If you’re planning a week-long RV trip, you might be wondering how on earth you will feed your family the entire time. Is it even possible to cook an entire week’s worth of food in your RV? Yes, and with the right planning, it’s actually easy! Here’s how to realistically cook every meal in your RV for a week while on vacation.
Experienced RVers know that as great as living on the road may be, the kitchen space in even the largest RV is extremely limited. The counter space is minimal, the storage space is tight, and you really need to get creative to cram everything you need into your fridge. Plus, cookware is probably one or two pots at best, plus a knife and a few wooden spoons. Usually, there are only two burners on the stove. Maybe there’s a toaster. There’s possibly a microwave. If you’re lucky, you’ve got a full-sized sink. And, if you’re working with an outdoor galley kitchen, you have the elements — and flies — to contend with.
Despite all these obstacles, great RV cooking is possible in the small space you have at hand! With a little bit of ingenuity and a fair amount of patience, you can certainly prepare outstanding meals in your RV, no matter what size it is and no matter how many mouths you have to feed.
How do you cook every meal in your RV for a whole week?
If you do want to prepare meals for an entire week – or even longer – the key is to plan ahead! Just like you shouldn’t go to the grocery store when you’re feeling hungry, you shouldn’t start thinking about what you’re going to eat ten minutes before mealtime. Spontaneous RV cooking can work, but you’re more likely to have good results if you prepare ahead of time.
The easiest way to cook every meal in your RV for a week is to meal plan. Without a plan, it’s easy to find yourself stocking up on ingredients you won’t use or wondering why you only have hotdogs to eat for the third day in a row. Everyone’s ideal RV trip is different, so first start thinking about the type of trip you’re taking.
- Will you be out and about every single day? If so, you’ll want to plan for super fast travel meal ideas that can be served in mere minutes once you arrive at your campsite. Consider more Instant Pot meals, or recipes that can be thrown together without a ton of work.
- If your dream is to do nothing but relax around your campsite for the week, you can easily plan a few meals to be cooked over the fire and spend more time prepping and making recipes
- If you’ll be doing a mix of both, plan accordingly.
No matter how you’ll be spending your days, prepping your meals in advance is helpful and highly recommended. Once you know the type of trip you’re taking and what kind of recipes you want to make, you can start planning your meals.
Additionally, you will want to make sure to plan on some food to travel with, such as sandwiches, salami, fruits, raw veggies, cheese, and crackers. These items are ideal travel lunch ideas for those days spent on the road getting from one campground to another, as well as days spent sightseeing. Figure out how many days you’ll need these easy lunches to go, and buy enough to last.
Write Down Your Plan
Planning easy and quick meals to take on vacation—and matching each meal to a specific day based on your plans—is a decent amount of work. You definitely don’t want to mess that work up by preparing the wrong meals on the wrong days, causing issues when you need one particular type of meal and have already used it.
This is where a road trip food planner comes into play. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy. In fact, just a note in your phone or on a sheet of paper will do. Make sure you write down:
- Recipes – copy and paste links into your phone or create a board on Pinterest!
- Which days each meal will be eaten
- Ingredients – to make grocery shopping easy, put your list into categories (fruits, veggies, dairy, frozen, etc.). Take note of what you already have at home too. You can easily fill smaller containers with pantry staples like rice and flour to bring in your RV.
- Any extras needed like crockpot liners, paper plates, or disposable aluminum trays.
This will help keep mealtimes stress-free so you can fully enjoy your vacation.
Start at Home
Preparing meals in a small RV kitchen can be a bit of a challenge! If you’ll be in a house before the start of your adventure, take advantage of the larger kitchen space by doing all of your meal prep there, then transferring the food to the RV fridge or freezer fully prepped and ready to go.
While preparing your meals in advance before you leave for your trip does save you time and energy on a day-to-day basis, it doesn’t do much for long-term or full-time RVers. For this reason, if you’ll be traveling in your RV for a few weeks or more, we recommend choosing one day each week of your vacation to dedicate to meal prep. You may spend the entire day chopping, slicing, boiling, grilling, and washing dishes, but you’ll get almost all the work of cooking out of the way for the entire week.
We recommend using this day to catch up on laundry and clean up the rig as well. Since you will have set aside an entire day for these things, they will feel less stressful and you’ll be all set and ready to continue your adventures the next day.
Find the Best Cooking Methods
Another thing you’ll want to consider is what kind of appliances you want to use to cook your meals.
If it’ll be super hot outside, an Instant Pot or grill is a great way to cook your dinner that won’t heat up your RV.
An Instant Pot can be used as a pressure cooker, a slow cooker, or even a way to sauté. This makes it ideal for an extra method of cooking during prep sessions, as well as a way to cook meals that have been assembled ahead of time but not cooked. It allows you to heat your prepped meals quickly when returning from a long day out, or you can leave it slow cooking all day so it’s ready when you return. Clean-up is also easy since it usually involves just one pot.
Of course, the RV stove top is also a valid option.
RV Cooking Tips
Of course, everyone wants meal preparation to be as easy as possible when you’re on vacation. Here are a few tips to help up your RV cooking game:
- Counter space is limited. If you can, set up a folding table somewhere nearby to give yourself more work space.
- Stove space is also limited. Therefore, you might find that an induction burner or Instant Pot used in conjunction with the propane stove makes things go more quickly.
- You don’t have a ton of room in the freezer. Most meal prep plans call for lots of freezing. Since you don’t have a huge freezer in your RV, you might need to refrigerate the meals you plan to serve later in the week instead.
- It’s easier to cook big batches of the same ingredients and use them in multiple meals, rather than cooking smaller batches of different ingredients.
- Keep it simple. For RV cooking, it’s always best to streamline and simplify. This means dishes that can be made in a single pot or pan. Think rich stews with lots of ingredients, hearty soups, and big stir-fry dishes.
- Invest in a Few Good Pieces of Cookware For Your RV. While it may be tempting to pick up a whole cookware set for your RV kitchen, it’s just not practical. There’s no place to put all of those pots and pans (and lids!), and you probably don’t have enough burners to use them all anyway. Instead, buy a large six or eight-quart pot. Stainless steel is good, though cast iron may be better. A crock pot or Instant Pot like we previously mentioned is also great for RV cooking, though keep in mind that you’ll need a reliable source of electricity for at least four and as many as eight hours to use it.
- Go cold! You don’t have to cook anything to have a great homemade meal. Think cold salads with lots of delicious ingredients and hearty sandwiches that go beyond the ordinary ham and cheese. Having cold meals is especially great in the summer, or in warmer climates because you don’t have to heat up your entire vehicle (and yourself) by cooking hot food. Plus, eating cold salads and sandwiches is a fantastic way to enjoy fresh and healthy produce.
- Cook once, eat twice. Plan for, store, and eat leftovers! Now, this may not be super easy to do if you’ve got a lot of people to feed. However, if you’re camping with just one other person (or even two other people), this is a great way to maximize your fun time and still have tasty and affordable meals when you’re hungry.
- Don’t forget to clean up! Yes we know — this is the least fun part of cooking, whether it’s in your RV or your home. Still, it has to be done. Letting dirty dishes pile up in your small RV kitchen sink will smell bad, attract bugs, and discourage you from eating more meals in or around your vehicle. Have everyone pitch in with the washing, drying, and putting away, and it shouldn’t take long at all.
Healthy Meal Tips
Many people do meal prep for health reasons. Preparing meals ahead of time helps discourage quick trips to grab a pizza and encourages healthy eating. Whether you wish to do keto meal prep or vegetarian meal prep, there are some wonderful healthy meal prep recipes out there for you.
Some of our best tips for those trying to hop on the healthy eating bandwagon by trying out meal prep are:
- Cut your veggies beforehand and add them to everything you prep. Cutting vegetables is a pain, but when all the cutting is done in one fell swoop, it’s easier to incorporate them into meals and snacks. You can also purchase frozen veggies. This removes the need to chop your own if you don’t have the time or counter space.
- Prep smoothies beforehand by putting all smoothie ingredients into a baggie and storing it in the freezer. This can then be dumped into a blender and blended into a refreshingly healthy drink in no time.
- Portion everything out. If you make something like overnight oats ahead of time, store appropriate portion sizes in separate containers, making them easy to grab and eat.
If healthy eating is your goal, you’ll love the cookbook appropriately titled The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook. Meal prepping can help you stick to your healthy eating goals and it means all your fresh ingredients will be broken down and cooked, a process that renders most ingredients smaller.
You can find food containers specifically made for meal prepping, which have separated sections for your entree and sides. They’re square, stackable, and super helpful for controlling portion sizes.
Cheap Meal Prep Ideas
For some, meal prepping for an RV trip is more about saving money than anything else. This is yet another great reason to do some dinner meal prep each week. Not only will preparing meals prevent you from eating out, but it will also help ensure you use all of each ingredient you buy, forcing you to plan ahead and thus make it easier to price things out.
Some ideas for making your meal prep cheaper include:
- Preparing things like casseroles and soups. This will allow you to stretch expensive ingredients such as meats.
- Rice, beans, and eggs are all wonderful, filling ingredients that don’t cost much. Use them as much as possible. Dry beans are much cheaper than canned, so plan to purchase them dry and soak them overnight. If you make a huge batch, you might consider canning rather than freezing in order to save freezer space.
If you find yourself using the same key ingredients in several meals in order to save money, make good use of seasonings to mix things up. You might be surprised what a difference this makes.
Once you have your meal plan set up, you’ll know exactly what to buy at the grocery store. Again, be sure to make a list of all the ingredients you’ll need for your meal plan before you go. After all, who wants to take time away from sitting around the campfire to run to the store for the fifth time because you forgot one ingredient? Try to plan out meals at least a few days in advance and shop for a few days at a time. (How many days you shop for will depend on how many people you’re feeding, and how much refrigerator and storage space your RV has).
As a starting point, here are some great grocery basics you can buy for each meal.
What to buy for breakfast:
Breakfast. The most important meal of the day and probably the easiest to prepare for! Try to keep breakfast simple, especially if you have plans for the day. Pre-portioned oatmeal/cereal/granola, refrigerated cinnamon rolls, a carton of eggs, containers of yogurt, frozen breakfast potatoes, and whole fresh fruits are all easy breakfast options. Pro tip: scramble your eggs ahead of time and store them in a water bottle!
Breakfast campfire scramble recipe:
- Fry bacon in a cast iron skillet over fire or stove; crumble
- Add frozen or raw diced potatoes
- Cover and cook in bacon fat for 10-15 minutes
- Add crumbled bacon and pour in pre-scrambled eggs
- Cook another 3-4 minutes until eggs are cooked through. Serve!
A family-friendly, weekend-y, comforting favorite, pancakes require little more than a fire source and a pan. You can make a fancy, homemade, berry-filled version like the one… or stick with the easy shake-and-pour method.
If you’ve got eggs, potatoes, and some dried spices, you’ve got a simple but hearty breakfast ready to whip up. A dash of cheese makes this dish even more irresistible.
OK, you might be sensing a pattern, here… scrambles are a simple, easy way to whip up a complete breakfast with limited space and tools.
But we love this recipe especially because of its use of Stovetop stuffing mix, which is a great nonperishable ingredient perfect for camping. You can either make a batch specifically for this recipe, or use up your leftover side dish from last night’s chicken dinner.
Think you can’t have a hot, delicious, baked pastry dish for breakfast without an oven? Think again. This easy, creative recipe utilizes premade, packaged cinnamon rolls, and it comes together in a flash over your stovetop or campfire.
Even if you didn’t bring a toaster with you, you can still have your favorite carb for breakfast. The linked recipe calls for coconut, fancy nut butter, and cinnamon, but you can top your bagel however you like!
Although traditional for breakfast, this savory egg dish could work at any mealtime, and the only hard requirements are eggs, butter, a frying pan, and a stovetop burner. Omelets are infinitely customizable, so just use whatever ingredients you have on hand!
What to buy for lunch:
You’ll want to keep lunch pretty simple as well to maximize your vacation time. Lunch is also a great opportunity to use up any leftovers from the previous night’s dinner. If you’re planning on grilling for dinner, throw on a few extra chicken breasts or veggies and you can easily use them for lunch the next day.
Other great options for lunch are sandwiches such as the classic PB&J, or you can set out deli meat and condiments to create a build-your-own sandwich station. A precooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store is also useful. You can shred it and use it in salads, soups, or chicken sandwiches without you having to cook anything.
Again, you’ll want to buy some snacks for drive days. Items such as cheese & crackers, granola bars, and raw veggies and hummus are great snacks for a day out, or when you need to take a break from driving and want an easy snack that you don’t need to prepare.
Rotisserie Chicken Ranch Wraps
- In a bowl mix shredded rotisserie chicken with ranch dressing and shredded cheese. Other sauces like buffalo or honey mustard are good too!
- Spread onto 8” tortillas
- Add your favorite veggie toppings such as chopped tomatoes or raw spinach
- Roll up the tortillas.
You can eat them cold or heat them up on the stove or over the campfire for a warm wrap. These can also be prepared the night before and stored in the fridge in an airtight container for grab-and-go wraps as lunch the next day.
- Mix 3 cups of cubed watermelon with a chopped and peeled cucumber, and ½ cup of crumbled feta cheese
- In a separate bowl, make the dressing by whisking ¼ cup olive oil, 2 Tb red wine vinegar, and 1 tsp of minced shallot.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and gently mix.
- Top with 2 Tb of chopped fresh mint leaves and a sprinkle of salt.
This idea is absolutely genius for a quick grab-and-go lunch that’s filling and packed with flavor. Grab a mason jar and fill it with a flavor base, your favorite sauces and seasonings, cooked noodles, and fresh veggies of your choice. When you’re ready to eat, just pour some boiling water in the mason jar, let it sit for a few minutes, and enjoy! This can also be done with salad ingredients. Place dressing on the bottom of the jar and top with whatever your heart desires.
What to buy for dinner:
Meals like tacos, spaghetti, and stir fry are easy recipes that cook quickly and won’t heat up the RV too much.
If you plan on doing a lot of grilling or campfire cooking, be sure to buy any meat, seafood, and veggies that you’ll need. Anything cooked in a tinfoil packet is fun for both adults and kids to assemble and means easy clean up.
Sausage and Veggie Campfire Packets
- Lay out sheets of heavy-duty tinfoil (about 12 inches wide).
- Slice sausages into rounds and add to a bowl with chopped zucchini, mushrooms, and onions.
- Toss with 1 Tb olive oil and 1 Tb of your preferred seasoning salt like Lawry’s or Montreal Steak Seasoning.
- Divide the mixture among the tinfoil sheets and fold into packets.
- Cook on the grill or over the coals of a campfire for about 20 minutes or until the veggies are soft and the sausage is completely cooked.
Be careful when opening, as the hot steam escaping can burn!
Instant Pot Baked Potatoes
- Wash 4 medium-large russet potatoes and prick them with a fork a few times to help steam escape while cooking.
- Pour 1 cup of cold water into the Instant Pot and add the metal trivet to the bottom to hold the potatoes.
- Add the potatoes and close the lid, making sure the steam release valve is set to seal.
- Cook on manual high pressure for 20 minutes. Once cooking is complete, let the steam naturally release for 10 minutes then quick release any remaining steam.
- Remove potatoes and smother with your favorite toppings.
Easy Taco Night
- On the RV stove or camp stove, brown your choice of 1 pound of ground beef, turkey, chicken, or tofu.
- Once browned, add a packet of taco seasoning and the required amount of water (follow the instructions on the packet).
- Chop up your favorite taco toppings such as onions, avocado, tomatoes, jalapenos, etc.
- Scoop some of the taco meat into tortillas and top with your preferred toppings. Another idea is to use individual Dorito bags to make “walking tacos”. Everyone can grab a bag, pop it open, fill with their favorite toppings, then easily enjoy around the campsite. You can even add some extra flavor by grilling tacos for a few minutes after assembly.
Overall, the biggest trick to cooking an entire week’s worth of meals in an RV is planning and sticking to easy meals that won’t stress you out. And remember to have fun and enjoy the process!
How do I store food in my RV for a whole week?
Storing a lot of food in an RV can be a bit of a challenge. For this reason, many people aren’t so sure they will be able to stock up on food to take on vacation when they’re planning a longer trip. We’re here to tell you it’s totally possible to stock up on food for a week or more, as long as you plan things right. With the small refrigerators and lack of pantry space that typically comes with RVs, you may have to get creative with storing your food.
Tips for Storing and Keeping Food Fresh in Your RV
One of the biggest problems with storing food in your RV is the packaging that comes with the food.
Whether it’s a rectangular box of nuts or cereal or a big, round tin of cookies, most food manufacturers aren’t thinking about how to cram as much nutrition into as little space as possible when they’re creating their packaging. That’s why it’s up to you to do a little bit of reorganizing for them!
Having the right food storage containers is the key to keeping food fresh in your rig. For example, say you purchased three boxes of cereal, a round plastic container of fresh popcorn, and a box of trail mix — which, of course, is a totally different shape and size than the cereal. The popcorn container doesn’t lie flush with other items’ edges, so it takes up even more space since you can’t fit anything else next to it. You’re probably looking at several square feet worth of storage space for a relatively small amount of food.
But all that changes if you invest in some square food storage containers, which are built to be stacked and stored close to one another and take up as little space as possible. You can simply unpackage your goods, transfer them to these storage containers, and slap some cute labels on to easily store and organize them. Cereal boxes of different shapes and sizes can make it difficult to use pantry space efficiently. Standardize the size of your cereal boxes (and keep your cereal fresh) by transferring your cereal to these containers.
Maximizing Space with Stackable Food Containers for Your RV
For meal prepping and leftovers, investing in air-tight, microwavable, stackable, and easy-to-clean food storage containers for your RV is a must. Matching containers can make all the difference when it comes to storing your foods and finding lids, and microwaveable containers that are easy to wash make heating your food and cleaning up after a breeze.
Why are air-tight containers specifically important?
- Food Lasts Longer — Airtight containers will keep your food fresher for longer.
- Keep Pests Away — RVs are notorious for letting in pests. From ants to mice, most RV owners will have to deal with some kind of pest at one point or another. Airtight containers help keep these invaders out of your rig – and your food!
- Reduce Smells — Because an RV is such a small space, smells tend to take over pretty quickly. By putting food in airtight containers, you can reduce stinky odors and keep your home-on-wheels smelling nice.
Below are some of our favorite kitchen storage containers:
Stackable Nesting Set — This stackable food storage set is perfect for saving space in your RV cabinets and fridge. We love that they nest inside of one another, making them easy to store empty as well.
Space-Saving Glass Food Storage Containers — Some people prefer to avoid keeping food in plastic. In this case, glass containers such as these work just as well. Just be careful about how you store them during travel day, as they are more likely to break.
Large Containers — Large, flat containers are perfect for storing foods you use less often. Fill the boxes and then place them under the couch or bed for quick and easy storage that doesn’t claim any cabinet space.
Other ways to maximize storage space for food in your RV:
- Use a can organizer and lazy Susan in your pantry.
- Keep sodas and other beverages in an ice chest outside rather than in the fridge. Designating a separate cooler for drinks will help free up fridge space, leaving more room for food which is more important when it comes to temperature control.
- Purchase smaller-sized condiment bottles or grab extras whenever you get fast-food.
- Always move leftovers from the cooking pots to Tupperware before putting them in the fridge or freezer to save space.
- Prepare some freezer meals at home before your trip and pull them out to thaw and use throughout the week.
- Storing fruit can be a real challenge. We love the idea of using a hanging fruit basket to hold your produce up off the counter and keep it nice and fresh throughout your trip.
- There is also the option of making use of wall space. Hanging a wall storage solution such as this one and adding baskets and hooks allows you to keep all kinds of foods (and even utensils) within easy reach.
Whether you’re spending just a week or an entire season in your RV, you don’t need to limit your meals to only cereal and sandwiches (unless you want to of course). And, unless you’re especially flush, you certainly don’t want to eat in a restaurant or get takeout for every meal. RV cooking is definitely your best bet!
Even if your RV kitchen space is small, and even if your cooking tools are limited, it’s still totally possible to create delicious, healthy meals for a whole week that will leave you and your fellow travelers feeling full and satisfied. Happy camping and Bon Appetit!
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