I spend a fair amount of time on the road. One of the things that I most enjoy is making my own meals while traveling. Cooking away from home anchors me. I like to be able to nourish myself and the people I’m traveling with, and it’s my favorite way to spend an evening after a long day of hiking or driving or photo work. The meals tend to be simple. My resources are invariably limited on the road, whether camping, and I must bring everything that I need to be able to cook, or renting a cozy cottage in the woods with a questionably stocked kitchen.
Vacation rentals tend to have dull knives, scratched-beyond-reason teflon skillets, burned plastic cooking utensils, and smelly, soggy sponges. It can be gross. So I bring my own pantry.
I have a set of 3 plastic bins in which I store dry goods, pantry essentials, and the basics of a portable kitchen. This set-up pretty much enables me to cook a delightful meal without worrying about variables that I can’t control. It’s kind of empowering! Especially if you don’t want to rely on truck stop snacks or fast food restaurants for your meals on the road.
But you also have to clean up that mess that you made in order to have an awesome meal on the road. I always bring a sponge and soap along to clean up …. especially essential when camping, but nice to have at a rental as well. method home invited me to show you how I fear no mess on the road …. and this is how I do it!
First, have a portable kitchen with these basics: a small cutting board, one or two sharp knives (small paring knives work fine!), a lightweight camping pot set and/or or one cast-iron skillet (they can handle the abuse!), one wooden spoon, and a dish towel or two. I also love to bring lightweight wooden bowls, since they can handle abuse and won’t break, but just as often find myself eating out of my glass or stainless steel food containers. They do a great job doubling as your eating vessels. And a few utensils for eating, and a couple of jam jars for beverages – I’ve yet to have one break.
I also like to use my camping and backpacking gear even if I’m not camping, because it’s compact and lightweight, which is just as useful on a road trip. Saving space while traveling is always important, regardless of how you’re getting there.
If you don’t have a suitable indoor kitchen space, make your mess outside! Really, it’s easier to dispose of things and deal with unanticipated spills. Being a creative leftie, I tend to knock things over a lot.
If you do cook outside, watch out for critters. I am super mindful of not wanting to invite animals for dinner, especially bears! So I never leave stuff unattended, and I am pretty thorough in my clean up. This means that I pick up even the smallest bits of trash (micro-trash), and I thoroughly scrub all of my dishes so that lingering food smells don’t invite any critters for a late-night snack.
This is where it’s really handy to have the bins! Use one bin for washing dishes, and another for rinsing. Most campgrounds will have a place where you can dispose of grey water.
Even if you can wash your dishes inside, if it’s a warm, sunny summer day, it’s actually kinda fun to wash them outside!
PS: If you’re really trying to save space, dispense some soap into a small portable squeeze bottle. Tuck it into a sealable plastic bag with the sponge, and you’re set!
Got questions about how I do it? Feel free to ask away.
SIMPLE SUMMER SQUASH SALAD
1 or 2 large zucchini or yellow squash
Handful cherry tomatoes, halved
Lemon juice or balsamic vinegar
Parmesan or pecorino, shaved
Fresh herbs such as basil, parsley, oregano, or chives
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Using a vegetable peeler, shave the zucchini into long ribbons. Add the cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar, a generous glut of olive oil, the cheese, and the herbs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Toss together and serve!
Thanks to method for sponsoring this post. Content like this sustains me as a creative freelancer!