HOLIDAY FOOD AND TRAVEL TIPS FROM DUTCHMEN RV
Storing and Stocking Your RV Food While On The Open Road
For all of our southernly RVers, as well as those die-hard travelers who choose to travel all year round, it's that time again. Time to hit the road for a holiday vacation to visit family and friends. Whether you plan to eat a big holiday meal in your RV, or simply need a few items to tide you over until you reach your destination, Dutchmen would like to offer a few tips when it comes to traveling with food.
But before we begin, let's make sure you have everything you'll need to store all those festive leftovers for the ride back home.
- On-the-go necessities:
- Vacuum sealer and/or Ziploc bags
- Can opener and bottle opener
- Non-plastic knives for cutting purposes
- Chip clips and zip ties
- Napkins and paper towels
- When planning to prep meals in the RV:
- Measuring spoons and measuring cups
- Tin foil and parchment paper
- Oven mitts and kitchen towels
- Whisks, spatulas, ladles, etc.
- Cutting board, rolling pin and mixing bowls
While this list is not exhaustive, having these items on hand can make all the difference. Now we'll go over some key elements to remember as you travel.
First things first, make sure to plan your meals ahead of time.
Knowing exactly what you’ll be preparing from day to day will take the guesswork out of a long day’s ride, while ensuring you’re only stocked with the items you need… saving both space and overall vehicle weight. So, take only what you can eat!
When traveling with copious amounts of holiday food, carefully-wrapped presents and all your day-to-day essentials, you’ll want to make sure everything has its place and is easily accessible when you need it. This means that creating a list of your meals beforehand can be invaluable. Simply make your meal list (remember, the less ingredients the better!), then break down the items that are required for each one. Next, go through your RV and remove items you won’t be needing and save yourself the trouble of hauling unused appliances and ingredients, while also ensuring your RV remains nice and organized.
Note: With the rise of delivery services like Home Chef, Blue Apron, Plated and more, getting your portions exact is becoming easier than ever. If you’ve been planning your trip for a while and know your day of departure, you can even have your food delivered before you leave and take pre-planned (and pre-portioned!) meals with you out onto the road. Just make sure the meals you pick utilize your RV’s appliances and don’t leave you trying to figure out a plan B at the last moment. These services will even theme their dishes around the upcoming holiday, so you’ll never be without those staple holiday meals.
Realize you forgot some essentials? Dried and dehydrated foods are always good to have on hand when you’re planning to spend a significant amount of time on the road. These items are less likely to spoil on you, involve less-spacious packaging and still manage to fill you up when you don’t have the time to prepare a full meal.
Remember, the road can be a bumpy place.
No matter how well you stack and coordinate your ingredients, your nicely stored items will always be subject to the rigors of the road. This means that next time you go to open your cabinets or refrigerator, you’re likely to find your items have shifted and are ready to come tumbling out.
A lot of RV owners take a pro-active approach to food storage, by either purchasing shelf organizers and dividers or by employing shelf-size bins to keep their items rounded up into one convenient location.
Even in a non-RV environment, it can be impossible to keep spice bottles upright and in their place. However, heeding this call, plenty of stores sell spice racks that attach to the shelves or even to the cabinet doors themselves… saving you a whole lot of hassle.
The heavier they are… the harder they fall.
Helping to prevent messes and future back pain, always store your heavier products, like large cans or bags of rice and potatoes, on bottom shelves. This will help you retrieve items higher up and ensure that if something goes awry during transport, its less likely to cause harm by falling from its perch. If you’re the one in charge of bringing the turkey or the ham, make sure those items are on the bottom shelf of the fridge… which also means you’ll need to get crafty when it comes to the rest of the refrigerator space!
Don’t just plan your meals, plan your containers too.
Glass items in an RV environment are always a risky endeavor. As we’ve mentioned, shifting items can topple and become a mess, much more so when the items in question are made of glass. Plenty of horror stories involve containers breaking and their contents disappearing from sight, never to be found again. With this in mind, make sure any breakable bottles, or items prone to leaking, are stored in a plastic (aka cleanable!) container.
Round items are also more likely to cause problems during your trip. While stacking can be a quick space saver, cans are typically a bad idea in an RV. The round shape eats up valuable space and not every can is stackable, leaving you with toppling items that can dent, roll from shelves and cause potential harm. Owners are encouraged to purchase items in box packaging or utilize the aforementioned shelf-size bins if the former is not an option. Even better, most dry items can be transferred into storage containers that hold more, stack better and can be re-used time and time again. And, what better means to store all those delicious leftovers?
Your store-bought packaging needs to go.
Food packaging in an RV can be a costly price to pay for convenience, so it’s time to do a little hands-on work if you’re planning to fit all your store-bought food into your refrigerator and cabinet space. Food manufacturers love to layer their products in various bags, boxes and everything in between, so simply removing excess packaging, such as the foam trays found with fresh meat and fish items, can save you much needed room.
As you should never lay exposed meats on refrigerator shelves, Ziploc bags can become lifesavers. Items stored in airtight bags can be stacked and stored in half the space a traditional can or box would take up. Better yet, invest in a handy vacuum sealer and ensure your items remain fresh and ready to go even during long trips. Just make sure you’re freezing items immediately or using them before their labeled sell-by date.
By purchasing minimally-packaged items to begin with, you can also heavily reduce your waste, which becomes increasingly important when you’re surrounded by nature and there are no trash bins in sight!
Don’t forget about the perishables!
It’s important that you date every item that you repackage. Before tossing away the original packaging, make sure everything is marked according to the expiration date. We suggest you download or print out a food safety guide (like this one from the University of Lincoln-Nebraska) and end the guesswork when it comes to your food. As always, make sure fresh items are kept refrigerated, freezable items are in the freezer and that everything you travel with is properly disposed of and stored when staying in campsites or anywhere wild animals call home.
Note: Be careful, most wet items and certain vegetables cannot and should not be vacuum sealed or stored in Ziploc containers as their gases become harmful during this process. Always refer to manufacturer guidelines and safety regulations when repackaging. If unsure, don’t use the item and discard. Sometimes its simpler to just take along vegetables and side dishes that can be prepared in a hurry in the microwave, on the stove or in the oven, rather than overcomplicating your holiday food plans. After all, this is supposed to be a holiday vacation!
Last, but not least, sometimes the less fancy but more practical plastic utensils, plates and cups are an easy way to limit your clean-up time. While the holidays tend to be a time to break out the fine china and cutlery, breaking is exactly what you want to avoid.
Now that you’ve properly stocked your Dutchmen RV with food for the road, holiday or otherwise, it’s time to enjoy your next mealtime without the hassle, the haste or the headaches.