Meals on Wheels – The RV Kind

What’s for dinner?  I’m hungry! Is it time to eat yet?  Those words can even be more aggravating when you are camping and you are the only one that cooks in the family.

Frequently I see people asking the same questions, and moms making the same comments over and over again on different social media RV Group sites:

 “Can anyone give me some easy meal ideas?”

 “What are some healthy foods that are best for camping?”

 “Tired of hot dogs, burgers and steaks!”

 “Tired of cooking & cleaning, no fun for mom!”

MEALS ON WHEEL 101

Be Creative:  

1. Make a menu. Design a menu that suits your family and utilize 30 minute recipes. Rachael Ray & Food Network has many 30 minute meal ideas.

Creating a menu can be time consuming but you will save time and money at the grocery store and you will know each day what you are making. It also helps you store your food in a way to access what you need first. 

2. Save time at camp – Meal prepping will make life a little easier at mealtime. While I am a make it from “scratch” cook at home, I don’t want to spend all my time cooking when camping especially if our kids & grandkids travel with us. Meals on Wheels means sometimes my family will HAVE TO SUFFER as I utilize some packaged foods like Zataran’s Rice & Idahoan Instant Potatoes, Bob Evans Refrigerated Mashed Potatoes or Amy’s Organic Mac & Cheese.

3. Combine, condense and collaborate.

Combine & use the same ingredients in different ways. For example roast a chicken in advance or purchase a couple at your grocer and shred it. Vacuum seal part of it for nachos. Prepare a chicken salad with part of it and make chicken salad sandwiches for lunch. Use part of it in a pasta salad.

Condense items by VACUUM SEALING IN PORTION SIZES PER MEAL. For instance if you purchase premade hamburgers, take them out of the packaging and VACCUM SEAL to save space in the freezer or refrigerator. Same goes for anything that comes in a box like perogies.

Collaborate – If traveling in a group and you think you may end up eating together some evenings, talk among yourselves and decide what each person is doing on a given evening. Saves confusion and time.

4. Tools of the trade. Figure out what items work best for you to quickly make meals. We utilize our grill most, but I also use an electric skillet, a crock pot, a small waffle iron and 1 iron skillet and 1 nonstick skillet. Others swear by the Instapot and Air Fryers. Figure out what works for you and how much room you have to store such items. Mini Waffle Iron is fabulous on Amazon https://amzn.to/3yNJKqQFood Saver Vac Seal is our favorite on Amazon https://amzn.to/3i19hWI

TIP: CREATING A MENU TAKES TIMEDON’T WAIT TILL THE LAST minute. 

If you get stuck – design a menu using a theme or by specific cuisine.

TIP: DON’T DISCARD MENUS. SAVE MENUS for future trips. Tweak what you didn’t like and improve it if necessary

TIP: Use your menu & make a shopping list. If you hate making lists, use an online site to save your recipes and enter the list of ingredients first in the recipe and use it when shopping. Paprika App, Pinterist & Big Oven are just a few. My sister has used Onetsp.com for years.

Tip: Check yourself out and bag your food by meal day plan, dry & canned foods together and refrigerated foods together. Our camper sits in our driveway, when I unload the car I carry all the dry/canned bags into the camper. I store the last day ‘s menu food items in the back of the cupboard and work forward so on the first day, all your main ingredients are in the front and you are not digging around trying to find what you need to cook.

When it is just the two of us for a few days or a week, we typically eat a large lunch consisting of a grilled protein and have a salad. If you plan to make salads, prep before hand. For example, make your hardboiled eggs in advance. I also precook my bacon and then it only takes seconds to warm in the microwave for breakfast or add to a salad. When grandkids are coming, I make pancakes in advance & then it only takes a few minutes to warm them and add that already cooked bacon and serve it up. Look for creative ways to serve your food. Then it won’t look like the same ole thing!

MY FIRST DINNER MENU TRAVELING WITH FAMILY

Since our daughter’s family was traveling with us, I thought it would be best to utilize basic dinners and make sandwiches for lunch. Then breakfast could be a combination of cereals, muffins, yogurts and fresh fruits. Our campground had a great little ice cream bar so that took care of dessert each evening.

Sunday: Chicken Kabobs with Cilantro Lime Rice (Vigo or Zatarain’s) and Grilled Pineapple (Mojitos for adults)

Monday: Pulled pork Sandwich with cole slaw, mac and cheese & Watermelon slices (Jack & Coke for adults)

Typically I make pulled pork & freeze it for camping trips. Then I use it for BBQ Sandwiches or have it with rice and black beans. Or if I am pressed for time, I use Jack Daniels Frozen Pulled Pork . I prefer to make my mac & cheese from scratch but when camping we use Bob Evans Mac and Cheese or Annie’s Frozen Mac & Cheese depending on refrigerator space.

Tuesday: Shrimp & Crawfish Boil (Grilled Mahi for our daughter) (Hurricanes for adults)

Wednesday: BBQ Ribs, cole slaw, baked beans and Pasta Salad (Long Islands for adults)

Thursday: Filet Steak tips with onions and mushrooms with mashed potatoes. If I have enough space in the fridge I used fresh mushrooms but just in case I also buy jarred mushrooms & a jarred gravy if necessary. (Old Fashioned for adults)

Friday: Grilled salmon with grilled bacon wrapped asparagus and baked sweet potatoes/ baked Idaho potatoes (Chelsea Sidecar for adults)

Saturday: Chicken Alfredo – Prefer to make my own sauce but take jarred sauce just in case we are pressed for time.

(A nice bottle of wine….just for me!)

CHECK OUT MY FUTURE INTERNATIONAL AND REGIONAL MENUS BLOG

Coming Soon: Cool Charcuterie Boards, Which Hitch, Additions for Travel Trailers and don’t forget to subscribe!

HAPPY CAMPERS

The beginning of going broke – The RV Spiral

TIPS & ACCESSORY LIST FOR YOUR RV

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ IT ADDS UP QUICK!

After purchasing our new Apex, which in all respects is a very modest purchase, the real shocker is what we would need to purchase to actually use the RV.  From basic items like towels and bedding; to water pressure meters and tire gauges (which requires changing the stems on our truck & trailer tires) and wheel chocks, etc……

Yes, this is only the beginning. (If you are a blog skimmer, if nothing else, pay attention to the items highlighted in Red.)

If you end up purchasing a travel trailer, the first big extra expense may be the HITCH.  We researched for several months and made a decision that we were going to purchase a hitch that we felt would be one of the safest to pull with.  Of course, it came with a high price tag but to us it is worth it.  It required a conscious decision to be willing to sacrifice on other items.  I would rather be covered up with a cheap blanket sleeping cozily in my bed, than covered up with dirt six feet under.

In a future blog we will focus on the hitch purchased and why!

We kept adding to our list and had to choose between “this” and “that”.  My husband likes to go a little “over the top” in anything that has to do with tools, meters, gauges.  So that means that in order to not totally go broke, we must make sacrifices, for instance, choosing between the coffee maker I really want and end up buying an inexpensive one from Walmart.  It boils down to what is most important.

DO THIS FIRST: My first recommendation is purchasing the basics before picking up your RV. If you purchase from an RV Dealer you won’t necessarily get the best prices. Also, look in your house drawers, cupboards and closets for doubles of anything that you can utilize in your camper.  Do this BEFORE you go shopping. Otherwise, you may see the latest and greatest gadget and decide not to use that old wine opener and leave it laying in the kitchen drawer to take up space.

LOOK FOR ONLINE COUPONS & COMPARE PRICES: Since we started shopping for items online due to the pandemic, we looked for coupons and compared prices.  Although Amazon Prime is just so easy to use and purchase from and to RETURN if you don’t like something, I have found a few great deals at Camping World and E-trader.  If retail shops are open where you live, look for clearance items.  Don’t overlook stores like Homegoods, Bed, Bath and Beyond and Ross where you may find great deals on oven mitts and storage bins. One RVer said she bought her storage baskets at Dollar Tree.  Another said Dollar Tree has all the common spices in light weight plastic containers

If you have friends that own RVs, ask them for advice on what you need, and good places to purchase from.  You may find that they may have an extra “something” that they purchased and never used and simply give it to you or give you a great deal.

The following is a COLLECTIVE LIST OF ACCESSORIES AND MUST HAVES from family and friends!

It is not totally comprehensive but will give you a good start.

Note: In an effort to get into the fulltime RV Lifestyle, I started this blog and some of these links may be part of an affiliate program that may pay a small commission. To enable us to get into the RV World full-time sooner, we are hoping this blog will enable us to make a little extra income and reach our goal to GET & STAY ON THE ROAD and share our tips along our way. Thank you in advance for any that use these links and find them helpful.

General items:

  1.  Grilling equipment and accessories – Our RV came with a grill, however many RVers like the Blackstone grill. This is a small table top version: https://amzn.to/2Tvp3Rx Here is a nice little grill accessory kit: https://amzn.to/2TuQ73n
  2. Mosquito repellent, citronella candles, wasp spray, ant traps   We purchased Thermacells which so far are working well. I purchased the one like a lantern so it is easy to carry and move around. We love, love, love these: https://amzn.to/3wiltHH Ants seem to want to inhabit our RV since our little outing last week. Personally we try and use eco-friendly repellents if possible but I purchased ant traps to keep on hand. Cinnamon is a strong ant repellent as well as other natural products that you may want to consider.
  3. Camping chairs with cup holders and a bag.    This is where you can choose “this” or “that”.  We purchased Zero Gravity Lounge Chairs at the end of the season last year at Home Depot for $30 on clearance.  Friends have purchased chairs for as little as $6 at Walmart anD others purchased PICO CHAIRS that cost in excess of $100. On my list of A FUTURE must buy is a rocking chair for camp since I have a beautiful grandbaby. I found this one and have it on my list! https://amzn.to/3xjDd6B
  4. Camping Table – this is a recommendation we received from my niece an avid RVer. This is a nice ultra-lite option: https://amzn.to/3hisCDF
  5. Picnic Table Cover & plastic clamps to hold it down in windy weather. These are an inexpensive option and also on my list to purchase: https://amzn.to/3hEID5E
  6. Outdoor area rug for under awning. We purchased a few smaller rugs that were on sale. I wished I had purchased a much larger rug like this one that comes with its own bag! https://amzn.to/3wjR0ZC On one of our last RV trips we saw a neighbor with a rug edged in LED lighting which probably will reduce tripping at night (unless you are drunk and then that probably won’t help anyway). Found one that looks pretty cool: https://amzn.to/3wdQCfi
  7. Bic lighters – Ok seems like a no brainer but we forgot to purchase before our first trip. https://amzn.to/3jSxUqS
  8. Water hose & filters (camping in cold weather – consider heated water hose) – We have never been disappointed with any Camco products so far. Here is a BPA & Lead free drinking water hose that is thicker and an Anti-Kink design: https://amzn.to/3yoXub9 The filter is also made by Camco: https://amzn.to/3xjz7LP
  9. Water Pressure Regulator – Of course my husband did not want just a basic water regulator although many of our friends use this: https://amzn.to/3yqeY77 He wanted one that looks like he works for the Water Utility Company, but he is very happy with it. However, it is a little over $20 more expensive but gives him an exact measurement: https://amzn.to/2SNrs9B
  10. Sewage hose with clear fitting 90 https://amzn.to/3hgK6Qx and a DONUT (not the kind you eat) https://amzn.to/3Ar35Qh and GLOVES to handle sewer hoses https://amzn.to/2TDjsZh
  11. STORAGE CONTAINER for sewage hoses and gloves – Currently we use basic rubbermaid storage boxes with lids but I am not thrilled. Looking for new options.
  12. STORAGE CONTAINER for water hoses, filters – Currently we use basic rubbermaid storage boxes with lids but I am not thrilled. Looking for new options.
  13. Leveling blocks and wheel chockshttps://amzn.to/3jOLgEG & https://amzn.to/3Au6RZ5
  14. Mop – Broom System (we use Norwex Small Mop System) https://summerpinnock.norwex.biz/ or a Small Vacuum https://amzn.to/3e4cZ0H
  15. EMS ELECTRICAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM SURGE PROTECTER: This is a must have. Any surges in power or lightening strikes around the area may damage your electrical components within the RV. Replacing electrical components or appliances can be very costly. Although this unit seems very expensive, it is a lot less expensive than replacing a damaged appliance or other electrical device or computers. IF YOUR RV REQUIRES 30 AMP PROTECTION CHOOSE THIS: https://amzn.to/3hfAWnE IF YOUR RV REQUIRES 50 AMP PROTECTION CHOOSE THIS: https://amzn.to/3jKGeck My husband with an electrical background chose this because it constantly monitors electrical activities with a security locking bracket. Although we have never had any issues with anything coming up missing when we camp, we do secure our EMS with a basic bike key lock to the electrical post. https://amzn.to/3AvB7ma
  16. Lockless Monster Anti-theft Cable to secure several toys and bikes, etc. https://amzn.to/3AtlXxT
HAMPTON ZERO GRAVITY CHAIR

GENERAL ITEMS & INSIDE THE RV:

  1. Museum Putty – Help secure items on counter. This is a MUST HAVE: https://amzn.to/3ynvapG
  2. Command Hooks – For hanging pictures, hanging towels, etc. https://amzn.to/2V1stM0
  3. Magnetic Hooks – We use these outside in our pullout grill/fridge https://amzn.to/3qOVoPt

Bathroom:

#1 CHOICE FOR BLACK TANK TREATMENT
  1. Wall mounted shampoo & soap dispenser – if needed – https://amzn.to/3hGj7wK I have not installed ours and I forgot to store the shampoo bottle and conditioner after our last trip. So what did we find when we stopped? Broken bottles on the shower floor with shampoo and conditioner everywhere. For us, this is a need!
  2. Foaming Soap dispenser (I purchased a set of two and use one at the kitchen sink) https://amzn.to/3jSKQwW Just adhere these with museum putty and you don’t have to worry about them tipping over when you travel or remembering to store them away when you leave camp.
  3. Waste basket, toilet bowl brush and BLACK TANK treatment – Each RV bathroom differs greatly in size so that will determine which waste basket you can use. This may be a good option for us and I am excited to try it: https://amzn.to/2VcaeUk There are so many black tank treatments but the one that we prefer to keep that stinky smell away without using awful chemicals is “Happy Campers”https://amzn.to/3AvXGaw
  4.  Towels & Wash cloth – Our original purchase was Turkish Towels – the benefit is that they dry very quickly and you can purchase in multi-colors so each person knows which towel is theirs while traveling.  These were recommended to us because they are softer and seem to be better quality than some of the others.…the fringe seems to stay tied better too.  Just tug on knots before and after washing. https://amzn.to/3AvXGaw

OUR TOP CHOICE FOR BATH AND KITCHEN TOWELS AND WASH CLOTHS, LAUNDRY SOAP AND MORE:

NORWEX – This great quality microfiber with BacLock stuff is amazing. You can even wash without soap, using only a body cloth and you will not smell and you will be clean. You can simply hang the towel and face/body cloth after your shower and they dry quickly and do not have any odor. Read WHY the products are so great and to purchase: https://summerpinnock.norwex.biz/ But the TOWELS ARE AMAZING. They absorb all the moisture off your body and dry quickly and even have a built in loop to hang.

FAVORITE TOWELS FOR RV

 KITCHEN:

  1.  The basics:  Dishes, silverware, kitchen utensils, collapsible colander, thin plastic cutting board, steak & cooking knives, toaster, coffee pot, towels, wash clothes, can opener, hand mixer, blender, skillet, collapsible measuring spoons https://amzn.to/3dJyvaC, etc. For dishes we use Corelle. This is a neutral white set that could work for all decor: https://amzn.to/3hwuZS8 Although this is the set we have for our RV: https://amzn.to/2Twfr9a
  2. Sink strainers – Collapsible strainers and colanders help save room. This set has collapsible spoons as part of the set: https://amzn.to/36h4Cdy
  3. Pots and Pans – Nesting pots are a great choice with limited storage. They have removal handles and are stainless steel. This is a great choice: https://amzn.to/3xwqSvW and another less expensive option with an aluminum core is a 7 piece set by Camco is: https://amzn.to/3dLl228
  4. Stainless steel mixing bowls with plastic lids can be used to mix ingredients, serve in and store food in the fridge. This set even has 3 grater options & non-slip bottoms! https://amzn.to/3jJr1ID
  5. Pot holders – These are so cute https://amzn.to/3Ayk1Ec and we know that life is always greater at the campsite as these remind us: https://amzn.to/36jOTuc\
  6. Glasses, coffee cups, pitcher.  Experienced RVers have recommended Tervis Tumblers with lids as a good choice since they are lightweight and keep beverages hot or cold. Tervis (I use these for my cold drinks and coffee) A set of four gives us 2 for us and 2 for guests. We use multi-color lids so we know which drink is for each person. https://amzn.to/3dKPxp4 Clear Tervis 16 oz. tumblers & multi-color lids https://amzn.to/3AykRAQ My husband is a Steelers Fan (boo!) but I bought him this Tervis Coffee Cup anyway: https://amzn.to/3hkvCiV but I guess as a Brown’s fan I need to buy this for me: https://amzn.to/3AyE8SG
  7. Cloth collapsible storage bins (For campers with limited drawers or clothes storage areas) We use these for our clothes and store them in the bin above our bed: https://amzn.to/36h6yTn
  8. First Aid Kit – DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT A FIRST AID KIT. This 299 piece kit is easy to store and has the basics of what you may need. https://amzn.to/3AvLAOF
  9. Meat Thermometer (Great for grilling & more) Lavatools PT12 is a great digital instaread thermometer. Check it out: https://amzn.to/3yv4Da7
  10. Wine & Beer Opener – As a former bartender, something like this would work: https://amzn.to/3e4t7zh or you could use a magnetic beer opener like this: https://amzn.to/3dLFnEo

Of course there are other items you will need, but if you are new to RVing, this list should help you save some time in your research so you can purchase some basics and get you well on your way in traveling down the RV Spiral!

Note: In an effort to get into the fulltime RV Lifestyle, I started this blog and some of these links may be part of an affiliate program that may pay a small commission. To enable us to get into the RV World full-time sooner, we are hoping this blog will enable us to make a little extra income and reach our goal to GET & STAY ON THE ROAD and share our tips along our way. Thank you in advance for any that use these links and find them helpful.