This is a question we got from a friend of our daughter. She assumed that we were eating things like peanut butter sandwiches, hot dogs roasted over a fire, and s’mores (things that her family ate while camping) every day.
While we occasionally have “camping food,” typically we eat the same types of food in our RV that we eat in our “sticks and bricks” home, with a few modifications.
First, space is always a concern in an RV. So, we aren’t shopping at places like Cosco or Sam’s Club to buy items in bulk. There isn’t room to store bulk items. We are very mindful at the grocery store about where each item will be stored and if we have room in the freezer, pantry, etc. We discipline ourselves to have a meal plan for the week and to stick to it. We try to eat what we have before shopping again. This ensures that we aren’t wasting food, that we are budgeting well, and that we aren’t using up prime real estate in the pantry on food we aren’t going to eat. It helps to keep meals simple. Sometimes, it’s just a protein and one vegetable. We also like one-pan meals. This way, there are less dishes, minimal prep space is needed, and it’s easy to plan.
Next, we consider the weather. For example, in Bakersfield, California or Moab, Utah- the temperatures inside the RV can be oppressively hot. Even with two air conditioners and the shades pulled-it is sweltering at times. So, in areas like this, we keep in mind that the oven and stove are just going to add more hot air to the mix. So, we try to eat more cold meals or use our outdoor grill or crockpot to keep the temperature inside more bearable.
Another consideration when Full-time RVing is- Where are you parked? When we were in the Southeast, we ate a lot of seafood. When we were in the Southwest, we ate a lot of Mexican inspired food. We enjoy eating like the locals where ever we travel. Part of the fun of traveling is trying new cuisines. America has dozens of regions of food culture. I love all of them.
Here are some ideas and recipes to get you started:
Sausages and Peppers
We eat this about every week. There are an endless array of sausages out there. Some of our favorites are Johnsonville Jalapeno Cheddar, Hillshire Farms Cajun Style Andouille Smoked Sausages, and Johnsonville Irish O’ Garlic. But, we try all types and varieties to keep this meal interesting. I especially encourage you to purchase sausages at meat markets and grocers that are made locally or regionally. In Louisiana, we discovered that alligator and crawfish are sometimes mixed in with spicy pork. We also liked boudin. When we were in the Midwest, we ate Polish sausage and sausages with different cheeses mixed in. In the Southwest we enjoyed Chorizo. In Colorado, we ate elk sausages. In South Dakota, we ate bison. All of these pair well with onions and peppers. If you would like a carb to go with them, just think about the local culture. If we’re eating Irish sausages, we usually have potatoes. I like Cajun sausage with corn. Italian sausage goes well with pasta. Pretty much any sausage can be paired with rice. Often though, we skip the carb altogether. We just have veggies and if it’s hot out, we often have sliced tomatoes or some sort of cold cut fruit for dessert. Sausages can easily be cooked outside or in a Crock pot to keep the kitchen from getting too hot. Veggies in our RV are often made in the microwave using a steamer dish like this one.https://amzn.to/47aNXqy
A common Summer dinner for us when it’s especially hot, is ceviche. This is a light fresh dinner that we eat with tortilla chips and maybe some watermelon on the side. The original recipe called for a 1/2 c of cilantro. I’m not a fan of cilantro. Add it if you enjoy it.
Dice 1 avocado,1 seeded jalapeno,1/2 red onion, and 1 tomato.
Juice 6 fresh limes.
Add 1 lb cooked shrimp and all other ingredients to a large bowl. Mix with a little salt and pepper. Eat with salty tortilla chips or tostadas.
Barbeque takes on many forms throughout America. Carolina BBQ sauce is vinegar based and pork is king. Many places specialize in whole hog cooking. South Carolina adds a zing with a mustardy vinegar sauce. St. Louis smokes all types of meat but brisket and burnt ends are most popular. The sauce is sweet. Memphis favors saucy or sometimes dry-rub ribs. Texas brings wood smoked beef to the table. East Texas has a thing for sausages. Alabama is in it’s own little world with “white sauce”- a mayonnaise based sauce usually on chicken. Barbeque is something my family enjoys in all it’s forms (except for Alabama style-sorry guys). We prefer pork or beef and tend to reach for ketchup based sauces first. Before giving you a recipe. Let me share a few of our favorite BBQ joints in America.
We especially like the brisket and the pork here. The sweet tea is perfect. I love the mustard style sauce so much. I stock up on it anytime I’m in South Carolina so that I can have it anytime. I like it on burgers.
949 Robertson Boulevard Walterboro, SC
This buffet is in close proximity to I-95. We ate here about a decade ago and we still talk about it to this day. It looks a little like a cafeteria inside. There’s a pink cement pig out front. It’s reasonably priced. It’s kind of a no-frills establishment. I think there’s Wonder bread and hot sauce on each table. The cooks look like lunch ladies (in the best way possible). It’s low key. But, the food? We were ready to move to South Carolina. The meat is great. But, the sides and desserts did it for me. Macaroni and cheese, okra, banana pudding, hash, collards, butter beans, slaw, stewed tomatoes…I felt like everybody’s grandmas got together and decided to work in the same restaurant.
262 W Main St Springerville, AZ
I just looked online. It seems as though they have changed the name to The Smokehouse at the Gateway. The menu, however, looks the same. So, hopefully it’s the same great food we had while there. I never thought of Arizona as a BBQ destination but, these people clearly know what they are doing. It’s sandwiched between a gas station and a honkey tonk. I suggest getting the family platter- 1/4 lb sausage, 1/4 lb pork, 1/4 lb brisket, smoked 1/2 chicken (so good), and 1/3 rack of ribs. Add pecan cole slaw and ranch style beans to round out the meat platter.
There’s a couple chains in Texas that we really enjoy too. One is Rudy’s. We go for the brisket, jalapeno sausage links, and the jumbo smoked potato topped with meat. The other, and I know it’s become very popular. But, we really like the chopped brisket from Buc-ees. Elbow your way through the crowds and get your sandwich hot. It’s worth the traffic congestion and the tourists.
Now, smoking meat is an artform. We have a smoker at our home in West Virginia. But, on the road, that isn’t really practical for us. So, we go out for BBQ or we do it the “cheater” way. We use a crockpot to cook down a pork shoulder (also called a butt), shred it, and douse it with a good sauce. It’s easy and still pretty tasty.
Simply add your salted meat to the crock pot, add a little liquid (vinegar/chicken broth or just water- about a cup), a good quality BBQ sauce, and start cooking low and slow. 8 hours on low usually does the trick. When the meat easily pulls apart, it’s done. If you wanna get fancy, you can do a dry rub at the beginning and add the sauce at the end. We like Sweet Baby Ray’s Vidalia Onion, Jim Beam Honey BBQ, Buffalo Wild Wings Honey BBQ, and Kraft Brown Sugar Bourbon.
I like a big dollop of coleslaw piled on top of my pulled pork with a pickle spear on the side.
When we’re in colder climates, we like to make soups and chilies. I like Texas-style chili-heavy on the beef, no beans. My husband likes chili con carne (we call this regular chili). For us, it’s beef or occasionally venison, beans, tomatoes, onions, two or three kinds of peppers, and several spices. But, while we were in Colorado and New Mexico, we discovered Green Chili (Chili Verde). This is my daughter’s favorite.
Typically made with pork shoulder and locally bought roasted hatch, pueblo, or Anaheim chiles, green chili is a beautiful stew. Tomatillos are an important ingredient as well. We live in Appalachia and the ingredients needed to make this chili are not readily available where we live. So, we improvise. Is it authentic? Nope. Does it still taste good? Absolutely!
My Cheater East Coast Green Chili
1 lb pork shoulder cut into chunks
2 c chicken broth
1 jar Herdez Roasted Salsa Verde Medium
1 4 oz can Ortego Fire Roasted Diced Green Chiles (don’t drain)
1/2 diced onion
2 T minced sauted garlic
1 t cumin
1 t smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
Everything goes in the slow cooker. Set it on the low setting. Cook for 8 hours or until meat is very tender/falling apart.
An alternative to the pork shoulder is to use a pork tenderloin. This will be done in much less time because it is a leaner cut of meat. Cut the tenderloin into bite size chunks. Add a Tablespoon of oil to a dutch oven. Over med/high heat, sear the pork on all sides. Add all your ingredients to the dutch oven and allow to cook for 10 minutes. Then, reduce to low and cook another 10 minutes. Add more chicken broth if needed. Other variations are to add a can of fire roasted tomatoes or a can of hominy.
Serve with tortillas, tortilla chips, lime wedges, sour cream, shredded cheese, green onions, cilantro, avocado, cilantro- whatever sounds good to you. I use leftovers to make street tacos.
Travelling in an RV shouldn’t keep you from eating well. Utilize your slow cooker, grill, or air fryer in warmer climates to keep the inside temperature of your rig comfortable. Be mindful of your storage space when shopping. Take cues from the region where you are parked so that you can use local ingredients in your cooking. Finally, don’t be afraid to try new things! They may become your new favorite meals.