This blog has literally tens of readers. A few have inquired about how we manage to cook nearly all of our meals in a small RV kitchen. We want to keep our reader count in the double digits, so here we go!
Stick to the Basics
We consider ourselves to be “foodies” and enjoy eating and trying to make all kinds of food. We still do this – but we try to choose when we should cook large/complex meals and when we should stick to the basics.
If we’re staying someplace for one or two nights, with everything already put away and no plans to dump tanks? We’ll be using paper plates and trying to keep it simple. But if we’re staying for awhile, have full hookups and empty stomachs? Then we’ll make pretty much what we would have in a house. Fortunately, the latter scenario is more common than the former!
For us, basics include hard-boiled eggs, bagged salad mix, bagged broccoli slaw (we love this stuff), cheese, nuts, some sort of meat (deli meat, chicken, ground beef, etc), wraps (usually low-carb), and various fresh or frozen vegetables. We have our staples for Calla, too – mac & cheese, fresh fruit, fruit/yogurt pouches, baked beans, waffles, oatmeal, uncured hot dogs, etc.
Usually adding appliances to your kitchen complicates things – but we’ve found that adding an Instant Pot to ours actually helps keep things simple. It can cook more quickly (due to pressure cooking) and its stainless steel inner pot and high-temperature capabilities enable us to brown meat and then make soup in the same vessel. That means less dirty dishes for us! And it also doesn’t use propane! Some of our favorite Instant Pot meals are unstuffed cabbage soup, butter chicken, and pulled pork.
Use What Your RV Came With
We had never used a convection microwave oven before – I assume most people haven’t. However, most RVs have one, so we’ve gotten familiar with it. It can do much more than heat up leftovers!
It turns out, it works pretty well. Trudy has a propane oven (part of the range), but we’ve never used it. We prefer the convection oven since it doesn’t heat up the RV, waste propane, or produce CO like the traditional oven. We’ve made pork loin roasts, baked tofu, cookies, bacon, and much more in ours – without issues. It also has a mode that uses microwave and convection to cook your food – now that’s technology right there (we haven’t used that feature yet).
Trudy has a 3-burner propane stove that pretty much works just like a gas range in a house. Ours has seen better days but it works fine. It has a 2-piece cover that turns the stove into more counterspace, which can be really useful when we’re not actively using the stove.
Trudy also came with a decent-sized sink with a dinky plastic kitchen faucet. We replaced that on the road with a taller, high-quality Hansgrohe faucet from CostCo that has the extendable sprayer end. The sink also has a cover that turns it into more counterspace.
Prepare for Refrigerator Tetris
One RV appliance that leaves us wanting more is the fridge. More space, specifically!
When food shopping, we have to repeatedly ask ourselves, “will this fit?”. We used to buy several bins or large bags of greens every week, but we’re forced to limit that due to how much space they take up (basically a whole shelf). Large pieces of meat are also a challenge. Sorry, we won’t be making Thanksgiving dinner next year!
Part of the RV lifestyle is spending more time outside. This also applies to cooking!
Lots of newer RVs have built-in outdoor kitchens. However, as my dad would say, Trudy is no spring chicken! She obviously has none of that! That’s okay, though – what we ended up with is better for us.
We went for a modular propane-fueled solution. It’s more than a stove and more a grill… it’s a Camp Chef!
The legs easily come off, the tank disconnects, and the grill box and/or griddle lift right off. All of that fits into a single storage compartment when we’re traveling.
We initially purchased the stove base (which came with a single-burner griddle) and grill box and have since expanded our repertoire to include the double-wide steel griddle with grease cup and a cover for the whole unit.
The double-wide griddle is probably 40 pounds of steel, which is clearly excessive for RV life, but it’s worth it to us – it essentially turns the Camp Chef into an outdoor hibachi grill. However, if we ever downsized, this piece would probably have to go.
My only complaint about the Camp Chef was the height – it was just too short. Some custom PVC extensions solved that. 🙂
It’s also kind of a pain to have a separate propane tank for the Camp Chef, but I actually prefer that after seeing how much propane Trudy’s furnace uses when it’s cold outside. Propane became a valuable resource in our minds after seeing how much of a pain it can be to get the tank filled!
Daily Fuel – Coffee and Tea
One thing that’s mandatory for us is daily coffee and tea (to a lesser extent). After some research, our initial setup was an Aeropress with an electric kettle for when we had electricity and a stove-top pour-over kettle for when we didn’t. The kettles also work for tea.
The Aeropress makes great coffee – probably the best we’ve had on a daily basis – but it’s a pain to use it 4-6 times per day! Our coffee game went more traditional once we felt that pain and also realized that we almost always have electricity anyway.
We’ve since regressed (quality-wise) to a Bialetti 14-cup drip coffee maker. It’s much easier to produce a large amount of coffee with it, which ended up being more important to us. We still have the Aeropress for boondocking, though!
Don’t Forget to Experience Local Foods
We also make it a point to try regional or rare fare when we can. We ate lots of seafood in Florida and gumbo, jambalaya, and red beans and rice in New Orleans (but didn’t cave on the king cake, sadly). We’ve discovered an unexpected love for okra after spending lots of time in the southern part of the country. And it turns out that fresh muscadine grapes are amazing.
And sometimes you just need some good take-out food after a long travel day.