6 Dos and Don’ts for Cooking on an RV Trip

One of the many benefits of taking an RV on a camping adventure is the ability it gives you to cook your own meals instead of having to eat out in pricey tourist destinations. Although your RV is your “home on wheels”, however, it typically will not offer the same amount of food storage, prep and cooking space as your actual home. Here are some tips to help you prepare easy and delicious meals while you are enjoying the RV lifestyle.

Do: Plan meals in advance. Given the limited amount of pantry space you probably have in your RV, it’s essential to plan the meals for your trip in advance. Break each menu down into a shopping list of ingredients you can buy and stow on board before you set out. Try to include several different meals using the same ingredients on your list to save space. Remove the contents from bulky packaging and store it in a plastic bag or container that will fit more easily into the RV’s stowage compartments. If any of the menus require following an online recipe, print it out beforehand in case there is no internet when you go to cook that meal.

Do: Prep meal ingredients. Before setting out on your trip, prep the ingredients for as many meals as possible. This not only will save time while you are on vacation, but it also will help if your RV has limited counter space. For example, cube meat for kebobs and pack them in a separate container. Wash and chop the vegetables for each meal and bag them accordingly. You can even prepare marinades and sauces for various dishes in advance. Make sure to label each bag and container, and as you pack the RV’s fridge and freezer, start with the items you will need last, then work your way forward to the ones you will use first.

Do: Pack a snackle box. Snacks are a fun part of the camping experience and help to stave off hunger between meals. If you have an empty fishing tackle box with multiple tiers and compartments, it makes a great “snackle box” container. Be sure to clean it thoroughly first, however! Fill each compartment with your crew’s favorite salty and savory snacks, veggies and dip, or go all-out and create an elegant charcuterie box with sliced meats, cheeses and crackers. If you prepare the snackle box in advance, be sure to store it in the fridge or on ice in a cooler that is large enough to hold it. Having a pre-made snackle box on hand is also an easy way to entertain new friends you make while RV’ing.

Do: Bring outdoor cooking equipment. Even if your RV is equipped with a stove and has adequate ventilation, cooking smells can linger inside. If you are parked in a campsite, it also can be more fun to cook outdoors when the weather is nice. While many RV parks and campgrounds offer communal outdoor grills, if you bring your own portable charcoal or propane grill, you won’t have to wait your turn. Also consider packing a cast iron Dutch oven that can be placed on the grill or in a campfire. It will expand the variety of meals you can cook on your trip to include casseroles and stews.

Don’t: Forget food safety. Pack fresh, potable water so you won’t have to rely on unknown water sources, even for dish washing, and never drink out of lakes or streams. Add a food thermometer to your galley gear so you can ensure all meat is cooked to the proper internal temperature, especially when you grill outdoors. (For a chart of the proper cooking temperatures for different types of meat, visit Don’t serve cooked meat on the same platter that held raw meat. Bacteria grow rapidly at temperatures starting at 40 °F and up, so be sure to put perishable leftovers in the fridge or in a cooler on ice as soon as possible after eating. Bring along plenty of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes for cleanup as well.

Don’t: Let dirty dishes pile up. No matter how big your RV may be, it’s easy for dishes to stack up in the sink and on the counters. If you clean up as you go while preparing meals, it will help to keep clutter to a minimum and save time at the end of the evening. Designate a dish washer for each meal on a rotating basis so no one is stuck with the job. If you are in bear country, make sure to pack and dispose of any food scraps safely and securely so you won’t get any unwanted visitors!

With some advance planning and preparation, cooking while on vacation with your RV can be a pleasure rather than a chore. With mealtime handled, you can focus on relaxing and having fun in the great outdoors!


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