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Here are some ideas for making your meal planning and preparation easier in a tiny or micro kitchen in a truck camper or RV.
New to cooking in a tiny kitchen in an RV or truck camper? This could be a great time to change the way we think about preparing meals.
If you are like me, you have a micro-tiny kitchen to prepare meals, which means less equipment. That means a change in meal planning and preparation.
As a bonus, while you focus on making life easy, you can also pay attention to nutrition and your wellbeing.
That doesn’t mean you have to change what you eat, but it could.
Or maybe you just change the way you prepare your meals.
Either way, it’s an exciting journey of discovery.
1. Stay away from meals that require more than one pot.
One-pot dinners where you put everything in, meat and veggies, take up less time and space.
My favorite recipes include sausage casseroles. I add fresh sweet potato, carrots and other root vegetables, leeks, onions, and anything else that will add more nutrition to the meal.
I love stir-fry dishes, which I finish off by adding pre-cooked udon noodles.
Try adding canned beans, chickpeas or vegetables to any dish for extra nutritional value, and it will do away with the need to cook up a separate vegetable side dish.
2. Fresh is best, but keep it simple.
Buying a whole watermelon may be tempting, but where will you store the leftovers after the first snack.
Let go of that overwhelming urge to stock up on foods. There is always a store, market or convenience store in the next town.
Many of us are tempted to buy everything we think we might need for a week, when really we only need to plan for the next day or two.
Make buying for your next meal a pleasure, not a chore by hunting out fresh, new ingredients.
I find when I’m traveling that buying food is a great way to check out the latest town and connect with the locals. I’m often surprised by what I find that isn’t available in my hometown grocery store.
Buy local, and enjoy the change.
Many small towns you pass through will have a store that promotes the area and alongside sells local goods.
This won’t necessarily be only a food store, but I’ve found some amazing food items like local coffee, honey, bakery goods, salamis and cheeses in little local stores, also selling postcards, gifts and toys. (And then there’s the craft items like furs, gloves and hand-bound notebooks.
It may take a little imagination to think about how you can use the items you’ve bought, but that’s the fun.
4. Try new recipes, especially those than involve less preparation.
There are 1,000s of recipes available online. No need for those heavy cookbooks, just ask Chef Google.
Go back to your childhood. Think about your mother’s/grandmother’s recipes.
What did your mother or grandmother cook when time was tight and her kitchen was simple?
5. Cook only what you can eat in one sitting
Your fridge is probably too small to store lots of left-overs, so don’t cook more than you will eat in one sitting.
I buy between 4 – 5 oz (125-150 grams) of fish and meat for each meal. That may not seem much but it’s more than enough to satisfy my nutritional needs.
Not only are you reducing your impact on the environment by reducing your meat consumption, but you are also aiding your health and making cooking more manageable in the tiny kitchen in your RV, truck camper or trailer.
If you do have left-overs for the next day, try using them up for breakfast.
6. Cook outdoors
I love outdoor cooking especially in the summer but have been known to stand in the freezing cold when the desire to grill a steak takes over. (We carry the smaller gas Weber BBQ grill in our camper.)
I love BBQing fish wrapped in tin foil, plus cuts of meat like a whole butterflied chicken or a piece of pork.
I’ve also discovered that lots of vegetables cook up great on the grill.
Zucchini (courgettes) are one of my favorites. Cut them into long wedges, sprinkle with salt, pepper and dried herbs, top with a sprinkle of olive oil and onto the grill they go.
Whole corn cobs, onion rings, tomatoes, broccolini, asparagus and other veggies that do great on the grill.
Keep them crunchie or cook them right through. And they can be served at room temperature or added to a salad without losing any of their appeal.
It’s all about practice and being prepared to try something new. Don’t give up after the first attempt. Camp cooking is just another great skill to learn.
7. Look for the local organic or whole-food stores
Eating on the road may be a choice between cheaper pre-processed ready-to-eat meals, take-aways, or good quality wholesome foods that you can easily prepare in your tiny kitchen.
While it may seem easier to go for the pre-processed meals that just require construction, there is so more nutrition and satisfaction in healthy food purchased at organic and whole-food stores.
Try tinned lentils and beans to make vegetarian nacho toppings or stews.
Sweet potato (which we call kumara here in New Zealand) is excellent sliced and fried or chopped into any stew or casserole.
8. Find the local farmers’ market
Most towns and cities have a weekly farmers’ market. When I land in a new location, the first thing I check is when and where is the local farmers market?
Often it’s only once a week, and I’m not there on the right day. But sometimes I get lucky, especially if I’m in a town on Saturdays and Sundays.
On a recent trip, I was able to buy everything I needed for a week from the weekly farmers market. I filled up our cupboards and fridge with meat, cheese, coffee, vegetables, fruit, olive oil, and pickles.
I love trying products that someone has hand-made with love and fresh ingredients, and if I’ve met the maker, then it’s even more special.
9. Eat raw
Raw food is excellent for reducing inflammation. I notice that when I’m living in a small camper where you may have less room for exercises like pilates and yoga, my joints get stiff.
I miss having a space to put down my yoga mat and complete the few simple stretches I do most days. Hence the increase in inflammation of my hip joints, knees etc.
When I eat less cooked and processed foods, my body feels much lighter, and I feel less bloated. So while it’s not always easy to eat raw when traveling, I know it helps with my all-around physical well-being.
Nuts, fruit and raw veggies make great snacks. And I have raw muesli for breakfast (or dessert) topped with my favorite coconut yogurt.
That’s where the next item comes in.
10. Salads make a great meal base
Pre-prepared salads are an excellent base for a lunch or dinner meal.
Add smoked salmon or other pre-cooked meats, and you’ve got a complete meal. Or supplement with beans and chickpeas for a vegetarian option.
If you’re worried you’ll still be hungry, then make sure you include plenty of protein and fats, which is why smoked salmon is so good. It’s surprisingly filling and satiating.
Alternatively, fill out your meal with bread rolls or crackers on the side, topped with hummus or peanut butter.
11. Buy pre-prepared salads that come with all the bits – dressing, toppings etc.
My favorite is coleslaw-type salads that come with a choice of ethnic cuisine favors.
I tip the salad into a suitable quality water/air-tight and plastic container. Add the dressing and toss. Add the toppings of nuts, tortilla chips etc. as well. They might get a bit soggy, but everything will keep well in the fridge.
Try adding your concoctions to these salads by including nuts, cheese, hummus and pickles.
Or add a little sweetness with dried cranberries or chopped figs and prunes. Every salad is better with a bit of sweetness.
12. Watch out for roadside stalls
We often buy our eggs, veggies and fruits at roadside stalls.
Summer is a good time for this type of shopping when people sell their surplus produce at their gate.
Keep your eyes peeled for a roadside sign and give yourself or the driver lots of notice to pull over.
13. Buy tinned goods that you don’t often use at home.
Corn fritters, made with creamed corn from a can was a basic staple in our house growing up.
Tinned corned meats make great fritters when added to a packet fritter mix (or make your own with a bit of flour, baking powder, egg and milk).
Also, canned tuna and salmon make great pilaf-type meals when combined with pre-cooked packaged rice, hard-boiled eggs and seasonings.
Cheap tinned items make for great meals. Here in New Zealand, we have a famous brand of baked beans and spaghetti (in a tomato sauce) that were classics back in the 1960s.
Here’s a simple one-pot recipe for Spicy Beans and Baked Eggs Top off a tin of beans with a few extra ingredients like cumin, chili, paprika, garlic and onion powder. Once the beans are nicely heated through, drop in the eggs and let the egg gently poach on top of the beans. Then top with grated cheese, preferably parmesan cheese for the taste without the extra calories. Serve with a piece of toast, a bread roll and/or a simple salad, and you have an awesome tasty meal.
Make cooking in a tiny micro kitchen fun
Cooking in a tiny truck camper or RV kitchen can be challenging. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying your experience and look at it as a chance to try new things.