When packing your RV, you know you must be mindful of space and that includes the kitchen and pantry items you decide to take. There are items like salt and pepper that will get used often enough to take the whole bottle, but what about those favorite recipes that call for a little of this and a little of that? With a bit of careful preparation, you can make the most of your time and space while on the road.
Collect the Recipes
Keep a collection of your favorite recipes at your fingertips. If you prefer the digital, find an app that will keep your recipes together. While I love my computer and other digital devices, I still like my recipes (and maps, for that matter) in paper form. If an actual card is your preference, then put the ones you want to use in a baggie to protect them from food and to keep them together. When you’re making a certain recipe, put that card on top, reseal the bag and voila, an instant recipe card cover that can be wiped clean of any food traces. Consider taking a copy of cards that hold sentimental value like ones with Grandma’s handwriting on them.
A Little Prep Goes a Long Way
Chances are you’re not going to need an entire bottle of cumin or cinnamon. Use the smaller, zippered snack bags to pre measure spices for your recipes. Label them with these four things: 1) the date, 2) the recipe, 3) the amount of the recipe (1 full recipe, 1/2 batch, etc) and 4) what is actually in the bag. You can also do this for treats like cookies and cake. These will probably go in a quart or gallon sized bag and the recipe could be written or taped onto the bag. Make it even easier by highlighting or listing separately the remaining ingredients needed to make the recipe like eggs and oil. Think of it as your own boxed cake mix, but with your favorite recipe (and in a bag).
Make a Few Meals Before You Travel
It’s likely your freezer won’t hold enough for your entire trip, but you could make a casserole or two ahead of time for an easy meal later. Frozen, these casseroles are also great ice packs for a day or so of travel in a cooler. Often they are a one-stop-shop meal and can include veggies, starch and/or protein.
Package in Smaller Packages
We’ve all seen the disclaimer: “Sold by volume. Contents may have settled in shipment.” You don’t need the extra air taking up space in your pantry. Invest in some good reusable, tightly-sealed containers and keep items in them. For something like cereal, you could place several bags in one container, keeping the items in the bag but ditching the box. Make sure you label the bag and then just seal with a clothespin. You will need to be careful of mixing items that overpower each other. For instance, storing mints and chocolate together will give your chocolate a minty flavor.
These boxes will stack nicely in the pantry and keep things from getting jostled around on the road. Group and label the boxes in a way that makes sense for your family and it will be easier to set out a meal as well. Breakfast? Grab the cereal box. Snack? Grab the box with crackers and chips. You might also want the refrigerator and shelf bars that keep things in place. There are several options available. Camco single bars, the Fasteners Unlimited refrigerator and shelf bar, and Camco double bars are all great choices.
Get rid of the extra air in prepackaged foods in the refrigerator and freezer as well. If you have items that you will freeze from a thawed state (marinated chicken breasts portioned for your travelers), put in a zippered, freezer bag and freeze laying down. These become like flat, frozen pancake-bricks and are easy to stack or stand on end like books once they are frozen.
Stick to a Menu & Keep a List
Make a list of your meals, knowing that you will still have to have some flexibility. If you think you will eat out, incorporate those times too. Include breakfast, lunch and dinner, as opposed to just the main meal, so you don’t get caught without bread for sandwiches because you used it for toast that morning.
If children are in tow, having a list helps the picky eaters. Post the list and then they can see that while they don’t like today’s lunch, tomorrow is coming and it is their favorite! It also helps to defer to (or blame, if that’s how you see it) the list: “Well the menu says we’re having this, so that’s what dinner is tonight.”
Keep your menu and shopping list organized by drawing a line down a piece of paper and list the foods you brought on one side and the foods you’ll need to buy to complete the meals on another side. If you really want to get organized, group your shopping side together by headings in a way that it will likely be grouped in the store. For example, dry goods, deli, meats, produce, dairy, snacks and paper products. When shopping in new grocery stores, it will be helpful if you don’t have to run around the store looking for items.
Think Outside the Box
I once had a friend who told me she didn’t make lasagna because her family couldn’t eat an entire 9×13 pan. It never occurred to her to split the recipe by making two 8×8 pans, baking one and freezing another for a second meal later. If it’s just two of you on the road, you’re not going to eat a whole recipe either. But for something like lasagna, you can divide a full 9×13 recipe into 3 or 4 loaf pans. Make these ahead of time and take one or two with you and leave the others for an easy meal when you’re back home unpacking and cleaning the RV. Made in a disposable tin pan, they also provide easy cleanup.
Did you know that leftover veggies and meat make a great soup when combined with some broth? Keep a container in the fridge or freezer (depending on your space and how soon you will consume it) and dump the leftovers there. When you’ve gathered enough, add some chicken or beef broth and heat. Then pair with a loaf of crusty bread. YUMMY!
Think Ahead, Enjoy Later
Making delicious meals on the road doesn’t have to be a chore. You probably have taken the time to think through your route and itinerary, so why not do the same for your menu? A little planning will make it easy and enjoyable to provide nourishment for your road trip.