Make a plan ahead of time. This is the biggest cooking “hack” of them all. Planning your meals in advance helps you keep your RV kitchen organized and spacious. Planning also helps reduce the chance of missing something when you need it, or having to buy something and having it cost more. This could include pre-cooking, pre-chopping, and pre-assembling some components, or making a meal altogether and bringing it along frozen to thaw along the journey so that it can be easily warmed up when you reach the campsite.
Make the most of your kitchen space. Reduce clutter wherever and whenever you can, and keep surfaces as free of objects as possible. Use nesting bowls, stackable cups, and have only as many eating utensils as you need. Use wall space and the inside of cupboard doors for storing and organizing. Every appliance, such as the coffee pot and the slow cooker, should have a dedicated spot in the kitchen. In fact, everything should have “its spot.” Read this article for more RV organization tips.
Pack the necessary equipment. You already know what’s essential in your home kitchen, so replicate that in the RV: spatulas, wooden spoons, utensils, a chef’s knife, and pots and pans. Add in flat metal skewers, metal tongs, and paper towels for wiping things up as you go along. An instant pot or slow cooker can be beneficial to have if you want to make one-pot meals or have something cook all day long without supervision.
Bring outdoor cooking equipment. Cooking inside the RV is an option with many RV types and layouts, but it can be nice to make food outdoors, especially if it’s a warm day. Bring a camp stove and/or portable grill, in addition to a cast iron Dutch oven, which can be used in an oven or in a campfire. This gives you options for cooking as well as options for the type of food you can make.
Keep meals simple. Although you can make some pretty gourmet meals while camping, complex meals will only add stress to your RV vacation. You don’t need to go as simple as hot dogs every night. You can make very tasty, flavorful meals that are still simple. Breakfast might need a little variety every two or three days, but dinnertime is when you’re looking to make something unique.
Print or save recipes. Don’t rely on your phone to give you ideas. Remember, planning is the best thing you can do. Look ahead and plan your meals for each day you’ll be camping. If you’re not familiar with a recipe or haven’t used it enough to have it memorized, print out the recipe and bring it along, or save it as a PDF on your phone or other device to refer to. You might just want to create a binder or folder of camping recipes to store along with your cooking equipment.
Pack snacks. It’s important for everyone to stay well-nourished and satisfied during an RV trip. A small portable cooler in the tow vehicle or even in a motorized RV (so you don’t need the fridge) can be a good place to store snacks that need to stay cool. Pre-package snacks at home or purchase pre-packaged snacks and have them in a dedicated “snack spot” in the RV. Fruits, trail mix, crackers, cheese sticks, and cured meats all make for great options.
Clean as you go. Space is limited and multi-use, so don’t let dirty dishes and utensils stack up on any counters or tables. Clean in the sink or in a soapy tub of water outside as you go along as well as after a meal so that everything is clean and put back away, ready to use the next time. This also helps to reduce clutter as everything returns back to its place in the RV or kitchen tub.
Recipes for the Road
There’s nothing more comforting or tantalizing to the senses than home cooked meals. Whether you prefer to make them in your RV kitchen, on a portable grill, or over a fire, you can whip up delicious, filling food that would make your grandmother proud. These recipes are great for cold-weather camping, but they can be made any time of the year.
Camping Dutch Oven Chicken and Dumplings – Can be made ahead of time!
- 1 broiler/fryer chicken 2-1/2 to 3 pounds, shredded or chunked
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 4 celery ribs sliced
- 3 medium carrots sliced
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- 2 teaspoons rubbed sage divided
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 3 cups biscuit/baking mix
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
- Place chicken and water in a Dutch oven. Cover and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to simmer; cook until chicken is tender, about 30 minutes.
- Remove chicken from kettle; bone and cube.
- Return chicken to kettle along with the onion, celery, carrots, celery seed, 1 teaspoon of sage, salt and pepper.
- Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat.
- Cover and simmer for 45-60 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
- For dumplings, combine the biscuit mix, milk, parsley and remaining sage to form a stiff batter or use a can of biscuits.
- Drop by tablespoonfuls into the simmering chicken mixture.
- Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Serve immediately.
One-Pot Beef Stroganoff – Fresh off the Grid
- ½ pound strip steak, sliced into bite sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 8 oz mushrooms, quartered
- 1 small brown onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 ½ cups broth
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- ¼ lb wide egg noodles
- ½ cup full fat sour cream, divided
- Quarter the mushrooms, dice the onion, and mince the garlic.
- Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed 10” skillet until smoking hot. Season the strip steak with salt & pepper. Add the steak to the skillet and cook, until browned on both sides and cooked through. Remove from the skillet, tent with foil, and allow it to rest while preparing the vegetables and noodles.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add the mushrooms and saute 5 minutes, stirring infrequently. Add the onions and continue to saute an additional 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute.
- Add the broth, Worcestershire sauce, and thyme. Use a wooden spoon or a spatula to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the skillet. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. Add the noodles and cook according to package instructions (this will depend on the noodles you buy – ours took 8 minutes), stirring occasionally to ensure the noodles cook evenly.
- Once the noodles are tender, remove skillet from heat. Temper half the sour cream with some of the sauce by adding a few spoonfuls of broth to the sour cream and stirring – this will raise the temperature of the sour cream and help prevent it from curdling when added to the pan. Mix the tempered sour cream to the pan, stir, then add the rest of the sour cream and stir to combine.
- Slice the cooked steak into bite-sized pieces, add to skillet, season to taste and serve!
- ¾ cup peach preserves
- ½ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 3 T minced fresh gingerroot
- 3 T water
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- Dash hot pepper sauce, optional
- 4 medium sweet red peppers
- 1 medium eggplant
- 3 small zucchini
- 2 small yellow summer squash
- 12 hot Italian pork or turkey sausage links (4 ounces each)
- Place the first 5 ingredients in a blender; if desired, add pepper sauce. Cover and process until blended.
- Cut peppers lengthwise in half; remove seeds. Cut eggplant lengthwise into 1/2-in.-thick slices. Cut zucchini and yellow squash lengthwise into quarters. Place all vegetables in a large bowl; drizzle with 1/2 cup of the sauce and toss to coat.
- Place vegetables on a greased grill rack. Grill, covered, over medium heat 8-10 minutes or until tender and lightly charred, turning once. Cool slightly. Reduce grill temperature to medium-low heat.
- Cut vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Toss with additional 1/4 cup sauce; keep warm.
- Grill sausages, covered, over medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes or until a thermometer reads 160° for pork sausages (165° for turkey sausages), turning occasionally. Remove sausages from grill; toss with remaining sauce. Serve with vegetables.