Family Meal Planning in an RV

Tips for making the most of a small kitchen.

Bryanna Royal  |  10.16.2017

Since we are living in our RV full time we can’t just survive on hot dogs and s’mores every night. Well I guess we could, but we wouldn’t have much energy to go out exploring! That brings up an important question: What does a family of six who lives in a 23-foot RV full time do for meals?

The truth is we pretty much cook the same way we did in our house. Well, except that our RV could have fit in the kitchen of our old house. What we cook isn’t that much different, we just do it in a smaller space.

Our RV has an oven and a stovetop so we really can cook pretty much anything. The biggest problem is having space to put all of the food after grocery shopping. Yes, there are some RVs that have residential sized fridges, but a lot of them don’t.

RV Kitchen – not much room!

The way we have worked around this is to really simplify our meals and make a lot of the same things throughout the week. If your kids are like mine, they are totally OK with that as long as they are things they like.

Shopping

We have to be a little more strategic with our shopping due to limited room for storing things. But even so, we still make trips to Costco for some of the essentials that we use multiple times a week. Plus, an added bonus of a small RV is we can easily pull into any grocery store parking lot and load up the RV straight from the cart!

Fitting all this into the RV is kind of like Tetris.

Meal Planning

We really try to simplify our meals, so we buy less variety and make a lot of the same things every week. This means we know what to get when we go grocery shopping and where it fits in the RV. Here are some of our staples for each meal:

Breakfast: We keep breakfast very simple with things like cereal, oatmeal, nuts or eggs. Then on a day where we have extra time, we will make pancakes from scratch. All easily made in our oven or on the stove top.

Lunch: We stick to mostly things that can be cooked on the stove top for lunch. Organic mac and cheese is a staple along with organic pasta, red sauce and parmesan cheese. We also do things like ham and cheese sandwiches, salads (the organic salads in a bag are great) or bean burgers. And we try to have a vegetable like carrots or peas as well.

Dinner: A large staple for us are bean or cheese burritos with guacamole and chips. Everyone in the family likes it and it’s very simple to make with a few ingredients. We may also throw in some frozen peppers or onions when we have them. Frozen pizzas are also a favorite along with nachos, cheeseburgers and hot dogs. I will normally make a veggie and bean dish too. We keep putting veggies in front of the kids hoping they will start to like them more.

Snacks: We like to keep snacking to apples, oranges, cantaloupe or any kind of fruit we can. This makes for an easy snack since you can just grab it and eat it or cut it up and put it into a container so everyone can have what they want. Yes, we do also get things like chips and popcorn to have as well and every now and then we splurge on ice cream or other sweets.

Boondocking

We often run into situations where we are boondocking (no power or hookups) and we can’t use the oven since ours is electric. But, as you can see, most of what we normally cook works really well for the stove top too. It is just another one of the planning things to keep in mind when shopping. Will you have power? If not, make sure what you are cooking can be done on the propane stove top.

Yes, this isn’t a big list of things because we often make the same things a couple nights in a row or have leftovers. Sometimes it gets old so we head out to eat or go to the store with a special request.

But for the most part, keeping it limited and simple while choosing organic or natural food as much as possible helps the process and makes it easier for everyone. It allows us to have good meals while traveling in our RV full time.

I don’t think you have to make drastic changes to your meal plan when in an RV (one of the benefits of traveling in an RV versus tent camping or a hotel without a kitchen). You just have to shift your focus to keep meals simplified and easy!


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