Thursday, January 18, 2018

How to Prepare Thrifty Meals in a House on 4 Wheels.




Often I am asked about how we eat living on a bus. People assume that we eat out all the time or eat like hikers using simple one pot meals. There is nothing wrong with one pot meals but that is not usually what we do. 

Thinking back to the first few weeks there was a transitioning period when I had to rethink how I went about making dinners. I was used to using an oven for almost every meal . Now we have a two burner propane stove, a bar size fridge and a whole dresser dedicated to food items. Believe it or not I can make most meals easily! Here is how we adapted our meals while living on a bus:

Meat and/or vegetables get cut into smaller chunks or thinly sliced. Like you would cut up items for a stir fry or a curry or a stew. Cooking using this method takes less time, uses less fuel and ensures food like meats are more evenly cooked and safe to eat.

Go meatless. I am vegan but my partner eats meat. My meals take way less time (other than the soaked beans), use less fuel and are so much cheaper! They are also better for the environment and help keep animals alive.
Have a sealable container or jar for pre-soaking food. I often buy dry bagged beans and lentils. It is so much more cost efficient and just soak over night or even during the day the day you want to eat them. 

Presoak your rice. Boil water and then use that to soak pasta or potatoes. I didn’t learn this right away but over time (when I knew the propane was getting low and I wanted to make sure it would get through the meal) I learned that by soaking the rice it actually turns out better! When I’m ready to cook it I turn the heat on and then turn it off as soon at it comes to a boil. By the time the rest of my meal is ready the rice is perfect and fluffy! With pasta and potatoes I can cut the boil time by at least half if not more by bringing the water to a boil and soaking for 10 minutes. This saves fuel but also means that I’m not standing in front of the stove for as long! Sometimes depending on what type of pasta I use (spaghettini for example) I don’t even have to turn the heat back on because the pasta is ready just by soaking it! 

Use more spices and less pre-made sauces. I still occasionally use a pre-made sauce but I’ve found that by carrying a wider variety of spices    It takes up less storage space than jars of sauce and costs way less! If you aren’t used to using spice just experiment! I love using curry, turmeric, cumin & coriander. I always have paprika, basil, oregano and thyme on hand as well. And even though I always use fresh garlic I buy garlic powder for the rare time my partner cooks. 

Trade it up every once in awhile! It’s funny prior to moving in on the bus I worked in a commercial kitchen and my partner did most of the cooking at home. Now that I am not working, I do almost all of the cooking even though he enjoys to cook. He cooks very differently than I do and yet no matter who cooks the meals are great! 

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