Assuming that you plan to travel I-70 for much of the west to east route crossing Missouri, by the time you reach Columbia the hunger pangs may be kicking in. Columbia is a rather typical university-dominated town, with both the ups and downs that can bring. Downtown is easily reached, where a decent burger can be had at Booches. This place embraces being an old-school pool hall/tavern, and also offers up a fair bowl of chili.
If that portion of your trip on 70 goes as far west as Warrenton (which is likely unless you plan to go north on Hwy 54 at Kingdom City for the beginning of a zig zag portion of the trip), a smoked turkey sandwich with a side order of cornbread pudding at Two Dudes BBQ is OK, but sometimes their more traditional smoked meats can be hit or miss. Wash it down with a can of suds for an extra $2. Two Dudes is a couple blocks south of I70 on the left side of the street (there is only one exit, which empties onto what is Hwy 19 going north, and a municipal street to the south).
Italian fare in "The Hill" district of St. Louis is as good as you'll find anywhere...and fitting nearly all ranges of cost and pomp, but guessing that is too far out of your way, there is an alternative that can be made to fit into your route. Stefanina's in Troy, Missouri, may be worth a stop for you if Italian suits your tastes, and it is both easy to find, and once your meal is done, the end of the Lenexa to Louisiana portion of your trip won't be too far ahead of you.
I would suggest getting off of I-70 at Warrenton, taking Hwy 19 north to Hawk Point, where a right turn onto Hwy 47 marks an approximate mid point to Troy. Stefanina's is on Main Street which intersects with Hwy 47 in Troy.
I've eaten there while on the road and based on those experiences, if in the area would certainly dine there again.
From Troy, you can travel north on Hwy 61 to Bowling Green then east to Louisiana, or if allowed by time, via a more scenic and recommeded route of Hwy 47 east to Winfield, then north to Louisiana on the River Route, Hwy 79.
post edited by manofschwa - 2014/09/19 14:30:04