People have often asked what we eat on the road.
Andy and I eat primarily a whole-food, plant-based diet, with very limited oil, salt, sugar or processed foods. We do not eat meat at all. On the few times per month that we eat out, we may have something that contains dairy or eggs, but we don’t use those products in our own cooking. We do cook and prepare almost all our meals in the RV. We eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes. We drink a lot of water, we have coffee, and we may have wine or beer, but no more than one in a single day.
Here’s what a typical day looks like for us.
I’m an early riser and Andy likes to sleep late, so we each prepare our own breakfast.
For me, it’s usually one of the following, accompanied by a couple mugs of decaf coffee:
- Oatmeal with berries, banana, pineapple and walnuts
- Whole wheat toast with mashed avocado, topped with salsa
- Peanut butter and banana sandwich on toast, with a side of grapes
Andy’s breakfast choices are accompanied by a big mug of caffeinated coffee:
- Whole apple + whole orange
- Whole wheat toast spread with peanut butter
If it’s a special occasion, we will sometimes splurge and bake Pillsbury Grands Cinnamon Rolls. When we were just doing weekend camping before we went full-time, this was our every-Sunday-morning routine. But when we went full-time we knew we couldn’t keep that up, so now it’s much less often.
When we first changed our diet to whole-foods, plant-based in May 2013, we followed the advice of Dr. Joel Fuhrman in his book “Eat To Live” to have a huge salad every day. Since then, whenever I was at home for lunch during my working years, we followed this routine–a big salad with homemade oil-free dressing, and a cup of beans. This way of eating has been so beneficial to our health that we decided to do whatever we had to do to continue this practice on the road.
So for lunch, Andy makes a huge chopped salad using kale, romaine, bell peppers of all colors, cucumber, radishes, carrots, celery, red onion, purple cabbage and any other raw veggies we may have in the fridge, and he also adds an entire apple. He makes enough to last us for three lunches since it’s a little labor-intensive.
I make the dressing using our NutriBullet blender which we brought with us specifically for this purpose, despite its weight. I first grind up a double-handful of raw cashews to a consistency of meal. Then I add about a quarter-cup of rice vinegar, some minced garlic, a tablespoon of dijon mustard, some freshly ground black pepper, and then lots of herbs. When we were in our sticks-and-bricks, I used fresh basil and mint from our garden. But on the road I use dried basil, parsley and cilantro, about 2 tablespoons of each (I don’t really measure anything). I add enough water to reach the “max” level on the NutriBullet container, and then whip it up. It’s a delicious, oil-free dressing that we never get tired of of.
We buy canned beans (salt-free) from Walmart simply for the convenience–they have pinto beans and black beans without salt.
So that’s our lunch about 90% of the time. If we find ourselves on a day when we’re out of kale and romaine for a fresh batch of salad, I’ll whip up a batch of homemade hummus (chickpeas, garlic, fresh lemon juice, tahini, cumin and dried parsley), and Andy will just cut up some veggies for dipping.
On the days when we’re out sight-seeing or running errands around lunchtime, we look for a place that has veggie options like hummus, falafel, veggie burgers, or rice and bean burritos.
This is the meal where we get a little more creative. We brought along our two Instant Pots (6 and 3 quarts),and they get used several times a week.
Since Andy does most of the work for lunch, I take responsibility for cooking dinner. I try to include at least one or two vegetables and a whole grain. Occasionally we will use a vegan processed meat substitute, such as the Tofurky Italian Sausage or the Morningstar Farms black bean chipotle burgers.
If possible, I try to limit the number of pots and pans to two at the most to make clean-up easier. Since we have a microwave, I make regular use of steamable frozen vegetables for side dishes.
Here are a few examples of dinner menus we’ve used on the road:
- Acorn squash (steamed in large Instant Pot), black rice with pineapple tidbits (cooked in small Instant Pot), green beans (frozen steamable bag cooked in microwave)
- Brown rice with black beans, red bell pepper and Tofuky Italian Sausage, cooked in the large Instant Pot (this recipe is called “Bomb Diggity Black Bean Rice”, and I got it from the “Epic Vegan Instant Pot Cooking” cookbook by Derek & Hannah Howlett–it’s a favorite of ours.) We sometimes eat this wrapped in warm tortillas.
- Lentil curry with diced tomatoes and spinach, served over a bed of quinoa
- Instant Pot Spaghetti – I love this recipe because everything is cooked in one pot, and except for pre-sauteeing the onions, it only takes 7 minutes of cook time.
- Hobo packs – foil packs with baby yellow potatoes, sliced onion and peppers, Tofurky Italian Sausage (sliced), Mrs. Dash Southwest Seasoning. Andy cooks the packs on the grill for about an hour.
- My own recipe, Arcada Italian Chick’n and Rice. Yep, I just made this one up, but it’s delicious. Serve it over brown rice for a one-dish meal.
Treats and Snacks
Okay, we’re not perfect, and we don’t eat perfectly all the time. I, especially, have a sweet tooth that is insatiable, but we both love dessert. At lunch, we each have a small square of dark chocolate (hey, that’s healthy, right?). Last year we discovered the $.50 mini-pies at Walmart, and we developed a bad habit of keeping a stash of those in the RV for dessert after dinner.
Occasionally we need to visit some place where we can get a good wi-fi connection, such as McDonald’s or a local coffee shop or Starbucks. We would feel guilty about using their Internet without buying something, so we’ll have a latte, some fries or an ice cream cone to ease our conscience.
But for 2020, I (Suzanne) am making an effort to eliminate all refined sugar from my diet, and Andy is cutting back a lot on his as well. For snacks, I’m sticking to fresh fruit, or maybe baby carrots and vegan dip. I may still have an occasional small treat like my square of dark chocolate, but it will be a weekly thing and not a daily one.
We want to be as healthy as we can be for as long as we can, so that we can enjoy this lifestyle together for many years to come!