One of the biggest fears I had about taking this trip, was that I wouldn’t find any good produce in small towns between coasts. Well, the good produce IS there, only it’s in people’s backyards. Otherwise, I was told by a local in South Dakota today, don’t count on organic produce or farmer’s markets unless we hit big cities. On the prairie, everyone grows their ow, you won’t find organic or super fresh produce in grocery stores. So, my solution; either get to know the locals, or make do when we aren’t around any.
Today we received this lovely farm fresh produce from a wonderful couple in Hoven, South Dakota. This is the best produce we’ve seen. Otherwise, we’ve been making do with so-so eats. The food we’ve been eating is good, and 95% of the time, we are cooking our own meals. I’ve always been a tightwad about going out to eat, and just as expert RV’ers predicted, our eating out habits are mostly the same as they were when we had a stick house. By seldom dining out, it helps our budget and makes our nights out truly special.
One of the best things about eating on the road, is that the view from the dinner table is always different. We also get to eat outside. And when it’s too hot, we have the AC vent right above our dining room table.
Some big lessons we’ve learned about meals on the road include:
You never realize how much you depend on a toaster until you don’t have one.
- Loose tea is a hassle when you don’t have a garbage disposal
- Cast iron is the answer.
- Life on the road requires extreme flexibility—sometimes, boxed meals are the best solution.
- Use what you’ve got until it’s all gone, or else your produce will turn to mush and spoil in hot weather (as coastal people, we weren’t used to food spoiling due to heat).
We used to make smoothies every single weekday morning. But our RV freezer won’t hold enough frozen fruit along with everything else. Now, we have real breakfasts, but they’re usually just cereal with yogurt and fruit, or toast and fruit.
Our biggest breakfast issue is that we don’t have a toaster. You never realize how much you rely on one until you don’t have it around. We tried this dumb “camping toaster” but it’s worthless. Now we’re on the lookout for a toaster small enough to fit in our kitchen.
Once a week I’ll make pancakes in the 10” cast iron skillet. Pancakes are great because you can make a lot and get at least 2 breakfasts out of them. Jim likes my pancakes because I’m using a white flour pancake mix now, instead of trying to sneak in whole wheat like I used to. We carry Bisquick because it’s more versatile and takes up less space than individual bags of flour, baking powder, etc.
When we had the business, lunch would be at about the same time every day, and our lunches used to be dinner leftovers. Now, we typically make sandwiches, and we eat whenever we feel like stopping somewhere to admire the view. We save a lot of money that way, though it’s really tempting to stop at tourist towns and check out their cafes.
The Dinner Hour
We’re not really on a time table for dinner anymore. Some days we eat at 6, some days at 9pm. And, cooking in an RV during hot weather sucks. So, whenever we stay somewhere long enough to set up our handy RVQ, we love to barbeque. Veggie burgers and dogs for me, animal flesh for Jim.
We are eating less salad, but mostly because of the poor produce that’s available. To make up for it, we’ve been having smaller salads, with side dishes like pasta (sauce from jar). In the old days, sauces from a jar, commercial salad dressings and boxed meals would’ve been unthinkable. We always made these things from scratch. But with limited kitchen space, I don’t feel like hassling with spices and condiments, etc. Some Rvers claim you can do it, but maybe if you have a giant 35′ trailer.
Recently while at Devil’s Tower, we tried boxed mashed potatoes. I actually liked them, which makes Jim happy. Boxed mashed potatoes? Me?
As everyone says, life on the road requires flexibility. I’m trying.
Here’s a short list of our Essential Cookware
10” Calphalon saute pan
- 10” cast iron skillet
- 2 qt. Sauce pan
- 3 qt. Stock pot
- collapsible measuring cups
- 10” cook’s knife
- 6” chef knife
- boning knife (dumb to bring; we’ve never used it!)
- paring knife
- tea kettle
- Melita 1 cup coffee drip
- Tea basket
- Brita water pitcher (to be replaced with faucet filter once we run out of filters)
- Hobo pie maker (used it once! No fires out west)
- 4 plates, two sizes
- 4 tumblers
- 2 drinking glasses
- 4 mugs
- 2 small desert cups
- large mixing / salad bowl
- 2 smal mixing bowls
- assorted containers (round, a big mistake; replacing with rectangular & square for better use of space).
- 8”x8” baking pan
- small tin tray
- small glass bowl for microwave
- paper plates for boondocking
- paper towels
- can & wine opener
- 4 person silverware setting