One of the secrets of good eating on an RV adventure is simplicity. The other advance preparation.
Plan your menus. Get out a calendar and figure out a meal plan for each day you'll be away from home. Photocopy your calendar or daily planner and mark up the photocopy with the meals you have in mind, taking into consideration a kickoff dinner, a special breakfast or brunch, a cookout if you plan to have one (ditto on a fish fry), a final dinner celebration, a potluck with new friends in the camp, and so forth. As you mentally prepare your food plan, note special diets in the group and picky eaters.
Incorporate one-dish meals. Whenever possible, choose one-dish or easy-to-prepare crockery cooker meals. If you don't have favorite tried-and-true recipes that deliver maximum taste with minimum fuss, check out the BHG.com Food channel for delicious low-hassle options. Spaghetti (good noodles, a good jar of sauce, Parmesan cheese grated in advance), garlic bread, and a simple salad make a fabulous meal after a busy day. A pot of chili with plenty of fun condiments makes a festive dinner. Lasagna and casseroles baked ahead of time and frozen never fail. If it's going to be chilly or cold, a bowl of hearty soup and some crusty bread go down perfectly. As you sketch out ideas for meals on your calendar, keep in mind that you'll also want drinks and snacks for in-the-meantime munching.
Make friends with mixes. Check the aisles of a health-food store for ideas on prepared foods that will pack and store well. You can come up with a wonderful light vegetarian meal from mixes that often require only the addition of fresh veggies (tabouli and couscous, for instance). Instead of hamburgers, why not try a vegetarian counterpart like Nature's Burgers. They come in a dry mix that just requires adding water, shaping into patties, and frying -- easy and delicious. (As with anything new, check ingredients to make sure no one in the family is allergic to any part of this product.)
Take advantage of leftovers and double-duty food. As you plan, get the most mileage you can out of ingredients or leftovers you might have on-hand or that you'll create on your RV adventure. Dinner's leftover Nature's Burgers can be crumbled into pita bread with feta cheese and easy yogurt sauce (yogurt, lemon, and dill will do it) for lunch the following day. The eggs you don't use by the last day can make a lovely frittata with leftover vegetables and meats for a final breakfast or brunch. Make sure biscuit mix is on your list -- it is amazingly versatile at breakfast as pancakes, waffles, or biscuits (with honey, jam, or gravy). And cook up some chicken breasts before you go -- they can be the centerpiece of chicken parmesan one night and chicken salad for lunch the next day.
MREs give Mom a break. These vacuum-sealed military rations -- "meals ready to eat" -- come complete. If you don't feel like cooking every night, MREs offer an option that's different and full of the spirit of camping. Kids love them. You can find MREs at Army-Navy surplus and some camping/backpacking stores.
Continued on page 2: Heading for the Store