In the massive world of RVing, “cooking” can mean something different to everyone. But we are going to tackle it anyway and give my Top Ten and a few honorable mentions. Hopefully this will open up a huge list of comments on what your favorites are. Keep in mind there is no scientific data or NASA algorithms to back up this list. I must confess, my first attempt at spelling algorithms looked like Al Goreisms! Thank goodness for spill chick.
In other words, cooking while RVing can be as simple as freeze-dried packets for the die-hard boondockers, or a 4-course meal prepared in a luxury motorcoach. This blog will take a middle-of-the-road approach and focus on campfire cooking and outdoor grill items.
#1 – The Heat Source – Campfire, Grill, or Portable Stove
Ok, a campfire is not technically a “gadget” but, in my opinion, your heat source is the most important. In an RV you have limited space to bring your Big Green Egg, however there are some smaller alternatives to grills and portable stoves, such as the Traeger or Green Mountain Grill wood pellet table top models and the Coleman Roadtrip, which operates on propane.
My folks carried a small Weber charcoal grill all over the country for years, even to Alaska! The challenge was finding charcoal but they used wood more often.
If you are a campfire fan like I am, your #1 gadget is the type of cooking surface works for you.
Many campgrounds have a fire pit with a grate already available. If not, there are several options such as the tripod that hangs a slotted grate over the fire or folding grate. Die-hard campfire enthusiasts will bury tinfoil pouches of delicacies such as cherry pie or everything potatoes, into the red hot embers. You can even place a coffee pot or cast iron skillet directly on the campfire, however it’s difficult to adjust or monitor the heat.
1.01 – Honorable Mention
If you are using a campfire or grill, you can enhance the flavor of whatever you are cooking by bringing wood chips or even grilling pellets to add to the heat source. Most campgrounds do not allow bringing your own firewood, you are stuck with using what they want to sell you and it’s usually not top grade material. You can bring wood chips or even the pellets that will give your cooking the fire source and flavor you want!
#2 – Cast Iron Skillet
This has been my “go-to” cooking pan for over 50 years! My mother had one that was passed down from her grandmother that she made Spanish rice in two or three times a week. You can cook almost anything in a cast iron, from traditional food such as hamburgers, steak, fish, and omelets, but can also use it for pizza, popcorn, and even deep-fat frying with the likes of battered food such as hush puppies, fish, and other items. If you get a deep sided version, it can double as a Dutch Oven.
Here is a little cleaning tip I learned over the years. Spread a little olive oil on the pan while it’s warm then sprinkle coarse sea salt on the pan. Use a paper towel to scrub the pan and it will not only clean it, but condition it as well.
#3 – Cooking Gloves
These are excellent for not only campfire cooking, but grill cooking as well. These are heat resistant, and cut resistant. You can hold meat and turn it over, cut it, and the food grade silicone also grips well so nothing will slip out of your hands. They are easy to clean and take up little storage space.
#4 – Something to Make S’mores With
Whether it’s a long stick whittled to a sharp point, or a fancy 3-4 pronged telescoping rod, you definitely need something to roast the marshmallow either golden brown or burnt crisp depending on your preference.
#5 – Coffee Pot
There is nothing like the taste of hot coffee coming off a campfire and there are many coffee pots that will work. My favorite for many years was an old Pyrex glass percolator model that made the best coffee anywhere. However it broke in a storage compartment one winter as we drove to Colorado and did not remember it was there. I have searched and can not find a replacement…yet! In the meantime, there are some close runner ups such as the French press.
This model has a metal base so it can be set on a campfire, others have a plastic bottom that only allow hot water to be poured in the top. Be careful! Another popular model is the stainless steel or even enameled version. Plus these will not break!
#6 – Egg Container
Scrambled eggs, omelets, even fish fry batter are all staples of our camping trip, however with the abuse of a road trip, especially if we go off the “beaten” path (pun intended), the standard egg carton will have everything scrambled before we get there. This handy plastic carton keeps them eggstra safe. Sorry!
#7 – Insulated Mug
This is my “go-to” mug as it will keep coffee hot for over 4 hours and will keep ice beverage cold for the same amount of time. However I seldom have a cold beverage last much longer than an hour!
#8 – Insulated Cooler
Of course every RVer has a favorite cooler like the Yeti, Grizzly, and others. I got this cooler years ago working at Winnebago when we did a camping shoot with Nashville. It has been my favorite for over 30 years. It not only keeps things cold for a long period of time, but the soft side design makes it easier to pack and lightweight to carry.
#9 – Time Saver Dispensers
When the granddaughters were little and would go camping with us, they always wanted pancakes, sometimes for every meal! With limited storage space, we decided to get creative and started prepping some common food items at home before heading out. Not only did it save space and time, but clean up is always easier at home…besides who wants to waste time prepping and cleaning when you are camping? So we filled empty ketchup bottles, dressing, and other items with premade pancake batter, scrambled eggs, and other items for a quick squirt in the morning.
9.01 – Honorable Mention – Vacuum Sealer Machine
When at home, every Sunday night, we would have a “Family Dinner” and my wife would cook the greatest meals ever made. She did this every other night as well, but these were special. When we set out RVing, she did not want to spend the hours chopping, sautéing, and whatever magic she did in our huge kitchen at home. I agreed, we are recreating right? But we also did not want to settle for store bought frozen meals either. So we bought a vacuum sealer and make as many prepped meals and typically freeze them either in the small refrigerator freezer or bring a cooler. They will stay fresh frozen for weeks and we can have gourmet dinners every night.
#10 – Plates and Containers
Since there is limited storage in most RVs you can’t take every plate, spice, and cooking utensil with you. We have gotten creative with spices either using a divided spice container, or a simple, open plastic container (below), which allows us to bring a smaller version of our favorites.
Also, “nesting” pots and pans that can sit inside each other as well as plates. And speaking of plates, we have come across a couple of brands of paper plates that are compostable, meaning you don’t have to fill up the landfill!
About the author: Dave Solberg: Managing Editor, RV Repair Club
For the last 25 years, Dave has conducted RV maintenance and safety seminars, developed dealer and owner training programs, written RV safety and handyman articles, authored an RV handbook reference guide and logged over 100,000 miles on the road in an RV.
RV Repair Club is your go-to online resource for enthusiasts who want quality RV maintenance, repair and upgrade information – a community where passionate RVers can come together to gather knowledge and share their experiences.
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