Before moving into an RV, I was somewhat concerned about cooking in one.
Let’s be honest, I am not a gourmet cook.
This is no surprise to anyone who knows me. Cooking has always been one of those things I do not enjoy and unfortunately I am married to someone who feels the same way. Ironically enough we both LOVE to eat, so that promotes a real problem.
Making sure all the meals are planned out and the grocery bill stays within budget is stressful enough. But now, you add the factor of cooking in an RV and things could get even trickier. Now, after almost 2 years of living in an RV, I can honestly say not much has changed from cooking in our sticks and bricks home to our home on wheels. We tend to cook the same meals but there are a few “small” differences. And when I say small, that is literally speaking.
Here are a few changes we have noticed along the way and how we cook in an RV.
Having a small space is the biggest factor. Counter space can be limited making it a little more challenging when it comes to cooking as well as smaller storage and fridge space for food. We shop once a week for our family of three and this is very doable. Our freezer space in the beginning was the most frustrating but now we have adjusted and I don’t even think of that being a limitation anymore. It just means there is not space for cartons of ice cream for us, which can be a good thing for sugar craving RVers like ourselves.
Our fifth wheel had an oven and a microwave. When we made the switch to the motorhome, it had a convection microwave oven. I was a little nervous about that and was not sure if we would like it or not. We ended up loving this option. It cooked more even than the small propane oven and it saved spaced and allowed for extra storage. We actually prefer this setup now after much use. The only downside for us is you can only use the oven or microwave one at a time. So that means if you have chicken baking and you need to use the microwave to get something else going, you have to take turns on the use and may take longer to prepare meals.
Although space and storage is the biggest change, there are times when living in an RV that meals can be impacted. If you plan on RVing, then boonbocking may be something you will encounter. We have grown to love boondocking which means no hookups. I know the words NO HOOKUPS and LOVE do not go together and it is a love/hate relationship. We love the beautiful scenery we get with boondocking and that we can score some free camping this way, but living without water, electric, and sewer hookups can be unpleasant.
While boondocking, not having handy access to electric and water supplies can change the way you cook. I try and plan meals around this challenge by doing lots of outdoor grilling, salads, and using as little pots and pans as possible to save on water cleanup. We do have a propane stovetop to cook on and that does not require us to have an electric hookup or to get our generator out. We do have a generator if needed, but some places do not allow them or it can be a pain to get in and out of our van to use. It just takes a little extra meal planning if we know we have some boondocking coming up.
I am sure many of you have heard of the Instant Pot. For a long time, I put off this purchase. I had heard from many others how wonderful this product was, but it just looked scary. I guess in my mind I pictured my grandmothers pressure cooker that rattling and spewing steam growing up as a kid. As the pressure would build, the noise would sound as if the house was going to explode. They actually made us kids go outside at times, so I am guessing that could have been a legitimate concern. After attending a FullTime Families Rally we noticed that on potluck night the whole table was full of Instant Pots. At that point, I realized I was obviously missing an important piece to our full time family travels and I finally made the purchase.
After we bought the Instant Pot, I am going to tell on myself and say that it was 3 months before I finally had the nerve to get it out of the box and try it. After a couple months of use, I am hooked! It has made cooking so much easier and RV cooking even easier. I am loving how fast food can be prepared and in one pot of cleanup.
We come in from a long day of travels and frozen chicken can be prepared hot and ready in 20 min. It is amazing! I was even able to replace my crockpot because it has the same slow cooker mode on it. So anytime I can eliminate, that makes us happy campers. My only regret is waiting so long to finally try it out.
To our surprise, our food budget did not change much once we hit the road. That may be because as mentioned previously, our meals did not change much from our previous lifestyle. There are a few factors that influence our food budget. Once you are traveling and on the road, you will also be finding yourself among some amazing food. That is one of the great perks of traveling. When we first hit the road, we blew our food budget out of the water. We were eating out way too much. We had to reel it in and pick only a few eat out spots to try. We also started packing our lunch quite a bit and we have found this to be very helpful.
We have also noticed since we travel full time, we find ourselves buying more snacks and water. We tend to do a lot of hiking, day trips, and car rides, so snacks are a must. We love stocking up on almonds, apples, protein bars, things that are portable and nonperishable in our bag.
A lot of full timers have a Berkey water filter. This is one of those things like the Instant Pot you hear a lot of travelers rave about. Berkey water filters provide the ultimate in waterborne contamination removal all while using a natural method without the use of chemicals or complicated processes. We have a built in water filter in the Airstream, but there are times we do not feel comfortable drinking from the source. In that case we purchase gallons of water and use while we are at that specific location. I can see why they would love their Berkey.
After 2 years of living on the road, it is tough to even remember all of the difference before RV living. You learn to adapt and adjust and now when people ask us how we cook in an RV it takes me a minute to remember the difference. Whether you love to cook or find it to be a dreaded task, don’t let the fear of RV cooking keep you from living a life of adventure.