(Rachel and Jake and their boys Cameron and Shea hiking Tumbling Water Trail in Poconos, Pennsylvania)
I am Rachel, a full time mom and painter. My husband and I just bought and renovated our first RV and are enjoying life traveling while teaching our two young children how to literally stop and smell the roses! Like all of you, we have traveled down many windy roads, all of which have led us to the place we are currently in life. We became plant-based as a family (my husband and two children, 4 years old and 9 months old, included) two years ago which has allowed us to think more about the foods we eat, and in turn help us create a healthier lifestyle.
Plant-based food isn’t always easy to find on the road, so we are constantly creating new, healthy recipes to keep ourselves on track while we travel. Although everyone loves a little treat here and there, it can get so easy to fall into the constant rhythm of grilled hot dogs and burgers the entire summer. Follow these few tips (whether you are plant-based or not!) to help create a summer of healthy eating habits for yourself and for your kids. (From this point forward I am going to refer to the food items as “hamburgers” or “cheese”. We use all vegan items, but please substitute for the items that meet your diet’s needs.)
1. Make a Grocery List Be honest. You’re about to leave for your RV trip. You go to the grocery store to get the food you need to stock the fridge. What do you get? Hot dogs, hamburgers, things to make s’mores, chips, bacon and eggs. Now don’t get me wrong, you NEED the summer staples to properly camp. Did you even go camping if you didn’t make s’mores?! But you don’t want to end up eating hamburgers for three nights in a row if you want to stay healthy. Taking just a few minutes before your camping trip to thoughtfully think of each meal and snack, and make a list accordingly, will ensure that you don’t just pick up all the quick and easy junk foods. Then when you go shopping, just stick to the list. And the best part- once you make the “Camping Grocery List” you can pretty much stick to that same list every time.
2. Buy ingredients that can be transformed to a few different meals and recipes. We all love that feeling of shopping for the exact right amount of food for a trip, finishing all the perishables on the day you leave. You can ensure that you get the most out of your food and have the least amount of waste by buying ingredients that can lend themselves to multiple meals and planning those meals in advance. For example: Grilling a breakfast scramble with tofu, peppers, onions, cheese, and ham. For lunch grilling ham and cheese melts. For dinner grilling up some sausage, peppers, onions, and kaiser rolls. See how those ingredients all lend themselves to each other? There is no reason to buy an entire onion if you only plan to top 3 burgers with onion slices. Plan your meals ahead of time to ensure you get the most out of your ingredients.
(Get creative and use ingredients in different ways!)
3. Fruits and Veggies! Instead of grabbing the chips and pretzels for snacks, opt for some fruits and veggies instead. This is also always a huge hit with my 4 year old. When he needs a beach snack or wants to peek in the RV refrigerator while we travel, I love being able to offer him cherries and baby carrots instead of cookies and a bag of chips. Also, make it a habit to ALWAYS have a side of a fruit AND a vegetable at every meal for children. The only way to ensure a child will one day like carrots is if you offer them frequently. Good RV travel fruits are apples, peaches, a bag of cherries, grilled pineapple, bag of raisins, and bananas.
Good RV travel vegetables are frozen broccoli, green beans, and corn (we have a microwave and get the steamed bags to offer a steamed veggie with every dinner), baby carrots, pan roasted mushrooms, peppers, and potatoes. Eating fruits and veggies with every meal not only makes you feel healthier and more energized, it’s a quick and easy way to instill healthy food choices in your children!
4. Create a schedule where you can have the time to cook. Look, we’ve all been there. You’ve been at the beach or hiking all day. You all come home starving and tired, and you throw a few hot dogs on the grill and call it a night. I totally get it. But in order to ensure you can cook healthy food for your camping family, you need to set aside the time to cook. Just giving yourself an extra 20-30 minutes before the “hangry” sets in will ensure that your family eats well! Pack yourself up from the beach 30 minutes before the dinner bell rings and head back (even if it’s by yourself!) to start cooking. If you don’t give yourself enough time to prepare and cook a healthy dinner, well then you definitely won’t do it!
(Food prep in our RV)
5. Give yourself prep space and proper utensils to cook so it’s fun and easy. This one is a great excuse to go on a little shopping spree! Make sure you give yourself enough prep space and have the proper utensils to cook the healthy foods you want to make. I would invest in a knife set so that food prep is easier, as well as a few mixing bowls and measuring cups. There is nothing more frustrating than trying your best to provide a healthy meal for your family, but not having the space or equipment to do so. Another fun tip for anyone looking to do a light demolition project in your RV; we took out the dining table and booths in our RV and replaced it with a bench and 5 foot long table made from an IKEA countertop and 4 hairpin legs, creating the prep space of our dreams in our RV for only $120! There is SO much room for food prep on this table!
(Easy DIY dining room table project for only $120! Converted an IKEA countertop and 4 hairpin legs to an over 5 foot dining table and food prep space!)
So, there you have it. A few fun tips to help you and your family stay on the health track. If you take a trip in your RV to rest, relax, and rejuvenate, it only makes sense to rejuvenate your body as well! Happy and Healthy Camping, and be sure to follow us on Instagram @rv.family.reno to keep up with us and see how we creatively stay healthy!