Mindful eating and healthy food start not with your grocery list but rather with the tools in your kitchen.
As with any small dwelling, kitchen real estate is at a premium, so we are forced to take with us only what we absolutely need. Lucky for us, the growing minimalism and healthy-living-on-the-go trends are on our side, stocking kitchenware department shelves with refreshed classic cookware and new gadgets that earn a spot in an RV galley. In addition to your usual staples like one large and one small saucepan and durable dinnerware, these nine must haves are essential for healthy eating in any camper kitchen.
Cast Iron Pan
This is easily one of the most versatile, go-to kitchen tools in any household, mobile or otherwise. The ability to use it on the stove, in the oven, on the grill or over a fire expands your available healthy recipe library tenfold with just one tool.
A Powerful Blender
You don’t need a heavy duty Cuisinart for proper blending anymore. Many small and powerful units, like the Ninja or Magic Bullet, are ideal for blending everything from protein shakes to soups to a perfectly smooth consistency. Even better, they yield smaller servings, so you can make snacks and meals for one or two at a time and keep the servings to their healthy sizes.
Good, Sharp Knives
Quality knives are another kitchen essential in and out of campers. You don’t need the entire set either—a medium French knife will do just fine. If you want a little more versatility, add in a small paring knife, a filet knife if you frequently cook fish, or a serrated knife for slicing bread. If you get a good quality set and keep them sharpened and stored properly, they’ll last you forever.
A Sturdy Pair of Tongs and a Spatula
Ignore the cheap plastic options and instead look for a nice pair of metal tongs that can be used everywhere from the grill to the salad bowl (just make sure it’s cleaned well after touching raw meats!) Large silicone spatulas are also great multifunctional tools as they can be used to stir, scrape and toss nearly anything in mixing bowls or pots and pans.
Magnetic Spice Storage
Herbs, spices and seasonings are crucial to making many healthy meals delicious and, like the cast iron pan, add incredible variety to your recipe repertoire. But don’t waste an inch of cabinet or drawer space on round, half-empty containers or their bulky racks.
Instead, get magnetic spice containers you can stick on your fridge or to a simple metal strip installed on a wall.
A Trusty Grill
Let’s be honest: Grilled food tastes so much better than most other things baked, fried, sautéed, etc. Add in the fact that grilled food is usually much healthier too (depending on what you put on them) grills are a fantastic kitchen accessory. Anything from an indoor George Forman, to a small pop-up charcoal grill to a bells-and-whistles Weber can take nearly any meal up a notch.
Editor’s Note: Many RV parks, and most state parks, will have either an actual grill right at your site, or a fire pit with a built in grill that flips over your campfire.
Collapsible Square Storage Containers
One of the easiest ways to eat healthy consistently is to make larger batches of healthy dishes at one time then portion them out for a few days or even the entire week ahead.
Collapsible square storage makes efficient use of fridge space compared to round containers when in use and condenses to store easily in cabinets when not.
Aluminum Foil and Plastic Sandwich Bags
These are incredibly resourceful as well. Aluminum foil allows you to grill smaller items without needing a separate grill pan, marinate meats in healthy dressings, and cover storage containers when a lid eventually goes missing—and it can even be rinsed and reused in most cases. Think green! Plastic bags, while less environmentally friendly, also make storage easier when you’ve got only an oddshaped nook available, need to grab a healthy snack to take on a hike, or have smaller items that don’t need to monopolize an entire storage container. They also make for great piping bags for dishes like deviled eggs by simply snipping off a corner. Just don’t forget to recycle them!
Safe Cutting Boards
Although a mild debate continues in the food safety world on which is better, both wood and plastic cutting boards harbor bacteria if not cleaned quickly and properly. Wood is more porous so it tends to absorb more, whereas plastic can provide just as many places for bacteria to thrive once it’s been thoroughly sliced and nicked. Stay away from glass boards entirely as they are unfriendly to knives. The best solution is to have two cutting boards: wood for food that’s safe when it’s raw, like fruits and veggies, and plastic for meats and fish. Clean both immediately after use with warm soapy water, and replace them when they’ve become sliced to the point of looking fuzzy.
Editor’s Note: A properly sized cutting board can also double as additional counter space. Just place it over your stove (when you’re not using it!) or a sink and you’ve got instant extra work space.
Optional Bonus: A Slow Cooker
If cooking isn’t your forte or you want to cut down the time and effort it takes to make a great healthy meal, a slow cooker is for you. It’s true you can make many of the same meals in a large covered pot and save some shelf space, but having a 1.5- to 3-quart slow cooker on hand makes it easy to toss your ingredients in, set it and forget it until you’re ready to eat, making it a great resource if you’ve got the room for it.
Editor’s Note: This is easily the most valuable cooking tool for those of us living on the road. Create dinner in the morning, throw it in the slow cooker, and go off and have your day. Hike, bike, or just explore some town, and when you get home you’ll have dinner waiting for you as though you’ve got your own personal June Cleaver always on call.
By having the right tools available, healthy eating blends seamlessly with life on the road, opening a whole new world of discoveries right in your kitchen.