I am an RV enthusiast with more than 50 years of experience owning, driving, traveling and living in recreational vehicles.
What Is It Like to Cook in an RV?
Preparing meals in a recreational vehicle is as difficult or as easy as you make it. What makes the difference is your attitude.
If you plan to fix a lot of cakes and pies from scratch, you will spend your entire vacation in your galley, but why would you do this when you can buy them and save yourself all of that work?
This article explores the differences between how you handle food at home and when you travel. After reading it, you can decide for yourself which method works best for you.
RV Cooking Can Be a Challenge
Cooking during recreational vehicle travel requires you to make some adjustments to your methods, but once you do, your food will be easy to prepare.
3 Tips for Making RV Meals
The galley of an RV is quite different from the cooking area in a standard kitchen because ovens, refrigerators and pantries are small. Counter space and storage areas are limited, and if you use propane for cooking, you must adapt your timing because gas is hotter than electricity.
Until you adapt to these differences, the types of meals you prepare will have some limitations.
1. Stock Your Galley Carefully
Since there is less room for everything, the chief cook and bottle washer must learn to shop with caution.
- Too much frozen food won't fit in a small freezer.
- Large bottles of milk and soda use up valuable refrigerator space and sometimes don't fit on the shelves.
- Bulky vegetables don't fit comfortably in refrigerator bins.
- Small items can slide off of refrigerator and kitchen shelves when the coach is moving.
- Too much fresh fruit will spoil before it can be eaten.
- Items packed in liquid can spill.
These all are reasons why using plastic containers such as the one shown here make protecting your food easier. They come in different sizes, are unbreakable and many can be stacked as needed. How to Organize and Safely Store the Food in Your RV explains more about this issue.
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2. Avoid Propane
Cooking and baking with propane is financially wasteful. At today's prices it costs about $3.50 per hour to use it. If you also use a propane generator for meal preparation, you spend even more.
If your coach is parked and hooked up to electricity, use electric cookware instead of your oven or stove top because overnight camping fees include the cost of electricity. Anything that can be cooked on a stovetop or oven can be cooked in an electric appliance.
If you prefer to use your stovetop, purchase a portable electric burner like the one shown here. These also are good to use for outdoor cooking.
3. Plan Carefully
Because people travel part of the time and camp part of the time, cooks need to stock their galleys more carefully than they do at home. They also need to use clever ideas to help them prepare easy, healthy, nutritious and tasty meals. To do this, make sure you keep a good mixture of powdered, canned, frozen and instant foods on hand.
Most importantly, always plan meals in advance. If the family is camped for a few days, use a crock pot. Even a small one like the unit shown here can provide enough food for a small family. You can cook this way even if your coach is moving, but on those days it is best to use a microwave or electric frying pan. How to Make Easy Crock Pot Meals When RVing tells you more.
13 Creative RV Meal Ideas
Here are some ideas that will make food and beverage prep easier:
- Install an under-the-cabinet coffee pot, but use it only to heat water. Pour the hot water into a thermos and use it to make hot drinks, iced tea, instant oatmeal or cream of wheat, instant mashed potatoes, soups and any other foods that only require it.
- Use that same water on travel days. Fill it in the morning after breakfast, and any time somebody wants a hot drink, they can have it. This is convenient and is a money saver because it keeps you from running the generator during the day..
- Pull dinner meat out of the freezer in the morning so it can thaw in time for dinner.
- Carry a few frozen dinners for fast meals at the end of a long day of driving.
- Carry a supply of nonfat dry milk so that you will always have milk available for drinking, making puddings, etc.
- Carry meats that can be thawed quickly if necessary, such as shrink-wrapped ham slices.
- Instead of baking, buy cakes, pies and cookies at the store. It's cheaper, cleaner and easier.
- Keep supplies of fresh, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables to be used as quick side dishes and desserts.
- Save leftovers to use for lunches.
- Store breads and cakes in the oven. This saves counter and refrigerator space and keeps these foods moist.
- Keep a supply of crackers and cheeses handy. They are good for snacks or for having something light to eat when you're not really hungry.
- Avoid grills if possible because they are bulky to carry and messy to clean. If you miss grilled foods, order them in restaurants as a special treat.
- Use paper plates and plastic utensils regularly, especially on travel days. This eliminates most meal cleanup and saves time when you want to get on the road. Use them when feeding guests also. This saves a ton of work.
RV Cooking Is Only as Hard as You Make It
Just one experience of arriving after dark on a rain-soaked night quickly teaches you that eating a can of Spam for dinner is not much fun.
Remember that when you are on the road, you are not at home and thus should not plan to produce meals as you normally do. Make things easy on yourself so that you do not spend more time in the kitchen than you do enjoying your travels.
If you pay attention to the tips I have provided in this article, you will find that it is not difficult to cook in an RV at all!
RV Crock Pot Ham and Beans
© 2012 Sondra Rochelle