Meal Prepping for an RV Trip with Kids

Chelsea Day holding a basket of food in the kitchen of her Highland Ridge RV

Want to take the family on the road, and make sure you have tons of tasty sustenance for the whole crew? Meal prepping is where it’s at! Here are my best tried-and-true tips for meal prepping with kids for an RV trip.

Assess Your Needs and Resources

First, take note of any food you have on-hand that you know you want to use up. Include any garden harvests that may be ripening as you leave. There’s no sense in shopping if you already have things that would be perfectly suited to eating on the road.

Consider storage space in your RV. Do you have a refrigerator with room for lots of fresh fruits, veggies, eggs, cheese and milk? If not, will you pick those items up along the way or try to find shelf-stable options? Canned produce is great, and many people aren’t aware that shelf-stable pasteurized milk boxes (like the kind often packed in kids’ lunchboxes) are available at stores like Target and Walmart.

You can even buy powdered milk and eggs. They aren’t always the greatest when eaten alone, but they perform perfectly well for quiches, casseroles, and baked goods. Go ahead, clear as much pantry space as possible and think outside the refrigerator.

Write it Down

Meal prepping admittedly tends to involve a lot of moving parts, so I like to take notes. Gather up a pen and paper, and divide it into columns representing each day you’ll be traveling. Within those columns, mark spaces for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Consider any dining out opportunities that you want to take advantage of. This is a great time to research good restaurants along your route.

It’s also important to know how many people you’ll have along for the ride, and whether or not you expect friends to join for mealtime. With a rough understanding of how many meals and mouths need to be fed along with the space available, it’s time to chart your plan.

Take a Protein-Forward Approach

My approach to meal prepping involves starting with the protein and rounding your plate out from there. We typically opt for an egg-based dish for breakfast, wraps or simple charcuterie for lunch, and steak, chicken or a casserole for dinner. For folks avoiding meat, vegetarian options like beans, tofu and quinoa are a fantastic base in numerous dishes. Remember that when you’re traveling, quick meals or things that can be prepped ahead are key.

It’s also important to consider items you eat at home that may not be the best fit for an RV trip. For example, we eat a lot of bacon and sandwiches, but found that bread for a large family takes up a considerable amount of space, and bacon grease isn’t ideal in a smaller kitchen.

Next, it’s time to add the side dishes and extras. With an idea of proteins to use as the base for each meal, you can go ahead and bulk it up with shelf-stable options like oats, rice, pasta and cornmeal––the simpler, the better. Common RV meals for my family include chicken teriyaki with rice and broccoli, meatloaf with oats as a binder, and canned chili or steak with hot water cornbread and canned greens.

Try to coordinate ingredients between your meals, using the same things for multiple dishes. For example, you may make peanut butter-and-banana oatmeal, and also use peanut butter in a Thai chicken recipe. Tomato sauce lends well to pasta, and it can serve as an excellent soup, casserole or enchilada base.

If you’re taking a long trip, it’s extremely helpful to rotate your menu, eating the same thing about once a week, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel repeatedly.

Prep Ahead

Dice meat and veggies in advance to minimize dishes. You can even cook things like lasagna ahead of time and freeze it. This is also a good time to make sure you have storage containers that will fit properly in your RV refrigerator.

Consider Condiments

What condiments does your family use most often? You’ll want to have them on-hand! Our family buys small bottles of our favorites to save space. We have ketchup, mustard, mayo, olive oil and soy sauce. Some RVers save sauce packets when they get take-out, and stash them in a drawer or basket.

With your RV food all packed up, just stick your menu plan in the RV kitchen and you’re good to go! Cooking for a family can take up a lot of time, but having meals planned out will help you have an enjoyable trip with even more time for sightseeing.

The Day family RVs in a Highland Ridge RV.

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