Whether you are traveling with 2 or 10 people, meal planning is a huge responsibility. When you spend a little time planning the meals for your upcoming RV trip, you can save a lot of time, money and make sure everyone’s needs are met.
It is a Vacation After All
Every RV camping trip is different depending on the type of RV you’re staying in and where you are headed. For this reason, meal planning differs widely by the type of trip. If you are in charge of shopping for food, preparing meals and a budget, you’ll want to think about how much time you want to spend working on food preparation during your trip, before you head out on the road.
There are many ways to balance meal preparation with relaxing downtime and minimizing clean-up. The number one tip to reduce the amount of time and work involved with meal preparation is planning. Planning can be done before you leave for your trip, leaving you even more time to relax and unwind.
Consider what your plans are on your trip and decide what meals you will pre-make, which you will prep and make along with those you purchase on the road. Will you be on to go hiking, fishing, or hunting? Do you need to pre-make and pack sandwiches, trail mix and other on-the-go nourishment? If so, there are many items that don’t perish quickly that you can purchase, prep and pack up before you leave for your trip, in the comfort of your home kitchen.
Bananas, berries, snack-sized veggies, bread, peanut butter and jelly are great staples to have for quick snacks anytime.
Planning for Meals on the Road
No matter what kind of RV, motorhome, camper or travel trailer you will be taking on the road, you won’t be able to prepare meals while you are moving. Cooking appliances such as microwaves and stoves do not work while RVs are in motion and we don’t recommend trying to go through the drive-thru with anything larger than a campervan. Drive-thru lanes can be narrow with low hanging and easy to hit barriers.
If you have a long road ahead of you, you will want to pack snacks to bring in your truck while you tow your fifth wheel or travel trailer. The refrigerator in your RV or motorhome will work while you’re on the road, but it’s not safe to move around inside while you’re in motion. Make sure that snacks are nearby when you’re on the road. You can also check with everyone during stops to see if they need food or beverages for the next leg of the trip.
When you’re RVing, you can stop nearly anywhere to take a break, soak up the scenery and explore. This is also a great time to go to the fridge, pull out some food and make a quick meal or sandwiches.
Another way to experience a new town you’ve never been to is stopping in a local diner for a meal. There, you can meet locals and ask questions about things to see and do in the area. If you’re tired of snacking, stopping in a local restaurant is a great way to switch it up and enjoy the local food.
Consider Your Tools
When you have the right tools, you can create amazing things. This also applies to meal preparation. When renting an RV, you will want to get a list of the appliances, large and small, that will be included and available in the RV.
Electric appliances are very convenient on RV trips. You can use them inside the RV or outside, which can be very convenient when people are sleeping inside or to avoid messes inside the RV.
Crockpots are a great appliance for heating up soups, stews, chili and other foods for a group. Electric skillets with lids are great for making eggs, bacon or anything you would typically cook in a pan. Having a blender on hand, especially on trips in warm weather climates, is a great way to be able to quickly blend fruit smoothies or make refreshing cocktails at the end of the day.
Cooking in Your RV
Cooking on your road trip will be highly determined by the type of RV you’re taking on your trip. Large Class A RVs, travel trailers and fifth wheels will have larger refrigerators, stoves and space to store and prepare food. No matter what type of RV you have, you’ll want to be able to set up a table near an outlet outside, so that you can use electric appliances there, keeping the inside of your RV cleaner.
Class B and C RVs are very efficient with space. You’ll have a kitchen or kitchenette with sink, refrigerator and storage, plus most will have a cook top surface or stove.
Campervans will likely have some tools to help you prepare meals on the road, but you’ll want to know what’s included and what’s not included before you hit the road.
Many RVs have outdoor kitchen set-ups that are very convenient, fun and great for entertaining outside. Having a grill attached to the RV is also helpful, because transporting a stand-alone grill in your RV can be clumsy and messy.
If you’re cooking for only a few people and your RV doesn’t include a grill, you can pick up a small, portable charcoal or propane grill to use on your road trip. You can choose to either keep it or recycle it when you’re done with your trip.
Start the Day Out Right with a Good Cup of Coffee
One of the first things you will want to identify for your RV trip is how you will make coffee. So many of us take for granted our home coffee makers or the Starbucks on the way to work. Chances are, neither of these will be available on your RV trip. If your rental RV doesn’t include a coffee maker, the simplest ways to make coffee on the road are with either a French Press or Instant Coffee. For both options, you will need to be able boil water and make sure you have the right type of coffee with you.
A French press requires coffee that is ground coarsely so it does not seep through the press. When you use a very finely ground coffee in a French press, you will likely end up with coffee grounds floating in the coffee. To make a full pot of coffee, add enough coffee grounds to fill approximately 1/5 of the French Press container. Add boiling water to the fill-line. Stir and then let the French press sit for 2 minutes with the lid on. After 2 minutes, start to push the strainer slowly to as far to the bottom of the container as possible. Then, slowly pour the coffee out of the container, watching to make sure there aren’t any grinds in the coffee.
Although coffee snobs make scowl at the thought, instant coffee is likely the easiest way to make coffee on the road. Instant coffee can be bought at most any grocery store. Plus, you don’t even need to boil water! Just microwave a cup of water, add a teaspoon of instant coffee, stir, and violá – you have coffee.
You will likely need milk for other things such as cereal or mac n cheese preparation, so it’s not a bad idea to have it with to add to your coffee in the morning. If you take sugar in your coffee, it’s easier and less messy to buy sugar in packets for RV trips. Less spilling of sugar also reduces the likelihood you will see ants inside during your trip in the outdoors.
What Will the Weather Be Like?
If your trip is in the Fall or Winter, you’re going to want to plan for meals that will warm you and your fellow travelers up. Instant oatmeal is a great breakfast in colder climates.
Chili and stews are great make-ahead meals that can easily be heated up either in portion sizes or in a crockpot.
If you’re expecting hot weather; sandwiches, wraps, fresh vegetable and fruits are go-to staples for RV trips. Smoothies are a fun and healthy snack in warm weather as well.
Heat and Serve
While shopping for supplies at Costco for an RV trip may not be space-conscious, the retailer does offer many heat and serve dishes that are perfect for groups on the road.
Tacos and fajitas with all the fixings included are a great find. If you have a pan in your RV, you can heat the meat on the stove, put the pan on your grill or over a campfire.
Trays of pre-made wraps and sandwiches may look tempting, but be mindful that the trays fit in your refrigerator. As a general rule, anything 8” or less in length or width should fit in a small refrigerator.
Food Storage in Your RV
When preparing food at home before you hit the road, you will want to pack them in a cooler, which will come in handy during your trip. Pack the foods that are more perishable closer to the ice and those less perishable further from the ice.
Most food can be stored in gallon or quart sized ziplock bags, which save a lot of space. When you’re ready to eat, simply heat & scoop and it is ready to serve. Chili is a prime example of a dish that can be stored in a large ziplock bag and heated in portion sizes as needed.
Deli sliced meats and cheeses are usually packaged in bags that allow for easy storage in an RV refrigerator. Having a variety of deli meats and cheese on hand to quickly make a sandwich is very handy and a time-saver.
You can also pre-make pasta dishes, stews and even soups to store in heavy duty ziplock bags. If you have a crock pot, you can empty the contents of the bag into the crock pot to heat and its ready to eat.
Wash cut and store fruits and vegetables in zip lock bags to save a lot of room in your RV refrigerator. Plus, everything will be ready to go when you want it! When you pack and store your perishable foods for the fridge in gallon or quart sized ziplock bags, you will also have less to wash and lug home. Rinsing and recycling the bags will make life on the road much easier.
Non-perishable foods should be packed in space-saving containers. Cereal can be removed from boxes to fit inside RV cabinets easier. Try to not rely on storing food items on the countertops so that when you are on the road, they don’t fly off.
Delicious Dinners in the Outdoors
It’s not as difficult as you may think to make an amazing dinner in the outdoors. Grilling or cooking over a campfire saves a lot of time with clean-up inside, plus give your meat and veggies a pleasant, smoky flavor.
Pick any protein of your choice and marinate it in a gallon sized ziplock bag for a day or two in the refrigerator. You don’t have to get fancy with your marinades. A simple olive oil, salt and pepper, plus herbs and spices will do the trick for most meats and fish.
The same olive oil marinade will work for any vegetables you want to grill or cook over a campfire. Broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, onions, peppers, asparagus, eggplant – even beets can be prepped by washing, peeling and cutting into grill ready pieces. Marinate the vegetables for at least an hour for a simple, healthy and delicious side dish. If you want to mix up the spices for the vegetables, try lemon pepper in addition to salt and olive oil. Lemon Pepper is especially good on grilled asparagus, carrots and broccoli.
Grilling vegetables takes approximately 40 minutes, so you will likely want to start by heating the grill and adding the vegetables. Make sure the heat is high enough to cook the vegetables, but that the flame doesn’t char them. As the vegetables cook through, have a dish on hand to remove them from the grill and cover with aluminum foil to keep them warm.
If you have vegetables that still need to cook, but need to get started grilling the meat, move the vegetables to the side of the grilling surface to add your meat.
Once all of the meat is cooked, be sure to let it rest for a few minutes in a covered dish. This keeps it warm and allows for the juices to settle in, making for more tender meat.
Don’t Skimp on the Condiments and Spices
Your on-the-road meals will be more appealing when everyone has their favorite spices or condiments available. Mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard are a must for making sandwiches, hot dogs and burgers.
Salt, pepper and your favorite herbs added to olive oil make for a simple marinade for steaks, chicken and grilling veggies.
If your family and friends like to add a lot of spice to their food, siracha is a great condiment to have on hand because you can add it to eggs, meats or really anything for a kick.
Most condiments and spices can be brought home after your trip, so don’t skimp when purchasing these for your trip.
Road Trip Dishes and Cutlery
Once of the least appealing parts of eating in the outdoors is the large amounts of trash left behind by food packaging, paper plates, plastic cups, plastic forks and knives.
Since most RV trips require at least one stop at a Walmart for supplies, it worth the time, money and peace of mind to also pick up a plate, bowl, fork, knife and spoon for each person in your group. Plastic plates and bowls can be found for less than $1 each at Walmart. Sets of 4 forks, spoons and knifes can also be purchased for only a few dollars.
Don’t forget to pick up a sponge and some dish soap. Most RVs have sinks to soak and wash dishes. Often, you can also find outdoor sinks in RV parks and campgrounds for less mess in your RV.
Everyone will be happy when you keep them in mind and plan ahead for the meals on your RV trip!
Here’s what you’re going to need in order to prep for meals on the road as explained in this article:
- Stove top in RV
- Grill or campfire with grill grate
- Electric skillet
- A plate, bowl, fork, knife and spoon for each person in your group
- A serving dish
- Serving Spoon
- Sharp Knife for cutting fruits, vegetable, meat
- Fruits & Vegetables (Bananas, berries, apples, snack sized carrots, celery)
- Peanut butter & jelly
- Ice (even if your RV has ice trays)
- Water (1 gallon per person per day)
- Gallon and quart sized zip lock bags
- Aluminum foil
- Parchment paper (to line anything you’re wrapping with aluminum foil)
- Dish Soap
- Deli Meats and Cheeses
- Olive Oil
- Herbs De Provence
- Lemon Pepper
- Grilling Meats (Boneless Chicken, smaller cuts of red meat, smaller cuts of pork, salmon or other filets of fresh fish)
- Grilling Veggies (Broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes,
- Oatmeal or Cereal
- Trail Mix
For more ideas on entertaining in the outdoors, click here.
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