What to Pack for a Healthier RV Camping Trip
If you’re heading on a family vacation in an RV, here’s what to stock the kitchen with.
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How to Pack for a Healthy RV Trip
With many folks avoiding travelling by plane, many are turning to touring the country in a recreational vehicle (RV). The kitchen in an RV is rather small and storage space is limited. You’ll have limited refrigerator and freezer space, counter space and cabinets. You may or may not have a stove, oven or microwave. If you do, they’ll probably be a smaller size than you’re used to. With the limited space in mind, here is a list of food to pack for your road trip.
Biltong and Jerky
Biltong is an air-dried meat, similar to jerky that originated in South Africa, and has a softer texture and richer flavor. Biltong is stored at room temperature and is an easy way to add protein to your day. Several companies in the U.S. now make biltong including Made By True, Stryve, Brooklyn Biltong and Kalahari Snacks.
Dietitian Sarah Ryan, MS, RDN, LD, media representative of the Texas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends jerky. "As a dietitian, my RV snack pack always includes beef jerky. Full of essential nutrients and satisfying protein, you can mix it into trail mix, add to your favorite energy bites or serve simply alongside some fruit."
If you’re still looking for meaty snacks you can also try Epic Provisions who sell meat-based bars, bites, and crisps.
"Eggs are a nutrient dense powerhouse that can easily fit in a small fridge or cooler to provide a tasty snack or full meal," explains Elizabeth Shaw, MS RDN CPT, author of Instant Pot Cookbook For Dummies and Air Fryer Cookbook For Dummies. Shaw recommends scrambling them on your RV stove or over the open flames on a campfire for a quick breakfast option to fold into a tortilla. You can also hard boil in water for a simple snack or sandwich. Plus, you can pick them up too at nearly any gas station or mini mart!
Long Lasting Fruit
Store bought staple fruits like apples and pears are perfect for a RV trip because they "have a long shelf life, do not need to be refrigerated, and can easily be snacked on whole or sliced," says Katie Serbinski, MS, RD, founder of Mom to Mom Nutrition, LLC. These types of fruit usually last up to a week at room temperature, but you can keep them fresh for almost a month in the fridge. They also can be found fresh and are easily accessible any time of year. Plus Serbinski reminds us that these fruits are filled with nutrition with apples being an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C.
Culinary nutritionist Jackie Topol, MS, RD went on an RV trip a couple summers ago and she had a teeny fridge, so had to stock it carefully. She opted for hummus because it is "packed with both protein and fiber, and a perfect snack with veggies and whole grain crackers or can be spread on a sandwich for a plant-powered lunch." Topol says that you can even thin it with water and lemon juice for a quick and easy salad dressing. It’s all about versatility.
The first thing Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, author of Smoothies & Juices: Prevention Healing Kitchen would pack is a jar of peanut butter. "It doesn’t require any refrigeration and is delicious on everything from crackers to celery to apples. Plus, it provides 7g of protein per 2 tablespoon serving, so it’s a great way to add plant-protein to your diet on a road trip," says Largeman-Roth.
Canned Tuna and Salmon
Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com, author of Read It Before You Eat It - Taking You from Label to Table recommends packing canned fish, like tuna or salmon, for your road trip. "Besides being easy to store, canned tuna and salmon provide excellent sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids," says Taub-Dix. "Plus, fish is also like the chameleon of the meal — it can appear at breakfast, lunch or dinner." Taub-Dix recommends eating it cold by adding some mayo or mashed avocado or making salmon patties by adding a few simple ingredients. Canned fish is also low in calories and kind on your wallet — be sure to look for sales and stock up before you go on the road.
"I like to bring along canned beans because they are rugged — you can drop them or knock them over and they won’t leak or break, they require no refrigeration, and they are so versatile," says Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN, The Plant-Powered Dietitian. In addition, canned beans are a great source of protein, fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. Plus, they can be the star of your plate, because of the protein source. "We should be eating beans at least a few times per week, according to research on health benefits, such as lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity," says Palmer. A few meal ideas Palmer recommends is adding the beans to a bagged salad mix with dried fruit for a hearty salad, adding to a simple vegetable soup, or to pasta and tomato sauce. You can also add them to a veggie wrap or burrito. Just don’t forget a can opener!
Malina Malkani, MS, RDN, CDN, creator of Solve Picky Eating and author of Simple & Safe Baby-Led Weaning recommends packing any and all kinds, including almonds, peanuts, cashews, walnuts, pistachios and hazelnuts. "Nuts don’t take up a lot of space and are perfect for travel because they are shelf-stable, energy-dense and a fantastic source of plant-based protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants," says Malkani. "My girls and I love them plain or tossed into a trail mix with dried fruit."
Dried fruit gets the thumbs up from Laura Yautz, RDN and owner at Being Nutritious because "it doesn’t need refrigerated so it can go anywhere." Plus Yautz says that dried fruit are packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals and is perfect for snacking or a meal-on-the-go accompaniment. Choose dried fruit like raisins, tart cherries, cranberries, apricots or prunes.
"Pumpkin seeds create an easy and nutritious snack, but also add essential nutrients and protein to on-the-road dishes," says Kathy Siegel, MS, RDN, CDN nutrition consultant at Triad To Wellness and author of The 30 Minute Clean Eating Cookbook. Siegel explains that pumpkin seeds are packed with zinc, iron, and magnesium, key minerals to strengthen immunity, and are a good source of plant-based protein with 8 grams of protein per ounce. "Enjoy pumpkin seeds on their own, mix them into trail mix, or toss them on salads, wraps, yogurt and oatmeal."