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Food on Fridays with Ann
When we started camping years ago, my overall goal was to keep travel costs low. I didn’t want to waste precious beach time preparing, eating, and cleaning up complicated meals, so I planned super-simple meals: spaghetti with canned sauce, macaroni-and-cheese from a box, “just-add-water” pancake mix. I guess you could say my philosophy was to keep it simple (and be open to convenience food).
We bought a used motorhome last year and after our first trip, I realized that even though I now had a small kitchen and could plan more complicated meals, I didn’t want to spend any more time cooking than I did when I was boiling spaghetti water on a Coleman stove next to the picnic table and washing dishes by the spigot. My philosophy has stayed the same: Spend as much time as possible at the beach (or hiking and sightseeing) and keep meals simple.
Here are some of our meals:
- Spaghetti with canned sauce: I cooked ground beef ahead of time and stuck it in the RV freezer so we could use it whenever; it turned out to be one of our last few meals of the trip. We stopped by a store and bought bread that I heated in the oven and I had lettuce and made a big salad.
- Boxed macaroni-and-cheese: I paid extra for those boxes that have foil packets of cheese sauce that squeeze onto the drained noodles without having to add butter and milk (though the RV fridge would have made it easy to prepare the other type of boxed mac-n-cheese). We ate this with ham.
- Baked ham: Before we left, I baked a ham in a crock pot one day, sliced it, and then counted out the number of slices I thought we would use in a given meal to slip into a freezer bag. We pulled those out twice and only had to thaw one bag each time to heat up with a side.
- Mexican night: Before we left, I browned ground beef and divided it up–some I left plain for the spaghetti sauce, and some I seasoned with Mexican flavors. One night we pulled out tortillas, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, black beans, and some avocados that I’d brought with us to enjoy an easy meal.
- Chicken-and-Rice Wrap: My daughter went on a camping trip one time with her youth group, and the leader made a simple meal from a packet of Rice Sides and a pouch of precooked chicken. He warmed that up and they spooned it into tortillas. It became one of her favorite meals, so I bought the stuff to make that. I’ll write that up sometime for Food on Fridays.
- Fettuccine Alfredo: This stuff is so fattening, so bad for you, but the kids love it and we were on vacation, so I bought it. They like the Pasta Roni brand, and it’s ready fast, so I made it twice on the trip, using canned chicken. Looking back, I wish I’d cooked a lot of chicken breasts and diced it up to add to this dish and the Chicken-and-Rice Wrap.
- Just-Add-Water Pancake Mix: At least once on vacation, I like to make a pancake breakfast for the kids. I keep it simple by purchasing the same old just-add-water pancake mix I bought when we were tent (and later, pop-up) campers, but in an RV I could easily make a mix from scratch and add the eggs and milk, since we have a fridge.
- Soup: The kids like chicken-and-noodle soup, so I bought some Campbells soup and made some from scratch (before we left). They finished the homemade soup but we didn’t end up using the cans. At home before leaving, I also made some white bean chili and kind of a Mexican-flavored bean soup that we kept in the fridge and heated up for quick meals.
- Frozen junk food: The kids picked some small pizzas, pizza rolls, and chicken nuggets to stick in the freezer and heat up for quick meals. This saved stops on the way when they might otherwise crave Wendy’s.
- Lunch meats: We made lots of sandwiches with lunch meats and cheese, lettuce, etc.
- Bagel sandwiches: The girls discovered that they love breakfast sandwiches, so they quite often made their own by cooking an egg and one slice of bacon in the microwave, and then sticking those on a bagel with cheese.
- Fruits and vegetables: We tried to keep salad on hand to make salads, plenty of carrot sticks, celery, and cucumbers along with apples, oranges, grapes, and bananas. We also brought individual applesauce and fruit cup containers. We would set out some combination of these at lunch and dinner. These were easy to replenish at grocery stores along the way.
- Potatoes: I usually pack several potatoes and sweet potatoes that we cook in the microwave to serve with the meal.
- Instant oatmeal: An easy breakfast.
For desserts, we took along some pudding cups and Oreos. I made a batch of brownies ahead of time to enjoy on the way.
The RV is great for people with dietary restrictions. I could take along my gluten-free pasta, cereals and breads; soy and almond milk; rice and quinoa and so on.
Next time we vacation in one location and stay connected to electric during the day, I plan to use a crock-pot to make meals. I’ll assemble an uncooked meal in a big baggie, place it in the crock, and then put the crock in the freezer. After the meal freezes, I’ll pull it out and set it aside in the freezer. Then I’ll make another one, freezing it to fit the shape of my crock. Then those can be transferred to the RV freezer when we pack to leave. Two easy meals, ready to go.
We pack plenty of chips and cheese sticks and animal crackers to munch on as we motor along.
Obviously, travel is not a time when we keep our diet healthy. But we do keep it simple. And this frees us to enjoy plenty of hours doing what we intended to do: vacation.
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Photos by Ann Kroeker. “Pin” these images in a way that links back to this particular page, giving proper credit.
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