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There are few better ways to see a country or continent than from the comfort of your own rolling home. RVs have long been a popular way to travel, with the structure and layout of these vehicles being reminiscent of the horsedrawn caravans of the past, and loads of people using them to save money on their trips.

When it comes to dining in a recreational vehicle, though, even the greatest cooks will face a challenge. To help you out with this, this post will be exploring some meal options which work great when you’re on the road. As most RVs have some sort of cooking facilities, it will be assumed that you have at least two hob rings, along with a microwave or small oven.

You should also have a sink available, though you may have to find an alternative source for freshwater. A pan, frying pan, and baking tray will be useful, though a normal pan can be used to cover most of these jobs if you are willing to be creative. Cooking in a kitchen like this does not have to be a challenge if you choose the right ingredients.

easy make ahead camping meals

Here are a few make ahead camping food recipes you may want to try.

1. Pasta con le Sarde


The basic components of a pasta sauce can be found in small stores, and you can usually use them in other meals, too. One of the biggest benefits of pasta is the time it takes to cook, though. That said, to make it the best you possibly can, use the freshest ingredients you can find.

Use the freshest vegetables, good tomato paste, and ask your butcher to grind the meat fresh for you (most larger grocery stores will do this but call ahead to give them time to do a special order). Make fresh pasta if possible.

Pasta con le Sarde is often spaghetti or slightly thicker spaghettoni or buccatini. But the condiment consists of olive oil, sardines, fennel fronds, maybe some saffron if you’re feeling fancy, pine nuts, and raisins. Chili peppers are optional. Top it off with toasted bread crumbs.

Not only is this a regional favorite in Sicily, but it’s emblematic of Sicily’s wider culinary philosophy. That philosophy features aggressive pairing of savory and sweet (here, sardines and raisins) and really makes the most out of ingredients that are kind of in the middle. Fennel, for example, has a sweetness and a savoriness to it. Ditto mint.

2. Pasta al tonno


While making fresh pasta from scratch will be too big of an ask for most RV chefs, but you can make loads of tasty dishes when you have some of the prepacked stuff. The basic recipe is three eggs and 250 g (two cups) of flour. That makes a couple servings, so scale it up on the same 3–2 ratio. Mix it up into a dough, roll it flat, cut, and boil.

If you think you will make lots of pasta, you can get a hand-cranked pasta maker for relatively cheap. When ready to serve, pull your pasta out of the pot just before it’s done, and drop it into a skillet of ragu that’s been warmed through. Heat the pasta and ragu together for a couple minutes so the pasta can absorb some of the ragu.

Sauce the pasta lightly, just enough to coat, with an additional spoonful when it is plated. It’s all about balance. If you like a richer sauce add unsalted butter to the dressed pasta while it’s hot, or a very high quality EVOO.

While the spaghetti are boiling, heat up a very large skillet or a wok (don't make it superhot). Add some of the oil from a can of tuna (please, buy good quality tuna in olive oil!) or some extravirgin olive oil, a garlic clove (finely minced or, better, whole and with a toothpick in it so that you can retrieve it before serving).

When the spaghetti are nearly al dente, transfer then in the pan with a dash of cooking water, add the crumbled tuna, and sauté to finish cooking. Serve with a little basil or a pinch of finely chopped parsley.

3. Pasta al Pomodoro


Place a good knob of unsalted butter in your hotel so that it softens. When the spaghetti are al dente, transfer them in the bowl, add lots of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, stir well and serve.

Making pasta sauces is nice and easy, too. The classic starts with a mirepoix or soffrito as they call it in Italy, finely chopped onions, carrots, and celery in roughly equal proportions. Olive oil to sweat the soffrito. For meat, it varies. In Italy, they use a mix of beef, pork, and veal. Some folks will add chopped pancetta.

Start with either chopped tomatoes or a cheese, milk, and flour mix, you can begin to mix in the seasoning as you heat up your base. While those ingredients mix, you can begin the process of preparing the pasta. Most pasta need only be cooked with some hot water and a little bit of salt, with periodic stirring and tests to make sure that it isn’t being overdone. You can mix your pasta and sauce together or serve them as separate items.

The sauce should be cooked slowly until it is quite reduced, almost at the stage of looking like Texas chili, meat in red oil. All of these combinations will have a different taste profile. No sausage. It has too many spices and will take over the flavor profile. A half glass of good dry wine to deglaze the meat. For tomato, you want something thick, like crushed tomatoes or puree, but always San Marzano, and not too much.

A spoonful of beef or chicken base, such as Better than Bouillon will add a lot of flavor. For herbs, go very light. The star should be the meat. A tiny amount of thyme, garlic, or sage at the very most. No basil. It is too strong for a meat sauce. It will hide the other, more subtle flavors.

4. Pasta con i piselli


While the pasta is boiling, cut a scallion per person, please it with some oil in the usual wok-shaped pan, soften the scallion over a gentle heat, then add a large handful of frozen peas per person, a splash of the pasta cooking water, salt, and proper, and cover with a lid.

When the peas are soft and the pasta almost al dente, mix the spaghetti in the pan and sauté for a couple of minutes in the peas sauce, then serve topping with some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

5. Pasta aglio olio e peperoncino


While the pasta is almost ready, heat a very large pan, big enough to contain all pasta with room to spare, and pour one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil for every 2 people, plus one for the pan. Add one smashed garlic clove for every 2–3 people and some chili (to your taste).

Drain the pasta reserving some of its cooking water, transfer it still dripping to the pan and toss, adding a bit of the reserved water, for a minute, so that the oil coats the pasta. Serve immediately. Add a pinch of minced parsley if you like.

When making a pasta dish where garlic is key to infusing the gorgeous aroma, it would be best not to chop it tiny, neither would it be good as whole. Instead, cut the cloves and cook in a pan with both olive oil and water. The idea is to cook it down until it’s soften, not fry to a crisp. The liquid base would have a wonderful garlicky flavour.

6. Pasta in bianco


This is supposed to be prepared with egg dough pasta. Egg fresh pasta was made at home by those families that had neither the money to afford dried pasta nor the access to durum wheat semolina (that does not grow properly in northern Italy). It is made with regular flour, which does not have enough gluten to stand on its own, and eggs, that provide the proteins to aggregate the dough.

Again it is made in a relatively soft dough, then rolled very thin and cut in shapes (ribbons or squares). It is the kind of pasta also used to make stuffed pasta (cappelletti, anolini, tortelli etc.)

Place a tablespoon of unsalted butter in each bowl. Add the piping hot past in the bowl and top with a handful of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, then stir well to combine. If you like, add a little grating of white or black pepper on each bowl.

7. Pasta alla crudaiola


Durum wheat semolina dried pasta is the Rolls-Royce of all pastas. It can’t be homemade because making it requires specialized machinery, as the dough, made of only semolina and water, is extremely tough and impossible to knead by hand. Before mechanization it was still kneaded by machines (called gramola), with the only difference that the machine was operated by human or animal muscles (or occasionally by water power).

Durum wheat fresh pasta was traditionally made by those families who could not afford to buy pasta. It’s also made with durum wheat semolina and water, but the dough is much softer and can be kneaded by hand. The dough gets then shaped by hand, sometimes using very simple tools like knives or knitting needles. It does not get rolled.

Dice 5–6 small plum tomatoes per person. Place them in a bowl with a glug of extravirgin olive oil, one lightly crushed but still whole garlic clove, a pinch of salt, and some basil leaves. Let rest for one hour. When the pasta is ready remove the garlic, drain the pasta and toss in the raw sauce.

8. Pasta e broccoli


Fresh pastas are usually made into traditional shapes, they are a folk product, so each region, town, or family has its own habits. This does not mean that you can’t invent new shapes. The pic shows a style of ravioli with an Italian filling (asparagus and ricotta) and a shape inspired to Chinese dumplings.

Dried pastas have shapes that are determined by the dies used to press them. Some of the shapes are traditional (spaghetti, maccheroni, penne). The same die can be used to make different pastas: penne are just maccheroni cut on the bias, for instance. Other shapes are produced by simply inventing dies that give pasta a different shape. Radiatori (pictured above) were invented by an industrial designer who worked for a pasta factory.

It’s made exactly like pasta aglio, olio e peperoncino, but add broccoli florets and the carefully peeled stalk, all cut in small pieces, to the pot of pasta water along with the pasta, and also add an anchovy fillet (optional) to the oil in the pan. Sauté pasta and broccoli along together in the flavored oil and sere with some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino.

9. Spaghetti alla carbonara


Best one egg yolk per person with salt and quite a lot of black pepper (save the whites or maybe just whisk the whites as well), then add a good amount of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Render diced pancetta (or you may use bacon) in the usual large pan. Transfer in the almost al dente spaghetti (from the booking pot, you must time things right), and sauté fro a minute, then turn off the heat and add the egg mixture. The residual heat of the pan will be enough. Serve immediately.

10. Spaghetti Aglio e Olio


You can use spaghetti with whatever kind of sauce you want. The thing you don't want to use with spaghetti, though, is meat, as spaghetti are ill suited to meat-based sauces (they can't trap the meat particles). In most cases, though, fresh tomatoes are the best choice.

The beauty of spaghetti is its flexibility, with loads of meals coming out of this simple ingredient. At the same time, it will be worth chopping up any vegetables you plan to put inside it, along with starting to cook the meat which you will be having with it. As you only have two hob rings, you may have to do a little bit of juggling here.

It’s usually best to wait for your meat to be nearly ready before mixing it with the sauce, leaving them to simmer together with the vegetables you chopped earlier. When you are busy enjoying some time away from home, being stuck in the kitchen for hours will be very unpleasant. These ingredients should last for a good amount of time, making them good for longer trips.

The most common dish is Spaghetti Aglio Olio e Peperoncino. It’s just spaghetti tossed in a pan with olive oil, garlic and hot pepper. You just heat up the oil, add the garlic (don’t burn it) and the hot pepper, then add the spaghetti you’ve boiled in salted water and toss for a minute. You can add a tablespoon of the cooking water if it’s too dry. You can add some parsley for decoration.

11. Chuck Roast


Trays of caramelized vegetables are a year-round staple in our kitchen, but the trick is knowing how to spice up one sheet-pan from the next. If you're hesitant of herbs or on-edge about oils, here are the tips to up your roast game.

The best way to prepare a chuck roast is in a slower cooker (aka Crock Pot). So many manufacturers have inexpensive slow cookers out there. You can put carrots (use baby carrots for an easy preparation), a few potatoes (you can leave the peel on), and one onion cut in quarters.

You can add a package of dry Au Jus mix or Gravy Mix from the grocery store and a little water or red wine (maybe a half cup or a cup), and set it on low for 8–10 hours while you do something else. It can’t be easier than that and a million slow cooker pot roast recipes can be found online.

12. Chowmein


Finally, as the last meal option on this list, it is time to go East, with Chow Mein on the menu. At its core, this meal is very simple; stir fried noodles. Alongside these noodles, though, you can create a host of interesting and varied dishes. Soy sauce is a key component in a lot of chow meins, but you can look for a sauce you prefer if you are not a fan of the brown stuff.

Most supermarkets sell some sort of stir fry vegetable mix, making it even easier to get started with it. Chicken, beef, pork, and duck are all commonly found in chowmein. This sort of dish is good for RVs because it doesn’t take much more than a single hob ring to make. Some people will want to cook their meat a little before frying it with their noodles, but this can be done using the same pan you’ll be using for the rest of the meal.

It is hard to find meals which are as quick and easy as a chowmein, and most people will be happy to know that they can give it their own twist. Of course, though, you have to think about nutrition, and noodle dishes won’t be good to eat every day.

13. Peanut Butter Banana Cups


Ingredients:

2 tablespoons whole grain peanut butter;
1 medium banana sliced into 12 even rounds;
150 gm melted chocolate

Preparation Method:

Cut the bananas without the peel into slices and take to the freezer for two hours. Pour half of the chocolate in paper cups. Freeze for 10 minutes. Add peanut butter, sliced bananas and the rest of the chocolate. When everything is ready, take it to the freezer for 10 more minutes. Serve.

14. Omelettes


Egg has long been a crucial ingredient in many dishes across the world, with almost every culture using this resource. There are loads of ways to prepare eggs, though few are as versatile as the humble omelette. The base for this meal is made with a simple egg and milk mix which will have been beaten together until the two have completely mixed.

This liquid can be poured into a hot frying pan with oil, and you will see it start to cook almost immediately. You need to watch your omelette, turning it if parts of it begin to turn brown. Much like a pasta dish, omelettes can have just about any ingredients you’d like inside them. In fact, a lot of people use this sort of meal to clear out their cupboards and refrigerators, as you can throw in just about anything.

Most meats work quite well, with options like ham, chicken, and salmon being popular choices. Along with the meat, you’ll also want to have some vegetables, with spinach, peppers, and tomatoes all working nicely. You may have to do a little bit of mental maths to make sure that you cook it all at the right speed.

Along with being nice and versatile, omelettes are incredibly quick to make. You will only need one hob ring and a frying pan to make this dish, giving you the chance to avoid taking out RV loans to pick up a vehicle with more cooking space. Eggs, vegetables, and meat can be found just about anywhere in the world.

While this means that you may have to compromise on your favourite ingredients, it makes it possible to buy your food from local stores on your journey. Assuming you don't have a flattop, get a skillet, put in a good bit of butter, then a little extra butter, medium heat. As soon as the butter melts, crack three eggs directly into the butter.

Avoid the temptation to add milk or cream or water. Truckers don't like fluffy eggs. Fluffy eggs are for people who go to restaurants. When you've worked all night, you don't want fluffy, you want buttery with a bit of texture, almost like a really soft kind of meat that happens to be made of eggs.

Use the corner of the spatula to break the yolks, but don't stir anything yet. In a minute or two, as soon as the eggs look they're about to set, toss some salt on top. Then roughly flip them over, but don't overmix them. Truckstop eggs should have streaks of white and yellow, but not really scrambled together.

Make sure that all of the whites are opaque, and the yellows just barely stiffened. Then roughly toss it together with the spatula, flip it all one more time, to make sure it's fully cooked. They need to be moist, greasy, and capable of calming down a Hell's Angel who is in a bad mood. Toss it on a plate with some dry toast.

15. Fasoi en bronzon


Fasoi en bronzon is a traditional recipe from an alpine region called Trentino. It’s basically canned beans boiled with the water you find in the can, along with a tbsp of vinegar, salt, black pepper, 2 tbsp of olive oil and a clove of garlic. Boil this and, as soon as it become creamy (5–6 minutes), it’s ready. You can add some tomato juice if you want a bit of color.

16. Chocolate Covered Banana Popsicles


Chocolate covered bananas are a great, healthy treat for the big and little kids alike! They are easy to make at home and a great simple recipe for the kids to get involved with, so embrace your inner child and enjoy the sweets.

17. Cranberry Energy Bites


Energy bars are the perfect snack for travelling in train or car, and this healthy variant will give you all the energy you need to continue your city tour or mountain hike. You will need cranberries, dates and fines. First place the cranberries and dates in the blender, and then add the fines. After mixing, place in a large dish, then in the refrigerator or on the edge of a window for ¾ hour. All you have to do is enjoy your energy bars.

18. Risotto


The first step to make a proper risotto is roasting the rice. Obviously you are not supposed to use quick rice, you need a proper Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone Nano. So, start heating a pan that’s relatively wide but also quite tall, not a frying pan.

Add some butter or extra virgin olive oil, add some diced onion or shallot, soften, then add the rice and toast it, stirring more or less continuously, until it becomes translucent and start emitting a kind of very thin whizzing sound. This creates a sort of cuticle on the rice that will, for the moment being, prevent the starch from leaking out, but not too hard so that the starch will leave the rice when it’s time to.

The second step is adding the white wine. Use a dry white wine, something good enough to drink, pour it into the pan then lower the heat. Stir the rice once to make sure that the wine reaches the bottom of the pan uniformly, then let the wine evaporate. Sniff the pan from time to time. When the smell changes from quite astringent to mellow it’s time for the next step.

Time to add the stock. This is where most people make a mistake. They add it a little at a time, and keep stirring. This is totally unnecessary. Instead of adding the stock by individual ladlefuls, add a lot of it. If you are used to making risotto you can gauge how much stock you will need (it usually is enough to cover the rice by about 1 cm, but it may depend on your pan). Add it all at once.

If you are less sure about it, add several ladlefuls at once. Stir just one time to allow the stock to reach the bottom of the pan, and leave it be. As long as the rice does not go dry, and as long as you properly roasted it in the fat, it will not stick. If you stir it too often or use a metal spoon to stir it, this will break the cuticle you created, the starch will start to leak out, and the rice will stick to the bottom of the pan.

If you didn’t dare adding all of the stock at once, add the rest a bit later, but always stirring only once. When you are good at gauging the liquid you will not need to stir anymore. When the rice is al dente but also still all’onda, it’s time to turn off the heat, add the butter and cheese and whisk it.

Stir it vigorously for a few minutes so that the butter and cheese melt and the starch is released from the rice, combines with the remaining concentrated stock and the fats and creates the creamy consistency.

19. Fish Goujons


Take slices of fish (salmon, trout, sole or plaice for example). Coat in seasoned flour, egg and breadcrumb. Lightly shallow fry in veg oil and butter. Serve with easy home made tartar made with dollop of mayo, finely chopped parsley, chopped cornichon, wedge of lemon squeezed, capers rinsed and chopped and a little mustard.

20. Hushweh


Use one cup of rice and one pound of ground meat. In a 4-quart dutch oven (enameled cast-iron works perfectly), brown your meat with one small sweet onion-diced, and a clove of fresh garlic- sliced thin. Add 2 tbsp mid-eastern spices and mix well with the meat. Add one cup of basmati rice and 2 cups of water or stock. Add 1/2 cup of chopped dried cherries (craisins are good too).

Mix it together, bring the pot to a boil, then cover and turn heat down to low. Let it cook untouched for 20 minutes. Remove from heat- let it rest for 10–15 minutes covered. To serve, garnish with 1/3 cup of toasted pine nuts and 1/4 cup of chopped Italian parsley and fragrant and savory with a bit of sweetness from the cherries and nuttiness from the pignoli.

21. Pommes Duchesse


A simple Italian meat dish is spezzatino. You will need meat. Cut it in 2.5 cm/1 inch cubes and lightly dust it with flour. Grab a high-sided pan with a heavy bottom. Heat it, then pour in a little extravirgin olive oil. If you want you can also add a rasher of fatty bacon (or, better, Italian unsmoked pancetta) cut in pieces, it will just add to the flavor.

Now add the meat and brown it on all sides. While the meat browns, slice an onion and peel a garlic clove. Cut the onion thicker if you want to still see it at the end of the cooking time, very thinly if you want it to completely melt. Remove the meat and set it aside, then add the onion to the pan. Turn down the heat so that the onion does not burn.

Soften the onion and, after a few minutes, add the garlic. Wait a couple minutes more and return the meat (and any juices) to the pan.

Add a cup of dry white wine (use something that is good enough to drink, if all you have is cooking wine just don’t use it: not using the wine will reduce the flavor a bit, but using cooking wine will ruin it), a pinch of salt, and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated (this removes all alcohol too).

Now, add a can of good quality tomatoes, smush them a little with a wooden spoon and simmer on for about one hour or until the meat is tender but not yet fork tender. Add also some herbs. Now, cut one or two peeled potatoes in chunks about the same size as the meat and add them in. Before adding the potatoes, check the salt.

If the stew is slightly salty it will probably be fine, as the potatoes absorb salt, if it’s a bit low on salt, add some extra. Simmer for 20 minutes more, or until the potatoes are cooked through and the meat is fork tender. Serve hot with a vegetable side.

22. Peperonata


One of the simplest versions of this dish requires 2 large bell peppers (of different colors), one large onion, one garlic clove (if you want a bigger batch just multiply these portions), a tablespoon of extravirgin olive oil, salt, and a swig of white wine vinegar. Clean and cut the bell peppers in strips.

Clean and cut the onion (keep it quite thick), pour the oil in the bottom of a pan, add the layered vegetables with the garlic clove cut in 2–3 pieces and a pinch of salt. Place on the heat and simmer until the vegetables just start to soften a bit, then add the vinegar. Simmer until the peppers are done but still quite firm.

The end result should be sweet and sour but very delicate. If it’s still too vinegary you may add a pinch of sugar, but if you measured the vinegar in the right way you will not need it. Serve hot, at room temp, or cool (especially on hot days).

23. Zucchini Trifolati


Another very easy vegetable dish is zucchine trifolate. Slice your zucchine (use medium sized or small ones) at about 4 mm or 1/8 of an inch. Place them in a pan with a tablespoon of extravirgin olive oil, some salt, a few talks of parsley, one finely minced garlic clove. Turn on the heat and for the first 4–5 minutes almost fry the zucchine so that they brown a bit, then turn down the heat and simmer until done.

If necessary add a little water to prevent them from sticking. Remove the parsley and serve.

24. Rusumada


You will need 4 eggs (make sure they are not washed and very fresh as they are raw), 4 tablespoons of sugar, 4 glasses of red wine. Separate the eggs, whisk the yolks with the sugar until they are white and fluffy, separately beat the whites to soft peaks, fold the whites with the yolks, add the wine and stir it in.

If you don’t drink alcohol, consider making it with coffee or milk (the latter was popular for children). In the coffee case, add it very hot, as this will pasteurize the eggs (whisk to prevent the eggs from curdling).

25. Pommes Duchesse


Adding egg to potato puree (mashed potatoes) is a preparation known as Pommes Duchesse. Pommes Duchesse is prepared by pureeing potatoes, adding butter, cream, salt, pepper, egg yolks and sometimes nutmeg. The potatoes are then shoved into a piping bag and piped onto a baking sheet. More butter is brushed onto the potatoes and they are baked until the edges brown a little. You can sprinkle parmesan cheese onto them if you like.

The egg yolks make the potatoes richer and give them a yellow color.

With all of this in mind, you should be feeling inspired to start cooking better meals while you are away in your RV. Cooking on the road is always a challenge, with a lot of people relying on boring meals which will leave a lot to be desired.
Kalyan Panja Kalyan Panja Author
Angela said...

Thank you for this. We go tent camping and it's always a challenge to cook without all the usual equipment. Pasta is one of my staples but I've never thought of chowmein so I'm going to add that to my list.

Kate Murray said...

Cooking on the road is definitely a challenge! Thanks for offering some really great ideas!

Stephanie Stebbins said...

Hubs and I love to RV! I love camping so much. I never thought about making chow mein, though so next time I am definitely going to try to!

Chad said...

Thanks a lot for the post. The food looks amazing and yet camping friendly, amazing and thank you.

This Mom Is Going Places said...

Awesome options! We have on our bucket list to rent an RV to travel from California to Arizona. I will definitely keep this in mind. thanks!

Lala said...

I love to eat chow mein. And it's actually my go to camping food. It's easy to prepare and I can easily cook in a big amount also add omelette in them too.

Lydia Smith said...

Thanks for sharing this. I always have difficulty in eating well when am on a trip. I love the list and it full of healthy meal.

Catherine Santiago Jose said...

We are planning to have a road trip before the end of this month and this article of yours gives me an idea of what kind of food to prepare for our road trip.

Nelly|explorewithnelly said...

I am slightly obsessed with pasta so it is nice to see that it is included here. I like omellettes as well.

Crystal Carder said...

We love to go outdoorsy and camp, this is such a great list of easy food to make. I always have such a hard time coming up with new ideas.

Fatima D Torres said...

I never thought chowmein would be easy to make for camping trips. I'm all for some pasta though!

Mavs Escala said...

Pasta is one of my favorite food to eat during roadtrips or camping!

SincerelyMissJ said...

We are planning a road trip soon. These are really great suggestions.

Unknown said...

I always take cooked pasta and pesto, or pasta with tuna and mayo is always a saver during these trips

MsKathyKenny said...

Sandwiches are definitely a good idea. I also go for cookies when traveling.

Christopher Mitchell said...

Some great suggestions here for sure! Thanks for putting this together! Now I'm hungry! :)

Samar said...

Omelettes and noodles are the real life saver. Be it camping or any other situation, It always saves life.

beautybeyondphysique said...

looks so good, love this post

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