Real Food on the Road: What We Ate in the RV

It’s a little hard for me to come to terms with this, but the trip we’d been dreaming of for years is over! In case you missed it, we just spent five of the last six weeks out west exploring our beautiful continent, and four of those weeks were in an RV rental. And boy, was it an adventure!

I had no idea what to expect, and it turned out to be a great way to travel, aside from all that driving of course—my poor husband (although I did get behind the wheel three times myself)! There really was no better way to explore our country, though, and we feel so incredibly fortunate to have had the experience!

And after all that fun, I am here to report on our adventure in eating real food on the road.

What We Ate

Real Food on the Road: What We Ate in the RV on 100 Days of #RealFood

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A month is a long time to be tracking your meals, but I took as many pictures as I could. I would like to say upfront that creativity and variety were not exactly my goal on this trip.

I was honestly just going for simple, easy, and “no real recipe required” kind of meals. So this is what we got (starting at the top left and going across).

  • Snacky lunch with fruit, cheese, cashews, caprese salad, and some good whole grain bread we stocked up on in San Francisco
  • BLTs – a family favorite
  • Camping eggs (which is what we call eggs that we fry in bacon grease) with fruit and bacon, of course
  • Kale and mushroom pasta
  • Grill packets (I got the guy at Whole Foods to go ahead and dice the organic meat for me, which was a life saver at the time!)
  • Pimento cheese sandwich, deviled eggs, fruit, organic potato chips, and whole grain pretzels (from Trader Joe’s when we found one)
  • Another grill packet with just potatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper (super easy and tasty)
  • Baked tostada with slow cooker refried beans, cheese, and sour cream, along with watermelon
  • Fried egg, crispy prosciutto (that I also fried in the pan), cantaloupe, and simple yogurt crunch in the cup
  • Pimento cheese with whole-wheat pitas and watermelon
  • Oatmeal
  • Hummus, cheese, and tomato sandwiches
  • Spaghetti and salad (we had spaghetti twice with a jar of organic sauce and some good grass-fed beef we stocked up on when we found it)
  • Whole-wheat banana pancakes
  • Grilled sausages, peppers, and onions
  • 4th of July BBQ: The best pulled pork in the Crock Pot, potato salad, cole slaw, watermelon, and garlic toast
  • Grill packets – again! :)
  • The best whole chicken in the Crock Pot with salad and boiled corn on the cob
  • Potato skins made with leftover baked potatoes (I baked them in the oven while we were driving back to our campsite!)
  • Refried beans topped with cheese and sour cream, and a salad
  • Chicken salad (with the leftover slow cooker chicken) on lettuce with cheese, avocado, and fruit
  • Granola – don’t look too closely, my first batch was burnt on the bottom!
  • Sautéed fish, mashed sweet potatoes, and steamed green beans
  • Another BLT with random leftovers and fruit
  • Guacamole with a rare treat—fried tortilla chips
  • Simple yogurt crunch, scrambled eggs, toast, and fruit
  • Quiche, salad, and bacon – This was one of the few times I used the oven, and for some reason that quiche really hit the spot (for all of us)!
  • Tacos and fruit

That’s a lot of food! :)

The Pantry, Fridge and Freezer on the RV

My apologies in advance for not spending too much time making the cabinets and such pretty for the picture. This is just how it looked in a vehicle that throws stuff all around when you’re driving! We learned the hard way to open the fridge slowly (after losing a dozen eggs)!

Real Food on the Road: What We Ate in the RV on 100 Days of #RealFood

One thing we learned quickly—it was super nice traveling around with a fully equipped kitchen wherever we went! If we were out exploring Glacier National Park later than expected (true story), well then we just pulled over in a parking lot and made dinner there before we were on our way again!

We could even have the girls go ahead and get in their pajamas and brush their teeth before we kept driving. It was so incredibly convenient.

I will say though, that shopping in unfamiliar stores without a solid plan wasn’t exactly easy, but I did know that some exceptions would have to be made. For example, at home, we don’t do boxed cereal for the girls, but that’s what they ate the entire trip.

I didn’t have a lot of time to bake granola, so when I did, there just wasn’t enough to share with the whole family (and trust me, they were fine with that). I also didn’t make my tortillas from scratch like I do at home, but I was able to find whole-grain corn tortillas by Food for Life. And I think that’s the next best option.

Kitchen Tools We Brought

Real Food on the Road: What We Ate in the RV (Kitchen Packing List) on 100 Days of #RealFood
Don’t be fooled by this picture…I (regrettably) didn’t end up using all this stuff. I hate when I pack unnecessary things!

I made my best guess on what to bring along with us on the trip. We did rent a kitchen kit from El Monte RV, which included pots, pans, plates, utensils, etc. So I was only trying to fill in some gaps. Here’s what I brought:

  • My slow cooker: This is one of my most used appliances at home, but I ended up using it only three times on the trip. So I am on the fence about whether it was worthwhile to pack! The problem was that most days we were on the go, and I wasn’t so sure about where I could put it while the RV was moving all around. I did use it twice at night and quickly learned that it was a rather small space in which to be smelling food all night. The second time I set it up in the bathroom, opened the vent, and shut the door, and that helped tremendously! I was super happy to have those meals (including the plentiful leftovers) once it was all said and done.
  • Cheese grater: We didn’t actually bring this with us. We bought it at Target after picking up the RV! I guess that was an oops, but we could use an extra one at home, so it worked out in the end.
  • Hand immersion blender: I did use this one, but not exactly for what I was picturing. I thought I’d be making smoothies (never did), emulsifying salad dressings (our salads were not nearly that fancy!), and blending up homemade soups (not sure what I was thinking there), but instead I found myself needing a way to puree the slow cooked refried beans and mash the sweet potatoes I boiled. While it was not an ideal appliance for these jobs, it totally did the trick without taking up a lot of space!
  • High quality frying pan: This one really came in handy. I used it almost every time I cooked!
  • Silicone muffin cups (these allow you to bake muffins without a muffin pan): Looking back, it’s funny I thought I’d be sitting around baking muffins. Let’s just say I didn’t even come close to using these! Luckily, they didn’t take up much space.
  • Percolator: This is what my husband used to make espresso on the gas stove (we did not pay the extra fee to rent a coffee maker). I drink maple mochas at home (not regular coffee), so I just skipped having my daily dose of that, unless we happened to see a coffee shop.
  • Other tools: Tongs, pot holders (the white and red things), cutting board (note we’ve since replaced the pictured one with a better option), a good knife, a few measuring cups and measuring spoons, a meat thermometer (that we didn’t use), a small silicone spatula (not pictured), and one good stainless steel spatula.

My Biggest Mistake

A couple days into the trip, I was kicking myself for not bringing along a single dried spice! So for every meal that needed a 1/4 teaspoon of this or a 1/2 teaspoon of that, I had to buy a whole new spice bottle, and those added up fast.

We did manage to bring all the new bottles home, but it still would have been so much better and easier if I would have been smart enough to pack myself some homemade taco seasoning mix or The Best Whole Chicken in the Crock Pot seasoning mix to really make things easy in the RV.

I also wish I would’ve purchased a jar of minced garlic instead of fresh garlic. We’re in the habit of using fresh garlic at home, but when clean dishes are hard to come by (see below), it would have been wonderful to be able to spare a clean cutting board and knife whenever possible!

Live and learn, and in the end—not a huge deal :)

What Happens When Your Gray Water Tank is Full

As you can see above, I used a lot of paper plates on this trip. At home, we don’t even use paper napkins, so that’s definitely not the norm for us! But once again, we learned the hard way that if you’re staying in a campsite without hookups, and people actually want to shower, your gray water tank (i.e. dirty water that’s from anywhere except the toilet) fills up fast.

So our kitchen sink in the RV, unfortunately, looked like this more often than not. With only 4 place settings, that meant the plates weren’t clean very often, and when they were clean, we hesitated to get them dirty!

Real Food on the Road: What We Ate in the RV on 100 Days of #RealFood

Please don’t judge. I promise this is not a regular occurrence at home!

Our Itinerary

In case you missed it, I shared a map of our route a couple of weeks ago. But since many have asked, here are the places we stopped (and the duration) in a list format:

  • Portland, OR: 3 Nights (We lived there many years ago after college and couldn’t wait to go back to visit.)
  • Crater Lake National Park, OR: 1 Night
  • Northern California (Redwood National Forest Area): 1 Night
  • San Francisco, CA: 3 Nights (We picked up the RV just outside of San Fran on the last day there.)
  • Yosemite National Park, CA: 3 Nights
  • Big Sur, CA: 3 Nights (One of our favorite stops!)
  • Ventura, CA: 1 Night (Simply because this was halfway to our next stop.)
  • Las Vegas, NV: 2 Nights
  • Grand Canyon National Park, AZ: 1 Night (We went by Hoover Dam on our way here.)
  • Lake Powell/Glen Canyon National Park, AZ/UT: 2 Nights (We rented a houseboat with a water slide, and it was awesome!)
  • Moab/Arches National Park, UT: 1 Night (My husband went mountain biking here.)
  • Park City, UT: 2 Nights (Mountain biking was our attraction to this stop as well.)
  • Yellowstone National Park, WY: 2 Nights
  • Lewis and Clark Caverns Stat Park, MT: 1 Night (This was on the way to our next stop.)
  • Glacier National Park, MT: 3 Nights (Our favorite US National Park by far!)
  • Canmore, Canada (Just outside of Banff): 1 Night
  • Banff National Park, Canada: 2 Nights (Backpacking)
  • Lake Louise National Park, Canada: 1 Night (Absolutely breathtaking!)
  • Just south of Kamploops, Canada: 1 Night (Because this was the halfway point to Seattle.)
  • Seattle, WA: 2 Nights (This is where we returned the RV, and then we rented an apartment) 36 Nights Total

I will add that even though I tried to work in extra nights (2 to 3 nights minimum at most places), there still was very little downtime on this trip. It just didn’t feel right to sit around and relax when you could be exploring the next amazing destination!

I told my husband we could do nothing when we got home (which sounded good at the time, but in reality isn’t actually true, as most busy families know).

What if you don’t have that much time?

I know some have told me how they’d love to go on a trip like this, but would never have five weeks in a row to do it. So if this sounds like you, I just want to say that a shorter version of this trip would still totally be awesome.

If you could swing two weeks, I would recommend to either start in Salt Lake City (and go a tad south to start at the Arches Park) or Phoenix (if you don’t want to miss the Grand Canyon). And then I would suggest driving north and finishing up at either Glacier National Park (our favorite in the US) or go six or seven hours further and make your last stop in Banff/Lake Louise (another amazingly gorgeous place).

This itinerary would allow you to see a really nice variety of landscapes. My husband and I both feel that week after week of snow-capped mountains and streams would, of course, be super nice, but it would be even better to squeeze in a little bit of time in the desert, just for more variety.

A Few Trip Highlights

We had a feeling this would be the trip of a lifetime, and it did not disappoint! Here’s a little recap of some of the highlights. I had trouble narrowing things down, if you can’t tell. :)

Real Food on the Road: What We Ate in the RV on 100 Days of #RealFood

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93 thoughts on “Real Food on the Road: What We Ate in the RV”

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  1. Hi! Great info. We are renting an RV in September, (different company) but on their website, it says that the refrigerator only cools to 60 degrees! That seems absolutely pointless to me. I am going to call the company to verify that detail, but I was just wondering if you had any problems with keeping food cold in the fridge of your RV? My husband says the fridge shuts off while you are in motion. Thanks!

    1. Hi Bernadette – Sorry I’m probably too late in the is reply, but they probably mean the refrigerator only cools 60 degrees from ambient temperature. So if it’s 100 degrees in your RV in the summer in parking lot, it might only cool to down 40 degrees. We had no issues whatsoever, even in 108 degree heat.

      It’s typical for the fridge to run off of propane when you are not hooked up to electricity, such as when driving or camping at a primitive camp site. A tank of propane lasts a long time and is inexpensive (we only filled ours once during 4 weeks), but you must realize the your water heater and stove are likely drawing from the same propane tank (we also had an electric hot water heater for when we were hooked up). So you’ll want to turn off the hot water heater when you don’t need it.

      Hope you have a great trip! – Jason

  2. Love the foods! My husband and I did a similar trip for 12 days (12 states, 15 National Park System places) of car camping. Because of our time table, we had to be out and on the road around 7 am most days. For our trip I made up instant oatmeal packets that were delicious and all we needed to add once out was hot water (which sometimes came from a gas station hot water for tea).

    1/2 C oats
    1/3 C dry milk (I was worried about my calcium intake for the trip)
    1 T flax seed
    1/2 T chia seeds
    1-2 T nuts or seeds, finely chopped
    1-2 T dried fruit, finely chopped
    1/2 T dark brown sugar (yes, I love brown sugar)
    a few shakes of cinnamon or cardamom

    I made up around 30 of these packets in sandwich baggies, then put them in larger resealable containers. Each morning we grabbed 2 baggies out and added about 6-10 oz. of hot water and let sit for 5 mins, stirring occasionally. I changed up the fruit, nut and spice combination for each packet to keep each meal a little more interesting.

    As someone who eats 2 eggs on homemade bread every day for breakfast, this was a fantastic, quick alternative that never got old.

  3. Just a thought for the next time you go. You may consider taking a cast iron skillet that has been well seasoned already and that will cut down on some of your dishes because you don’t wash it with soap and water often. You just wipe it out with a paper towel and that is it.

  4. Hi Lisa! I struggle with planning one week’s worth of food at times. I loved seeing a month’s worth of “vacation” food. Very inspiring! And your photographs are beautiful!

  5. Melanie Holmes

    We just returned from nearly 6 weeks of traveling from Oregon to Georgia in an rv with 3 littles under 5! It was amazing and so nice to hear someone else doing a trip like this.

  6. Lisa
    WOW….. Looks like the whole family had an a m a z i n g trip.
    I really enjoyed the whole experience. You did an incredible
    JOB being organized. I wish I could have joined you all.

    Thank you for sharing such a remarkable trip.


  7. Lisa, thanks so much for sharing your trip with us! Loved all the wonderful pictures. Your children will remember this the rest of their lives, and hopefully will do the same with their kids.

  8. First of all, the trip sounds incredible! Thanks for publishing your route and stops – I live in Seattle so all of these destinations are pretty realistic for me and the ones I haven’t been to yet are on my list. I loved seeing what you guys ate. It is always such a challenge to come up with quick, easy, healthy meals while traveling and it looks like you managed to achieve that beautifully. I’m glad you had such a fantastic trip!

  9. Jo Ann Morgan Anderson

    In response to your comment about dried spices I premix most of my spice mixes all the time. I save the really tiny bottles that my rarely used spices come in and use them to hold the mix for a meal. I call it lazy cooking. When I run out of one mix the next time I make the meal I make one mix for that meal and then at least one more for another meal. Thinking about a trip like yours all I would need to do is take my little mix bottles. I have a couple larger bottles for things that are more like a rub so I can use as little or as much as I like.

  10. Centrifugal juicers are speedy, often cost less, aand lose a
    lot of important nutrients. Because it is filling, it is more difficult to consume
    as many nutrients as you are receiving from juicing. The variety keeps juicing fresh and maintains your nutritional intake.

  11. Lisa, your trip sounds amazing. I am totally impressed at how much real food and cooking you did while on the road! And we’re so ready for a road trip.

  12. Hi, Gorgeous photos of your trip! What an amazing experience and well done for cooking! I have an odd question…I noticed in your first picture you have Ezekiel bread on your counter. Does it not have to be frozen? I use this bread also and if I didn’t have to freeze it that would be a life saver. I always just get a slice out and toast. Just wondering. Thanks :)

  13. Amazing trip! I enjoyed following along on instagram. We love traveling the west–it is so incredible. I do travel with small amounts of spices either in a snack ziplock baggie or you can use a pill container (labeled MTW etc..). Thanks for all of the ideas for easy cooking when on a trip. I’m always looking for new ideas.

  14. Lisa, your trip sounds amazing. I sent my husband the link to a couple of these posts and now I think i have him on the RV trip band wagon when our youngest is a little older. Like others, I am totally impressed at how much real food and cooking you did while on the road!

  15. this is amazing! your photos are breathtaking! all of your planning and cooking is truly inspirational! :-)

  16. Sounds like y’all had a great time! Thanks so much for sharing :). I have wanted to have an RV trip like this for years!!

  17. You were smart for getting an RV rather than a pull-behind camper. That’s what we have, and you can’t run the fridge and freezer while on the road. We are limited to foods that are shelf and cooler stable. One thing I’ve done is make soups ahead of time and freeze them solid. If you’re doing an extended weekend trip, you can let them slowly thaw and have an easy meal a few days into the trip.

  18. We are lucky enough to live 1 1/2 hours away from Glacier National Park! Of course we don’t get there often enough. Sounds like a really fun trip!

  19. Thank you so much for sharing your adventures with us! You’ve inspired my husband and I to start planning a 2 week trip from PA to CO next year!

    1. Love seeing how she did that! I thought about the sink, but the cord wouldn’t reach the outlet from there and I wasn’t sure how to secure the lid. That’s great inspiration for next time :)

      1. You might buy one of those ‘travel’ slow cookers that have handles that secure the lid while cooking and transporting. My mom has one and while I don’t like it for regular slow cooking I bet it would be great on the road if you could secure the cooker somewhere like in the sink, then you wouldn’t have to worry about the top jiggling off. To be less wasteful you could then donate to goodwill or someplace like that when you got home, or even buy it at the first stop and donate at the last then you don’t have to transport it to and from home.

  20. This is great! Thanks for sharing. Seeing what you made in an RV kitchen (with much less space and equipment) reminds me how much I can make in more home kitchen!

  21. We took 2 weeks last summer and drove 4000 miles. We started in CO went all the way to Niagra Falls Canada and back to CO. We stayed in camping cabins, one night in a hotel suite and 2 nights with family. We had a cooler and used a propane table top grill to cook real food 80% of the time!!

  22. I’ve so enjoyed reading about your trip! You’ve got me really pumped to plan a trip to Glacier National Park and up to Lake Louise :)

  23. I loved following this trip! Thank you for taking the time to break down and share all the food details. Such great ideas and you really proved that with just a little bit of extra effort, clean eating on the road is easily obtainable! Would love to hear more stories about the places you visited. Such a wonderful experience to share with your family. Hope to do it one day ourselves :)

  24. What an amazing adventure! If it’s not too personal, I would like to know more about
    Your budget for this kind of trip. I would love to do something like this with my family but don’t know where to start!

  25. wow wow wow !!! Thank you so much for sharing this experience, the good and the bad. Your family is beautiful, and your blog inspirational. I’ve always wanted to do a trip like this myself, but unfortunately the hubby is not on board at all.

  26. Looks like an awesome trip, and that some wonderful memories were made. Thanks for sharing.
    I hate that you have to add ” please don’t judge” and I’m sure some will still ignore.
    when will this society learn the old saying “if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say it at all” :)

  27. Looks like you had an amazing trip. Some of the places you went are in my back yard and it’s easy to forgot how beautiful they are…especially Glacier Park. Which brings the question, did you enjoy any huckleberries while there? They are delicious! I saw you stopped at the Lewis and Clark caverns, did you actually do the cavern tour or just camp there for the night?

    1. The huckleberries were not quite in while we were there, but we saw them all around on our horseback ride – such a neat story how people collect them from the wild to make a good living.

  28. I would happily read a full blog post about each of your stops. I’m just dying to hear more about this trip!! I’m sure you don’t have the time, but even if you sprinkled in recaps over a few months I’d LOVE to see!!

      1. I do, and I saw! I just have an insatiable appetite for information on this trip, apparently! Thanks to you, we toured a local RV salesroom a couple weekends ago. How I’d love to do something similar!!

  29. I would love to know which company you used to rent the houseboat and details about size and any extras for a family of 4. Thanks!!!