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Old 07-16-2008, 02:13 PM   #1
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SUN #21
Cooking On the Road

Although we both like to keep things simple when it comes to making meals on the road, my wife and I differ on how to prepare them. I prefer to do much of the preparation ahead of time while she likes to do at least some of the preparation in the trailer. For instance, I’ll cook pasta ahead of time and then freeze it in portion-sized bags so we can just dump it in a pan and heat it up with sauce. She prefers to bring dried pasta and cook it on the spot. In other cases I’ll cook up simple meals (for example a mix of rice, hamburger, and vegetables) and freeze it in portions before we leave. In contrast, my wife will put the whole thing together in the trailer. My technique works better when we’re boondocking (when we want to keep our use of propane and water down) while my wife’s makes sense when we’re hooked to shore power and water.

Both of us differ from my mom who, when she and dad were snowbirds, could put together from scratch a three course dinner plus desert in their 16-foot Prowler without breaking a sweat . I often thought she should have published a book about cooking on the road.

This got me to wondering how others handle the meal situation. Do you bring everything you’ll need or do you pack lightly and buy groceries along the way? How often to you eat out compared to cooking a meal? Do you find cooking on the road relaxing or is it something you go on vacation to get away from? Do you go with prepared (or pre-cooked) food as much as possible or do you work from scratch? How much cooking do you do inside compared to using an outdoor grill or stove?

Don Reitz
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Old 07-16-2008, 03:00 PM   #2
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We bring everything along. I have the time to grocery shop ahead of time, so that's what I do. We had to do our shopping along the way once when we had our popup. We had taken our son to college and didn't have room for our food in addition to all his stuff. We stopped at a WalMart for groceries after we dropped him off...worked fine.

Eating out???...On a long trip we'll eat out maybe twice. With friends we have our eating out friends, so if we're with them we eat out. We have our eat in friends, so if we're with them we eat in. We pretty much go with the flo.

I don't mind cooking on the road because I'm prepared and have all the ingredients preplanned. I think I mind it at home more, because half the time I open the freezer at 4:00 and try to figure out what to cook! Then there's the fact that when we're camping Steve cooks on the grill 90% of the time...that makes camping cooking pretty nice too

If we're going for a weekend, we cook outside pretty much the whole time. For a week or more there'll be more indoor stuff - like we'll end up having spaghetti one night.
About the only thing I prepare ahead of time is fried hamburger for spaghetti sauce.
The one thing I tend to forget is dessert. I bring the stuff for s'mores and think that's gonna do it. But then it'll be 95 degrees and we won't want a campfire. Luckily this year we camped next to our ice cream friends who come to the rescue...I need to learn from them and I'll have the food thing down pat!!

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Old 07-16-2008, 04:15 PM   #3
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How and what we cook depends in part on the length of the trip and where we are.

On our 6 week trip to Labrador we knew food would be difficult to find and carried a lot of food, filling our small freezer with mainly meat because except for the two cities, it is impossible to get good meat there. As to eating in or out we spent $300 on groceries and $500 on restaurants over 50 days in Labrador.

When we go for a weekend with friends we sometimes prepare food for a potluck ahead permitting us to spend more time with friends. We do bake in our Motorhome, but the trailer does not have an oven though we’re thinking of adding a convection oven. We’re often traveling at the cool time of the year so the oven is not a problem.

We always eat breakfast at home and dinner most of the time. We’re usually out traveling at lunch time, either exploring or moving to a new site. Hence at lunch we usually snack if driving or hiking about or go out to lunch, though this is not always possible in Labrador, simply no restaurants.

When in a unique area, with great seafood or some other specialty we tend to eat out more. In Newfoundland we have some favorite places to eat and did a little more eating out.

We used to cookout a lot but recently we hardly touch the grill. We both like to cook and sometimes keep it simple and other times complex, just like we have most of our life. We’re gone for more than half the year and treat the trailer like a moving house and not a vacation retreat, or maybe our life is one continuous vacation.

Hope this helps
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Old 07-17-2008, 09:24 PM   #4
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I'm lucky as I dont cook at all I guess I worked too long in a restaurant and got spoiled with the commercial dishwasher and huge chargrill

Cindy on the other hands lives to cook. She is one of the best cooks I've ever met, and wakes up in the morning thinking about what she is going to cook that day.

What we've found to work the best in our limited space, is when we go grocery shoppin', she usually spends the rest of the afternoon in front of the stove.

She'll cook up a big pot of spaghetti sauce and then throw it in a tupperware container so all we have to do is warm it up for the rest of the week.

She'll do this with multiple things like Chili, Soup and Salsa which she always makes homemade.

We also usually take most of the dry goods out of their packages and store them in baskets we have in the pull out shelf. While we're at the grocery store which usually has a recycle bin in teh parking lot, we'll be able to recycle most of the packaging and save some valuable space.

After 17 months on the road fulltime, I'm very surprised at how little we eat outside. Since we're usually out doing things all day long, it's nice to be able to sit in the camper and relax while we eat our dinner.

I think this would be very different if we camped more like the weekend warriors who want to spend as little time inside the camper as possible. For us, we live outdoors most of the time, so the camper is our little cabin to relax in.

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Old 07-18-2008, 01:43 PM   #5
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I have never cooked on the road , as I don't like the taste of asphalt.

I prefer to use the kitchen or the fire.
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Old 07-18-2008, 09:01 PM   #6
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Funny, Funny Mark.

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Old 07-19-2008, 08:38 AM   #7
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SUN #115
Originally Posted by Mark
I have never cooked on the road , as I don't like the taste of asphalt.

I prefer to use the kitchen or the fire.
Mark, I wanted to say this exact quote, but since I almost always answer something with a smart alleck comment, I thought maybe members were going to start getting bored with my humor

Two great minds must think alike

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Old 07-19-2008, 08:52 AM   #8
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cooking ? COOKING? you mean I am supposed to cook while I'm on VACATION
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Old 07-19-2008, 10:03 AM   #9
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I think cooking on the road for me has always depended on the situation.

I am one of those primarily weekend (or mid-week through the weekend) campers, mainly because I still have a 9-5 job where I have to show up now and then. But if I were traveling a lot or for an extended period, I would likely keep certain kitchen basics on hand, and replenish fresh stuff along the way.

In the Sunspot, which has a galley that's primitive by comparison to a more modern trailer or motor home, storage is tight. No fridge. No microwave, or oven. I work out of a cooler (which, with careful use and timing of block ice purchases, I can keep cold for 4-5 days.) Anything that doesn't absolutely require refrigeration is kept in my Rubbermaid tote 'pantry,' and extras spill over into the tow vehicle (truck) But my kitchen is non-electric dependent--I have a propane stove, a grill, a dutch oven and charcoal. If I know I'm going to have electricity available (still rewiring my own system), I sometimes bring a crockpot or covered electric skillet. I can do some cooking from the inside living area of the Sunspot, but I mainly cook and prep in the open-ended galley, under a canopy, occasionally using the picnic table and/or grill and always using a wash-house for cleanup if it's provided at the camping spot...just like tent camping.

How much do I prep at home in that situation? Not a lot. I make a good list. I make sure I have the spices and fresh stuff I need in the cooler, and I repackage dry stuff. If I'm going to make a spiced rice, for instance, I may combine the spices ahead of time, and then pack them in a small bag inside the container with the rice. If I've got something in the fridge that isn't going to last until I get back, I try to incorporate it into my menu for the trip and it goes in the cooler. But unless it's going to save me time and space both at home and at camp, I don't make what I plan to eat ahead of time...I bring the simple stuff I need to put things together, plan for things which can combine in various ways depending on my mood and the weather, and then make the actual meal at camp.

Now--once a year, I also go camping in a 28-30 foot rented travel trailer with a full kitchen (oven, stovetop, microwave, refrigerator and freezer.) I go with four or five friends, and we spend the whole 6 days relaxing, enjoying each other and entertaining anyone who stops by. After doing this for a lot of years, we tend to divide up the days and types of meals, and assign them to various people--and to save space, we try to limit ourselves to only bringing what we need to make our own dishes or assigned meals. Some people prep their entire meals ahead of time and bring them to camp frozen (which is a problem--a travel trailer freezer ain't a home freezer.) So we also usually keep four or five coolers iced and use them for extra perishable storage, beverages, the stuff frozen in serving dishes that didn't fit in the freezer, etc.

After a lot of years doing it, I'm in charge of something to eat as people arrive on day 1, and for breakfasts and the mini-meals we grab for lunches. I am the one who usually goes to meet the trailer delivery, so I usually try to choose something that can 'hold'. Some of us have been known to arrive at camp well after dark. I'll make a simple homemade soup that cooks in my crockpot all afternoon, and have on hand the stuff for hot paninni sandwiches made to order on the George Foreman as people arrive and get unpacked. I've made chili in the crockpot or even picked up four dozen chicken wings and made a fresh salad, too. Then for the rest of my meals, I tend to cook right there in camp. I'll make breakfast casseroles which can cook all night in the crockpot and are hot and ready so that people can grab them before racing out to their 7 a.m. ring calls. I bring the ingredients I need to make whichever soup(s) have been requested (we have a rotation of favorites). And if I'm assigned a dinner, I bring the ingredients and prep them at camp. We run a pretty active kitchen--and if you show up for dinner, I might just hand you a cutting board and ask you to help make the salad or the appetizers.

I also keep the camp kitchen--a Rubbermaid tote filled with basics. It's got our list of absolutely essential spices, a couple cans or boxes of broth, dried pasta and a jar of sauce just in case, sugar and sweeteners, coffee and tea, cocoa, peanut butter and jam, that kind of stuff. So if someone has forgotten something, or we need an emergency extra dish, I or one of the other excellent cooks I camp with can put something together from the pantry plus what we've got in the coolers (fresh veggies, cheeses, fresh proteins, etc.)

But the joke from the folks from whom we rent the trailers (we've been working with them for 8 years now) is that they rely on us to actually test the oven and other appliances...since few other people ever use them. It's a rare trip that we don't bake at least one pie, christening the oven. One year I gifted them some of my older pots and pans that were size appropriate for the trailer. My friend Dottie always brings her cast iron skillet, and it's a rare trip where we don't go through at least two pounds of bacon, a couple dozen eggs, a pound of coffee, and a couple quarts of half and half.

Yep---while I make a good list ahead of time and try to pare down to a basic pantry, whether in the primitive Sunspot or the fully equipped trailer, I am usually a prep-it-there kinda camper.
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Old 07-21-2008, 07:46 AM   #10
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SUN #115
One other thing I forgot to mention is that Cindy and I sold our microwave. After a full year of being on the road, we had only used it 3 times!

I figured for how much it weighed and how much space it took up, the $50 I got for it in Quartszite was worth it. Besides, that was a half a tank of fuel in the states, or a tank and a half in Mexico, which is where we were headed at the time.

Now Cindy uses that area for dry storage of foods.

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