You may remember this above photo from my truck cooking post a while back. I have been on an adventure, and it has been a relaxing & satisfying one at that.
I was brought up trucking with the mindset that you go until you are done. I have never been stuck on the road for 6 weeks at a time- even as a company driver, and it is a rarity for me to have to sit and wait on a load more than a handful of times in a year.
For me, time has always been of the essence. There is no screwing around when I’m trucking.
That being said, I have been working on slowing down just a bit and cooking outside of my truck so that I can have REAL hot meals that are good for me, yet very satisfying and satisfaction is something that I don’t seem to feel a lot of the times when having cold food day after day. Don’t get me wrong, it is still WAY better than truck stop food, but somedays after a long ride something hot really perks me up and hits the spot.
I have always veered away from truck stop food because of the price, lack of flavor (go ahead call me a food snob) and the fact that most of what you are paying good, hard earned money for is just heated up, pre-made garbage anyway. I have always brought good, homemade, food that I prepared at home before the trip that could be eaten cold or heated up in my crock pot. Until this summer though, I have never really cooked anything fresh like I do when I’m at home…
But, as they say, times- they are a changing.
Now, I do not buy a lot of pre-made products, rather I purchase ingredients to make what I eat. I truly don’t believe in a lot of pre-made foods, so bare with me. It can still be pretty darn easy!
Generally I buy my grains/pastas, beef/pork in bulk, grow and put up a good portion of our produce, as well as have fresh eggs from my girls- and that is what I cook with. But, for the sake of giving others ideas and just to let everyone else know how easy this road cooking really is, I have been buying some store bought products that make cooking on the road very easy.
First and foremost what are you going to cook with?
My suggestion is cast iron and I match that with a coleman stove. Now I know a lot of people will go with a non stick pan and that is fine, but they give me the creeps. I don’t trust them- I’m even a bit leery of the new ‘safe & natural non stick’ pans- at least until they have been proven.
Ever since my mother gave me her cast iron pan I’ve gone completely old school and hardly use even my stainless steel that I use to adore. I LOVE cast iron for many reasons and since it is what I use at home, that is what I choose to use while out on the road.
Cast iron pans give you even heat, which means even cooking. Secondly they require no soap for cleaning, just water. To anyone who is wrinkling their nose right now, keep in mind that cookware is 400ºF in 4 minutes on medium heat and is considered sterile at 212º F, so soap isn’t always necessary!
Once your done cooking, put a bit of water in your HOT pan, let stand for 5 minutes to loosen what ever is stuck on, scrape with a spatula, and dump it out, then wipe clean. Thirdly they are heavy duty which makes perfect sense if they get knocked around in a truck. And to top all of that off, you can alway use the pan as a weapon if needed.
If you don’t feel like having to clean out a pan though, my next suggestion would be to line your pan with tin foil. You can buy nonstick tinfoil and line your pan, which cuts down on the mess and that is what I have been doing a bit of when I don’t want to take the time to clean up a mess.
Next, what are you going to eat?
Eggs can be very versatile when cooking meals and one I go to almost every day. I generally use fresh eggs because they are free from my hens,and I know eggsactly what I’m eating (which is really important to me) but there are many other choices. I picked up some Egg Beaters a few trips back, and I will say that I did like the ease of use and bits of veggies in the southwestern style which added flavor to a couple of my meals, plus you won’t end up with broken eggs like I have in the past. With that I ended up with 3 meals out of a small carton of the southwestern style egg beaters.
Go to a fresh meat counter! You can pick up a good single steak, pre made burgers, pork or chicken (be cautious with raw chicken!) that has been marinated and just buy what you need.
Simply Potatoes comes in a bunch of verities, and the shredded hash brown form is something else I picked up which I used all week long. I fried hash brown potatoes for breakfast burritos which really hit the spot, not to mention it ended up being a very cheap meal. The last that was left ended up as a side to my Bison steak that I made one night.
Fresh tortillas is something else that I keep on hand in the truck. They come in handy for a breakfast burrito, migas, sandwich wraps, tacos or skillet pizzas like the one above. And even a peanut butter sandwich if I’m in a bind…
I generally eat one good meal a day, and then I resort to a cold bean or grain salad when I think I’m hungry in between that or when I don’t have a lot of time for anything else.
Most of my meals are a one pan meal deal, but I do carry 2 cast iron pans just in case. The other good side to truck cooking is that it gets me outside of the truck which is always a good thing to stretch my legs.
However, when it’s hotter than hell out, and I don’t feel like standing out sweating my arse off, I resort to cranking up the AC and cooking an egg in the comfort of my own truck. It takes no more than 10 minutes all together and is super, duper easy! And there is nothing like a homemade egg sandwich!
All you need to make an egg inside of your truck is a crock pot that has a removable stone wear ‘pot’– I think I spent $15 bucks on mine. Take the crock out, line the aluminum housing with non-stick tin foil and crank the heat up to high. Drop your cracked egg(s) in, cover the crock pot with it’s cover and wait… for me it takes less than 8 minutes and I have an egg that looks perfect, and tastes even better.
I also keep Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice with me. I do not have a microwave, but using my crock pot with the stone wear pot in place works just as slick. All you need to do is put an unopened ready rice pack in the pot, crank the heat to high, cover and wait about 35 minutes. You will have piping hot rice that you can add as a side to a steak, burger, or just an easy meal on it’s own. The only down side is that it takes a bit of time so thinking ahead is imperative here. A lot of times I will pop one in during a pit stop and have it close and ready to heat when I’m almost done for the day. Then when I stop the meal is ready.
A couple other things I would suggest to carry with you if your going to cook in/next to your truck would be:
- McCormick salt and pepper grinders for seasoning of your food. Not only do they have salt and pepper but they have other spices and herbs that will liven up your meal. I will say that the grinders are VERY truck friendly too.
- A good spray bottle filled with water for clean up. I top mine off with tea tree oil which is a natural disinfectant, naturally anti-fungal, antiviral; and a great deodorizer.
- Paper towels or cloth hand towels if you get home often enough to do laundry or take the time while out on the road.
- An unbreakable bowl and plate! I really don’t believe in paper plates, and worse yet, I do not want a mess in my truck because one malfunctioned, so I use Corelle plates and bowls. You can buy cool designs that should fit your taste just about anywhere too.
- Some kind of olive oil or vegetable spray. I buy Winona products- they don’t leak, so again I don’t have any messes in my truck!
- A good knife and cutting board.
Just as an FYI I would NOT leave a crock pot unattended in your truck! Use common sense and caution and you will go far.