We have lived in our RV, Sleipnir, since July 2017. That puts us at almost a year and a half. Because we don’t have a tow vehicle, that means we do not leave the campground we are at very often. We can’t go anywhere, so we have to rely on neighbors or friends visiting us to go out to eat. With no way to get to restaurants, it means we eat healthier and far less junk food.
One of the key requirements for living in an RV is keeping weight down. Since we have to keep our weight within the max allowed for the vehicle, anything that weighs less is better. For this reason, we’ve gone from canned beans to dry beans. As a bonus, they are cheaper for more product as well. Another bonus is that dry beans are not soaked in sodium-rich liquid, reducing our salt intake.
One of our other transitions that we are starting this month is from instant oatmeal to regular, dry oatmeal and adding freeze dried fruit. Freeze dried fruit is a little more expensive, but also requires less space for the same end result and has more flavor and much longer shelf life than fresh fruit. While I’d prefer fresh fruit, the simple fact is that fruit goes bad and so our once-a-month run to the store limits us.
I have found some plastic canisters (Walmart link, no affiliate) with screw on lids that have square bases and fit perfectly on the shelves we have. Additionally, I bought some Food Grade Desiccant Packs (Amazon Affiliate link) to keep moisture out and help our dry goods last longer. They can be stacked if need be, and they are the right depth for the metal wire shelves we have in our RV for stuff like this.
Less Processed Crap
By buying ingredients in bulk, we have the benefit of building up a supply of foods we can use while also lowering our costs and making things healthier in general. We have avoided buying things like canned soups, though we still usually buy canned sauces for pasta. We also have a small store of canned meat, specifically ham, chicken and tuna, that we can use as a backup for things if we need to. I want to reduce those as well, but buying any of them fresh means taking up more space in the fridge or freezer and reducing our length of time that it can be stored.
We have not gone so far as to buy Spam (well, we did once!), but have some canned meats at least gives us some variety to work with. We do buy the canned meats with less salt and preservatives though. If we could somehow buy all our meat fresh, divvy it up into freezer bags and throw it in the freezer, we would. At this point though, we have to rely on some canned meats for a variety.
We also have transitioned over to whole grain wheat bread instead of white bread. It’s fortunate that I never have liked the taste of Wonderbread since that stuff is pretty awful. We also make use of tortillas as much as possible and have a full pack of whole grain tortillas to use for wraps.
Some other things we do not buy is ready-eat-meals like Hamburger Helper or instant rice. We have some in the pantry, but it is for when we need to make something quick and are out of options; a backup supply, if you will. Since we bought those canisters for beans, we also bought a large bag of brown rice and use that when needed. I’m working on ways to diversify our flavor profile though and may have to get some cheese and broccoli to make some flavored rice.
I go through phases where one food is pretty much all I’ll eat for a meal every day. Right now it’s oatmeal. Next month when we have money, I’m ordering some regular oatmeal that I can make in the morning, throw in some nuts and freeze dried fruit, and have a healthy snack that should hold me over until lunch.
I found a source for freeze dried fruit, so I’m going to dump some of that in one of those canisters and put a scoop of it in my oatmeal every morning. I don’t mind a blend of flavors, so I may put it all in one container, shake it up, and throw a scoop in every bowl each morning. I may keep the nuts separate though and add those when I want something different.
Meat and Protein
When he came down over Christmas, my dad was bringing us some venison from deer he had hunted. However, he had a slight problem and lost the whole cooler on the highway. That meant no venison for us, but he still bought us a bunch of meat. We have chicken, sausage, and beef to last us awhile. Venison has much less fat in it than beef, so that would have been a good supply of healthy food. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out.
For now, we buy meat in bulk at Sam’s Club, divide it up into smaller bags and throw it in the freezer. That will last us a long time and we can have meat whenever we need. We probably need to restock every other month and spend about $50 and have enough meat to last awhile.
We are somewhat limited in our options, but we never go for the 80/20 ground beef. It’s just too greasy and we don’t like it. It’s also pointless to buy the high fat content meat only for the grease to be cooked out and lost. I prefer to pay a little extra and know I have better quality meat.
Growing our own Herbs
And lastly, we have started a small herb garden. It gives Tiffany something to work on and gives us fresh herbs whenever we want. Because we are in Florida, we can grow anything year round and have a stockpile when we need something. I think we have 10 different plants growing for food, from herbs to spinach to tomatoes. Some of it will take awhile, but all of them appear to be growing well.
When we do leave this campground, I hope it is to a permanent location where we can settle down and build our own house. That means we will be taking all of our plants with us and continue eating from them.
It’s not easy to live healthy while living in an RV, but it is possible. It takes some planning and foresight, but it can be done.