If you’re a long-haul truck driver, then you know what the cost of eating on the road in truck stops can be. Not only are you juggling the cost of food, but showers, gas if you’re an Owner Operator, maintenance for your truck if you own it, clothing and shelter.
Depending on where you go, eating in a restaurant can be pretty expensive. And hauling a 53-foot trailer doesn’t make it easy for a driver to pull up to a McDonald’s or Wendy’s drive-thru window.
But how does a trucker driving over the road afford to eat, stay healthy and make a profit at the same time? As a driver myself I have learned budgeting is everything, as well as learning where to find the best deals and lowest cost of eating on the go. Here are some great tips I learned while driving a semi-truck across the United States.
Chose Where You Want To Eat Wisely
90% of drivers don’t plan to sit down and enjoy a meal, not when there are deadlines to meet and loads to deliver. For the most part, your eating experience probably consists of pulling up in the fuel line, running in, and taking your food with you to eat while you are driving or taking your break.
If your company has provided you with a fuel stop book, hopefully, it comes with a guide to restaurants at that particular stop. If not, it’s best to know the average truck stop will have Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Popeye’s, Subway, Taco Bell, and Burger King.
Doesn’t sound like these stops are the healthiest places to go, does it? But it can be. All of the restaurants mentioned now put out a calories and fat content guide for truckers trying to watch what they eat and stay healthy. If you are trying to stay fit while out on the road for weeks at a time check out this guide at the restaurant or online.
Pay Attention To Coupons And Deals
At many Pilot and Love’s truck stops there is a machine that allows you to pull a coupon off for $1 off a Subway meal deal. You may have to look for the coupon in some locations, and the machine is the same one you would find at the grocery store deli counter.
Petro Gas Station has The Iron Skillet which allows you to order off the main menu unlimited amounts of the same meal you order. Some locations vary and allow only one refill of the plate, but this is a great way to save on the cost of eating.
Look for Class A and B CDL deals at restaurants and hotels. They aren’t advertised widely, but at certain restaurants and stores across the USA deals are offered for showing your CDL, and if you’re an out-of-state driver you may be entitled to other discounts as well.
I’ve only seen these Class A CDL meal deals offered in Las Vegas as a way to bring truck drivers into the Casino, but it is something to be on the lookout for.
Bring Your Own Meals
The easiest way for a long-haul truck driver to save money while they are on the road is to bring your own food with you. If you’re a solo driver or a team you can purchase food at a discount at Warehouse stores or Walmart.
Look for markdowns and clearance items to save on the cost of eating on the road. There were many times on the road peanut butter and jelly sandwiches helped us get through the day until we could eat a meal at night or before we switched drivers.
If you plan to bring your own meals in nonperishable containers you can purchase a square plastic container at Walmart and keep your items inside of it and under your bottom bunk, if there is room to do that. Also, if you have a refrigerator on the truck you can keep perishable items in it, or in a small cooler on ice. Remember to be resourceful with the living space you have.