Hack the Gas Station Mini-Mart

Rachel Tepper Paley
July 2, 2014

Credit: Fox Network

Eating on the road can be a bummer. The oil-slicked asphalt is lined with Cracker Barrels, Burger Kings, and gas station mini-marts.

Ah, those gas station mini-marts. They’re at the heart of one of modernity’s greatest culinary dilemmas: Does one give into the lure of that bag of Cheetos, or hold out for something less… orange?

Well, under-the-radar options, plenty of which blow Cheetos out of the water, abound at the roadside mini-mart. We turned to Facebook and Twitter to find out how our readers navigate these tiny markets—and learned a few tricks we might steal for our next trip.

Here are our favorites:

Ron Paley’s pan-Asian hack: “[Take] dry roast peanuts (rinse off the excess salt), shrimp-flavored Cup of Noodles, and a box of raisins [for a touch of sweetness],” he writes. “Crush the raisins… and voila! Fake pad Thai.”

Leah Schwartz suggests snagging “bananas, a jar of peanut butter, and a plastic spoon or knife for spreading.” It’s healthier than most standard mini-mart fare, it’s kid-friendly, and it has a delightful sweet-and-salty thing going on.

Less healthy, but just as sweet-and-salty? “Peanuts! Coca-Cola!" exclaims journalist Lacy Warner. It may not be gourmet, but the combo does sound enticing.

Hunt through the refrigerated section for decent single-serving perishables. Stephen Harrison digs Sabra's “individual hummus packs,” which come with pretzels, while Sarah Casner opts for “individual packs of turkey lunch meat and cheese sticks.”

Also in the fridge: big blocks of Cheddar cheese. Jenna Golden eats them on “Ritz crackers and pretzels,” though we might add a dollop of strawberry jelly—sometimes you’ll see a stray packet kicking around by the lame-looking croissants—to the mix.

For dessert, when Kevin Hulse spies a toaster, he skips his usual Snickers and whips up a DIY pastry: “[Just] toast bread, add butter, [then] sprinkle cinnamon and sugar." (Or just sugar, if there’s no cinnamon around, because desperate times…)

And it ain’t a road trip without ice cream, so Yahoo Food Features Editor Alex Van Buren goes for ice cream sandwiches, preferably round ones, rolled in M&M’s. 

See? Mini-mart dining doesn’t have to be hopeless.