Who Is Ready To Cook On The Road?
The allure of an RV trip is hard to resist. After all, what could be easier than packing up a rolling cottage that you take wherever you want to go?
Well, for starters, there’s the matter of meals. When you combine transportation with accommodation, you’re also making yourself head chef of the nearest restaurant—also known as your RV’s kitchenette.
If you’re worried about how to pack and cook in your RV, relax! Meal prep doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, you might even enjoy cooking a lot more once it’s pared down to its most essential elements. As long as you plan ahead and know what to bring, RV cooking is pretty easy.
Try these tips to do it right.
1. Make a List and Check It Twice
You’ve only got so much room in your RV, so plan your meals carefully. For a short vacation, count the days and list the meals you’ll eat, skipping a few for restaurant dinners or day hiking snacks, if that’s your thing. Discuss a menu with your travel partners and shop accordingly, making sure to buy only what you need.
The Golden Rule of stocking your RV kitchen? Less is more. You can always stop at a grocery store if you run out—they’re everywhere!
2. Embrace One-Dish Cooking
With limited space, it’s much easier to prepare meals that require just a single cooking dish. For example, let go of a full breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, and hash browns, and embrace a one-pan breakfast skillet meal instead. Dinner can be made the same way: think sautéed chicken and veggies for fajitas, or pork-fried rice.
If you have an oven, classic casseroles are a great choice, as are simple sheet pan dinners. A slow cooker might be worth its weight in gold as well—just be sure to pack it carefully where it can’t fall and break.
3. Pack Light
If you’re renting an RV that doesn’t come equipped with plates and utensils, you’ll have to bring your own. You don’t need nearly as much as you think! Everyone needs one plate, bowl, and cup, plus a fork, knife and spoon. Go for lightweight plastic versions: remember, things can shift during travel, and you don’t want anything breakable.
For cookware, you’ll need one pot and one pan, plus a wooden spoon. Bring a sharp knife, and a cutting board, too. You may also need a liquid measuring cup and a few dry measuring cups and spoons as well. Finally, be sure to bring some tin foil and a few food storage containers for leftovers, plus dish soap and a sponge for cleanup.
Pro Tip: Long-haul RV-ers should invest in stackable square containers for the freezer. Use them for double meal prep by eating half of that chili tonight and freezing the rest for later.
4. Build a Spice Kit
The secret to keeping RV meals interesting is having a basic spice kit ready for the road. Here’s what you absolutely need:
- Ground pepper
- Red pepper flakes
- Garlic powder
- Ground cinnamon
- Italian seasoning blend
- Curry powder
- Chili powder
These eight items will let you add a lot of flavor to basic meals, and you can turn a plain staple like rice into a side dish worthy of Mexican, Asian, or Italian cuisine.
Pro Tip: To save space, try emptying spices into the smallest available Ziploc bags, which will pack flat in a drawer.
5. Embrace Instant Options
There will be some days when you get in late or are just too tired to cook. Frozen dinners, sous vide meals, instant oatmeal, ramen noodles—these are all lifesavers for those nights when cooking is the last thing you want to do. Be sure to have at least one “emergency” option that will take zero effort to make.
There are also healthier, instant options as people are becoming more conscious about the foods (with the chemicals and high processing) that we put into our bodies.
6. Clean as You Go
With only one cutting board, you’ll have to wash as you go to prevent cross-contamination. But it’s a good idea to wash as you cook so that you have a clean workspace, too. Drop used utensils directly into the sink, and make it a habit to wash all of your prep tools as soon as food is sizzling away in a pan or the oven. Wipe surfaces as well, since you’ll need them again to serve food or ladle it into storage containers after the meal.