (APU): Most trucks, including Schneider’s new full size sleeper trucks, have them, allowing you to use electrical power with the engine off.
            • Power inverters: Many Schneider trucks come with 1,800-watt pure sine wave inverters, changing DC power from a battery into conventional AC power to plug in and operate all kinds of devices in the truck.
            • Refrigerator or 12-volt cooler: New Schneider sleeper trucks feature factory-installed refrigerators. However, if your truck doesn’t come with a fridge, you can use a cooler to keep your food cold on the road.
            • Crock pots and microwaves: There are plenty of ways to cook food on the road, and equipment like crock pots can even allow you to cook food while you drive — as long as you make sure the device is secured to prevent spills and damage.

            Other helpful cooking equipment

            • Cutting board: It’s good to have multiple surfaces to prepare food on.
            • Tin foil: Use as a lining for a 12-volt portable stove. Since it’s less expensive and more flexible than disposable aluminum pans and makes clean-up easy.
            • Plastic cutlery and paper plates: Speaking of clean-up, use plastic/paper to avoid the hassle of washing dishes.
            • Antibacterial wipes: It’s important to keep your workstation clean, especially if you’re preparing meat. Stay healthy and keep your cab clean by using antibacterial wipes to clean up messes and wipe down commonly touched surfaces.

            See even more helpful cooking equipment for truck drivers in our video below:

            Be sure to be aware of your company’s policies, as Schneider, for example, does not allow any open heating elements like hot plates or grills.

            Looking for more in-cab cooking advice?

            Discover even more helpful on-the-road cooking equipment and delicious recipes to try while you travel. Check out our cooking in a semi-truck YouTube playlist to learn more.

            About the author
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            Schneider Guy loves the "Big Orange." He's passionate about the trucking industry and connecting people to rewarding careers within it. He's been the eyes and ears of our company since our founding in 1935, and he's excited to interact with prospective and current Schneider associates through "A Slice of Orange."

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