I enjoy cooking. But, mostly I enjoy cooking for a crowd. When I lived alone in the sticks and bricks, I rarely made dinner for one. Lunches were eaten out, and dinner was either skipped or in the form of small plates at happy hour.
When I hit the road I wanted my food habits to change somewhat, i.e. to eat out less often, but I wasn’t going to start cooking elaborate meals in my Wheel Estate when I wasn’t doing that on Real Estate.
I have been living in Nellie now for 15 months, and I wanted to share some food tips and tricks I have gleaned from my experiences. But first, some caveats: This is not an exhaustive list of the things I eat on the road. I don’t guarantee that I am making the least expensive or healthiest choices. What I eat may or may not be good for my Constant Companion. I buy stuff in plastic, like beverages and frozen foods, but I recycle. I am not vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free. I am a cursing, drinking carnivore.
1. No Fuss, No Muss
RV pantry staples which can be found in most grocery stores include hard boiled and peeled eggs, liquid eggs, cooked chicken, cooked bacon, cut fruit, bottled iced tea, etc. I prefer pretty much anything else I don’t have to cut, cook, or peel myself. “But Tammy, you can boil eggs in just a few minutes! I like cooking in my rig – it relaxes me!” As Roger Miller said, it takes all kinds to make a world. As for me and my house-on-wheels, I’ll take no dirty dishes and time spent sightseeing and blogging instead of steeping tea or cutting melon. Perhaps it is a cost-saving and/or space-saving measure for you, and I can’t argue with that. You have to make your own choices with this, as with anything.
Cooked chicken, either de-boned or in the form of a whole roasted chicken from the deli department, is good as an entrée, in salads, on nachos or sandwiches, and in wraps. A hard-boiled egg is a great source of protein that will stick with you for hours, and you can eat it driving down the road. I also dice them up for green, tuna, and chicken salads. For a more sit-down breakfast I’ll microwave southwestern style eggbeaters and a couple of slices of bacon (microwave cooked bacon for about one and a half minutes to get it crisp), and toast an English muffin.
I recently discovered russet potatoes already wrapped and sealed in plastic, ready for the microwave. My convection oven takes forever to heat up and about an hour to bake a potato, but a spud in plastic takes eight or nine minutes in the microwave and comes out perfectly.
I keep small bags of frozen vegetables in the freezer – the type that steam in their own bag in the microwave. You won’t even dirty a dish, and they are handy for last-minute meals.
Have you had frozen rice? Amazing! Nowadays it is more prevalent in all grocery stores, and comes in all varieties, from white to brown to basmati. Three minutes in the microwave and you have rice, cooked in its own package. No pan to clean.
I like shopping in convenience stores like Circle K and 7-11. They carry grocery staples, but in miniature form – small bottles of pasta sauce, salad dressing, cooking oils, crackers, and those mini cereals, just to name a few. Just keep an eye on expiration dates.
3. Local And Fresh
When in Rome, eat as the Romans do. I love looking in my refrigerator, finding wine from Kentucky, cheese from Wisconsin, cider from Indiana, soup from California, and mustard from Texas.
4. Trader Joe’s
Or, as I like to call them, Trailer Joe’s. I used to think Trader’s was the perfect store for single people with little time or inclination to cook but with discerning palates. Now I believe them also indispensable for people living in motorhomes. I drove two hours out of my way in Tennessee to go to Trader’s in Nashville. I can pretty much tell you where Trader Joe’s are located all across the country. I practically hoard their products, and even keep some items in my car for restocking inside the RV as necessary.
Trader’s carries frozen rice and cooked bacon, mentioned earlier.
The Chicken in Coconut and Red Curry Sauce in the fresh case has a decent expiration date and can be paired with frozen rice for a quick and easy meal.
As an alternative, I mix a little coconut milk and fresh basil with cooked chicken and the bottled Thai Red Curry Sauce, microwave some rice, and voila.
The frozen Gnocchi Gorgonzola is delicious. A little garlic bread and a green salad and you’ve got a meal.
The same goes for the Saucy Scallops with Mushrooms, and the Seafood Paella.
The frozen croissants are so delicious! Thaw, let rise overnight, and bake.
I can’t say enough about these little Shrimp Toasts! They come in a thin box easily stored in the freezer, take just a few minutes in a toaster oven to heat, and I pair them with Chinese hot mustard, Sweet Chili Sauce, and Gyoza Dipping Sauce for guests.
Holy crap, you will be in love with the frozen Steamed Mussels! They steam in their own bag. A green salad and some crusty bread and you’re in heaven. Who said living in an RV meant roughing it?
The Garlic Potatoes with Parmesan Sauce are good for brunch or dinner.
I cold brew my own coffee, but sometimes I run out. The Trader Joe’s cold brew coffee, in both French Roast and regular, is delicious. I have it over ice with a touch of milk and sweetener.
I keep capers and red onion on hand, and when combined with a toasted bagel and cream cheese, this Pastami-Style Smoked Atlantic Salmon makes the perfect breakfast.
The first meal I ever made in Nellie was Eggs Benedict. I have this nifty microwave egg poacher that works really well. Canadian bacon keeps a long time in the refrigerator. The same goes for English muffins. And when you buy this Hollandaise Sauce from Trader Joe’s, your meal will be complete. It’s a little hard to locate this product, as they keep it in the dairy case, up high, and it is not marked well. Look for it! You won’t regret it.
The Gyro Slices take about one minute in the microwave. Pair them with a pita, or not. I add feta cheese, lettuce, onion, tzatziki sauce (also a Trader’s item) and tomatoes.
I keep a Fully Cooked Pot Roast in the freezer and take it out for a hearty meal with friends, pairing with the frozen vegetables steamed in a bag and a baked potato.
As a single person I don’t need a lot of cheese in a sitting, so I love the Mini Brie Bites and the Goat Cheese Medallions.
I hope you will share your RV meals and cooking tips with me! Happy eating!