Have you ever arrived at your campsite late at night only to realize your family hasn’t had dinner yet? Or maybe you’ve spent a long day hiking and exploring, and the last thing you want to do is come back to the RV and cook a full meal. Especially in the summer, when the weather is warm and you want to maximize your time outside, standing over a cooktop doesn’t always feel like the best use of time.
To ensure that you’re able to maximize your time outdoors, we’ve pulled together five RV camping dinners that you can make ahead of time. Each recipe is easy, simple, and holds up well on the road.
1. Walking Tacos
The concept behind walking tacos is that you can freely move around your campsite while still enjoying all the delicious flavors of a traditional taco. The difference is that walking tacos forgo a traditional taco shell in favor of chips. And you won’t have to worry about the toppings falling out, because everything is loaded inside the chip bag (a snack-sized bag of Fritos is the most common).
Cook your meat ahead of time and store it in your RV refrigerator or cooler. Prep all of your toppings in advance as well—chopped lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, sliced avocado—and place them in individual bags or containers. Then, when you’re ready to eat, all you have to do is reheat the meat in a microwave or skillet over the stove, pull out your prepped toppings, and start filling your bag. And when you’re done, just throw the chip bag away—easy cleanup!
Our Favorite Recipe: Walking Tacos by The Girl Who Ate Everything.
Pro Tip: These can easily be made vegetarian. Just swap the meat for black beans, mushrooms, or sweet potatoes.
2. Loaded Sweet Potatoes (Vegetarian)
Hearty, healthy, and durable, sweet potatoes make for an excellent RV camping dish. And while they may take a long time to cook (sometimes over an hour in a standard oven), the upside is that cooked sweet potatoes freeze really well. So, before you head out on your camping trip, put a few sweet potatoes in a 400-degree oven and bake them for one hour or until tender. Once cooked, let them cool completely (about 45 minutes) before you wrap them tightly in foil and place them in the freezer.
You can also prep your toppings—the loaded part of the recipe—ahead of time. We like to fill our sweet potatoes with a mixture of cooked brown rice, chopped red bell pepper, dried cranberries, and pecans. Make the mixture before you leave and put it in a container in the fridge. Once you’re ready to load up your potatoes, pull them out of the freezer and place them directly in your RV’s oven, or over an open campfire, for about 30 minutes. Carefully remove the foil, slice the sweet potato in half, load it up, and dinner is served.
Our Favorite Recipe: Savory Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes by Healthy Taste of Life.
Pro Tip: Choose thinner sweet potatoes, and poke them generously with a fork before you bake them so they don’t split and explode in the oven.
3. Mason Jar Quinoa Salad (Low-Carb)
What makes mason jar salads so ideal for RV camping is that you can easily pull one from the fridge and immediately enjoy crisp lettuce, fresh vegetables, and flavorful toppings. Salads can be time consuming to prepare—all that chopping, dicing, and slicing. But when you make several salads at one time, it becomes much more convenient and you can have multiple dinners for the week. In fact, mason jar salads can last four or five days in the refrigerator.
And while any salad can become a mason jar salad (see below recipe), the key is in the assembly—the dressing is always on the bottom of the jar, while the lettuce sits on top. This way, your lettuce won’t turn soggy. The general mason jar assembly guidelines are as follows: Dressing at the bottom, then hard vegetables (bell peppers, carrots, radishes, onion), then grains or protein, followed by softer vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage) and cheeses, and topped off with lettuce.
Our Favorite Recipe: Thai Quinoa & Kale Salad by My Body, My Kitchen.
Pro Tip: Use a wide-mouthed mason jar to make assembly easier, and always, always put your dressing in first.
4. Turkey Chili
The key to RV cooking is simplicity. So, if you think chili is a dish that requires hours of cooking and simmering in order to taste good, think again. The chili cooking process can be broken down into three core steps: Brown the meat, add the remaining ingredients, and simmer everything together—it’s that simple. And because most chili recipes don’t include dairy products or pastas, you can freeze them for up to three months.
There’s something extra delicious about sitting by the campfire with a nice bowl of hearty turkey chili. And the easiest way to enjoy it while RV camping is to make the entire recipe ahead of time, and then freeze individual portions to take with you. But if you want to do just a little bit of cooking on the road, you can always cook the turkey meat in advance, refrigerate it, and then, once you’re at your campsite, simmer all of the ingredients together in a pot on your RV’s stove. You can also use a slow-cooker or Instant Pot—this allows the pot to do all the cooking for you, and you can spend more time enjoying the trip.
Our Favorite Recipe: Simple Turkey Chili With Kidney Beans by The Cake Chica.
Pro Tip: For more flavorful chili, use a combination of dark and white turkey meat. If you can only find lean ground turkey at the store, add some ground beef to help with the flavor.
5. Classic Lasagna
Lasagna is a classic family favorite, but it’s often time-consuming to make—especially when you’re in a small RV kitchen. However, lasagna is another dish that freezes and reheats really well, meaning you can do most of the legwork in advance. Ideally, you want to freeze the lasagna after it has been assembled but before it has been baked. This will prevent the different layers from getting soggy. You can still freeze a fully-baked lasagna, but the texture may be slightly different once you reheat it (usually more watery). If you don’t want to bother with freezing and unfreezing, an uncooked lasagna can sit in the fridge for three days.
Before assembling your lasagna, measure your RV’s oven to make sure your baking dish will fit. Most RV ovens can’t accommodate regular-sized pans, so we recommend an 8×8 inch glass dish to be safe (see recipe below). Or, if you want to be a bit more rustic, you can assemble your lasagna directly into a dutch oven and cook it over an open campfire. To save yourself even more time, use your favorite jarred tomato sauce instead of making your own. We promise lasagna with store-bought sauce will still taste delicious.
Our Favorite Recipe: Easy Lasagna by Ready Set Eat.
Pro Tip: Place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of your RV’s oven to help distribute the heat and cook your lasagna more evenly. Or, if you choose to cook the lasagna in a dutch oven over a fire, place some hot coals on top of the dutch oven lid to help with even heat distribution.